Led by controversial pastor Douglas Wilson, Christ Church of Moscow has for years been planning a spiritual takeover of the town — transforming both its politics and its soul. Wilson is gentle and soft-spoken when not behind the pulpit but will go head-to-head with anyone in a debate.
And he does not mince words about his views on Moscow.
“Basically this is a blue dot in a very, very red state and the blue dotters are pleased,” Wilson told Religion News Service in an interview. “Our mission is ‘All of Christ for all of life’ and if you drill that down, then for all of Moscow.”
The church website explains the church’s mission further.
“Our desire is to make Moscow a Christian town,” it reads, “ … through genuine cultural engagement that provides Christian leadership in the arts, in business, in education, in politics, and in literature.”
Not everyone in the community is on board with that plan, Wilson admits. He also told RNS the idea of a spiritual takeover of Moscow started with his father, James, who came to the area after retiring from the Navy to start a Christian bookstore at the nearby Washington State University campus. Jim Wilson is now in his 90s and is being cared for by Douglas Wilson and his wife, Nancy.
In his 1964 book, “Principles of War: A Handbook on Strategic Evangelism,” Jim Wilson explains that the concepts of physical warfare can be applied to strategic evangelism.
According to his dad’s text, Douglas Wilson said, a takeover of Moscow is feasible because of the city’s relatively small size and its reputation. And a takeover is strategic because it would mean a significant loss to the enemy.
“We could have Bovill for Jesus in two weeks,” Wilson joked, “but that wouldn’t be strategic.”
Bovill is a nearby town with only 260 residents.
Instead, the Wilson family set its sights on Moscow, where the plan remains controversial.
Douglas Wilson’s ‘spiritual takeover’ plan roils Idaho college town. Religion News Service.
But then again, I’m a theocrat, not a secularist. Theocracy and the Tijuana Brass, January 17, 2018
First, theocracy is inescapable. Every society is theocratic, every society has a god of the system. The ethical expectations governing the members of that society are generated by the god of the system, and dissenters are clubbed in accordance with the divine will. In Islamic republics, this god is Allah, in secular democracies it is Demos, in Alabama it is Football. There is no such thing as a society with the great god Vacuum at the top. Any society that had no arche to hold it together would—for that reason—not hold together. Every society has an ultimate point of cohesion, and that point of cohesion, whatever it is, necessarily has religious value.
Second, working the other way, every social value has to be grounded (or not), justified (or not), in a worldview. If Christians commend a certain course of action to the larger society, and that larger society stares back at us and asks why, what do we say in response? All the ultimate ethical answers to questions that a society faces are answers that have to answer the two basic worldview questions—why? and who says? Societies don’t get to say, “just because.”
Third, we certainly have to deal with the popular connotations of the word theocracy, the sense of the word that Moore assumes throughout his article. By theocracy he means evil theocracies, with everything being made worse because it is being done in the name of God. Stealing and pillage is bad enough without being done under the aegis of Heaven. We are here confronted with the Iran of the ayatollahs, or the predations of the Spanish Inquisition. But what word should we use for those who, in the name of Jesus, fought to outlaw the slave trade, or overturn Roe, or restore a rightful definition of marriage? If it is done in the name of Christ, it is theocratic. If we ditch the authority of Christ (in order to avoid being called theocratic), we then have no answer when the inevitable why? and who says? questions come. We must as Americans protect religious liberty. Why? Who says?
And fourth, we must carefully distinguish theocracy, which is inescapable, from ecclesiocracy, rule by clerics, which is entirely escapable, and which should be escaped. In a Christian republic, the church would be a separate and distinct institution from the state. But the separation of church and state (an honored Christian position) is not the same thing as separating God and state, or morality and state, or ultimate questions from state. When you do that, for the sake of combating evil ecclesiocracies, you create a situation where we can no longer ban abortion mills on the basis of something that God said to Moses. This is because Agnosticism is now the official religion, and who’s to say? So when we remove a word from God, we are on our own. And when we go out on our own . . . well, fifty million and counting.
Last, the negative connotation for theocracy comes about in two ways. Either men establish an idol as the god of their system, and the outworking of this is consistent with the evil idolatry, or they establish the name of the true God but in such a way as to enable them to rule in His name without acknowledging His practical authority. I agree with Moore that both of these options are evil. But unlike Moore I don’t believe they are the only theocratic options. A Primer on Theocracies, January 10, 2018
Editorial Note: To our knowledge, Doug Wilson has not directly answered the question of what Christ Church means when they want to “Make Moscow a Christian Town”. We are gathering disparate sources that articulate Doug’s views on Theocracy and his comments about “Christianizing” his hometown of Moscow, Idaho. It is worth noting that elsewhere, Doug has clarified that in the theocratic government he seeks to establish, homosexuality would be a crime. Though, mercifully, the punishment for that crime would not necessarily be the death penalty.
It’s also very fair to say that Doug believes the entire world should be governed by a theocracy, he’s just chosen to focus on Moscow, Idaho as ground zero for the implementation of that plan.
If you have additional sources that further expand Doug’s view on the topic, please share them with us.