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Source: (consider it) Thread: John Smythe, Justin Welby and Evangelicalism
DaleMaily
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In his interview with Channel 4 News regarding the revelations about John Smythe, Alan Wilson (Bishop of Buckingham) made the point that:

quote:
the theology that these people[specifically referring to Smythe, not Welby, though he did say that several "highly influential" figures in the Anglican Church were heavily involved in those circles and camps where the alleged abuse occurred] very often has an element of violence in it, a kind of punitive behaviour where God is seen as this punitive figure who is somehow 'out to get' people and I suppose it does blind people to what is going on in front of them.
Do any of you recognise this [violent theology rather than actual violence] in evangelicalism, and is the Bishop right to link the two together? I'm a newbie Christian and don't go to an evangelical church, so I'm fairly ignorant about (although instinctively wary of) "evangelical theology", so don't really know what to make of it all. That said, I recall a lot was made of linking parts of Catholic theology with the child abuse scandal...

[NB - I'm new to the forum so not sure if this is the right place for this thread. I did a search to see if this topic had already been discussed but found nothing]

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mr cheesy
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Evangelicalism is a very wide thing, so making general statements about it is very unwise.

Even within Anglicanism there are concentric and overlapping groups and cliques if different kinds of evangelicals, and I don't think the "muscular" form discussed is really a defining feature of them all.

That said, there is a disturbing trend within some of the reaches of Anglicanism which embraces a very macho Private-school, militaristic and masochistic tendency. Personally, I think that isn't something which is entirely confined to certain conservative Anglican Evangelicals, but it does seem to be true that certain Anglican Evangelical groups contain a lot of people from this Tory, private schooled, barrister, rugger-bugger culture.

[ 07. February 2017, 08:38: Message edited by: mr cheesy ]

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Baptist Trainfan
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Two thoughts.

1. I suspect that the emphasis on the more punitive aspects of the Atonement has significantly lessened over the last 20 or 30 years. I can't speak for the whole Evangelical world by any means; but my gut feeling is that the "Jesus is my friend" culture and celebration of God's goodness are now more to the fore.

2. While you may well be right about the social background of the folk you mention - and that is a direct consequence of the "Bash camp" approach - there are of course many other Evangelicals from other backgrounds, albeit perhaps with less influence. More significant, to my view, is the fact that all Christians, whatever their social background, need to allow Christ and Scripture to interrogate and critique their cultural assumptions. The danger therefore comes when any group - whether they be posh barristers or lefty social workers (!) - unthinkingly assume that their norms are the same as Christ's.

[ 07. February 2017, 08:52: Message edited by: Baptist Trainfan ]

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Sipech
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quote:
Originally posted by DaleMaily:
I'm a newbie Christian and don't go to an evangelical church, so I'm fairly ignorant about (although instinctively wary of) "evangelical theology"

It's worth noting that the abuse was in an Anglican church, and the Anglican use of the term evangelical is quite different from how evangelicals use the term.

Unfortunately, just as whenever any abuse by a Catholic is a cue for some to jump on an anti-catholic bandwagon of bigotry, so the same happens whenever anything that is (loosely) evangelical comes in for criticism, it can feed the confirmation bias of the anti-evanglicals who gleefully skip over care for the abused and instead use it as a soapbox for them to declare their wholesale condemnation of a vast swathe of their christian brethren who had absolutely nothing to do with the abuse.

The Church (as a whole: Anglican, evangelical, etc) needs first and foremost to care for the abused and to protect those who are vulnerable. Only then can there be an investigation into the specific causes and lapses in care that allowed such atrocities to happen. Wholesale blaming of a rich breadth of christian belief is neither warranted nor helpful.

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Martin60
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Hi DaleMaily, welcome.

I've encountered nothing but damnationism in the three large evangelical Anglican congregations I've been part of. The 'laity' live in dread of it for their loved ones or worse relish it. No cleric or speaker I have ever heard in conservative protestantism has ever refuted it and one recently reinforced it.

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DaleMaily
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quote:
Originally posted by Sipech:
Unfortunately, just as whenever any abuse by a Catholic is a cue for some to jump on an anti-catholic bandwagon of bigotry, so the same happens whenever anything that is (loosely) evangelical comes in for criticism, it can feed the confirmation bias of the anti-evanglicals who gleefully skip over care for the abused and instead use it as a soapbox for them to declare their wholesale condemnation of a vast swathe of their christian brethren who had absolutely nothing to do with the abuse.

I agree, and am certainly guilty of confirmation bias myself (although I feel I have started noticing it more). Whilst I certainly noticed some of this in the Bishop's interview (although in his defence he said he has done a lot of work with survivors of abuse), I thought he might be on to something when he talked about whether the type of "theology" practised by Smythe somehow blinded those who were around at the time to what might have been going on. Or perhaps that's just a cop out considering the original allegations were covered up and he was shipped off to Zimbabwe.

