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» Ship of Fools   » Community discussion   » Purgatory   » 'Shaming the Tiger': What should churches do? (Page 1)

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Source: (consider it) Thread: 'Shaming the Tiger': What should churches do?
birdie

fowl
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An investigation into the life story of the evangelist Tony Anthony, as told in his book 'Taming the Tiger' has found that much of his dramatic life story has been fabricated, and in some cases passages lifted wholesale from other martial arts books – such as a book about Bruce Lee. His publishers have now withdrawn the book from sale.

An account of the investigation can be found on the Ship's front page: Shaming the Tiger

Tony Anthony visited the church I used to be a part of last year, not long after I had moved away. People spoke very highly of him, and a number of young people (I think it was billed as a youth event) came to faith or became more involved in the church as a result of his visit.

How should a church handle this situation? I feel strongly that some acknowledgement should be made that the church gave a platform to a man who, it turns out, was not telling the truth about his life. I am sure that there will be concerns about the effect this might have on people who came to faith after hearing his now discredited testimony, and I'm concerned that because of this the issue might not be addressed. If faith might be damaged by the discovery of this man's deceit, surely it would be damaged still more if the church covered up, and then later that was discovered – people would feel they had been lied to twice.

I'm interested – if you were an elder or minister of a church where this had happened, how would you address it now?

I don't know yet what (if anything) is being said in my previous church about it. My father-in-law is an elder there, and I'm hoping to talk it over with him soon.

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"Gentlemen, I wash my hands of this weirdness."
Captain Jack Sparrow

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wishandaprayer
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I think there have been misgivings about him in various communities for at least 4/5 years.

I was invited to play at an event that he was speaking at, and had not really heard of him prior, in 2009; at that point I did a little Google-Fu on him, and there were already rumblings that he was something of a charlatan, both in attitude and story; so I took the decision not to attend the event.

Judging by the developments since, as I look around on the internet, it seems that it has been fairly widely known for at least 2 years, that there is no basis for his story. So maybe this conversation should be more about the due diligence that churches should undertake before actually booking a speaker.

I'm sure there are many other questionable characters that are often invited into churches (for a fee!) and there are names that come to mind immediately that I'm wary of, in the same vein as Tony Anthony.

If I was a church leader, I'd apologise for not doing due diligence on the people that are taking the pulpit in the church, and resolve and create process such that it can't happen again.

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wishandaprayer
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Incidentally, his website now introduces him as an "award-wining" author. Draw your own conclusions.
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Lord Jestocost
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A couple of times now I've heard our vicar use a couple of illustrative anecdotes in sermons that I went home, looked up on Snopes and found to be wrong. He gets them out of a boo of useful illustrative anecdotes and while he's always acknowledged my point I have yet to hear a public retraction. So the first obstacle to overcome might be to get people to believe it and see why it matters that the man is a fake.

But assuming it is possible to build up a sufficiently critical mass, if your church has in any way bigged up the Tiger then my advice would be to come clean: announce it publicly. Your church's faith and mission should be strong enough to survive having one of its supports kicked away.

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Wesley J

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Well, yes. Took him a while to take the site down. Avanti Ministries on their main page are saying they are ending all their operations, and are closing down; that's all that is available now.

In fact, on the Crosswire site linked to in the SoF article, there have been comments that TA also did things like plagiarising other writers' evangelical advice books, so basically nicked resources created by others and claimed them as his own, and then sold them on in a book.

It seems there's possibly more wrong with the guy than one might think at the moment.

How to react, once the initial shock is overcome, is entirely another matter. I'll be following the development and this thread with interest.

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Be it as it may: Wesley J will stay. --- Euthanasia, that sounds good. An alpine neutral neighbourhood. Then back to Britain, all dressed in wood. Things were gonna get worse. (John Cooper Clarke)

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Wesley J

Silly Shipmate
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This link to Premier Radio may be helpful, too. I happened to listen live when TA was being interviewed. Quite a shipwreck. Sadness.

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Be it as it may: Wesley J will stay. --- Euthanasia, that sounds good. An alpine neutral neighbourhood. Then back to Britain, all dressed in wood. Things were gonna get worse. (John Cooper Clarke)

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Dark Knight

Super Zero
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It's a good question, birdie. Over here in Oz, we had a bloke pretending to be dying of cancer for quite awhile, even appearing on stage with a respirator. Turned out he wasn't even sick - it was some kind of bizarre cover up for a porn addiction. More on that here, for those interested.
I agree with others, the churches need to fess up that they got duped. But also remind the new converts that they weren't saved into Tony Anthony, but into Jesus. And just because the bloke was a crook doesn't discredit the gospel. Heck, in the Hebrew Bible God spoke through Balaam's ass, so anything is possible.

