Misquoting Wilson?

Editor’s Note: Pastor Jones and others have explained that they believe I misrepresented Doug Wilson’s comments on 1 Thess. 4:4-5. I’ve updated this article with additional context from Wilson’s blog.


When I wrote Beyond Authority and Submission, I knew that not everyone would agree with me. As I mentioned in the last post, I expected some people to disagree with what I believe about women and men in marriage, church, and society. A handful of men have written critical reviews, and I will address some of their concerns in the near future.

In an Amazon review, Pastor Mark Jones questions the accuracy of my research and accuses me of misquoting Doug Wilson and not citing the original sources correctly:

“She also displays a failure to properly read those she is disagreeing with. In some cases the citations do not even make any sense when you check the original sources. It is one thing to think Doug Wilson has bad theology, but you cannot misquote him and attribute things to him that he did not say. She does this a number of times, which shows it perhaps isn’t a mistake”

Mark Jones

These are serious charges to make. I took considerable care in my research to quote and cite sources accurately. In addition to my own checking and double checking of my sources, the editors at P&R Publishing also made sure that the citations were accurate. Mistakes can be made, and it’s always possible that some error wasn’t caught. That’s why I’ve gone back through my book and compared each Doug Wilson citation with the original source.

I apologize in advance for the length of this article. Since Pastor Jones didn’t indicate which quotations or citations he found problems with, I can’t be certain which concerned him. What follows are every quote and citation of Doug Wilson in my book with the original source for comparison.

In this first citation, I cite Doug Wilson as an example of someone who defines masculinity as having authority and taking initiative.

Rachel Green Miller, Beyond Authority and Submission, pg 108

In the original source, Doug Wilson writes:

Doug Wilson, Fidelity, chap. 2, loc. 165-67, Kindle

Next, I cite Wilson as defining masculine men as assertive, confident, and not afraid of taking risks.

Rachel Green Miller, Beyond Authority and Submission, pg 108

In the original source, Wilson wrote:

Doug Wilson, Her Hand in Marriage, chap. 2, loc. 391-92, Kindle

I cite Wilson here as saying that women have a certain weakness as part of God’s design.

Rachel Green Miller, Beyond Authority and Submission, pg 109

In the original source, Wilson writes:

Doug Wilson, Reforming Marriage, 38

Here is a direct quote from Wilson in my book.

Rachel Green Miller, Beyond Authority and Submission, pg 110

And in the original source Wilson says:

Doug Wilson, Her Hand in Marriage, chap. 3, loc, 532-33, Kindle

In this quote from my book, I cite Wilson as an example of teaching that if women leave the protection of their fathers and husbands, they put themselves at risk of being assaulted or raped. I use Dinah here as an example of a woman who was raped.

Rachel Green Miller, Beyond Authority and Submission, pg 111

In the original blog post, Wilson wrote:

Doug Wilson, “Courtship and Rape Culture”

In this next selection from my book I quote Wilson as saying men should be “resident theologians” in their homes.

Rachel Green Miller, Beyond Authority and Submission, pg 135

In the original source, Wilson writes:

Doug Wilson, Reforming Marriage, pg 40-41 (pg numbers from the revised 2005 ed)

It is possible that this citation is slightly off in the page numbering. I think this is a matter of different page numbers in different editions or versions of the book. If it is an error, I’ll happily ask the publisher to make a correction. But the quote does appear in the book as shown above.

The next quote I used at the beginning of a chapter. It’s a direct quote.

Rachel Green Miller, Beyond Authority and Submission, pg 153

The original source:

Doug Wilson, Reforming Marriage, pg 80

Here I cite Wilson as saying men were created to be dominant leaders.

Rachel Green Miller, Beyond Authority and Submission, pg 154

In the original source, Wilson writes:

Doug Wilson, Reforming Marriage, pg 24

In this selection, I cite Wilson as one who writes about the significance of the length of women’s hair.

Rachel Green Miller, Beyond Authority and Submission, pg 158

Wilson writes in the original source:

Doug Wilson, Fidelity, appendix B, loc. 1994-45, Kindle

For additional context, Wilson has written about the importance of women having hair longer than their husbands in several places. For example:

Doug Wilson, “What Nature Teaches”

This selection is another direct quote from Wilson. In the editing process, while rearranging this paragraph from paraphrase to direct quotation, the word “most” was added. I apologize for the error. I’ve asked the publisher to correct it however possible.

Rachel Green Miller, Beyond Authority and Submission, pg 158

The original source with the surrounding context:

Doug Wilson, Her Hand in Marriage, chap. 3, loc. 688-89, Kindle

Here I cite Wilson as teaching that a man has authority to overrule promises or decisions his wife or daughters make.