[ 07. February 2017, 09:44: Message edited by: DaleMaily ]

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Leprechaun

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I know this world quite well, although never posh enough to qualify to attend Iwerne.

I would say that linking a belief in penal substitution to abuse allegations is a pretty cheap way of making party political points and a pretty big extrapolation from one, clearly extremely disturbed abuser. Indeed, at least one of the victims, whose voice should be the loudest in this story, has objected to this theologising of their experience.

The reflection I think does need to happen is the tendency of evangelicals to lionise their leaders and not to admit their weaknesses, mistakes and even terrible sins because "it will let the side down." Certain types of evangelicalism have a poor theology of weakness - hence the desire to cover it all up in this case I suspect.

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Martin60
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Abusive theology like PSA cannot help but be correlated with physical abuse stinking ripe with Freudian depravity. With sadism. Religion is always - that's all, always - founded on redemptive violence. It's in the potty training of mankind. Fear, self loathing projected, shame, sex, violence. Very difficult to transcend.

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DaleMaily
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quote:
Originally posted by Leprechaun:
a pretty big extrapolation from one, clearly extremely disturbed abuser.

I accept that in this case, but if it turns out that it is systemic (which the abuse scandal in the Catholic church can be labelled), at what point do you start investigating whether there is something in the underlying theology that has been twisted in some way?

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mr cheesy
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quote:
Originally posted by DaleMaily:
I accept that in this case, but if it turns out that it is systemic (which the abuse scandal in the Catholic church can be labelled), at what point do you start investigating whether there is something in the underlying theology that has been twisted in some way?

Hard to know how one could prove it was systematic given it doesn't implicate all Anglican evangelicals and not all Anglicans are evangelical. At best one could prove it was systematic within a certain group of Anglicans, but I think that if we are defining that group by the Evangelical theology, it is by definition going to be small.

[ 07. February 2017, 10:43: Message edited by: mr cheesy ]

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Baptist Trainfan
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quote:
Originally posted by Martin60:
I've encountered nothing but damnationism in the three large evangelical Anglican congregations I've been part of. The 'laity' live in dread of it for their loved ones or worse relish it.

Recently, or historically? - as I said upthread, I think the emphasis has changed over the years. I would also suspect different emphases between the HTB-type folk and the St. Helen's Bishopsgaters.
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hatless

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If abuse such as we see in the church was found in any other organisation, would it not have been closed down by now?

Child abuse has been going on everywhere, especially within family homes, and the church is very large and has probably been specially targeted by abusers wanting to get access to children, but despite all that doesn't the entanglement of abuse and church seem particularly intimate?

It's hard to compare rates of abuse in the church with those in similar organisations (are there any?), but the level of church abuse is pretty spectacular, and often on a grand scale. The Australian Catholic Church is looking at 4,444 cases over 60 years. As soon as you think we might have the measure of things, another abuse comes along, and they still have the power to shock. I recently came across a word I had to look up - symphysiotomy. It's an eye-watering surgical procedure given, according to Wikipedia, to 1,500 Irish women without their knowledge or consent, because Caesarian sections might compromise their opportunity to have multiple successive births. And now John Smythe and the testimony, amongst others, of the boy who felt the blood from his buttocks spattering on his lower legs.

And as well as the abuse there's the failure to deal with it. Any institution may be self-protective, and lots of people prefer a quiet life, but the difficulty the church has had in facing up to, being honest about, and addressing these issues are striking.

Is the church simply a big organisation, a bit on the innocent side, that has unwittingly been host to child abuse on a similar scale to other groups? Does it look bad because the church is actually quite diligent and open in sorting things out? Or is the church, at times, a facilitator of abuse? Does it actually encourage domination of the weak? Does it unhealthily embed authority within its understanding of God and the sacred?

I think these are open questions, though I am increasingly tending to the view that the church has failures that are systemic and theological. I see abuse being addressed quite thoroughly on a case by case basis. I don't see much self-reflection as a result. I don't see any rethinking of our theology of interpersonal power and authority. Until there is, I wonder if the church can be considered a safe place.

I can't imagine what a winding up and starting again might look like, but I think that considering something like this as a possible response might at least help us grasp the seriousness of these issues and the way they relate to every worship song and architectural detail of the church.

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Leprechaun

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quote:
Originally posted by DaleMaily:
quote:
Originally posted by Leprechaun:
a pretty big extrapolation from one, clearly extremely disturbed abuser.