[ 17. July 2013, 11:15: Message edited by: Dark Knight ]

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Love is as strong as death (Song of Solomon 8:6).

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Karl: Liberal Backslider
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I have a sneaking suspicion that time will prove Doreen Irvine's "autobiography" to be somewhat embroidered as well.

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This silence; I'm so frightened
I'm a prodigal who's afraid to come home.
And why can't I breathe?
http://agnosticchristian.wordpress.com

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Gamaliel
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I know I can be something of a cynic at times but my experience has been that charismatic evangelical circles are nowhere near as hot as they should be on investigating these kind of claims - nor of issuing disclaimers once things turn out not to be the way they've been presented.

I'm old enough to remember the 'Revival' video back in the '90s that included all manner of unsubstantiated claims that later turned out to be false. I don't remember hearing of many leaders apologising for having shown the thing in the first place.

Of course, these kinds of things aren't restricted to the charismatic evangelical constituency but I would suggest that the charismatic evangelical scene is prone to this kind of chicanery and charlatanism more so than some of the other Christian traditions - although it's not hard to come up with odd-ball claims and whacko assumptions in any of the churches - RC, Orthodox and Protestant.

As to how to deal with it:

1. Be up-front. Acknowledge the lack of provenance and, if necessary, own up to having been taken in by it. People will respect leaders more if they admit and acknowledge mistakes.

2. Cultivate a wise awareness that such things are more common than we might care to admit. Be wise as serpents, gentle as doves.

3. Cultivate a spirituality that is more grounded, less dualistic and less prone to extravagant flights of fancy. In other words, don't be so super-spiritual as to be of no earthly use.

4. Kick this celebrity-style testimony thing into touch. It does none of us any favours.

5. Turn away from fads and fancies and concentrate on what's important - the preaching of the word, pastoral care, the sacraments, social and community outreach as part and parcel of evangelism etc

6. Develop your bullshit detector. Changing one's reading patterns can help here. Read proper theology and tried and test devotional books etc etc and not the sensationalist pulp.

Finally, be as wise, sensible and balanced as curmugeonly old Gamaliel ...

[Biased]

No, I don't mean that. Forget that last bit ...

[Razz]

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Let us with a gladsome mind
Praise the Lord for He is kind.

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fletcher christian

Mutinous Seadog
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Between deceptions like this and abusive priests what amazes me is that the survivors very often manage to salvage something of faith in the midst of it all. I know there are examples of quite the opposite too though.

What really worries me is the motivation. To fabricate to this level and effectively build a double life there has to be serious sums of money involved; otherwise why would he do it?

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'God is love insaturable, love impossible to describe'
Staretz Silouan

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wishandaprayer
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quote:
Originally posted by fletcher christian:
To fabricate to this level and effectively build a double life there has to be serious sums of money involved; otherwise why would he do it?

It's gotta be better than working in McD's at minimum wage?
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beatmenace
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The guy who wrote 'Healer' and pretended to have Cancer is just bizarre - not sure how that is more of a cover-up of anything than just saying nothing. I cant help thinking he might have been setting himelf up to return with a miraculous 'healing'.

Not sure i will ever see that song in the same way now.

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"I'm the village idiot , aspiring to great things." (The Icicle Works)

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fletcher christian

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posted by wishandaprayer:
quote:

It's gotta be better than working in McD's at minimum wage?

Really? - and I mean that sincerely. There is a serious energy that goes into living such a double life. The point I was making was that the payoff at some point for living such a fucked up life, must be huge. I can't honestly think of anything other than money that would be such a motivator (unless we're in the area of mental health, which doesn't seem to be the case here as far as we know).

I will say that I have seen the bills presented by some evangelical preachers and I have been more than a little shocked (and no I am not tarring them all with the same brush). The only other job I think that might reward as well is top level banking.

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'God is love insaturable, love impossible to describe'
Staretz Silouan

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Gamaliel
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Yes, there's serious money to be made within evangelicalism. Very serious.

That doesn't apply right across the board, of course. For every superannuated so-called apostle or get-rich-quick author and snake-oil salesman, there are people struggling to make ends meet and whole armies of unpaid volunteers ...

