Twelve years ago today Pastor Douglas Wilson of Christ Church in Moscow, Idaho, uploaded the following blog entry — Arrogance Out of Moscow — to his personal website, Blog & Mablog. The post is remarkable for too many reasons to note here (thus part 2), but suffice to say that Mr. Wilson had good reason to feign humility in October 2005. Therefore, he confessed someone else’s sin; he did not own responsibility for it; and he never explained why Moscow breeds arrogance.
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Topic: General Ruminations
As I mentioned in a previous post, we are currently in Portland for the ninth meeting of presbytery of the CREC. God has blessed us greatly, and one of the items of business was the division of our presbytery into two, Anselm Presbytery in the west and Augustine Presbytery in the east. We also had the first meeting of the CREC Council, which consisted of nine delegates from each presbytery. Our host church, Reformation Covenant Church, has been marvelous, and we had a wonderful time of fellowship together. One of the highlights was the worship service on Tuesday night.
I just said that God has blessed us greatly in the CREC, and we have certainly experienced the same thing in Moscow. But with this kind of blessing comes a peculiar kind of testing, and I think the whole thing has gotten to a level where I can address it publicly without those public comments becoming part of the problem.
Over the years in Moscow, I have frequently said to various folks (NSA students, congregants, etc.) that I am sure there are a number of godly pastors around the country who hate the sound of my name. They hate the sound of my name with reason; I am not addressing in this post those convoluted souls who don’t need a reason. The reasons would include the facts that after a sermon they have preached, they have heard, one too many times, that “that is not what Doug Wilson says,” or they have had a book of mine waved under somebody’s nose in the foyer in a manner not calculated to endear the recipient of the treatment to the one who waves.
The thing that brought this subject to mind was a conversation I had last night with a friend, a fellow CREC minister, one of the finest men I know. Turns out over the last several years, he has had various visitors from Moscow — young bucks, let us call them. After the service, he went to greet the visitor, found out who the visitor was, and then heard something like, “Let me tell you what is wrong with your liturgy . . .” This has happened to my friend three times. James was a godly minister of the gospel, and he gave to Paul the right hand of fellowship. But there were certain “men from James” who were stinkers, and a cause of real dissension in the church.
Now my friend is an experienced minister, and very shrewd, and knew enough to attribute this behavior to the stupidity of young bucks who assiduously learn one thing we teach in Moscow, and ignore other important aspects of what we teach — lessons like “don’t ever do that!” And regular warnings against this kind of arrogance is a central part of what we teach. I can assure you that if we found somebody representing us in this way we would (metaphorically speaking) tear his head off and scoop out his insides with a spoon. In a pastoral way, of course.
The problem is one of arrogance, and it is arrogance out of Moscow. We know and acknowledge that this happens, and we have done what we could to prevent it. We don’t approve of it. We are also willing to do more — if anyone out there knows of a situation like this that we should address, please let us know and we will.
But we are not willing to deal with this problem by refusing or denying the blessing that some are foolish enough to be proud about. There are two kinds of arrogance. There is the arrogance of the brain surgeon guy, who is also a fighter pilot on weekends with the reserves. He is the kind of man who can strut sitting down. On a certain level, a human level, he has something to be arrogant over — he has been blessed in multiple ways, and has forgotten what the apostle Paul said — what do we have that we did not receive as a gift? And if as a gift, then why do we boast? So someone with many years of medical training has been grealy [sic] blessed, and can be tempted to boast, or be rude, or obnoxious, or all three. But the other kind of arrogance is more low key. This is where someone has not had years of medical training at all, but undertakes to treat a friend’s advanced cancer with orange juice concentrate because of some article she read on the internet. This is arrogance that functions without the raw material of blessings.
Remarkable things are happening in Moscow, and we have been greatly blessed. We bow before God in gratitude. We have warned and cajoled those who represent us to others to be careful, to please be careful. But some are not careful, regardless. And I also know the picture is complicated by other scenarios — a deacon at the church back home sees that a young NSA student home on Thanksgiving break has a copy of her Greek New Testament in her book bag. “Who do you think you are?” he snarls. “My wife used to change your diapers. Do you think you are better than everybody else?” “Me genoito,” she replies — no, just kidding. “No, not at all,” she stammers in reply.
People are sinners, and they sin against one another. But our responsibility is to deal with our sins against others, and not to worry about their sins against us. We know that some of our people are sinning against some of your people. “Better to suffer wrong than to do wrong,” Thomas Watson said. But in Moscow, we are still at the point where some from our number are out there doing the wrong. And we acknowledge that some of the treatment we have gotten over the last several years is blowback from this kind of sin. So, for anyone who reads this, who has been the recipient of this particular kind of rudeness, on behalf of the elders of our churches in Moscow, I humbly apologize, and seek your forgiveness. If there is anything else we need to do to make something right on a personal level, please let us know.
Posted by Douglas Wilson — 10/15/2005 10:30:42 AM
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