Douglas Wilson (theologian)

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Douglas James Wilson (born 18 June 1953) is a conservative Reformed and evangelical theologian, pastor at Christ Church in Moscow, Idaho, faculty member at New Saint Andrews College, and prolific author and speaker. He is featured in the documentary film Collision documenting his debates with anti-theist Christopher Hitchens on their promotional tour for the book "Is Christianity Good for the World?".


Wilson earned a BA in classical studies and a BA and an MA in philosophy from the University of Idaho. In addition to his role as pastor of Christ Church, he is a founder and Senior Fellow in Theology at New Saint Andrews College, founder and editor of Credenda/Agenda magazine, and founder of Greyfriars Hall, a three-year ministerial training program. He also serves on the governing boards of New Saint Andrews, Logos School (a Christian private school), and the Association of Classical and Christian Schools. Wilson was instrumental in forming the Communion of Reformed Evangelical Churches. He is married to Nancy Wilson and has three children, including N. D. Wilson, and 16 grandchildren.


Doug Wilson has said that "if someone wants a quick and easy way to figure out what makes me tick" they should read three of his books: Reforming Marriage, Angels in the Architecture, and Joy at the End of the Tether. Wilson said "if someone read those three books they'd have a pretty good grasp of what I think is important".[1]

Wilson is the publisher of and a contributor to the Reformed cultural and theological journal Credenda/Agenda, and is a former contributor to Tabletalk, the magazine published by R. C. Sproul's Ligonier Ministries. He has published a number of books on culture and theology, several children's books, and a collection of poetry.

On education[edit]

Wilson has been a prominent advocate for classical Christian education, and he laid out his vision for education in several books and pamphlets, especially in Recovering the Lost Tools of Learning[2] and The Case for Classical Christian Education.[3] In those writings, he argues that the American public schools are failing to educate their students, and he proposes a Christian approach to education based on the Trivium, a Greco-Roman approach to education which emphasizes grammar, rhetoric, and logic and advocates a wide exposure to the liberal arts, including classical Western languages such as Latin and Greek. The model has been adopted by a number of Christian private schools[4] and homeschoolers.[5]

On family[edit]

Wilson and his wife have also written a number of books on family issues based on their understanding of the Bible, including Reforming Marriage,[6] Federal Husband,[7] Her Hand in Marriage[8] (on biblical courtship), Standing on the Promises: A Handbook of Biblical Childrearing,[9] and Future Men.[10]

On theology[edit]

Wilson has written on theological subjects in books such as Mother Kirk: Essays and Forays in Practical Ecclesiology,[11] To a Thousand Generations[12] on infant baptism, and "Reformed" Is Not Enough: Recovering the Objectivity of the Covenant.[13] He has also been a noted advocate for Van Tillian presuppositional apologetics and postmillennialism. Letter from a Christian Citizen[14] is Wilson's response to atheist Sam Harris's Letter to a Christian Nation. In May 2007, Wilson debated another noted atheist, Christopher Hitchens, in a six-part series published by Christianity Today.[15] In October of the following year, they debated in person in three separate venues on three consecutive days.[16]

Federal Vision[edit]

Wilson's views on covenant theology as espoused in "Reformed" Is Not Enough and in his contribution to The Federal Vision[17] have caused some controversy as part of the Federal Vision theology, partly because of its similarity to the New Perspective on Paul, which Wilson does not fully endorse, though he has praised some tenets that are in line with his theology.[18] The RPCUS denomination declared his views on the subject to be heretical,[19] and although "Reformed" Is Not Enough was already in process when the RPCUS's resolution was published, Wilson sought to address some of their charges in that book.[20]

Southern slavery[edit]

Wilson's most controversial work is probably his pamphlet Southern Slavery, As It Was,[21] which he wrote along with League of the South co-founder and fellow Christian minister Steve Wilkins. The pamphlet stated that "slavery produced in the South a genuine affection between the races that we believe we can say has never existed in any nation before the War or since." Historians such as Peter H. Wood, Clayborne Carson, and Bancroft Prize winner Ira Berlin condemned the pamphlet's arguments, with Wood calling them as spurious as holocaust denial.[22]

Wilson held a February 2004 conference for those who supported his ideas, such as pastor George Grant, at the University of Idaho. The University published a disclaimer distancing itself from the event, and numerous anti-conference protests took place. Wilson described critical attacks as 'abolitionist propaganda'.[22] He also has repeatedly denied any racist leanings. Wilson has described his own views as 'paleo-Confederate'. He has said his "long war" is not on behalf of white supremacy; rather, Wilson seeks to revive the memory—however rose-tinted—of eras in Western history when faith and reason seemed at one, when family, church, and the organic "community of Christians" that T. S. Eliot describes in Christianity and Culture were more powerful than the state.[23]

