"That uncertainty appalled me," says Doug. "But as an Arminian, I had no way of answering it. Evan was being more consistent with his free-will premises than I was being with mine." In a fraught period that Evan calls "The Great Unpleasantness," Doug became a postmillennial Calvinist, drifted away from the Drones, and asked Evan to resign from all teaching roles in their church.
In Doug's words, he "fell down the Reformational stairs," and his church began attracting "refugee Presbyterians" in the late 1980s. Yet no Reformed denomination would welcome his church, a Baptist-Presbyterian "mutt," or certain ideas Wilson held about the covenant and the sacraments. In 1995, his church was one of three that cofounded a new denomination, the Confederation of Reformed Evangelical Churches.
Wilson's congregation, Christ Church, was growing so rapidly that he didn't have time to escape to seminary (save for one summer at Regent College in Vancouver), and did his best to study independently. His studies covered Scripture and the church fathers, but also led him further off the beaten track, to Christian Reconstructionism.
Christian Reconstructionists are controversial, to put it mildly. The brainchild of Rousas John Rushdoony, an Armenian-American pastor and disciple of Presbyterian theologian Cornelius Van Til, Christian Reconstructionism's core is the application of every jot and tittle of Mosaic Law to modern Christian life, and a postmillennialism that borders on a call for outright theocracy.
Wilson says he rejects the Reconstructionists' political tactics and distances himself from the label, claiming that his view of Old Testament law is more subtle than theirs. But when I asked what he thought of the death penalty for homosexual acts suggested in Leviticus 20:13, he did not shy away from the theonomic hard line that disturbs many Christians. "You can't apply Scripture woodenly," he says. "You might exile some homosexuals, depending on the circumstances and the age of the victim. There are circumstances where I'd be in favor of execution for adultery. … I'm not proposing legislation. All I'm doing is refusing to apologize for certain parts of the Bible."
Instead of political activism, Wilson aims for grassroots cultural change. He worries less about the next election than about the next generation of Christians—particularly their education, which has concerned him since his eldest daughter approached school age. An encounter with Dorothy Sayers's influential essay "The Lost Tools of Learning" convinced him to revive the medieval pedagogical model, the Trivium, and build a curriculum focused on Greek, Latin, Hebrew, and the Western canon. Wilson founded Logos School in Moscow in 1981. "We knew we didn't want to be a reactionary fundamentalist academy in a truncated way, and didn't want to be just a private prep school," he says. "So our slogan was 'a classical, Christ-centered education.' "
Wilson became one of the founding fathers of the classical Christian education movement. The response to his 1991 book, Recovering the Lost Tools of Learning, was so overwhelming that he founded the Association of Classical and Christian Schools to provide information and host conferences for parents and teachers. In 1994, as his daughter was finishing high school, Wilson founded New St. Andrews College in Moscow (NSA), the first four-year college dedicated to the classical Christian curriculum. (All three of his children are Logos and NSA graduates.)