I accept that in this case, but if it turns out that it is systemic (which the abuse scandal in the Catholic church can be labelled), at what point do you start investigating whether there is something in the underlying theology that has been twisted in some way?
I totally agree if there was any evidence at all of systemic abuse, rather than one person who used a system of trust to groom and then abuse young people, you would have to do that. The jumping in to theologise the whole thing given that it seems to be one person AND more importantly that at least two of the victims have objected to that interpretation, makes me think it would be better to tread carefully.

What's more, I think internal Anglican politics is obscuring the real theological problem that's revealed in the cover-up (which is the institutional aspect here after all): evangelicalism's strange relationship with its leaders.

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Jolly Jape
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Lep, good to hear from you again.

I think you are spot-on with the leadership thing. As well as a poor theology of weakness (which can have horrific consequences on those in authority who do "fall" (to use the jargon), there does tend to be a very unbiblical "leadership cult" which isolates and increases the vulnerability of those in authority, and infantalises and disenfranchises the laos, the result of which is a breakdown in the biblical principle of mutual accountability and servanthood. You don't have to look very far to find the consequences of this.

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Martin60
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quote:
Originally posted by Baptist Trainfan:
quote:
Originally posted by Martin60:
I've encountered nothing but damnationism in the three large evangelical Anglican congregations I've been part of. The 'laity' live in dread of it for their loved ones or worse relish it.

Recently, or historically? - as I said upthread, I think the emphasis has changed over the years. I would also suspect different emphases between the HTB-type folk and the St. Helen's Bishopsgaters.
Nothing but for the last 12 years and the next.

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Baptist Trainfan
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Could you kindly PM me saying where? I'm intrigued.

But, then, I don't move in those circles!

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Callan
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Originally posted by Leprechaun:

quote:
The reflection I think does need to happen is the tendency of evangelicals to lionise their leaders and not to admit their weaknesses, mistakes and even terrible sins because "it will let the side down." Certain types of evangelicalism have a poor theology of weakness - hence the desire to cover it all up in this case I suspect.
The three cases where I have some knowledge of the clergy concerned - two liberal catholics and one traditionalist A/C, in case anyone is keeping score - the persons concerned were liked and respected and the initial response from a lot of people was on the lines of "Father Fred can't have done that - he's a holy saint of God, he helped me through hard times, he married my daughter, yadda, yadda, yadda". It's not just evangelicals who put their leaders on pedestals.

I wouldn't be surprised if clergy abusers did use and abuse the theology of their church, or faction within their church, as a rationale for their actions. But whatever one's reservations about the theology thereof, it's no more an argument against it than Fred West's argument that "it's what fathers who love their daughters do" is an argument against fathers loving their daughters. The majority of fathers love their daughters without molesting them and the majority of Christians who hold views with which I profoundly disagree without using them as a rationale for sexual abuse. The relations between Christians are quite fraught enough without being charged with the added implication that a given theological belief leads, ineluctably, to practices which the entire spectrum of Christian belief from the hardliners to the raisin cake people are united in condemning. I have my differences with the average evangelical or Catholic but we have a shared belief in taking the bastards who molest kids down.

It's like that scene in The Wire where Omar and Brother face off. "I want to ask you something, brother" "Omar listening". Let's go whack Stringer Bell together.

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Martin60
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Large CoE churches in Northampton, Leamington and Leicester. And others. Damnationism is the elephant in the room. I have a Baptist minister friend in South Wales who, with a colleague of his, has been liberated in the past decade at most. However conservatism is winning in Leicester Anglicanism. The youth are ALL lost to it. And that's the despairing observation of a friend who is the best speaker locally, the tolerated token liberal, and a father.

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Martin60
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And all have the very highest standards of safeguarding. And abuse is emergent in all power structures, conservative and liberal.

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chris stiles
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Richard Barth has a very comprehensive article on his blog that draws together the information presented by the various sources:

http://barthsnotes.com/2017/02/03/channel-4-reveals-sadomasochistic-cult-allegedly-linked-to-elite-evangelical-anglican-camp- holiday/

The information added over the Channel4 report are the allegations of abuse in Zimbabwe, and the allegation that more than one person was involved in the abuse in the UK.

[ 07. February 2017, 12:25: Message edited by: chris stiles ]

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Gamaliel
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Firstly, no, I don't think that violence of whatever kind is intrinsic within the evangelical tradition per se ...

One could argue that there is a great deal of emphasis on guilt - but then that charge can be levelled at Roman Catholicism too.

My two happ'orth would be that this was a feature of the particular 'Bash Camp' approach and has more to do with Victorian 'muscular Christianity' and the English public school system ...

On a point of information and clarification, though, I find Sipech's assertion that Anglican evangelicals are defined in a different way to evangelicals per se to be somewhat baffling.

