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.

Rewriting the Westminster Shorter Catechism? Not so fast

Over at Reformation 21, Mark Jones has written a post on why we should rewrite the question and answer to question 1 of the Westminster Shorter Catechism. Instead of this being the q and a for the first question:

Q. 1. What is the chief end of man?
A. Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.

Mark Jones wants us to rewrite the question and add a second part:

Q. What is the chief end of God?
A. To glorify Christ, through the Spirit, and enjoy him forever.

Q. What is the chief end of man?
A. To glorify God and Christ and enjoy them, through the Spirit, forever.

His stated purpose for making the change is that he believes the original language does not focus us on Christ’s work, since Christ is not mentioned in the answer. I have a couple of thoughts about that that I want to address here.

First, I’m uncomfortable with saying that we know what God’s chief end is. We should be extremely careful when it comes to speculating about the things of God, especially when those things are not addressed specifically in Scripture. While it is demonstrably true that God the Father glorified Christ Jesus the Son and that the Father loves the Son, it is less clear if we can therefore infer that we know God’s chief end.

Calvin warned against speculating into the essence of God beyond what is revealed to us in Scripture:

Hence it is obvious, that in seeking God, the most direct path and the fittest method is, not to attempt with presumptuous curiosity to pry into his essence, which is rather to be adored than minutely discussed, but to contemplate him in his works, by which he draws near, becomes familiar, and in a manner communicates himself to us.

Book 1, Chapter 5, section 9, Calvin, J., & Beveridge, H. 1997. Institutes of the Christian religion.

I believe that we should tread lightly when discussing intra-Trinitarian workings.

Second, I have a concern about Jones’ underlying assumption. Jones says:

But, as I read the Scriptures, it could be more accurate. Sure, we are to glorify God and enjoy him forever. But any question and answer on the chief end of man must explicitly refer to Christ, as well as God.

“Christ, as well as God.” Does he believe that “God” only means the Father? Isn’t Christ God? When we worship and glorify God, do we not worship and glorify Father, Son, and Spirit? When the catechism and confession speak of the will of God does that mean only the will of the Father? Is there a hierarchy in the Godhead?

Maybe instead of critiquing and rewriting the catechism we should recover a more robust understanding of who God is. Interestingly enough, the catechism goes on to explain this in questions 3-6:

Q. 3. What do the Scriptures principally teach?
A. The Scriptures principally teach what man is to believe concerning God, and what duty God requires of man.

Q. 4. What is God?
A. God is a spirit, infinite, eternal, and unchangeable, in his being, wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness and truth.

Q. 5. Are there more Gods than one?
A. There is but one only, the living and true God.

Q. 6. How many persons are there in the godhead?
A. There are three persons in the Godhead; the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost; and these three are one God, the same in substance, equal in power and glory.

And there you have it. There is one God, three persons “equal in power and glory.” By simply continuing to read the catechism we see that in glorifying God, we are glorifying Father, Son, and Spirit.

If Mark Jones does not see Christ in the q and a for question 1, that is a product of his own misunderstanding, and not a failing in the catechism. Because if Jones is correct and “God” refers only to the Father, then the rest of the catechism becomes incomprehensible and grossly inaccurate.

My recommendation is that we leave the catechism alone and continue to teach all of it. Each question and answer builds on the others. Each references Bible verses to help us understand in greater depth. And if we have any doubts as to who we are to glorify forever, we can always sing the Doxology:

Praise God, from Whom all blessings flow;
Praise Him, all creatures here below;
Praise Him above, ye heavenly host;
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.

And Gloria Patri:

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost;
As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be,
World without end. Amen, Amen.