Turretin vs. Doug Wilson on Calling

I do not know if Wilson has since gotten a legitimate calling and ordination from an established church body.  But he explains in his own words.  (I thank Rachel Miller for finding this.  Even though she unfriended me on Facebook because I said Saddam was better than ISIS).

I also recommend this post by Rev. Lane Keister.

Having written this book, I must now apologize, at least in part, for how the book came to be written by someone like, as the Victorians used to say, the present writer. At the time of writing, I have been a minister of the Word for twenty-three years. But how that came about contains more than a few ecclesiastical irregularities.

I came to the University of Idaho in the fall of 1975, fresh out of the Navy, and ready to study philosophy. My intention was to study various unbelieving philosophies and to then get involved in some kind of evangelistic literature ministry in a university town somewhere. Right around the same time, a church was being planted in our town by an Evangelical Free Church in a nearby community. The fellowship was successfully planted, but this new church never affiliated with the Free Church. This was not due to any doctrinal or personal differences; it was due mostly to the fact that it was the seventies. I was at the organizing meeting for this church and wound up as one of the guitar-playing songleaders. The best way to describe this would be to say that it was some kind of “Jesus people” operation.

After about a year and a half of meeting, the man who had been doing the preaching (ordained by a Baptist denomination) announced that he had gotten a job elsewhere and that he was moving. We were on our own the following Sunday. As I said, it was the seventies. The idea of going into pastoral ministry had not occurred to me, but when it did, I didn’t like it very much. Nevertheless, as things turned out, I was up in front with the guitar. That was my call to the ministry; I knew all the chords. I began to preach.

Our church had been planted by an established denomination, but we had no constitution, no doctrinal standards, no established leadership. I started what we called a “responsible brothers” meeting to fill the void of leadership — ad hoc elders. We knew from the Scriptures that we needed to be governed by elders, but we didn’t have any. We received some teaching on elder qualifications from the pastor of the Evangelical Free church that had established our church, and as a result different men among the responsible brothers removed themselves from consideration. In this situation, I presented myself to the congregation and asked them to bring forward any objections to my holding office of elder within the next few weeks. If no one did, then I would assume the office. As it turned out, no one did, and I have been working with this congregation of faithful and longsuffering saints ever since.

All this, as I said earlier, was highly irregular, and I would rather be dead in a ditch than to go back to that way of doing ecclesiastical business. . . . (Douglas Wilson, Mother Kirk [Moscow, ID: Canon Press, 2001] 267–268)

To be fair to Wilson, a calling is not a necessary condition for a true church. However, as Francis Turretin notes, if one doesn’t have a proper call from a true church (word, sacraments, discipline), then that is because there is no true church from which to receive a call.

Was the Calling of the Reformers legitimate?

If ministers ought to be called, and we reject the Anabaptists who reject this, then were the Reformers legitimate ministers since they did not receive their call from an ordained ministry (in this case, the Roman Catholic Church)?  Turretin makes a distinction between a church constituted and a church to be constituted (III: 239).  In a constituted church, we expect a call because we want to maintain good order.  However, if we find ourselves in an area with no constituted church, granted it is an extreme example, no call is needed.

Here is the problem for Doug Wilson fans:  were there no true churches?  Were there no Reformed churches?  What was wrong with joining the OPC or PCA, both of whom had witnesses in that area of America?  If Presbyterian government is true, and I think it is, and it is really important, as I think it is, then surely there is no harm in seeking out proper order.

For Turretin the only way to justify this situation is that there are no other witnesses around.  In other words, all of the other churches are fornicating, preaching false doctrine, and openly persecuting the true faith with the sword.  Obviously, this wasn’t the case in the Pacific Northwest.

Therefore, I cannot in good conscience call Wilson a pastor, nor can I affirm that Christ Kirk (Moscow) is a true church.  At best it is an irregular gathering.

Advertisements

About Ephraim's Arrow

Interests include patristics, the role of the soul in the human person, analytic theology, Dutch Neo-Calvinism, Klaas Schilder.
This entry was posted in American Theology and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Turretin vs. Doug Wilson on Calling

  1. Angela Wittman says:

    So glad I found your blog! I love your Scottish Puritan posts… And, yes, Saddam was better than ISIS. 🙂

    Like

  2. Evan says:

    Do you think that this abnormal ecclesiastical situation has in part to do with the strange directions he has gone?

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s