I've moved in evangelical circles both within the CofE and outside - Baptists, independent evangelicals and the 'new churches' - and can honestly say that there is very little difference whatsoever between evangelicals within the CofE and evangelicals anywhere else.

What differences there may be tend to be around settings and circumstances rather than actual theology.

I would like Sipech, perhaps on another thread, to clarify why he thinks that Anglican evangelicals are so different from other evangelicals. That certainly doesn't square with my own experience and observation and I've been involved with the evangelical scene since 1981.

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chris stiles
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quote:
What differences there may be tend to be around settings and circumstances rather than actual theology.

Which as much to do with subtle differences in social class as anything else ..
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beatmenace
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Giles Fraser ,who has always seemed a bit posh, despite the sort of stuff he writes, tells more detail about the scary world John Smyth came from.

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/feb/05/john-smyth-public-school-christianity-brutality-thrashings-evangelical- decency

You can tell GF has something personal with this topic and you can feel the self-control slipping away towards the end of the item.

Fraser seems also to have a beef with the ABC - this essay continually calls him 'a decent man' despite constantly giving the impression that he could have done more. I can tell he was tempted to put 'he is an honorable man' somewhere but resisted that literary reference. Almost.

However the background is interesting as it seems to posit the Public School system as 'Muscular Protestantism' against 'effeminate Catholicism' as the root cause.

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Baptist Trainfan
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THat seems to me to be a well-argued article. Thank you.
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Gamaliel
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Beatmenace, Giles Fraser writes about the things he does because he IS POSH, not despite of being posh.

Of course he's posh.

He's simply reacting against his background.

We used to chuckle at university because a lot of the Socialist Worker kids stood outside the Students' Union selling their newspapers were from posh backgrounds and would call, 'Seychellist Workah ... Seychellist Workah ... Smesh the Tories ... Smesh the Tories ...'

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Enoch
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quote:
Originally posted by Sipech:
It's worth noting that the abuse was in an Anglican church, and the Anglican use of the term evangelical is quite different from how evangelicals use the term. ...

That isn't actually correct. The allegation is that a barrister, not a member of the clergy, misused his personal status, deriving either - we don't yet know which - from his own forceful personality or his being linked with an independent charity that ran boys' camps to manipulate impressionable boys and young men into letting him beat them.

Yes, clergy were involved in the charity, but I don't think that was part of their official role, what their stipends paid them to do. The charity was/is not part of 'the Anglican Church'. As far as I am aware, it doesn't come under the authority of any bishop. The Archbishop has already gone further than he need in apologising as Archbishop, for something that his predecessors did not know about, and couldn't have done much about if they had.

Not only haven't we heard any apology from the Bar Council. Nobody has even suggested that it ought to do so.

As so often, Gamaliel speaks a lot of sense.

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Gamaliel
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I've started a new thread on the particular distinctives of Anglican evangelicalism and how and why it may or may not differ from other forms of evangelicalism.

My own take is that it doesn't. Not in the least.

There are certainly distinct tribes and flavours of Anglican evangelical, as indeed there are within other forms of evangelical. But there are equivalents of each of the Anglican evangelical tribes within the broader family of evangelicals across the spectrum.

Indeed, I often puzzle as to what is specifically 'Anglican' about some Anglican evangelicals I meet ...

But that's a matter for the other thread.

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Martin60
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quote:
Originally posted by beatmenace:
Giles Fraser ,who has always seemed a bit posh, despite the sort of stuff he writes, tells more detail about the scary world John Smyth came from.

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/feb/05/john-smyth-public-school-christianity-brutality-thrashings-evangelical- decency

You can tell GF has something personal with this topic and you can feel the self-control slipping away towards the end of the item.

Fraser seems also to have a beef with the ABC - this essay continually calls him 'a decent man' despite constantly giving the impression that he could have done more. I can tell he was tempted to put 'he is an honorable man' somewhere but resisted that literary reference. Almost.

However the background is interesting as it seems to posit the Public School system as 'Muscular Protestantism' against 'effeminate Catholicism' as the root cause.

Superb article. I doubted my contribution. Like everyone else I'm sure. But the smack of firm discipline has reinvigorated it for me. Behind abuse in religion is bad, stupid theology. Safeguarding won't cure the theology but will stop the obvious abuse.

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Baptist Trainfan
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quote:
Originally posted by Gamaliel:
We used to chuckle at university because a lot of the Socialist Worker kids stood outside the Students' Union selling their newspapers were from posh backgrounds and would call, 'Seychellist Workah ... Seychellist Workah ... Smesh the Tories ... Smesh the Tories ...'

I could never understand the non sequitur implicit in "Buy the Socialist Worker, smash the Tory government". As if ...
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Gamaliel
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Well yes, but my point of course was that a lot of these characters were poor little rich kids rebelling against mummy and daddy ...