Rachel Green Miller, Beyond Authority and Submission, pg 159

After a lengthy discussion on Numbers 30 and other passages, Wilson writes:

Doug Wilson, Her Hand in Marriage, chap. 1, loc. 295-96, Kindle

To give greater context for his whole discussion, here is another brief excerpt from the same chapter:

Doug Wilson, Her Hand in Marriage, chap. 1, loc. 173ff, Kindle

In this selection, I cite Wilson as an example of teaching that women are called to help men in the work God gives to men.

Rachel Green Miller, Beyond Authority and Submission, pg 160

In the original source, Wilson writes:

Doug Wilson, Reforming Marriage, pg 30 (2005 revised edition)

Here I cite Wilson for teaching that men should control the finances in a marriage, because women will spend too much if allowed to.

Rachel Green Miller, Beyond Authority and Submission, pg 164

In the original source, Wilson writes:

Doug Wilson, Reforming Marriage, pg 89

Next is a direct quotation from Wilson.

Rachel Green Miller, Beyond Authority and Submission, pg 164

As the original source shows:

Doug Wilson, Fidelity, chap. 7, loc. 978-81, Kindle

This selection includes another direct quotation from Wilson.

Rachel Green Miller, Beyond Authority and Submission, pg 196-97

In the original source, Wilson writes:

Doug Wilson, Mother Kirk, pg 204

In this excerpt, I cite Wilson as teaching that women weren’t created to be in authority over men.

Rachel Green Miller, Beyond Authority and Submission, pg 232

In the cited blog post, Wilson writes:

Doug Wilson, “The Creation Order and Sarah”

This selection is another direct quote from Wilson.

Rachel Green Miller, Beyond Authority and Submission, pg 234

In the original source, Wilson writes:

Doug Wilson, Reforming Marriage, pg 48-49

Another direct Wilson quote:

Rachel Green Miller, Beyond Authority and Submission, pg 235

As the original source shows:

Doug Wilson, Fidelity, chap. 4, loc. 701-7, Kindle

In this selection, I cite Wilson as teaching husbands to instruct and correct their wives.

Rachel Green Miller, Beyond Authority and Submission, pg 236

In the original source, Wilson writes:

Doug Wilson, Reforming Marriage, pg. 84 (2005 revised edition)

For additional context, Wilson gives similar advice in other books and blog posts. Here is a quote from Wilson’s book, Federal Husband:

Doug Wilson, Federal Husband: Covenant Headship and the Christian Man (Moscow, ID: Canon Press, 1999), 27.

The last quote from Wilson in my book is another direct quote from his book, Reforming Marriage.

Rachel Green Miller, Beyond Authority and Submission, pg 236

As the original source shows:

Doug Wilson, Reforming Marriage, pg 117

For further context, I’m adding an excerpt from Wilson’s blog where he discusses the meaning of “his vessel.”

Doug Wilson, “Preliminary Thoughts on ‘Real Marriage,’ Part Dos”

These are all of the Doug Wilson citations and quotations in my book. I also cited Pastor Jones once in my book. Apparently he’s said elsewhere that I didn’t accurately represent what he wrote. Here is the citation in question.

Rachel Green Miller, Beyond Authority and Submission, pg 168

I cited Pastor Jones’ blog post as an example of someone who considers friendship or companionship in marriage to be a downgrade, a diminishment of the marriage relationship. Here are the relevant sections of Pastor Jones’ post:

Mark Jones, “My Spouse is My Best Friend”

It certainly was not my intention to misrepresent Pastor Jones or his beliefs. I believe my use of his post was a fair representation of what he wrote.

As for the Doug Wilson citations, did I “misquote him and attribute things to him that he did not say”? You can see in these comparisons that I have accurately quoted, cited, and represented what he’s written.

It’s one thing to disagree with an author. It’s quite another to accuse her of mishandling original sources. Perhaps Pastor Jones should retract his public accusations.

24 thoughts on “Misquoting Wilson?

  1. Bradley Chwastyk says:

    Mrs. Miller – It appears that you have misunderstood the claim about your quotations. It is not that you cited them improperly – but that you have missed the mark in your interpretation of what the author was saying. These examples you have provided quite clearly show that though you have cited them, the meaning of your “citations” does not support the conclusions to which you attach them.

    Liked by 1 person

    • TulipGirl says:

      “Missed the mark in … interpretation”?

      Hm. Really?

      Taking the overall context of what DW has written over decades, the quotes are interpreted as DW wrote them.

      Perhaps he’ll try to wordsmith a weasel way out, as DW would say, but RGM’s quotes reflect the direct usage, applicable context, and overall trend of his teachings for the past 20+ years.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Diane says:

      “Mrs. Miller.” Oh please. You only referred to her as Mrs. Miller to be condescending. Do you speak to men with Mr. So and So when you are taking to them?

      Like

      • Bradley Chwastyk says:

        I do. Unless the individual has earned a different title of respect like Dr. or Reverend. Why do you assume I’m trying to be condescending? I don’t know Mrs. Miller and would never assume to be on a first-name basis with anyone I’ve never met. Is there another way I could have been more respectful?

