Can There Be a “Christian City?” Reflections on Doug Wilson and Moscow, Idaho
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I recently watched an NBC news segment (on Youtube) in which an NBC journalist interviews Pastor Doug Wilson of Christ Church, Moscow, Idaho. According to the news segment, Wilson wants to make Moscow, Idaho a “Christian City.” Of course, the segment is too brief to flesh out everything that means. After interviewing Wilson, the journalist interviews another Moscow pastor—of the local Unitarian church.
Why do journalists so often do this? Of course the Unitarian pastor is going to oppose Wilson’s vision for the city. But she should have asked the Unitarian pastor what SHE thinks a “Christian city” might be like (if one could exist). Whom should she have interviewed instead? Well, how about a Catholic priest or mainline Protestant minister or even an Anabaptist one? I happen to know that there is, just outside Moscow, an Anabaptist intentional community.
Sidebar: Did you know that Queen Elizabeth II died a Presbyterian? That according to British historian David Starkey. I have heard and read this before. When the English monarch goes to Scotland he or she automatically becomes Presbyterian while in Scotland. End of Sidebar.
People in Moscow, Idaho are naturally worried about Wilson’s vision, perhaps plan, because they fear it will include enforcing his ideas of Christianity, especially his ideas of Christian morality. Would it be “Back to a New England Puritan town in the 17th century?”
I would recommend that Wilson read two books: Augustine’s “The City of God” and Greg Boyd’s “The Myth of a Christian Nation.” According to BOTH, before the return of Christ there can be no “City of God” or “Christian Nation.” There can be the Christian church, which, according to Augustine, is the City of God before the return of Christ. But no human “polis” (empire, city, nation) is or can be the City of God.
I wonder, though, what citizens of Moscow, Idaho would think of Wilson’s vision IF it focused on the Sermon on the Mount and voluntary living according to the Golden Rule both among members of his church and non-members?
I strongly disagree with Doug Wilson about many things (don’t ask me to enumerate them here!), but I do not think the interview treated him fairly. The interviewer was clearly hostile to him and his vision from the get-go. She should have asked the obvious question: “What aspects of your Christianity do you want instantiated in law that are not already?”
As a Baptist/Anabaptist (they’re really not that different historically and theologically), I strongly disagree with Wilson and with anyone who wants to blur the line between church and states. However, as a critical thinker, I also think this NBC interviewer blew it by subtly misrepresenting Wilson by not allowing him to spell out his vision more fully and by mostly interviewing citizens of Moscow who strongly disagree with him. Her interview was (no my way of thinking) intended to stir up opposition to Wilson and his vision. Is that a journalist’s job? Increasingly yes, unfortunately.
She, the interviewer, left the impression that the Unitarian church is a Christian church. Is it? Not in my opinion. There may be Christians IN a Unitarian church, but, in my opinion, that would be in spite of the church and not because of it. The interviewer should have let viewers know that the pastor of the Unitarian church does not speak for Christianity and is at the opposite end of the theological and probably political spectrum from Wilson and Christ Church.