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Baptist Trainfan
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quote:
Originally posted by Martin60:
Behind abuse in religion is bad, stupid theology.

But is this necessarily or always the case? And isn't saying that a particular theology is "bad" merely a personal value judgement (some cultic groups excepted)? I feel that your suggestion of cause-and-effect is, at best, "not proven".

Personally I think that theology had very little, if anything, to do with Smyth's actions/ Social class, a sense of entitlement, public school culture (and so on) were much more significant. I'm sure that similar things could have happened in "liberal" or "High Church" camps working within the same social milieu, had they existed.

[ 07. February 2017, 16:11: Message edited by: Baptist Trainfan ]

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Ethne Alba
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My thoughts are with those people who...of necessity....have stepped forward and told their story. Horrendous. And all our prayers are no doubt every much with them, right now and as their lives unfold.

I find myself saddened that my father is no longer alive, i would love to chat with him about all this, He died fifteen years ago and went to these camps, when Rev Nash led them. Indeed, as someone whose own parents both died tragically young, Dad found the camps to be places that offered acceptance, certainty and a sense of purpose....such that he went on to become an evangelical Vicar. Dad often talked of the camps and in no way with any sense of horror.

My hope is that the abuse reported of late is something that he never knew about.

In own opinion is that abuse is abuse, although it is easier to see this Now. It wasn't that long ago that police called to even serious domestic abuse would give the perpetrator a telling off and then leave....knowing full well that another beating could well be going on as they got into the car.

Any number of us here on the ship were regularly rulered, caned, slapped, hit or thumped whilst we were at school.
Were that to happen now, there would, at the Very least, be an attempt to cover it up. Not then. It was openly administered.

Violence is a disease.

[ 07. February 2017, 18:10: Message edited by: Ethne Alba ]

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Higgs Bosun
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quote:
Originally posted by chris stiles:
Richard Barth has a very comprehensive article on his blog that draws together the information presented by the various sources:

http://barthsnotes.com/2017/02/03/channel-4-reveals-sadomasochistic-cult-allegedly-linked-to-elite-evangelical-anglican-camp- holiday/

The information added over the Channel4 report are the allegations of abuse in Zimbabwe, and the allegation that more than one person was involved in the abuse in the UK.

I think the blog referenced here is very fair. However, it seems to me that people like Alan Wilson and Giles Fraser are using these terrible revelations to grind their own axes. The Bishop has his agenda with evangelicals over Dead Horse issues.

Giles Fraser seems mainly to be fulminating against the British Public school system and its brutality, but seems to be associating this with evangelicalism. That is very wide of the mark. Corporal punishment has been in that system for a long time, so long before evangelicalism has any significant presence. For instance my Father was at one of the public schools in Rutland. As a prefect, he was entitled to beat boys, but he refused to do so. If you have seen the film 'If', you will see something of the culture.

I have had connections at one remove from the Iwerne camps for a long time, and know some of the figures involved. [In particular, Mark Ruston who was responsible for preparing the report was my vicar in Cambridge. A gentler kinder man you could not hope to meet. I would think that the revelations he had to deal with would have hurt him deeply.]

So I feel I can comment on the theological aspects of the OP. Back in the '70s the theology of this part of evangelicalism was not very "turn or burn" at all in my memory. Yes, Sin Spoils, Spreads, Separates (talks have to have three points each starting with the same letter!), but there was no great emphasis on God's Wrath. However, in the 80's there started a split in this constituency between those who were caught up in the charismatic stuff, for instance David Watson, Michael Green and, of course Nicky Gumbel and Justin Welby, and those of a disinctly cessationalist viewpoint, much centered on St Helens, Bishopsgate.
Out of this latter group, partly under the influence of Sidney Anglicans, emerged the Proclamation Trust in the early 90s, which has a distinctly neo-Calvanist slant. Required reading is Jonathan Edward's sermon on "Sinners in the hands of an angry God".

This group sits much more uneasily within the Church of England than the strand which embraced charismatic ideas. And the HTB strand, for want of a better name, do not go in heavily at all for Wrath and Hell (perhaps it might frighten the Beautiful People away).

Richar Barth makes the obvious parallel with the case of Bishop Peter Ball. Should one also criticise Anglo-Catholic theology because of his (alleged) offenses? It seems to me that, for instance, self-mortification would be more associated with that end of the theological spectrum than with evangelicalism.

If I might be allowed one non-theological point, to those who cry "cover-up", it should be pointed out that in 1982 the reason the Iwerne Trust and Winchester College did not go to the police was at the request of the parents of the boys concerned. Should they have ignored that request?

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Martin60
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quote:
Originally posted by Baptist Trainfan:
quote:
Originally posted by Martin60:
Behind abuse in religion is bad, stupid theology.