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Let us with a gladsome mind
Praise the Lord for He is kind.

http://philthebard.blogspot.com

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wishandaprayer
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quote:
Originally posted by fletcher christian:
Really? - and I mean that sincerely. There is a serious energy that goes into living such a double life.

From my point of view, this isn't the kind of thing that is planned with much thought; it happens and the consequences have to be dealt with. One lie creates another, and therefore it snowballs. I'd venture he was making a very comfortable living, plus whatever he could legally skim from his charity (income of £150k last year, with £45k on "travel" for example); and there was no way to expose the lies, so the best for him was to continue in it.
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fletcher christian

Mutinous Seadog
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wishandaprayer, I think you are seriously naive if you really believe that level of deception does not require huge pre-planning.

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'God is love insaturable, love impossible to describe'
Staretz Silouan

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monkeylizard

Ship's scurvy
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FC, in addition to the money, there was also the fame. Some people love attention.

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The ultimate result of shielding men from the effects of folly is to fill the world with fools. ~ Herbert Spencer (1820 - 1903)

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fletcher christian

Mutinous Seadog
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I can understand that Monkey, but it was just the level of deception that surprised with no mention of what the return was. I would imagine that the desire for fame with that level of deception would be a clinical issue; although I am far from qualified to say.

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'God is love insaturable, love impossible to describe'
Staretz Silouan

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wishandaprayer
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quote:
Originally posted by fletcher christian:
wishandaprayer, I think you are seriously naive if you really believe that level of deception does not require huge pre-planning.

I'm not saying that; I'm saying that it can be planned one way, and blow into much larger proportions that require much more energy. Like anything, all these things evolve. I'm not saying Tony the Tiger didn't pre-plan all of this, but I'd think that it started as a much smaller deception before it grew as large as this.
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wishandaprayer
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quote:
Originally posted by fletcher christian:
I would imagine that the desire for fame with that level of deception would be a clinical issue; although I am far from qualified to say.

I'm sure it would be - and it wouldn't be a stretch to say that he shows a lot of characteristics of a sociopath (see the Hare Checklist). I'd be willing to wager that he would fit as a sociopath, and that provides a bigger base for the "why" of his action. I wonder how many large church leaders we can fit to that mold too [Biased]
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Crœsos
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quote:
Originally posted by birdie:
How should a church handle this situation?

Just say that the factually inaccurate bits are supposed to be a poetic metaphor? That seems to work well in other church-related examples. [Big Grin]

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Humani nil a me alienum puto

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Karl: Liberal Backslider
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quote:
Originally posted by Crœsos:
quote:
Originally posted by birdie:
How should a church handle this situation?

Just say that the factually inaccurate bits are supposed to be a poetic metaphor? That seems to work well in other church-related examples. [Big Grin]
Naughty, Croesos.

--------------------
This silence; I'm so frightened
I'm a prodigal who's afraid to come home.
And why can't I breathe?
http://agnosticchristian.wordpress.com

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Chorister

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There is a whole genre of autobiographical writing which has had a bad press for several years now - that of someone who has had a really bad childhood, treated like a dog rather than a person, by uncaring parents, etc. etc. The trend got to be that the punters wanted more and more extreme versions of the style, so the authors gave them what they wanted - as they discovered such books sell well and made them lots of money. Then the examples started to get so extreme and unbelievable that bluff was called and people now need to buy such books with wide open eyes, realising that the stories may be fictional rather than factual.

The example given in the OP seems to be along rather similar lines - except that people do seem to expect a Christian writer to be more truthful. Perhaps that is rather unrealistic, as they are subject to the same temptations - to make money, to be popular - as other writers. It therefore shouldn't happen, but it does.

I guess the answer is to take all autobiographical writing with a pinch of salt, and seriously question how much of it is 'truth' and how much 'embellishment'.

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"Chorister spouts a load of drivel with (very) occasional flashes of brilliance. Could do better." SoFsted, 2014.

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Ancient Mariner

Sip the ship
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As to why someone like TA does this? There are easier ways to make money, surely...

My own belief is that people like TA are mentally ill and can hold contradictory information in their brain and believe both sides to be true. There are various medical names for this but it's the only thing that makes any sense to me. And that's because, to the rational mind, it doesn't make any sense at all.

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chris stiles
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quote:
Originally posted by fletcher christian:
wishandaprayer, I think you are seriously naive if you really believe that level of deception does not require huge pre-planning.

