In the 60s, my father wrote a small but enormously influential book called The Principles of War. In it, he applied the principles of physical warfare to what he called strategic evangelism. This idea of warfare is necessary in order to understand a central part of what is happening here, and by this I mean the concept of the decisive point. A decisive point is one which is simultaneously strategic and feasible. Strategic means that it would be a significant loss to the enemy if taken. Feasible means that it is possible to take. New York City is strategic but not feasible. Bovill is feasible but not strategic. But small towns with major universities (Moscow and Pullman, say) are both. Douglas Wilson
Three weeks ago, on May 3, 2017, the Moscow-Pullman Daily News published an op-ed titled “Moscow ‘takeover’ meant to be a spiritual one” by Pastor Doug Wilson of Christ Church. Mr. Wilson used this column to repudiate a Daily News editorial from the week before, in which the News interpreted the plain meaning of his words: Mr. Wilson has a plan to take Moscow & Pullman, which he describes as “the enemy,” and he plans to inflict “significant loss” on them. In response Douglas Wilson chucked theonomy to embrace Gnosticism — he meant it “spiritually.”
Mr. Wilson’s op-ed creates a credibility problem for him because in 2014 he published a book titled Rules for Reformers in which he advocates the use of deception in culture war, such as his war on the Palouse. To help illustrate this credibility problem as well as help readers understand Doug Wilson’s duplicity, I set the text from each publication side by side. Below, on the left, you see Mr. Wilson’s instructions to his followers on how deceive their enemies. On the right you see text from his Daily News op-ed where he declares evangelical love for his neighbors. Which one do you believe?
Following Sun Tzu, our first responsibility is to attack the enemy’s plan. In the second place, we attack his alliances. In the third place, we attack his forces. . . .
To prevail in conflict is not possible without deception. Where you are weak, he should think you are strong. Where you are strong, he should believe you are weak.
Where you are present, he should believe you to be absent. Where you are absent, he should believe you to be present. When you are distant, he should believe you to be near. When you are near, he should believe you are distant.
When you have no plan, he should believe you do. When you are executing a plan, he should believe you are doing nothing.
Your strength is not measured by how strong you are. Your strength is measured by how strong your adversary believes you are.
Weapons are no substitute for a strategy.
Superior weapons do not make up for an inferior strategy. Superior weapons do not make up for inferior men.
The phrase “culture wars” should not be applied to mere policy differences. . . If one faction wants to hollow the nation out from within, then we engage. (Rules for Reformers [Moscow, ID: Canon Press, 2014], 196)
The next thing is the reference to my “one-time claim that Moscow was just the right size city for a decades-long takeover campaign.” . . . This was not a “one-time claim,” but rather one I have made repeatedly, and will no doubt make again if I get a chance. But the point of that claim is not about a jackbooted “takeover,” but rather a reference to spiritual and cultural engagement that is both winsome and oriented to service in the community. We are evangelical and would love to see others come to Christ, but this can never happen through law, force or coercion. So when the Bible uses military metaphors . . . these are metaphors referring to a spiritual war. . . What we actually want to be is good neighbors. Nothing is coming down the pike toward Moscow that is not the fruit of persuasion and free individual choices. . . . The tendency to lump a bunch of related ministries and businesses together has the unfortunate effect of reinforcing the false notion that I am a monolithic banker who owns a bunch of Moscow. . . The ministries . . . are all independently governed, each with their own board and each with their own constituency. Some are directly influenced by me . . . while others have a constituency that extends well beyond our “ecclesiastical family” including Christians from all over the Palouse. . . . As far as these businesses are concerned, to the extent we have influence, we teach and encourage our people to strive for excellence in all that they do and to cheerfully serve all residents of Moscow in and through what they do. . . . (Moscow-Pullman Daily News, Moscow ‘takeover’ meant to be a spiritual one, May 3, 2017)
Does the column on the right implement the strategies on the left? If not, when & where does he plan to execute his Rules for Reformers? If he bothered to answer these questions, why should anyone believe him? After all, he wrote, “To prevail in conflict is not possible without deception.” And there you see the credibility problem. On the one hand he teaches the gospel according to Sun Tzu, on the other he feigns belief in the gospel of Christ. Which one do you believe controls? More importantly, which one does the Moscow City Council believe?