"Are You Cranky At Us?" - Doug Wilson
I have known for many years that Doug Wilson has contempt for my father. I believe this contempt began early on in their relationship and grew over the years as more differences between the two of them surfaced and as my father voiced his growing concerns about the way the church leadership dealt with a number of issues. Remember, my father was in the core group of just a few people who started what would eventually become Christ Church as it is today.
(edit, my father wrote to me and explained the following regarding the last sentence in the paragraph above: "I did attend the fellowship on occasion in 1975 when DW was a guitar player and also after he became a teacher but I was not part of the core group that guided that fellowship. DW and I were elders together in the Port Cities Evangelical Fellowship which started sometime around 1980.")
Long before I was sexually abused and my father was disproportionately blamed for it, Doug wanted to be rid of him. I have conjectured before, here and here among other posts, that when I came out about the abuse Doug saw an opportunity to throw my father under the bus and swiftly and mercilessly did so.
Now I'd like to offer what I feel is not only further evidence of Doug's contempt for my father but also of behavior unbecoming for a pastor. I won't give much of my opinion on what you're about to read as I believe it speaks quite loudly for itself.
A couple of months ago I was given an 18-page transcript for a meeting my father, Gary Greenfield, had with Doug Wilson on December 15, 2004 (roughly 6 months before my abuse went public). The meeting was recorded by my father with Doug's permission.
Doug initiated the meeting to discuss several topics, including two I'll share with you today: Doug's interest in knowing whether or not my father was 'disgruntled' and Doug's curiosity about whether or not my father wanted to sell Bucer's, the coffeehouse/pub jointly owned (at the time) by both of my parents and another couple.
In the following portion of the transcript, Doug begins the meeting by asking my father if he's disgruntled toward the church. He seems particularly concerned about this and asks the question in several different ways.
Date: December 15, 2004
Time: 2:30 PM
Recorded Conversation between Gary Greenfield and Douglas Wilson (taped with Doug’s permission)
DW: Well, where would you like to start?
GG: Well, you called the meeting, so I’m kind of passive here as far as —
DW: Okay, what I would like to talk about specifically is Bucer’s and Ball and Cross. That’s the thing I wanted to talk about. That’s what I wanted to address when I was asking you to meet and so on.
DW: But I wanted to get a larger context and these are just general questions — do you consider yourself among the disgruntled?
GG: I wouldn’t say that I am among the disgruntled; I’d say that, no, I’m not
GG: Well, what do you mean by “disgruntled”?
DW: Do you have objections to Christ Church or to Trinity or to the Christian community? — not knowing what the particular disagreements/grievances might be, I don’t know what specific to ask. But I mentioned the letter that the elders were talking to different people, addressing hypocrisies, grievances in the church, and in one of them your name came up. One of the people we talked to said that they talked to you and expressed their unhappiness with the church. They didn’t give verbatim quotes about what you said or what you talked about, but your name was mentioned as we were addressing that. And I guess I wanted to know if you’re a happy camper in the church, everything’s great, couldn’t be greater, whether you’re completely supportive of the church but have questions or concerns, disagreements in places like I mean everybody does — including some of the elders?
DW: Or are you cranky at us?
GG: No, I would say that I love Christ Church, I love God’s church, and I only hope for the preservation of Christ Church and the Church at large in Moscow, and I would say that I have concerns. I think that just as any church, just as in Revelations when Jesus addressed the churches, all but one had grave concerns and wonderful praises, and I think that Christ Church is in that same camp. There are concerns and there are praises.
GG: So I think that that would be — that’s just a normal state of existence for the Church at large and for Christ Church in particular.
DW: Okay; do you put any of them in the “fix this or your lampstand will be removed” category?
GG: I don’t know. I’m not — I don’t think I am wise enough to understand specifically what it would take for that to happen — I mean, I’d need to — I think I’d rather do a study — I’ve never done a Bible study on that particular issue so I don’t know.
DW: Okay. First, let me agree with you in principle, every church under the sun has problems and difficulties and things they’re trying to address and things that may need to be fixed and so on. But when John wrote to the Seven Churches in Asia, he was writing under inspiration so that when he said, “If you tolerate that woman Jezebel” or “You’ve fallen from your first love,” he was speaking under inspiration. Do you have concerns about decisions the elders have made, directions the church is going, that you have talked about with others — and I am excluding of course Pat, and that sort of thing — but that you have talked about with others without finding out the other side? Proverbs 18 talks about one person’s case appears reasonable until you’ve heard the other side.