But is this necessarily or always the case? And isn't saying that a particular theology is "bad" merely a personal value judgement (some cultic groups excepted)? I feel that your suggestion of cause-and-effect is, at best, "not proven".

Personally I think that theology had very little, if anything, to do with Smyth's actions/ Social class, a sense of entitlement, public school culture (and so on) were much more significant. I'm sure that similar things could have happened in "liberal" or "High Church" camps working within the same social milieu, had they existed.

Ay up BT. 'appen ye'r riight. Mainly. Ish. And ... so am I. Bad theology isn't subjectively bad. It is objectively, psychologically, socially bad. But you are of course right about causality not proven of course. All that you say about Smyth is true. And he had a sick theology. And yes liberal and High Church clergy and workers being just as bad is true. And so, therefore, is their theology.

Which doesn't mean that if you had the correct theology you wouldn't be evil of course.

Karl Barth and Dr. King come to mind. I come to mind. Because even good theology is incomplete. Like us, but we ain't ... good like theology can be.

There are more questions than answers there I'm sure. Or my answers generate questions.

I see that I'm still implying that good theology will protect one from being bad in certain ways.

But probably not. We are weak and broken beyond belief, worse than we think. So Smyth could have had a best case postmodern theology, right believing way along the trajectory ... no, but one could now and still be as depraved as Smyth.

Sigh.

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chris stiles
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Incidentally, John Smyth's son is PJ Smyth, formerly linked with New Frontiers, and soon to take up the senior pastor role with Covenant Life Church in the US (which was formerly part of the SGM). He released this statement:

http://www.covlife.org/connect/news/blog/brief-statement-on-uk-media-reports

It seems to me that describing the events as "excessive physical discipline" may lead to more problems than staying silent would have.

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ExclamationMark
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There's a couple of issues here.

Firstly there's a sense of revulsion at sectarianism: few people knew about these camps until recently and even less cared. Now, it's revealed, like some sinister plot, that the CofE was grooming the right sort of chaps to take over the nation. There are still key players from those days in significant positions - may not be wrong but is it healthy? It smacks of all that some of find repulsive in class driven attitudes. The whole ethos paints a picture of what we'd call grooming today.

Secondly, it's arguable that the review in 1982 was far from impartial. Mark Ruston came from the Iwerne stable, had had David Fletcher as his curate and was, effectively, dissing his own. Those students who shared his house were always public school "types" not a working class boy among them. Credit to him that the report went as far as it did.

Is there,though, more to know? Did Smyth take the rap for others and why was it that he could set up so quickly again in SA? There were significant connections at the time between CofE Evangelicals and SA such that he could have been prevented or encouraged to carry on his work and abuse.

[ 08. February 2017, 06:28: Message edited by: ExclamationMark ]

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ExclamationMark
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quote:
Originally posted by Ethne Alba:
Any number of us here on the ship were regularly rulered, caned, slapped, hit or thumped whilst we were at school. Were that to happen now, there would, at the Very least, be an attempt to cover it up. Not then. It was openly administered.

Violence is a disease.

Just what the video of Pink Floyd's "Another Brick in the wall." My old school and not a bit of the violence or verbal abuse exaggerated - underplayed in my view.

Today that same violence would result in a charge of ABH or GBH and a prison sentence.

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Baptist Trainfan
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quote:
Originally posted by ExclamationMark:
Few people knew about these camps until recently and even less cared. Now, it's revealed, like some sinister plot, that the CofE was grooming the right sort of chaps to take over the nation.

I'm not sure that it was all that secret. I certainly knew about it years ago from Pete Ward's "Growing Up Evangelical" (p.37 onwards). Certainly the picture he paints of Ernest Nash and the camps is of a deliberate attempt to create an Evangelical upper-class leadership within both CofE and nation, at a time when Evangelicalism didn't have much influence in the "Establishment". But I think CICCU, OICCU and the whole Inter-Varsity Student movement at the time, possibly also the Crusaders' Bible class movement, had avowedly similar aims. It was a very different social context to today's.

[ 08. February 2017, 06:44: Message edited by: Baptist Trainfan ]

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Gamaliel
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Quite possibly ...

I met a few of these types who'd tumbled out if the bottom into 'restorationism'. As well as being posh they were also more right-wing than the rest of us and, at least initially, likely to speak up for the South African and Rhodesian regimes .. although that changed and I knew characters from that stable who ended up opposing Apartheid.

I never really got the impression that they wanted to gain power and influence, but I'm sure that assumption lay behind some of these initiatives.

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http://philthebard.blogspot.com

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mr cheesy
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I was thinking along the same lines, BT, although Crusaders was always a very aspiring-middle-class kind of organisation.