The Southern Poverty Law Center connects Wilson's views to the Neo-Confederate and Christian Reconstruction movements influenced by R. J. Rushdoony, concluding, "Wilson's theology is in most ways indistinguishable from basic tenets of Reconstruction."[24]

Canon Press ceased publication of Southern Slavery, As It Was when it became aware of serious citation errors in several passages authored by Wilkins.[25] Robert McKenzie, the history professor who first noticed the citation problems, described the authors as being "sloppy" rather than "malevolent."[26] Wilson reworked and redacted the arguments in the tract, and published (without Wilkins) a new set of essays under the name Black & Tan[27] after consulting with historian Eugene Genovese.[28]

Wilson addressed his views on slavery, racism, and states' rights in a 2011 interview by Canon Wired.[29]




  • Wilson, Douglas; et al (1996), Hagopian, David G, ed., Back to Basics: Rediscovering the Richness of the Reformed Faith, P&R, ISBN 978‐0‐87552‐216‐6  .
  • ———; et al (2001), Johnson, Gary LW; White, R Fowler, eds., Whatever Happened to the Reformation?, P&R, ISBN 978‐0‐87552‐183‐1  .
  • ———; et al (2003), Strawbridge, Gregg, ed., The Case for Covenantal Infant Baptism, P&R, ISBN 978‐0‐87552‐554‐9  .
  • ———; et al (2004), Wilkins, Steve; Garner, Duane, eds., The Federal Vision, Athanasius, ISBN 978‐0‐9753914‐0‐2  .
  • ———; et al (2004), Mathison, Keith A, ed., When Shall These Things Be?: A Reformed Response to Hyper-Preterism, P&R, ISBN 978‐0‐87552‐552‐5  .
  • ———; et al (2006), Strawbridge, Gregg, ed., The Case for Covenant Communion, Athanasius, ISBN 978‐0‐9753914‐3‐3  .
  • ———; et al (2010), With Calvin in the Theater of God: The Glory of Christ and Everyday Life, Crossway, ISBN 978‐1‐43351412‐8  .


  1. ^ Wilson, Douglas, "Essential reading", Ask Doug, Canon wired 
  2. ^ Wilson 1991.
  3. ^ Wilson 2002b.
  4. ^ History, Association of Classical and Christian Schools History 
  5. ^ Introduction to Classical Christian Education, Classical Christian Homeschooling 
  6. ^ Wilson 1995.
  7. ^ Wilson 1999.
  8. ^ Wilson 1997b.
  9. ^ Wilson 1997.
  10. ^ Wilson 2012.
  11. ^ Wilson 2001d.
  12. ^ Wilson 1996c.
  13. ^ Wilson 2002.
  14. ^ Wilson 2007.
  15. ^ "Is Christianity Good for the World?". Christianity Today. 8 May 2007. Retrieved 11 August 2009. 
  16. ^ "On the Road with Atheism – Christopher Hitchens squares off with Douglas Wilson". Christianity Today. 31 October 2008. Retrieved 30 August 2009. 
  17. ^ Wilson 2004.
  18. ^ Wilson, Douglas. "A Pauline Take on the New Perspective". Credenda/Agenda 15 (5). [dead link]
  19. ^ "A Call to Repentance" (PDF). Covenant Presbytery, Reformed Presbyterian Church in the United States. 22 June 2002. Archived from the original on 28 September 2007. Retrieved 11 August 2009. 
  20. ^ Wilson 2002, pp. 7–9, ‘Forward’.
  21. ^ Wilson & Wilkins 1996.
  22. ^ a b Ramsey, William L (December 20, 2004), The Late Unpleasantness in Idaho: Southern Slavery and the Culture Wars, US: History News Network, retrieved June 16, 2009 
  23. ^ Christianity today, Apr 2009, p. 5 
  24. ^ "Doug Wilson’s Religious Empire Expanding in the Northwest", Intelligence report (SPL center), Spring 2004 
  25. ^ Luker, Ralph E (May 2, 2005), "Plagiarizing Slavery...", Cliopatria (blog) (US: History News Network) 
  26. ^ "Neo-Confederates: Plagiarism as it is", Intelligence Report (SPL center), Fall 2004, retrieved June 16, 2009 
  27. ^ Wilson 2005.
  28. ^ Ramsey, William L (March 27, 2006), Horowitz, Genovese, and the Varieties of Culture War: Comments on the Continuing Unpleasantness in Idaho, US: History News Network, retrieved June 16, 2009 
  29. ^ Vimeo 

External links[edit]