Actually why should it require any sort of pre-planning?

The foundational evidence is basically .. his book. It's not like he has scads of secondary documents/witnesses that actually support his claim.

He probably started off small and then his claims became more outlandish over time. He didn't have to be particularly venal about it either - and I'm sure at some point everything snowballed, and then it was hard to walk away.

He was helped by people's natural good will - and by the fact that he was working with an audience which naturally believed things told to them by authority figures. Back in the pre interweb days he could have probably lasted for much longer or even forever (I've always had doubts about Audrey Harper's claims of child sacrifice, for instance).

It's happened often enough that it has been satirised in popular culture.

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chris stiles
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quote:
Originally posted by Ancient Mariner:
As to why someone like TA does this? There are easier ways to make money, surely...

My own belief is that people like TA are mentally ill and can hold contradictory information in their brain and believe both sides to be true.

I think this absolves the rest of us too easily. It's easier to say that he is mad than have to deal with the fact that it;s basically an extension of a trait that all of us experience.

Children make up stories all the time, so do CEOs.

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Gamaliel
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To be frank, this isn't a new thing. I remember as a very earnest young evangelical with an interest in history and so on, being mightily impressed by the journal of John Nelson the stonemason, one of Wesley's 'adjutants' in the North of England.

I still am, it's gripping stuff.

However, even back then I could see that much of it was crafted rather like a 'tract' rather than a standard autobiography - all the incidents seemed designed (or reported rather) to support one or another aspect of Wesleyan doctrine against Calvinists and others.

Not only that - whilst it was certainly the case that the Nelsons suffered greatly for their faith - his wife was manhandled and miscarried when attacked by a mob at Wakefield - some of the accounts of how badly beaten he was did stretch credulity somewhat. I have no idea how he was able to walk yet alone ride a horse after some of the incidents he recalls. I've since met a Methodist historian who told me that we should take some of the more extreme incidents in Nelson's journal with a pinch of salt.

Now, Nelson wasn't in it for the money and I'm not saying he made it up - I'm sure he was knocked about at times. But with the best will in the world urban myths develop in the telling.

I suspect in this case we've got a combination of elements:

1. Yes, prior planning and malice aforethought.

2. Some opportunism and having to keep the thing going once he'd got in too deep.

But each of these would be predicated by:

1. An over-willingness within some constituencies to jump on the bandwagon of any exciting testimony that came their way.

2. A refusal by some church leaders to let the facts get in the way of a good story.

--------------------
Let us with a gladsome mind
Praise the Lord for He is kind.

http://philthebard.blogspot.com

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fletcher christian

Mutinous Seadog
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It's the gullibility of many that's so amazing too. Like I mean to say, 'Tony the Tiger'?...puhleeese.
Pity some nut didn't give him a good ass kicking after his preachy boasts to debunk the whole myth early on.

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'God is love insaturable, love impossible to describe'
Staretz Silouan

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lilBuddha
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That he was not a winner of a completion does not mean he knew no martial arts. Nor that if he were, he would be unbeatable. All it would prove is who won a fight that day.

We are almost all guilty of accepting stories which fit our narratives without as much critical thinking as should be.
The churches taken in should address it quickly and honestly.
But the larger problem is that this has happened before, is happening now and will happen again.

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fletcher christian

Mutinous Seadog
# 13919

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Lol, I see from youtube that he did a lot of prison ministry. I hope when they get out that he finds a good hiding place. Talk about a lie biting you in the ass - that's gotta suck.

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'God is love insaturable, love impossible to describe'
Staretz Silouan

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Gramps49
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# 16378

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Such goings on has been around since the Old Testament, no doubt. There are several warnings about false prophets just as there are about false teachers and evangelists in the New Testament.

But God can still use such people to accomplish his mission. The fact that the original post indicates several young people coming to faith should not be discounted based on false witness.

What the church needs to do for those people is continue to minister to them, strengthening them in their new faith.

But, at the same time, it does go to show when such people are claiming fantastic experiences it is imperative someone does a little fact checking.

A standard that I have is to ask whether the testimony exhibits a theology of glory or a theology of the cross. If it is a theology of glory, approach with caution (double check the facts.)

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Jonah the Whale

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By a weird coincidence I first heard about him when I sold his wife something on eBay and googled Avanti ministries which was in the email address.