Of course there was a large number of youth organisations running camps for Christian young people, including Church Lads Brigades, Boys Brigade, Crusaders, Covenanters, Pathfinders and others.

I don't think these can all be said to have been promoting muscular upper class Evangelicalism, indeed some like the Boys Brigade seem to have been trying to promote "know your place, don't aspire to anything above your station" quasi-theology to working class boys.

The overlap between most of these and a Private-school-thrashing culture is not proven, in my opinion. It is quite hard to imagine that many of these would be attractive to boys in that social strata or that they'd have even been aware of them. Also the regime at some of these might have been relatively harsh, but I can't see much evidence that there was any kind of culture of violence. Crusaders were best known for long bible studies and silly games, etc.

My impression is that there were organisations specifically set up for private schoolboys which played into the Army cadet culture. I doubt much overlap existed with other groups.

[ 08. February 2017, 07:05: Message edited by: mr cheesy ]

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Baptist Trainfan
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Yes, I wouldn't disagree with that. Crusaders (with which I was associated for many years) is an interesting beast. It was set up around 1904 to fill what we might call "a gap in the religious market", i.e. Christian activities for boys who went to independent day schools.

Hence they weren't in the public school world of Iwerne, nor would their parents have thought of sending them to Sunday School with the hoi-polloi! The class I attended in the 60s still reflected that ethos. So did the list of places where groups existed - e.g. Edinburgh Morningside and Corstophine both had large groups but I don't recall any in less salubrious parts of the city, although they may have existed!

What has been interesting is the way in which Crusaders over recent years has totally reinvented itself as the far more inclusive "Urban Saints".

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mr cheesy
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quote:
Originally posted by Baptist Trainfan:
Yes, I wouldn't disagree with that. Crusaders (with which I was associated for many years) is an interesting beast. It was set up around 1904 to fill what we might call "a gap in the religious market", i.e. Christian activities for boys who went to independent day schools.

My family was involved in Crusaders from the 1950s and it was never primarily for "independent day school" students in the part of London where they lived. In that part, where the organisation seemed quite strong to the extent of having their own halls (which I don't think exist in many parts any more), the leaders were mostly from evangelical churches, and the young people were mostly from aspiring middle class families of engineers, teachers etc who had moved into the expanding suburbs between the wars.

Interestingly, Evangelical Anglicans from that same area (and from a very similar social strata) did not seem to be attracted to Crusaders, apparently instead being involved in their own groups.

But, of course, I'm willing to believe that there was variation in different parts of the country, but everything I've ever heard about Crusaders (including attending classes and many camps myself) suggests that independent day school students were extremely thin on the ground.

quote:
Hence they weren't in the public school world of Iwerne, nor would their parents have thought of sending them to Sunday School with the hoi-polloi! The class I attended in the 60s still reflected that ethos. So did the list of places where groups existed - e.g. Edinburgh Morningside and Corstophine both had large groups but I don't recall any in less salubrious parts of the city, although they may have existed!
OK, I think maybe there was a difference in Edinburgh compared to London, not least because (I think) there was more of a culture of sending middle class youngsters to independent day schools. In the South-East of England I suspect this is more-or-less the same social group who sent their kids to grammar schools.

quote:
What has been interesting is the way in which Crusaders over recent years has totally reinvented itself as the far more inclusive "Urban Saints".
Yes. In my experience both Scripture Union and Urban Saints have become very charismatic. It seems that both now have less focus on "classes" and more on medium sized "worship events".

I don't know how widespread this change is as I have a real problem with such things and stopped looking into it.

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ExclamationMark
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quote:
Originally posted by Baptist Trainfan:
quote:
Originally posted by ExclamationMark:
Few people knew about these camps until recently and even less cared. Now, it's revealed, like some sinister plot, that the CofE was grooming the right sort of chaps to take over the nation.

I'm not sure that it was all that secret. I certainly knew about it years ago from Pete Ward's "Growing Up Evangelical" (p.37 onwards). Certainly the picture he paints of Ernest Nash and the camps is of a deliberate attempt to create an Evangelical upper-class leadership within both CofE and nation, at a time when Evangelicalism didn't have much influence in the "Establishment". But I think CICCU, OICCU and the whole Inter-Varsity Student movement at the time, possibly also the Crusaders' Bible class movement, had avowedly similar aims. It was a very different social context to today's.
My memory from back in those days were that the Iwerne crowd tended to keep together. You were either "in" or "out." As has been said elsewhere on this thread there was little interaction between the groups and tbh between the churches who promoted different strands.
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chris stiles
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quote:
Originally posted by ExclamationMark:

Now, it's revealed, like some sinister plot, that the CofE was grooming the right sort of chaps to take over the nation. There are still key players from those days in significant positions - may not be wrong but is it healthy?

