Brazen Committees – Response to Doug Wilson

Doug Wilson, on his own blog, writes: “Establishing committees that are as stacked as a painting on a WWII bomber’s nose is not the way to inspire my confidence. No, I haven’t gotten over the sheer brazenness of that study committee.” (source) I think Doug is missing the point.

1) The study committee wasn’t called to inspire anyone’s confidence, and certainly not to inspire the confidence of an outsider like Wilson.

2) The “stacked” mixed metaphor is slightly off-color, but mostly off-putting.

3) Calling the Federal Vision study committee stacked because none (or less than half – or less than all – who knows what number or percentage would satisfy Wilson) of the members of the committee were Federal Visionists is absolutely as silly as suggesting that a study committee on women in the ministry must include women pastors or that a study committee on paedocommunion must include children. It is as silly as suggesting that a study committee in the PCA on Roman Catholicism must include Catholic priests. Frankly, it is as silly as suggesting that a study committee on Stalin must include representatives from the KGB.

The underlying silliness is the apparent belief that the only way that a view can get a fair hearing is if the study committee includes in its membership either the people who are likely to be affected by the committee’s decision (women/children examples) or the people who are under examination (priests/KGB examples).

4) Calling the selection of members for the committee “brazen” assumes that there was something wrong with the process. Why Wilson supposes that there was something wrong with the process, we can only guess. He obviously didn’t like the fact that there were no Federal Visionists on the committee, but he doesn’t provide any reason for us to think that the exact same mixed metaphors wouldn’t be hurled if only one of the members had been a Federal Visionist, or only two, or only half, or if too soft or inexperienced Federal Visionists had made up the entire study committee. Indeed, I see no reason to doubt that if Doug Wilson himself had made up the entire study committee, he’d just start complaining that his report got a “stacked” review at the GA, and that the presbyters “brazenly” refused to agree with his questionable theology.

In short, I’m disappointed by Wilson’s refusal to acknowledge that the study committee was properly formed, conducted itself in a scholarly and Biblical fashion, and reached a sober and correct conclusion, namely that the so-called Federal Vision is outside the bounds of Reformed Theology as defined by the Westminster Standards.

It wouldn’t be so bad, except that Wilson had called a committee to examine his own theology some time ago. Did he include any TR’s on the panel? No. Of course he did not, and I don’t think that anyone imagines he had some duty to do so. Next time Wilson wants to gripe about “stacked” PCA study committees, let me suggest this metaphor: “as stacked as the CREC committee that examined me.”


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