I never met the guy but did read his book. I think back now to the biographies I read back in the 70s as a fledgling Christian or seeker. How many grains of salt do I now have throw at Corrie ten Boom, David Wikerson, Nicky Cruz, Brother Andrew et al.? How much responsibility should the individual reader bear in weighing up the veracity of such stories? Can we not assume any diligence on the part of the publisher?

JtW

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lilBuddha
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As a reader? Depends on how much of the facts you wish to know, vs reading an inspiring story.
As an organisation booking a speaker? Especially one to emphasize your message? You have an immense obligation to verify.

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Gamaliel
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# 812

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I think the point we have to bear in mind with any of this is that whether we are reading about Corrie Ten Boom, Brother Andrew, David Wilkerson or St Seraphim of Sarov, St Francis of Assisi or whoever else is that hagiography is hagiography - it has 'designs' upon us.

The same with your daily newspaper.

There is no such thing as a completely neutral or unbiased article or story.

Even the NT has 'designs' upon us - 'These things are written so you might believe,' John's Gospel tells us.

This doesn't necessarily imply a lack of trustworthiness, just that nothing is there to be taken at face value.

As for the popular evangelical stories, your Corrie Ten Booms, Brother Andrews and what have you - I don't have any problem with the overall thrust and trajectories of these stories but they are what they are - popular and populist accounts.

None of them convey a great deal of nuance.

Take the popular Norman Grubb biographies of figures like C T Studd ('Cricketer and Pioneer') and Rhys Howells ('Intercessor') - they're cracking good yarns and the overall outlines are 'true' in the historical sense - but the weight and interpretation that Grubb puts on them is a different thing again.

Sure, there have been attempts to portray Studd as a misogynistic nutter who left his wife behind to live as a somewhat flakey missionary in the Congo. I'm not so sure the revivisionist versions are any more 'true' to the facts than Grubb's rather starry-eyed and uncritical biographies.

The truth, as ever, lies somewhere between the two extremes.

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Let us with a gladsome mind
Praise the Lord for He is kind.

http://philthebard.blogspot.com

Posts: 9157 | From: Cheshire, UK | Registered: Jul 2001  |  IP: Logged
Alan Cresswell

Mad Scientist
# 31

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There have been occasions when I have read several autobiographical books by the same author, and almost always there have been points of detail in each book that contradict each other (sometimes the contradictions are present in a single book). That is, I always assumed, the nature of that sort of book - they tell a gripping story that gives a good broad-brush testimony and/or exhortation to take action over a major concern of the author. But, attention to detail is often overlooked, and quite often as the emphasis on a story changes then which details to include and how to describe them necessarily change too.

Now, of course, details like whether person A met person B on a Wednesday or a Thursday may be very trivial. And, no one would expect every conversation to be reported verbatim (and, so, when reporting the same conversation on different occasions the author may choose slightly different words or include/omit different parts, and for simplicity may conflate a conversation had over an extended period into a single event). We see exactly the same phenomena in all biographical and autobiographical works ever written, including the Gospels.

There is a fuzzy ground between the trivial detail and those details which it is essential are reported reasonably accurately to convey the truth of a narrative. There is an equally fuzzy line about how much 'poetic license' an author can exercise in turning a sequence of events that often occured over decades into a book that can be read in an afternoon or a talk lasting one hour.

It certainly appears that Tony Anthony crossed well beyond the fuzzy line. I don't know anywhere enough of the details to say what parts of the story are basically true, though the investigation as reported certainly shows large parts that are complete fiction. If there is a genuine testimony of a small-time criminal with a prison-conversion then that could be the basis of a valuable ministry (especially, potentially, in prisons), though not as rewarding (in terms of fame, finance etc) as what Tony Anthony describes. Some exageration in a testimony is to be expected (I'm sure we've all at times described either our life before we became Christians as worse than it actually was or our life as Christians as better than it actually is), and is perfectly normal filtering of events to suit the purpose we have in offering such testimonies. Take that exageration too far into the realm of complete fantasy, especially when that fantasy becomes part of our ministry, then things are in a different league, that then destroys that ministry and damages others with similar ministries. It extends to other areas; someone with a ministry to addicts who invents a past addiction to sympathise with the addicts they minister too, for example, would not only loose their ability to minister to addicts but calls into question all those ministering to addicts who probably do have genuine past addiction problems.

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Marvin the Martian

Interplanetary
# 4360

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quote:
Originally posted by fletcher christian:
It's the gullibility of many that's so amazing too. Like I mean to say, 'Tony the Tiger'?...puhleeese.

