“In faith there is enough light for those who want to believe and enough shadows to blind those who don't.”
I recently watched an interview NBC didwith pastor and author Doug Wilson in which NBC seems to condemn (implicitly, but strongly) the goal of Doug Wilson to "Christianize" Moscow, Idaho. You can watch the interview here. Unfortunately a disclaimer is appropriate here. Wilson has said and done many things with which I have significant issues and this post is not an endorsement. I will give credit where credit is due, Wilson is forthright and honest about his intentions to "Christianize" Moscow, Idaho. The question we must ask is whether or not Wilson's goals are appropriate. Should Christians seek to Christianize the cities, states, and country in which they live?
It is tempting to point out the tone and slant of the interview but perhaps I will, just for a moment. NBC was far from fair in what they aired (not that I expected them to be fair). The interviews were slanted and the interviewers they aired were chosen to display Wilson and his ideas as radical, fringe, and unacceptable. For the purposes of this post the details are unimportant. But some observations about Wilson's goals, as stated in the interview, are appropriate.
Wilson never argues for a theocracy in the interview. He never says that religious freedom should be set aside for a city/state imposed religion by which everyone must abide. In fact, when asked he says the opposite. In a Christianized Moscow there is room for religious freedom, emphatically so. Of course the same sex marriage issue is brought up and Wilson makes clear the teachings of Scripture and how there would be no state endorsed same sex marriage in his vision. That topic alone deserves much more attention for the sake of clarity. Wilson is not saying that gay people would be punished, at least not in this interview.
This interview misses the point of what it means to "Christianize" a city, state, or nation. At one point Wilson was asked if he sought to do this through persuasion or by drawing others to Moscow. His answer was, "both." Wilson is not, as far as I can tell based on this interview, arguing for tyranny and imposing the Christian faith at the end of a proverbial gun (or a literal gun). Wilson's eschatology (postmillennialism) supports his approach to these things. I believe he is mistaken in his eschatology, but that view alone is not heretical. In fact, prior to the 1860's it was quite common in Christian circles. Regardless of one's eschatology we are given the great commission to go into the world and make disciples and that fits in with Wilson's desire to change hearts and minds. If "Christianizing" our cities, state, and country means changing hearts and minds with the gospel and the teachings of Jesus (and the Bible in general) then it would be sinful to not desire to Christianize the places where we live!
The reality is that this has cultural and political implications. If God designed this world to work in a particular way and for humans to flourish according to certain rules and standards, then shouldn't we want exactly that? I have not read Wilson extensively nor do I pay much attention to his blog. I often have issues with his approach and with some of his theology. However, this interview reveals how the media and large portions of our culture misunderstand what Christians seek to accomplish. This is another attempt to push religious belief (at least Christian belief) into the closet and lock the door. The way this is done is by taking a guy like Wilson, portraying hims as extreme (throw in bigoted, misogynistic, etc.), and then pretend that this picture of Wilson is how all of Christianity operates. The Christian faith is to be lived out in politics, in culture, and in every other area of life.
I pray for a Christianized nation because I believe Jesus is the only salvation from sin, because I believe we were designed to operate in a particular way and that when we go outside of the boundaries given by God it does not go well, and because we are commanded to proclaim the good news of Jesus. Pray with me, and don't willingly go into a closet and allow the broader culture to lock the door.
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John Byrne is a pastor who has been spouting off his opinions his entire life (just ask his mom). This little blog is his venue for continuing in this tradition.