        Like

      • ashleychwastyk says:

        As his wife, I can personally attest that yes, he does. Because he strives to show respect to those he disagrees with. Last I checked, “Mrs.”, “Mr.”, “Ms.”, etc. were all culturally acceptable ways of addressing someone with respect. If you have a suggestion as to how else he should have addressed Mrs. Miller, then by all means let us know. Please, help me help him to not be so “condescending” in the future.

        Like

      • Rachel Miller says:

        I know you mean well, and certainly those terms can be used to show respect. There are two groups of people who call me Mrs. Miller: my sons’ friends and Genevan Commons types. The first group mean it respectfully. The second? Debatable. Especially given the things they say publicly about me.

        Liked by 1 person

      • latinusdoctor says:

        How would you prefer us to refer to you? The common cultural standard would be to apply the title of “Mrs” to you as you are married. If you have a PhD, “Dr” would be apropos as well.

        Like

      • ashleychwastyk says:

        Believe it or not, he actually does! And that’s the main reason I jumped in. Bc if you knew him in real life and spoke to any of his friends, you would be assured that saying “Mrs” means he regards RGM as his peer, his equal. He just happens to disagree with her.

        Like

      • Diane says:

        Since you are the one that responded to my question to him, I will ask you this. Are you saying that when he comments on blogs, Facebook, and Twitter, he calls the men Mr. So and So? Because I have yet to see any man addressed as Mr. So and So on Facebook, Twitter, or on blogs. When it is used only towards women on social media, it comes across as condescending, especially from those who disagree with her.

        Like

    • joepote01 says:

      So… in other words… it is your belief that Doug Wilson does not say what he means and does not mean what he says? And that we are all supposed to know what he really meant in contradiction to what he actually said?

      Like

  2. Allan says:

    Dear Mrs Miller, please continue, with courage, to defend the Reformed Confessions against the fads and fancies of the ‘New Calvinists’. It is greatly appreciated by many.

    Like

  3. livelyeducator says:

    Thank you for doing the Lord’s work, Rachel! I cannot believe the rhetorical standard some men are trying to hold you to. Pastor Jones expects you to only people directly, less you stray to commentary and argument construction. 🙄

    I sincerely doubt that these critics whatever hold themselves to the standard they are trying to hold you to. It’s more of the same from DW’s camp. Speak poetically and confusingly about something, and then cry foul when anyone is critical of your message-whatever it is.

    Like

  4. Sean Gerety says:

    I don’t believe this is the first time you’ve had a run-in with Mark Jones. As I recall he wasn’t a fan of your work exposing the false gospel of John Piper either. Now he falsely accuses you of misquoting the Federal Vision bag of wind, Doug Wilson. Proving once again, some guys are just big jerks.

    Like

  5. Walt says:

    Can someone explain why Reformed people are always talking about the Baylys and Wilson? I never would’ve heard of both if it weren’t for Darryl Hart, Scott Clark and other bloggers in a very small Reformed community. I can’t figure out why the Baylys and Wilson occupy so much Reformed attention when they’re outside NAPARC and almost no one in broader evangelicalism has heard of them.

    I get that Wilson is a Federal Visionist, but why does that matter to people within NAPARC? The PCA has not disciplined its own Federal Visionists scattered among several presbyteries.

    Like

    • Rachel Miller says:

      Because Wilson in particular has a lot of influence within reformed circles. When NAPARC guys stop promoting him, maybe we can stop pointing out the problems. As for the Bayly boys, one of them is still in the PCA last I knew.

      Like

    • adad0 says:

      Wilson no longer self identifies as a Federal Visionist.
      “I have decided, after mulling over it for some years now, to discontinue identifying myself with what has come to be called the federal vision. It used to be that when I was asked if I held to the federal vision, I would say something like “yes, if by that you mean . . .” Now my intention will be to simply say no. I don’t.”
      Doug Wilson, 1/17/2019

      Like

      • Rachel Miller says:

        He merely rejects the name. Same article: “So I have finally become convinced that the phrase federal vision is a hurdle that I cannot get over, under or around.”
        And: “I would still want to affirm everything I signed off on in the Federal Vision statement”

        Like

  6. Trent says:

    I have come to the conclusion that those who critique this book cannot own up to flaws in their theology of manhood and womanhood. Nearly all have some sort of conniption when one says that the Victorian ideal isn’t Biblical. Trotting out vague generalizations spouted by Bavinck or Calvin as the “Reformed” view isn’t arguing, it’s special pleading.

    Like

  7. Rachael says:

    Thank you, Rachel, for addressing that review. I read it before I bought your book and was hoping you would write a rebuttal. Your book is wonderful and I’m giving it to my pastor for Christmas.

    Liked by 1 person

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