Tony the Tiger. I don't think wishandaprayer intended that as a respectful nickname...

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Take another shot of courage
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You just get numb

Posts: 26730 | From: Adrift on a sea of surreality | Registered: Apr 2003  |  IP: Logged
Mark Betts

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# 17074

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This all sounds to me like American comic-book stuff, where people are looking for a superhero to save them, rejoice when they find him, or sometimes her (if it's superwoman.) Their world comes crashing down when they find out that their hero is not all he claimed to be.

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"We are not some casual and meaningless product of evolution. Each of us is the result of a thought of God. Each of us is willed, each of us is loved, each of us is necessary."

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South Coast Kevin
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# 16130

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quote:
Originally posted by Mark Betts:
This all sounds to me like American comic-book stuff, where people are looking for a superhero to save them, rejoice when they find him, or sometimes her (if it's superwoman.) Their world comes crashing down when they find out that their hero is not all he claimed to be.

It's simply the Evangelical Protestant version of over-enthusiastic veneration of Catholic and Orthodox Saints, isn't it? Except I suppose with the Saints, most people will permit some doubt as to the historical accuracy of all the events in the hagiographies...

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My blog - wondering about Christianity in the 21st century, chess, music, politics and other bits and bobs.

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Gracie
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# 3870

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quote:
Originally posted by South Coast Kevin:
quote:
Originally posted by Mark Betts:
This all sounds to me like American comic-book stuff, where people are looking for a superhero to save them, rejoice when they find him, or sometimes her (if it's superwoman.) Their world comes crashing down when they find out that their hero is not all he claimed to be.

It's simply the Evangelical Protestant version of over-enthusiastic veneration of Catholic and Orthodox Saints, isn't it? Except I suppose with the Saints, most people will permit some doubt as to the historical accuracy of all the events in the hagiographies...
Well one major difference would be, I think, that Catholid and Orthodox saints are all dead and certainly not self-promoted.

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When someone is convinced he’s an Old Testament prophet there’s not a lot you can do with him rationally. - Sine

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Avila
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# 15541

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quote:
Originally posted by Ancient Mariner:
As to why someone like TA does this? There are easier ways to make money, surely...

My own belief is that people like TA are mentally ill and can hold contradictory information in their brain and believe both sides to be true. There are various medical names for this but it's the only thing that makes any sense to me. And that's because, to the rational mind, it doesn't make any sense at all.

And others referencing mental health....

Why is it that people are so quick to point at 'mental illness' to account for certain types of behaviour?

Is it as suggested above somewhere that we want to separate it off from things we might find potentially in ourselves???

Whatever the reason it is offensive to those with Mental health issues to have this link all the time being made with bad behaviour, whether here, or cases of violence or whatever.

People make choices, and can make bad choices without the help of depression or sociopathy or whatever. Most of the bad choices triggered by poor mental health are focussed inward and are self destructive not about major public deceptions.

Living a life built on a lie would take much more emotional energy than a mentally stressed person would have to spare.

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http://aweebleswonderings.blogspot.com/

Posts: 1258 | From: west midlands | Registered: Mar 2010  |  IP: Logged
Wesley J

Silly Shipmate
# 6075

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@ Gracie:

RC saints can be made rather swiftly now, see JP2! Still, they are dead, yes.

[ETA: crosspost]

[ 18. July 2013, 10:38: Message edited by: Wesley J ]

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Be it as it may: Wesley J will stay. --- Euthanasia, that sounds good. An alpine neutral neighbourhood. Then back to Britain, all dressed in wood. Things were gonna get worse. (John Cooper Clarke)

Posts: 6086 | From: The Isles of Silly | Registered: May 2004  |  IP: Logged
Wesley J

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# 6075

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quote:
Originally posted by Avila:
quote:
Originally posted by Ancient Mariner:
As to why someone like TA does this? There are easier ways to make money, surely...

My own belief is that people like TA are mentally ill and can hold contradictory information in their brain and believe both sides to be true. There are various medical names for this but it's the only thing that makes any sense to me. And that's because, to the rational mind, it doesn't make any sense at all.

And others referencing mental health....

Why is it that people are so quick to point at 'mental illness' to account for certain types of behaviour? [...]

I don't see Ancient Mariner's comment like that. I believe he may have tried to look at the situation from a different angle, and with quite some mercy on the perpetrator. This approach I find remarkable, and similar to what I would have said, but haven't got round to yet, and which perhaps has been somewhat absent from the discussion so far.

