Modern America is now Gomorrah in the hands of Cultural Marxists. We tend to forget and ignore the fact that Marxism itself has a history, and its history always results in the shedding of the blood of millions of people. We must be pro-life, not pro-death, even beyond the womb. For non-cultural theologians, their hope may be in believing that persecution is the best way to heaven. For cultural theologians, persecution may be their calling, too, but in time to come, the Kingdom of God will come to earth in its fullness, and the glory of the Lord will cover the earth as the waters cover the sea, all before the second coming of Christ.
I have never met Doug Wilson personally. I have been present twice when he spoke, once at the Auburn Avenue Conference in 2002 in Monroe, Louisiana, and then twenty years later at the Fight, Laugh, Feast (FLF) Conference in 2022 in Knoxville, Tennessee. In his book on the Book of Revelation he cites two times from my book on the Book of Revelation, so I know he has read at least one of my books. When I was a local church pastor, I used his book on marriage (Reforming Marriage) often in marital counseling. It was, and maybe still is in my opinion, the best available. I listen to his YouTube presentations on occasion, but I find that he can be difficult to follow because his vocabulary and phraseology seem to be channeling either the genre of G. K. Chesterton or C. S. Lewis, two of his heroes. I find this frustrating. Yet, his impact on the modern evangelical and reformed church cannot be denied.
I am older than Doug Wilson, and I was probably reading Rev. Rousas Rushdoony and Dr. Gary North long before he was. I personally knew both Rushdoony and North. Thus, I am not one of Wilson’s warrior children as Mr. Gordon classifies in his article (See Wilson’s Warrior Children by Chris Gordon, December 11, 2023). I call myself one of Rushdoony’s warrior children. The main point of contention with Wilson from Rushdoony’s children is over the legitimacy of natural law in Stephen Wolfe’s book, The Case for Christian Nationalism published by Wilson’s Canon Press.
Mr. Gordon in the title of his article plays off Professor John Frame’s article Machen’s Warrior Children. However, I think he misses the mark because Frame deals in his presentation with all the controversies (21 of them) that divided those who followed Machen. Wilson’s children are not battling each other, at least not currently. The Communion of Reformed Evangelical Churches (CREC), which originates in Moscow, Idaho, portrays an ecumenical spirit of unity which includes those from Reformed Baptist backgrounds. The Church as a denomination has its own identity and communion now apart from Wilson.
I do think, however, that Gordon gets to the important point about Wilson and his followers. Gordon deals more with substance than form, and I think he is right on target here. There is something missing in the modern Reformed world, and a multiplicity of young men are flocking to Wilson and others to fill that vacuum. It is more than just a mood.
As a balance, before I say anything else, I should mention several church leaders and conferences that add much to the discussion of reformed theology and piety today. They are godly men. These godly men are included in Gospel Reformation Network (GRN), Presbycast, Together for the Gospel (T4G), The Founder’s Ministry of the Sword and the Trowel (TS&TT), and the G3 Ministries (Gospel, Grace, and Glory), to name a few. These represent prominent pastors, many of large churches, and their numerous conferences, webpages, and podcasts. I call these non-cultural theologians. They indeed have much to offer, but the problem is that they are not dealing with the issues that are drawing young men like a magnet to Wilson and Moscow.
Actually, the theological engine that propels Wilson and Moscow includes a much broader family than Wilson and Moscow. Others include The Center for Cultural Leadership (CCL) headed by Dr. P. Andrew Sandlin, the Ezra Institute (Dr. Joe Boot), Apologia Ministries (Pastor Jeff Durbin), and Right Response Ministries (Pastor Joel Webbon). I would also include (without his permission) Apologist and Reformed Baptist Dr. James White, a postmillennialist who interviewed Doug Wilson on the topic of Federal Vision. I call these cultural theologians.
Many young men are not hearing from non-cultural theologians what they need in order to be good fathers and to be faithful in their callings in life outside of the church. The application of God’s law which challenges the modern culture is missing. Thus, they often go home after church and get their needed supplements (as in vitamins) from cultural theologians via various social media outlets. This might be a surprise to many non-cultural theologians, but it is happening. Cultural ministries like Canon Press and the Crosspolitic programs are quickly growing in popularity.
Most Reformed pastors avoid crucial and popular issues that are raging outside the church sanctuary. They are probably not going to be dragged off to jail. Their linear expository preaching somehow enables them to avoid certain important topics. They are comfortable still fighting the heretics from the Reformation period and the old liberalism of J. Gresham Machen’s time (which need to be fought). However, they are stuck in the past. They are so saturated in the New Testament period; they forget that Christendom has enjoyed centuries of blessings after the close of the New Testament Canon.
We are watching the end of American Christendom in our own day. There is a new enemy. It is called Cultural Marxism, and this demon is at the doorway of our churches. However, I fear that this new enemy is not even on the radar of most non-cultural theologians. I am not even sure they have the skills to fight this enemy. Their seminary training did not equip them to deal with this. The only way to gain the needed skills is to read outside the box. Dealing with Cultural Marxism publicly certainly might divide the church. As a former pastor, I know how important church unity is. However, I was never afraid to preach on topics like the Bible and inflation (Theology in a Reece’s Cup) or on Wokism (Are You Woke?).
