Saturday, September 16, 2023

Doug Wilson Insists That the Christian Magistrate Should NOT Enforce Blasphemy Laws – Iron Ink

 A summary of Doug Wilson’s argument in “Mere Christendom” insisting that the Magistrate should not enforce blasphemy laws.;

 As a theonomist Wilson believes in “the need to restore the Bible as the quarry from which to obtain the needed stone for our foundations of social order” (149), he strongly argues against state imposed punishment for blasphemy. He reminds us that “those who want the government to have the right to kill blasphemers are also asking for the government to have the right to kill those who rebuke their (the government’s) blasphemies” (157), and “When you give the state power to punish a blasphemer, you are giving the state the power to blaspheme with impunity” (171). Since rulers are sinners, a healthy recognition of the depravity of man ought to restrain us from giving them the kind of power that would be required to punish blasphemy. “Whenever you give the state plenipotentiary powers to crack down on x, y, and z, what you are actually doing—please remember this—is giving them plenipotentiary powers to commit x, y, and z” (173). Therefore, “It is better to allow a troubled individual to blaspheme than to give, for the sake of preventing such things, regulatory powers over the definition of blasphemy to the very people most likely to be tempted to get into real blasphemy” (175–76). Wilson calls this “restraining the worst blasphemer first” (the title of Chapter 11). It’s not that we Christians don’t want to eradicate blasphemy—we do. But “we are not waging war according to the flesh” (2 Cor 10:3); “the artillery of the new covenant is more powerful than what the people of God had in their possession in the old covenant” (169). We want to eliminate blasphemy, but “not through the law” (158); rather, we do so through gospel conversion. “The central way that Christians are called to transform the world is not to be found in politics,” Wilson insists (221). “Christ gave us our mission and He gave us our methods. The world is to be brought to Christ, with all the nations submitting to Him, agreeing to obey Him. That is the mission. The method consisted of Word and water, bread and wine” (160).  Wilson argues that inherent protection of free speech by limiting the state’s power “is the theo-political genius of Christianity” (171). He argues that “The founding of our nation really was exceptional, because the men who drafted our Constitution knew that American politicians, taking one thing with another, would be every bit as sleazy as the same class of men from any other clime” (201).


The above argument is the “argument” that Wilson crafts to explain why he does not believe that the State should be given authority to bear the sword against blaspheming the name of Jesus Christ in the public square.

Look, I’m not the sharpest blade in the drawer, and as such, I’m sure I must be missing something here because it strikes me that this argument is so absurd I can’t believe anybody can read it without their eyes bugging out. I mean, on this Wilsonian logic why would the state be given the sword to enforce any of God’s law like “murder,” “rape,” or “kidnapping” since giving the sword to enforce those laws would naturally lead to the state using that plenipotentiary powers to commit x (murder), y (rape), and z (kidnapping.)”

Rev. Wilson’s operating principle at work here is: give no one the power for good if they can use it for evil. Which of course reaches beyond absurd into the zip code of Nutville.

Wilson’s citation of I Cor. 10:3 is complete eisegesis and so is irrelevant to the issue at hand. Doug says that we want to eliminate blasphemy “but not through the law,” which every dispensational and R2K antinomian (but I repeat myself) chap worth their salt would stand and applaud.

Next Wilson sets up a false dichotomy (and nobody sets up false dichotomies better than Doug) by suggesting that we can get rid of blasphemy by law (politics) or we can get rid of blasphemy by gospel conversion. This is not a either/or but a both/and. If we can’t get ride of blasphemy by law (politics) than it stands to reason that we can’t get rid of any crime by law (politics) and so the Christian Magistrate should not legislate against any crimes since do to so would mean we are not trusting in gospel conversion. This is a false dichotomy. We should want both laws that force the Christ hater to not blaspheme and gospel conversion wherein  the Christ lover does not want to blaspheme.

From there Wilson implies that Christianity cannot triumph in the context of a Christian magistrate bringing the sword to bear in order to support God’s law. We do believe that the world will be converted (Wilson’s Word, water, bread and wine) but we also believe that along the way to that converted world the Magistrate will continue to not bear the sword in vain so that when anti-Christs arise who want to throw off God’s law as applied to the social order they will be thwarted.

Unless I am missing something (and that is real possibility) this reasoning by Wilson in Mere Christendom is embarrassing.

Author: jetbrane

I am a Pastor of a small Church in Mid-Michigan who delights in my family, my congregation and my calling. I am postmillennial in my eschatology. Paedo-Calvinist Covenantal in my Christianity Reformed in my Soteriology Presuppositional in my apologetics Familialist in my family theology Agrarian in my regional community social order belief Christianity creates culture and so Christendom in my national social order belief Mythic-Poetic / Grammatical Historical in my Hermeneutic Pre-modern, Medieval, & Feudal before Enlightenment, modernity, & postmodern Reconstructionist / Theonomic in my Worldview One part paleo-conservative / one part micro Libertarian in my politics Systematic and Biblical theology need one another but Systematics has pride of place Some of my favorite authors, Augustine, Turretin, Calvin, Tolkien, Chesterton, Nock, Tozer, Dabney, Bavinck, Wodehouse, Rushdoony, Bahnsen, Schaeffer, C. Van Til, H. Van Til, G. H. Clark, C. Dawson, H. Berman, R. Nash, C. G. Singer, R. Kipling, G. North, J. Edwards, S. Foote, F. Hayek, O. Guiness, J. Witte, M. Rothbard, Clyde Wilson, Mencken, Lasch, Postman, Gatto, T. Boston, Thomas Brooks, Terry Brooks, C. Hodge, J. Calhoun, Llyod-Jones, T. Sowell, A. McClaren, M. Muggeridge, C. F. H. Henry, F. Swarz, M. Henry, G. Marten, P. Schaff, T. S. Elliott, K. Van Hoozer, K. Gentry, etc. My passion is to write in such a way that the Lord Christ might be pleased. It is my hope that people will be challenged to reconsider what are considered the givens of the current culture. Your biggest help to me dear reader will be to often remind me that God is Sovereign and that all that is, is because it pleases him.