Friday, December 21, 2007

Seducing Souls

I received a thought-provoking comment that deserves front-page attention. This person wrote:

Over on The Shepherd’s Scrapbook there is this quote which, I think, applies well in explaining the influence that Wilson exerts over his followers:

There is no question that there aren’t very many writers out there more gifted than Philip Pullman and of course that’s what makes it the more disturbing when the gifts are abused. . . . We [he and his Senior college class] spent a lot of time talking about what’s involved in reading a world-making author like this. It’s an enormously seductive experience. As you come to trust in the author’s ability to make a compelling and fascinating world it becomes harder and harder to mistrust that author’s leadership and direction in moral matters. And so it’s very hard to sort these things out. If you begin to suspect the moral tendency or direction that the book is taking the imaginative wholeness of the vision becomes less compelling to you as well. So I think many readers who love and relish being put into these secondary worlds, who love to immerse themselves in the textures and shapes of a world different than ours, those readers are faced with a great temptation to turn off their moral and spiritual discernment so they are not disturbed in their immersion in this world. It’s a tough thing to try to keep those moral and spiritual antennae working to discern the spirits because you want so much to have an enjoyable reading experience. You don’t want it all to collapse all around your ears. (“The pull of Pullman”)

I agree with this as it applies to someone who willingly allows a tempter to seduce them. But you can’t forget the tempters in all this because they make their world so tempting, which is where Wilson enters the picture. Dr. Johnson noted below that Wilson said he was “very sympathetic to Wright’s contention that ‘justification is on the basis of the completed life lived.’” Of course, we all know that these are code words for salvation by works, though dishonest men refuse to admit it.

Nevertheless, here lies the seduction. Wilson cannot affirm outright that holds salvation by works because of its obvious ramifications. Therefore he floats the idea that he’s sympathetic to “justification is on the basis of the completed life lived” in order to condition his readers — in order to seduce them. He’s desensitizing them to something that normally would revolt them. So he feeds them a little bit of poison at a time, incrementally, which makes it easier to swallow over the long haul and strengthens their tolerance as well.

A friend of mine has an axiom: “Whenever Wilson floats an idea, it’s because he already landed there and wants the people to adjust.” For an example of this, consider his serrated-edge theology. If Pastor Lane Keister ever treated another human being in public the way Wilson regularly treats others, I daresay he would horrify every one of his readers. Honestly, imagine Pastor Lane breathing out threats and slaughter in a fit of rage on his blog, as Wilson does on a daily basis — how long would his massive readership last? It would disappear overnight.

But in Wilson’s case he has conditioned his readers to accept his abusive conduct as normal Christian behavior for him, which is the point. Wilson had to prepare his followers for this inevitable conclusion, and he could not do it at the snap of a finger. He had to slowly desensitize his disciples with one outrageous act after another, always dehumanizing his target (prey) with vicious humiliating ridicule, so that now anything goes and no one asks any questions. In fact, the monkey boys approve it and defend it — because he trained them, like Pavlov’s dogs, to expect it.

So the moral of this story is that Wilson isn’t sympathetic to “justification is on the basis of the completed life lived”; he holds it. And I can say this with absolute certainty because he doesn’t float new ideas to test the waters — he floats them because he’s in the water and, like the Tempter, he intends to seduce as many souls as possible into joining him.

Thank you.