'Love your enemies', in this sense, would be like stepping back from judging for a brief moment, and look at the person who felt they needed (for whatever reason) to act wrongly. It would give them the chance to repent, face the consequences, repay their debts (financially, morally), but also for them to turn back onto the right path, a bit like the prodigal son. The offer should be there, and I feel that's what AM tried to express.

If Tiger Tony is willing/capable/able to accept his guilt, shame and sin will be left up to him, and remains to be seen. None of my business really.

So I think there need to be both views - denounce what went wrong, analyse, and draw the right conclusions; but also, possibly, if there's repentance, to allow the return of a prodigal offspring, but in a way that makes sense and creates healing, rather than hurt. If ever possible.

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Be it as it may: Wesley J will stay. --- Euthanasia, that sounds good. An alpine neutral neighbourhood. Then back to Britain, all dressed in wood. Things were gonna get worse. (John Cooper Clarke)

Posts: 6086 | From: The Isles of Silly | Registered: May 2004  |  IP: Logged
Gamaliel
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# 812

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I suspect the RCs and Orthodox would argue that 'nature abhors a vacuum' which is why Protestants come up with their own equivalents. It's long been observed, and I think there was a recent Ship discussion on this, that evangelicalism developed its own 'canon' of saints, as it were, largely missionaries, Bible-smugglers and evangelists of some form or other.

I think this tendency can go 'overboard' in any of these traditions ... I think it was Hatless who told us about Spanish peasants whipping statues of St Anthony whenever the Saint apparently failed to locate lost items on their behalf ... [Ultra confused]

I think the issue I have with this particular incident isn't that it happened in the first place so much as it indicates the level of thirst for stories of this kind in certain types of fellowship.

It's as if everything has to be exciting and upbeat all the time. As if there is no room for the mundane and the daily grind. As if everything has to be switch-back ride exciting all the time. As if every meeting has to end on some kind of 'high' and every prayer has to yield some kind of spectacular result.

The problem I have is with the underlying assumptions and spirituality that create the conditions for this sort of thing to take hold and flourish.

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Let us with a gladsome mind
Praise the Lord for He is kind.

http://philthebard.blogspot.com

Posts: 9157 | From: Cheshire, UK | Registered: Jul 2001  |  IP: Logged
Autenrieth Road

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# 10509

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quote:
Originally posted by Alan Cresswell:
There have been occasions when I have read several autobiographical books by the same author, and almost always there have been points of detail in each book that contradict each other (sometimes the contradictions are present in a single book). That is, I always assumed, the nature of that sort of book - they tell a gripping story that gives a good broad-brush testimony and/or exhortation to take action over a major concern of the author. But, attention to detail is often overlooked, and quite often as the emphasis on a story changes then which details to include and how to describe them necessarily change too.

And sometimes memory can just plain change. I remember reading two accounts of a fatal mountain climbing accident by the survivor, written some years apart. I forget the exact detail that differed, but it was fairly central: something like, in one he saw his partner go over the edge of the crevasse, and in the other he didn't. He was aware of this discrepancy however, and talked about it in the second account, saying he couldn't explain it, and in both accounts he was honestly reporting what he remembered at the time he wrote the account.

quote:
Some exageration in a testimony is to be expected (I'm sure we've all at times described either our life before we became Christians as worse than it actually was or our life as Christians as better than it actually is), and is perfectly normal filtering of events to suit the purpose we have in offering such testimonies.
I don't recognize this. Perhaps I haven't had a proper Christian conversion to awaken me to the evangelistic possibilities of exaggerating my testimony, but I think when talking about my life I try to convey it as accurately as I can. It may be impossible not to include filters and emphases, but I am not consciously making them in the direction of making things out to be different than they really were.

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Personally, I'd just go with an ichthus:
Jesus Christ, Son of God, Saviour.
--St Deird

Posts: 8225 | From: starlight | Registered: Oct 2005  |  IP: Logged
Sooze
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# 16621

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I'm a prison chaplain and have invited Tony to speak to my congregation in the past. I think it is a wicked thing to deceive vulnerable people who are in need of inspiration and hope that they can change their lives and escape from the treadmill of crime and imprisonment. The discovery that some of his claims are false will undermine his message of redemption and confirm the view held by many prisoners that everyone else is dishonest and it is foolish to try to be a good person and follow Christian precepts. He will have to answer for his deception of people trying to reform. I am not looking forward to exaplining this to prisoners who have read his book and been inspired by it.
Posts: 17 | From: Kent | Registered: Aug 2011  |  IP: Logged
Fr Weber
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# 13472

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The evangelical church seems more prone to this kind of hero-worship than the Catholic wing. I have to wonder whether that's because the churches on the Catholic end prefer to wait until their heroes are dead and can't spoil it all by misbehaving.

