Ten Quotes: Against the Church by Doug Wilson

Against the ChurchAll these quotes are from Douglas Wilson’s book Against the Church. All punctuation and emphases are his except brackets.

The Bible teaches that the basic division in liturgical worship is not between high and low or traditional and contemporary, but rather between acceptable and unacceptable. And the only thing that can make it acceptable is pure, unfeigned, evangelical faith in Jesus.

Discipleship is irreducibly, a matter of obedience, not theological test-passing. It is an ethical response, not a cognitive one. 

What I am after is an institutional church with an evangelical heart. I am at war with false dichotomies. It need not be sectarian to be evangelical, and it need not be formalist to be a church instead of a sect. That said, communing children from a very young age is not necessarily the road to formalism-but it is a good way to get there if you want.

The church is nothing without individual conversions, but is not nothing but individual conversions.

For those who persevere, how they subjectively receive grace is part of what has been objectively given. We are to work out our salvation because God is at work in us to will and to do for His good pleasure. My continued subjective positive responses tomorrow must be considered as part of His objective gift to me. We work out what He works in.

The antithesis is not a theological form of A and not A. It is not the contrast between right and wrong. It is not between righteousness and unrighteousness. The antithesis divides people-the seed of the woman and the seed of the serpent.

Those who want to affirm the central importance of the church in history, but who also want to act as though if you are “baptized, its all good,” are just begging for marginal Christianity  to take root everywhere. And marginal Christianity is always tare-Christianity, not wheat-Christianity…And this why we preach Christ. This is why we preach Christ crucified. This is why we call all men to be converted to God, so that they might live faithful and gracious lives-a gift from the hand of God.

To adopt a simply binary scheme between baptism and the last day is really to close the door on effective pastoral care and the cure of souls.

So long as we acknowledge that there are covenant members who are not saved, then we must necessarily say that God does not give Himself to all in the same way. And this is just another way of saying that some covenant members need to be regenerated.

This [regeneration] is not a change from nature into grace; it is a change from broken nature to restored nature, and the change is accomplished by grace. We are not changed into grace, we are transformed by grace.

And one:

Bonhoeffer said that when Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die. A gracious heart hears this  message and leaps for joy. An ungracious heart hears it, and looks for a place to hide. Anything but death. Scripture teaches us, and history shows us, that the very best hiding places, at least for a brief time, are found in the things of God-the church, the Bible, the sacraments, the catechism, the ministry, the Internet theology debates, the church splits over a bunch of nothing, the mercy ministries, and of course, the venerable tradition of the fathers. Those fathers, incidentally, can be found both in the Jerusalem chamber at Westminster and in the Syrian desert.