What then are the substantive issues? Let me mention a few.
- Eschatology is one issue. Optimistic eschatology brings hope on earth, even in the most desperate times. As Isaac Watts wrote in “Joy to the World,” the blessings of the gospel will spread as far as the curse is found. This is no place to present the case for postmillennialism. All I need to do is mention that most professors at Old Princeton were postmillennialists. According to Professor John Frame in his article on “Machen’s Warrior Children,” J. Gresham Machen was a postmillennialist.
- Covenantalism is another issue. This is why these men put so much emphasis on the family. Yes, it is better to be with Christ than live on in a world filled with so much pain, but many of us believe that the world is not coming to an end anytime soon. Abraham was a stranger in a foreign land, not because he was in the flesh, but because he was in a land full of idols. Any perspective without the hope of the blessings of the covenant to a thousand generations tends to slip into Neoplatonism and Escapism.
We have a responsibility to our grandchildren and great-grandchildren (you can tell my age here), and we pray that they will become leaders in their own callings, including even those who serve from county commissioner to the highest posts in civil government. Politics is not the way to blessing. Covenant faithfulness over generations to our children and our children’s children is the way to bring the fullness of the Kingdom of God to earth before Christ returns in all his glory to reign on a purified and earthly earth. When training up your children, be sure to teach them Christian systematics and apologetics. Make certain they understand the doctrine of justification by faith alone.
- Kingdom incarnation is another issue. Jesus came announcing the presence of the Kingdom and not the gospel. The gospel was the instrument to a realized (not over-realized) Kingdom, but not the Kingdom itself. Too, the Kingdom is greater than the church. Wherever the law of the King reigns, there is the Kingdom. This is why Jesus told us to pray, “Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” Again, Machen was an example of this when he testified as a clergyman before a United States Senate and House Committee on the proposed Department of Education. He was being salt in the world.
- Worship is another issue. Worship is a calling to focus on Christ and his work. It is the worship of the Triune God, especially on the Lord’s Day. However, it is also a call to battle as men exit the doors of the church—not just to fight sin in their own hearts but to tame sin in a world we see with our own eyes. Men want to fight for their families. They do not want to see them swallowed up with the wicked. The wicked will commit suicide and we do not want our children to go to the grave with them. Worship prepares them for this battle.
The biggest opposition to Cultural Theologians is the Westminster West Seminary R2K proponents. They promote the idea that the Bible is for the Church only, and has nothing to say to the Civil Magistrate. The Civil Magistrate is bound to follow Natural Law only, and whatever the Civil Magistrate does is right because God has given him this authority apart from consulting the Holy Scriptures. One of them has even pushed the idea that if the Civil Magistrate decides to kill Christians, he is doing the right thing because, after all, he is the Civil Magistrate. Cultural Theologians find this appalling.
Non-cultural theologians are mission-minded. However, what some of us find puzzling is that as we put more and more missionaries on the field to disciple other nations, we are more and more in this country dying as a Christian nation. It is difficult to teach others to fly a plane when you have failed to fly one yourself. The Church has lost its ability to be salt and light in America. How then can we take the good news to the whole world when it seems that at home the Christian Faith is failing, and it is irrelevant outside the church sanctuary and personal devotions?
I have watched similar so-called movements as Wilson and Moscow in the past destroy themselves, whether it be the Tyler, Texas fiasco or the ministries of Mark Driscoll. However, things may now be different. Neither of these two failures resulted in a new denomination nor were accompanied by numerous other separate ministries headed in the same direction. Even if Moscow were to implode, the message will continue. So, non-cultural theologians need to realize that cultural theologians are not going away. The best way to deal with them is to recognize that they are legitimate and pursue a right relationship with them.
Cultural theologians are not in a panic mode. No, they do not believe the sky is falling tomorrow. We are not out to reclaim through politics the structure of America. Donald Trump is not the answer. God is sovereign. That is our hope. However, we do not swallow the dialectic of the cross verses glory. We believe in both, that because of the cross, Christ will be glorified not only in heaven but also upon earth as his people seek to bring every thought captive to his authority. Meekness in the heart granted by the Spirit of God is the way to the realization of this glorious kingdom, not for the glory of mere mortals like us, but for glory of our majestic God! The Kingdom is not from this world, but it is indeed in this world.
Modern America is now Gomorrah in the hands of Cultural Marxists. We tend to forget and ignore the fact that Marxism itself has a history, and its history always results in the shedding of the blood of millions of people. We must be pro-life, not pro-death, even beyond the womb. For non-cultural theologians, their hope may be in believing that persecution is the best way to heaven. For cultural theologians, persecution may be their calling, too, but in time to come, the Kingdom of God will come to earth in its fullness, and the glory of the Lord will cover the earth as the waters cover the sea, all before the second coming of Christ. Whether they see it in fruition or not, it gives them a purpose on earth, both in their families and in their callings. It is wonderful to think that you had a part, be it ever so small, in the long-term victory. We are in it for the long-haul. That is why Wilson’s children and others are fighting as warriors.
Larry E. Ball is a retired minister in the Presbyterian Church in America and is now a CPA. He lives in Kingsport, Tenn.