Not that we aren't perfectly capable of exalting unworthy people, but it seems to come around and bite the evangelicals in the ass much more often.

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"The Eucharist is not a play, and you're not Jesus."

--Sr Theresa Koernke, IHM

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Sooze
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# 16621

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I should add that I am an Anglo-Catholic, a rarity amongst prison chaplains, and use both the saints of old and saints alive to try to inspire change in prisoners. Despite the evangelical nature of these transformed lives autobiographies I use them because they are effective.
Posts: 17 | From: Kent | Registered: Aug 2011  |  IP: Logged
Gamaliel
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# 812

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Sooze, that reminds me of the East End of London Anglo-Catholic priests who used to serve the Liturgy with all due solemnity yet used Moody & Sankey/Salvation Army style tactics when conducting rallies and missions ...

[Biased]

I think that the use of these books and testimonies is entirely appropriate, of course - and indeed, I am sure they can be effective.

Where the danger starts is where there's an uncritical acceptance of everything that 'comes from the front' as it were or when there is a reluctance to accept that leaders and others have simply got things wrong.

I know it's a different thing, but I can remember a few painful incidents from my more full-on charismatic evangelical days when there was a reluctance on the part of leaders to acknowledge that particular 'prophecies' or initiatives had been duff.

A similar thing applies in cases like this. I don't envy you having to let some of the prisoners down by saying that these books contained lies, spin and insubstantiality but I'd imagine it'll have to be done sooner or later.

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Let us with a gladsome mind
Praise the Lord for He is kind.

http://philthebard.blogspot.com

Posts: 9157 | From: Cheshire, UK | Registered: Jul 2001  |  IP: Logged
Palimpsest
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# 16772

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I assume the sequel is that he will have a long talk with Christ about his failings as a miserable sinner and Christ will forgive him and tell him to go back on the lecture/autobiography trail.

As an outsider, I note that fallen preachers in America are forgiven and go back in the pulpit rather than retiring to the choir.

Posts: 1440 | From: Seattle WA. US | Registered: Nov 2011  |  IP: Logged
SvitlanaV2
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# 16967

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quote:
Originally posted by Sooze:
I'm a prison chaplain and have invited Tony to speak to my congregation in the past. I think it is a wicked thing to deceive vulnerable people who are in need of inspiration and hope that they can change their lives and escape from the treadmill of crime and imprisonment. The discovery that some of his claims are false will undermine his message of redemption and confirm the view held by many prisoners that everyone else is dishonest and it is foolish to try to be a good person and follow Christian precepts. He will have to answer for his deception of people trying to reform. I am not looking forward to exaplining this to prisoners who have read his book and been inspired by it.

I don't know anything about this chap (though the Chinese grandfather/kung fu thing rings a bell from my visits to Christian bookshops), but IMO the problem that's arisen now could be turned to some sort of advantage. It could be a 'teachable moment', as the Americans say.

Noone is pure and beyond temptation, not even a Christian. That's a banal message that every new Christian needs to hear repeated, especially if their conversion has relied heavily upon other people's testimonies. What the men in prison or other Christians elsewhere now need to consider and discuss is what God's response to Tony might be. What does Jesus say about people who find themselves in this sort of place? How might Christians respond? What should the church require of someone like Tony? Is Tony in a state of repentance, and what difference does that make? None of this discussion should be an attempt to hide the disappointment, but it's necessary because it'll help people move forward in their faith, IMO.

More generally, I agree that these stories about excitement and waywardness followed by conversion can be highly compelling. I sometimes think how 'cool' it would be if I'd led a more debauched life and then had a grand conversion experience.... Churches are fascinated by this sort of thing, even sensible MOTR churches. Such a background enhances one's status in the church - there's no denying it. And for men, hearing a life story like Tony's reinforces the masculine potential of entering the Christian faith as the outcome of a great struggle, rather than the genteel summary of a careful upbringing, or of bookish thoughtfulness, or whatever. But the current situation shows that discernment is always required, and no one should be put on a pedestal.

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