DW: Have you been careful to not talk to people about any concerns, grievances, complaints, whatever they might be, until you know the whole story?
GG: I’ve endeavored to be extremely careful because of the volatile nature of all this; I think there’s a great responsibility to do what is best for the church and for the preservation of the church for the honor of the Lord Jesus Christ and His body.
DW: Right; so when people talk to you about their concerns, do you just say nothing? or do you —
GG: Oh, no, absolutely not. Anytime anybody has ever discussed concerns or issues with me, my primary goal is to encourage, to build up, to preserve, and to do whatever I can do to help the body of Christ.
DW: But does that involve making them come to talk to us?
GG: I don’t know about — I’m not — I think that in any conversations I’ve had that those people are already engaged in some kind of dialogue with you guys, present, past, or potentially future, I’ve never — you know, I think to deal with issues without going to the source, it’s most often just not productive at all to do that. I mean, that would be considered gossip or unproductive.
DW: Okay, do you — when someone comes to you with a concern, beef, whatever, do you
say, “Well, just — you need to just give it to God” — you know, that sort of counsel?
GG: Yeah —
DW: — Or do you say, “Yeah, I know what you mean; I have the same concerns”?
GG: I think it would depend on the individual — but again, always my counsel has been to encourage, to build up, to do all that I could for the preservation of the Church and for the preservation of Christ Church and for the preservation of that individual for the preservation of the governmental structure of the peace of the Church. That is the only counsel I have ever given is that for anything that, you know, if someone — I have avoided there are certain people I have to avoid because of what the Scripture says about particular people that are causing division I don’t want to have anything to do with them because I don’t want to — I don’t — I just want to stay far away from divisiveness or activity or behavior that I sense is seeking — has a vengeance to it or revenge to it. I don’t want anything to do with that but, you know, I’ve got, I mean, anytime any brothers that I sense are hurting or want counsel or just want a friend, I mean, I’m there as a brother for them and knowing ultimately that I’m part of the body of Christ and what happens to the body, what happens to Christ Church, happens to me and happens to the body at large, I mean we are not alone, you know, so I only want to give counsel that’s going to be for building the body up for contributing to the health of the body. It would be crazy to take, you know, to mangle my own self — the body of Christ.
DW: Are you confident that you have been able to take care of things you’ve heard? We know for a fact that some of the unhappy people in the church who have talked, have misrepresented, lied about us, sometimes in dramatic ways, and when you hear something have you been careful to discount anything like that? You’ve not talked to them about particulars?
GG: I can only go off of what the Proverbs says, there’s always two sides to the story —
DW: So you are careful to be quiet?
GG: Well, yes, and, you know, some things that are beyond — some things I am not in a position to influence or in a position to change and I don’t want to try to change things or influence things.
DW: Or the other person’s mind.
GG: Yeah, yeah, or the other side. In all of my interactions with any brother it has always been “minister to this brother, don’t try to, you know, there’s too many things that are beyond my ability or my responsibility to change. I can just accept things as they are and try to encourage those that God brings into my life. And my goal is to build up the body of Christ and to do what will promote peace in the body of Christ.
GG: That is my driving motivation in any kind of relationship.
DW: And do you accept the fact that a number of the different people that are unhappy, the thing that they need to do spiritually is to come talk to us?
GG: Well, yes.
DW: And have you urged that?
GG: Inasmuch as I can, yes, for the most part — but I think there are some things that just — well, there are other situations where I’ve said, “You need to just suck up and serve the Lord,” and there are other times that I’ve told people — not that I’ve made any — I’ve just not addressed it; I’ve said, “You just need to serve the Lord and you just need to focus on the Lord and not try to change things or address things that are out of your, you know, that you can’t change and that are going to cause trouble. Just serve the Lord.” So I’d say that’s —
DW: Okay. And is any of this — let me put “disgruntlement” in two categories — somebody might say, “I think that by planting Trinity, dividing the two churches, was the wrong decision.” But you can have that view and not think that the people who made the decision were sinning or disobeying God; you just think it would have been wiser to go the other direction.
