John Starke over at The Gospel Coalition, just conducted an interview with Doug Wilson regarding his experience (suprises, regrets, desires) speaking at Bloomington. For more on that event, check my post here: ‘Doug Wilson and the Tolerance Mob’.
I agree with John that Wilson, “displayed an unusual gentleness throughout“, considering the nature of his opposition. My favourite question was about his choice to lean on the gentle side rather than satirical (Wilson does both ably!):
In these tense situations, satire, gentleness, and respect can all be used in response. You are sometimes known for satire, but surrounded by rudeness and antagonism, your manner stayed fairly gentle. What made you use one tactic over the other?
One of the principles of war is surprise. Satire should always be used as a tool or a weapon, and not as a relief valve for a personality disorder. When nonbelievers are expecting an effeminate and (to them) suitably soft articulation of biblical truth, the use of public satire can often come as a complete surprise, and can be very effective. When they are expecting a hate-filled thug, conjured up in their own imagination, surprising them the other way is also effective.
In addition, I should add that in face-to-face, person-to-person situations like this one, the apostle Paul requires us to speak this way.
And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, in meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth; and that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will (2 Tim. 2:24-26).
In situations like this where repentance is much needed, gentleness is much called-for. I don’t believe this passage is a “one-size-fits-all” verse, but it is a size that fits the kind of situation Paul was talking about. And I think Paul was talking about just this kind of event.
Read the full interview here.
Wilson also mentioned keeping a copy of C. S. Lewis’ “The Apologist’s Evening Prayer” in his Bible. I hadn’t come across this before:
From all my lame defeats and oh! much more
From all the victories that I seemed to score;
From cleverness shot forth on Thy behalf
At which, while angels weep, the audience laugh;
From all my proofs of Thy divinity,
Thou, who wouldst give no sign, deliver me.
Thoughts are but coins. Let me not trust, instead
of Thee, their thin-worn image of Thy head.
From all my thoughts,
even from my thoughts of Thee,
O thou fair Silence, fall, and set me free.
Lord of the narrow gate and the needle’s eye,
Take from me all my trumpery lest I die.