Well, I'm guess you knew about it already, and it was generally known about in the same way that other bodies of privilege in society are known about and rarely talked about. It came up in discussion a few months ago at the Ship, where Eutychus had the following comment (which I think comes close to your reaction):

"But I can't help think that the whole thing runs so counter to the way the Kingdom of God is supposed to work, and is in danger of being corrupted by politics.

Joseph didn't get to have Pharaoh's ear by going to the right schools. He got there because God put him there."


quote:

Secondly, it's arguable that the review in 1982 was far from impartial. Mark Ruston came from the Iwerne stable, had had David Fletcher as his curate and was, effectively, dissing his own.

One of the victims (who seems to be the one who attempted suicide) has written a letter in the Telegraph. His feeling is that the Ruston report - which he read - was accurate in specifics:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/02/06/dear-archbishop-canterbury-can-look-mirror-honestly-say-did/

Though as you say, it could still be incomplete in some way.

[ 08. February 2017, 07:53: Message edited by: chris stiles ]

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mr cheesy
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FWIW, West Runton (another youth organisation set up in the early 20 century) seemed to be much more pitched at independent day schools than Crusaders.

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Baptist Trainfan
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quote:
Originally posted by mr cheesy:
In that part, where the organisation seemed quite strong to the extent of having their own halls (which I don't think exist in many parts any more).

In those days, Crusader groups had to be independent of local churches. Nowadays they have to be affiliated to them.

quote:
Interestingly, Evangelical Anglicans from that same area (and from a very similar social strata) did not seem to be attracted to Crusaders, apparently instead being involved in their own groups.
Often true, I think: CPAS had its own "Pathfinder" and CYFA movements.

quote:
Everything I've ever heard about Crusaders (including attending classes and many camps myself) suggests that independent day school students were extremely thin on the ground.
Clearly your experience was different to mine; nevertheless, their original intent was definitely as I've said. And I doubt if many Secondary-Modern Council-estate kids went to Crusaders then - although even my class had a few!

What was interesting about my own class is that it taught quite a broad and "questioning" form of Evangelicalism - simplistic and Fundamentalist it was certainly not.

[ 08. February 2017, 08:00: Message edited by: Baptist Trainfan ]

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Baptist Trainfan
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quote:
Originally posted by mr cheesy:
FWIW, West Runton (another youth organisation set up in the early 20 century) seemed to be much more pitched at independent day schools than Crusaders.

And still exists! I don't know anything about them but in my mind I tend to link them with Scripture Union.
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mr cheesy
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quote:
Originally posted by Baptist Trainfan:
In those days, Crusader groups had to be independent of local churches. Nowadays they have to be affiliated to them.

That's interesting. Even in my day the classes were independent of any particular church (although it was a dying idea where I was brought up).

quote:
Clearly your experience was different to mine; nevertheless, their original intent was definitely as I've said. And I doubt if many Secondary-Modern Council-estate kids went to Crusaders then - although even my class had a few!
I'm sure we're talking about the same social group, albeit possibly defined in different ways. I do know of very inner-city comprehensives that had Crusader classes (in retrospect quite astonishing that they were able to keep calling it that for so long!) but these were almost always led by teachers who had long experience in the Crusaders movement and were themselves from the middle-class suburbs.

BB seems to have had wider reach amongst the working classes.

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mr cheesy
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Anyhow, with apologies for the tangent, I think BT and I have enough shared reminiscing to show that Evangelical camps were not always pitched to a muscular brand of Christianity for private-schoolboys.

The problem is the pitching not the Evangelicalism.

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Leprechaun

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quote:
Originally posted by ExclamationMark:
There's a couple of issues here.

Firstly there's a sense of revulsion at sectarianism: few people knew about these camps until recently and even less cared. Now, it's revealed, like some sinister plot, that the CofE was grooming the right sort of chaps to take over the nation.

While this may be true of the C of E (I wouldn't know) I don't think it was true of Iwerne. Iwerne was all about grooming (unfortunate use of that word in the context) the right sort of chaps to take over the C of E.

I find Giles Fraser's article pretty mystifying. Obviously he had an awful public school experience, but linking Iwerne to the college chapel/empire brigade is not my understanding at all. Rather, all the Iwerne guys I knew were incredibly negative about the institutional Christianity they experienced at school, hence the strong support for the very different type of Christianity they got at camp.

There is undoubtedly a real theological issue here. There's a certain type of evangelical (of whom I could easily be one) for whom if something is "sound" then it must be ok, one musn't undermine it, and one must protect its reputation. I imagine this was even moreso in the early 80s, and it seems to have guided what happened in a tragic way.

[ 08. February 2017, 08:23: Message edited by: Leprechaun ]

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