DW: That’s one type of disagreement where someone says, “I was so disappointed the elders decided to not buy Avalon House” or to — you know, that sort of thing. And the other is dealing with people who think that I’m a tyrant, for example, or that I’m empire building, or that I’m destroying people’s lives, that kind of thing. If someone comes to you with that sort of statement, “Doug Wilson is destroying lives” or “Doug Wilson is lying” or “Doug Wilson is doing these sorts of things,” do you just encourage them to serve the Lord? or do you behave in such a way that they will be able to deal with it or stop talking to you about it?
GG: I would encourage someone who came to me like that just to serve the Lord and stay on with whatever — to deal with bitterness, to deal with resentment, and to just focus on whatever their responsibility in life is and not try to get involved with things that are beyond their means of being able to change or affect or whatever.
GG: To be content with whatever situation God has called you to.
DW: Right; I guess my question — and these are all questions, and not — certainly, these are all questions — there’s a difference between, let’s say someone came to you and said,
“Doug Wilson snuck into my yard last night and shot my dog.” Okay, and you encouraged them to “deal with the bitterness and serve the Lord” — you know, that sort of thing. The unspoken shared assumption between the two of you is that I did in fact shoot the dog. Okay, now, now I guess my question is, as a member of the church you have a responsibility to labor for the peace and purity of the church and that includes challenging slanders, challenging things that are false, and if you say, “Well” — and I think there are two honorable courses: One is when someone brings you a charge or mentions something of sufficient magnitude, not “I saw Doug Wilson jaywalking,” but tyranny, lying, you know, this sort of thing — high level of magnitude — you have a responsibility to either make them come to me or you come to me with “So and so thinks this,” or to say to the person, “I don’t want to talk to you about these things at all because I don’t want to share the assumption unless I go — unless I go confirm that this is in fact the case, in which case we better do something about it,” or “Don’t talk to me; I don’t want to have anything to do with that.” Does that seem like a reasonable course of action?
GG: That’s a hard question; I’m not sure. I’d have to think about it.
GG: Because it’s, it’s just — it’s a hard question, I’d have to — I tell you what, I’ll get back to you in writing on that.
DW: Okay, well, let me thank you for considering the question.
Here's another portion of the transcript. In this portion Doug asks my father if he's interested in selling Bucer's and offers a potentially threatening example for why my father might want to consider selling.
DW: And what I’m doing is I’m asking you here. Here are some possible, here are some possibilities. You are in — going back to the first part of the conversation about different people who are disgruntled in the church — you know, unhappy with different things. I know, for example, that Duck was one of the people who talked to you, and your position — whether you feel this way or not — your position objectively on paper is very much like Duck’s, where you’ve got a grizzly bear by the ears and you can’t hold on and you can’t let go. You have a very important position in Christ Church because of Bucer’s, because of how the students congregate there, the students from our church congregate there, because a lot of churches and so on. Consequently, let me run a hypothetical thing, suppose someone opened up a coffee shop — most churches don’t have things like this, don’t have a setup like this — but suppose someone opened up a coffee shop or restaurant or pub like you have done and for one reason or another became unhappy with how things were going in the church, but whose livelihood depended upon continuing with the church in some way, if a, if — and I’m not suggesting that you’re going to do this or that you wanted to do this or anything like that — I’m just saying that if there were some sort of rupture between you and the elders or you and the church or some sort of rupture between someone else and the elders connected to you — there all sorts — there are all sorts of scenarios that I can imagine that would, that would affect your business dramatically.
GG: Uh huh.
DW: And so, I don’t believe — basically, I was wondering — thinking that it was possible that if, if someone came and offered you to buy you out — buy out your interest, take it over — that that might be attractive to you because it would relieve you of possible complications, you know, someone like a bachelor — and I’m not specifying or certain of anything, but —
GG: Uh huh.
This portion of the conversation goes on for quite some time but the veiled threats against my father's business seem to be pretty relevant in the discussion of whether or not Doug Wilson is fit to be the pastor of a congregation full of people who look to him for guidance and wisdom in all aspects of their lives.
I remain hopeful that more and more people will begin to see Doug as he actually is: a power-hungry public figure who will go to great and harmful lengths to defend his position and to destroy anyone who opposes him. I watched him destroy my father's reputation. More recently, my own husband has been the public target of Doug's vicious and slanderous character attacks. He has attacked my own character on numerous occasions in order to discredit my voice as an abuse survivor.
When will his followers and the members of his congregation open their eyes and say 'Enough'?