The Recent Rise of Covenantal Apologetics (2 of 10)

Douglas Wilson contends that there are, “…two tenets (of modern feminism): 1. men are jerks, and 2. women should strive by all means to become like them.” So who is this Doug Wilson? He is the witty guy who made the similar claim that, “There are two tenets of atheism: One, there is no God. Two, I hate him.” Wilson holds undergraduate degrees in Classical Studies and Philosophy and a Master’s degree in Philosophy from the University of Idaho. He serves in Idaho as the pastor of Christ Church and is a professor at New Saint Andrews College (which he founded). He is also editor of Credenda/Agenda magazine.

If memory serves, the first time I came across Doug Wilson was when I listened to his debate with atheist Dan Barker.  Here was a Christian apologist with the argumentative kick of Greg Bahnsen and rhetorical balm of C.S. Lewis. He clearly prevailed against Barker while maintaining a conversational tone throughout the debate. Later on I learned that Wilson’s apologetic acumen flows from the fact that he is a voracious reader and has taken more than one cue from the rhetorical wizardry of writers like P.G. Wodehouse, H.L. Mencken, C.S. Lewis, and G.K. Chesterton. He has a way of stating his beliefs in a direct, delightful way. His audience will be impressed by his clarity and matter-of-factness whether they agree with him or not. And there are many things that Wilson’s interlocutors do not agree with him about.

Wilson is a bit of a controversial figure, and just as much so inside of Christian circles as he is outside. That is not to say that the controversy surrounding him is always a bad thing. Far from it. Still, critics have cited his adherence to Federal Vision as a reason to throw virtually everything Wilson has to say to the wayside. That is a terrible mistake. Also on Wilson’s list of eyebrow-raising stances are his views on slavery. Whether one agrees with Wilson on such matters or not, it is difficult to charge him with having never thought through them. Not only has he thought through the various positions he takes, but he is not afraid to defend them in the public square. He also thinks his positions are squarely based upon the Bible.

Yes, some of the aforementioned characteristics can be a very bad thing if what is defended is, well…bad. But in a general sense they are extremely beneficial and are no doubt a substantial part of what makes Doug Wilson seemingly so appealing to such a broad audience. Wilson has been blessed with a remarkable effectiveness in Christian ministry. Pastors have taken a great deal of advice from him. Homeschoolers know and love him. So do Calvinists. Postmillennialists have an optimistic take on him. And Reformed apologists are indebted to him for further popularizing the covenantal method of apologetics.

In addition to the debate mentioned at the beginning of this post, Doug Wilson has written many books that address a wide variety of topics including covenantal apologetics. Some are debates with unbelievers using the aforementioned method. One of Wilson’s more recent and well-known contributions to the apologetic realm was the documentary he made alongside of then-atheist Christopher Hitchens called Collision (Hitchens has since passed away). Readers may also check here, here, and here for more information on the movie. Doug Wilson’s son, N.D. Wilson, has also gained some recent attention from his work on the popular Notes from the Tilt-A-Whirl.

Doug Wilson is one of the best covenantal apologists alive today. He is the closest thing we have to a Reformed C.S. Lewis. When I say that, I mean it as a compliment.

Make sure to visit Doug Wilson’s blog, or you can check out his profile on Facebook.


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