Does ‘Bleeding for Jesus’ help resolve abuse issues?


Many people have told me that Bleeding for Jesus by Andrew Graystone is ‘essential reading’, and I take this recommendation seriously for three reasons. First, I have known Andrew for some years, and engaged him to teach media and communications skills at the theological college where I taught. Secondly, as an evangelical of many years, I need to listen carefully to any well-founded critique of evangelical theology and practice. Thirdly, abuse and safeguarding is a critical issue for the church, and this book is an important exploration of one particular and poignant case.

Graystone’s book is a detailed account of the abuses perpetrated by John Smyth, who started life as a high-flying lawyer, working in prominent cases in the 1970s alongside the likes of Mary Whitehouse, but who then became heavily involved in the work of Iwerne Camps. These conservative evangelical vacation camps in Iwerne Minster, Dorset, were found by Eric ‘Bash’ Nash after the Second World War, and targeted boys from public schools with the aim of converting future leaders of the nation to Christian faith. 

The ethos of the camps would be seen by many as disciplined to the point of being authoritarian, and Graystone puts forward the case that they were rooted in an unhealthy emotional, psychological, and spiritual outlook. Within this authoritarian context, and with the lack of concern for transparency and accountable (something that marked all organisations until very recently), the camps offered a context for Smyth to indulge his physical abuse of boys in his charge, which involved both emotional coercive control as well as physical beatings—though no sexual activity. 

Graystone has put his investigative and communication skills to work, and has produced an exhaustive and harrowing account of the abuse perpetrated by Smyth, who died in 2018 before he could be held to account for his abuse in England and—even more tragically—in Zimbabwe, where one 16-year-old, Guide Nyachuru, died in mysterious circumstances on one of Smyth’s camps. The accounts of Smyth’s abuse of various individuals is relentless and forensic in its detail, and a picture emerges of a man who was pathologically obsessed with control and discipline. 


All that is enough to make the book very uncomfortable reading—but I felt uncomfortable for other reasons too. The first is the context that Graystone sets out in the early chapters, where he offers what I can only describe as a parody of evangelical theology and culture in the 1970s and 80s and later, a culture which was sexually repressed and emotionally constrained, eschewing proper critical thinking. It was not a description I recognised. This example is fairly typical:

Evangelical Christians were in no way immune from the pressures and temptations of increasingly liberated attitudes to sexuality. The difference was in their response. For strict evangelicals, heterosexual marriage was the only place where sexual expression of any sort was permitted. Teenage Christians were taught that sex prior to marriage was a particularly serious sin. Whether or not they agreed, and whether or not their behaviour reflected these beliefs, the result was to create an environment in which any honest discussion of sexuality was severely repressed (p 16).

Graystone here appears to move from talking about the culture of Iwerne itself, wider evangelical concerns, and the impact of the rapid changes in attitudes across society itself. I think it would be fair to say that, for most Christians in the 1970s, marriage was the only proper place for sex—and it continues to be the formal position of the Church of England to this day! Again and again, Graystone’s journalistic swashbuckling triumphs over concerns for care and accuracy.

The second theme is Graystone’s repeated claim that the spirit and ethos of Iwerne have ‘infected’ the Church of England in general, and evangelical Anglicans in particular. He makes this claim by mentioning the names of those who have led influential churches, and those who became bishops, including of course Nicky Gumbel at HTB and Justin Welby as Archbishop of Canterbury.

It produced many of the most prominent Conservative Evangelical leaders of the church over the past 40 years: there was David Watson, an evangelist of international repute; John Stott, who was the elder statesman of the evangelical church in the twentieth century; Nicky Gumbel, the driving force behind the Alpha Course, and some prominent bishops too. Indeed, the current Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, having become a Christian at Cambridge University, took some of his early steps in faith at Iwerne camps, though he denies that he knew about John Smyth’s abuse or was implicated in it (p 5)

But a relatively short list of names is repeated again and again (and at this point the book is rather repetitive), and there is no real exploration of the connection of these individuals to Iwerne and its theology. Graystone does note that people like David Watson, the evangelist, and John Stott, of All Souls’ Langham Place, were critical of aspects of Iwerne’s culture and those who embraced the charismatic movement were regarded as ‘heretics’—yet for Graystone their guilt by association remains. 

David Watson is an intriguing figure in many ways; he was something of a hero to me when I came to faith as a teenager, and I both read his books and went to hear him speak. He disagreed with those evangelicals, influenced by Anthony Thiselton, who wanted to take the discipline of hermeneutics (reflection on the interpretation of Scripture) seriously, and was clearly the product of his public school and Cambridge background. Yet he was also acutely aware of the dynamics of power in Christian leadership; he refused to ‘let people sit at his feet’ as a teacher, since he argued that all Christians together sit at the feet of Jesus. It was a radical principle that has stayed with me.

Anyone who knew John Stott personally would be astonished at the idea that he was in any way shaped by an authoritarian approach to power; he repeatedly refused invitations to accept greater institutional power; he sought to enable and equip others; and in person he was a most delightful man.


In reading the detailed accounts of Smyth’s abuse I also had questions about Graystone’s sources. He has clearly spent time with many of the survivors, and makes use of their first hand accounts. But how does he give us authoritative accounts of meetings between bishops at which he was not present, and their views of one another? This is where the book takes a worrying turn, as Graystone feels free to offer some extremely negative and personal assessment of key figures in the Church, including Justin Welby.

By the spring of 2019 Justin Welby had been Archbishop for six years. He was exhausted and depressed. His vision for his tenure as archbishop had been substantially derailed…The segment of the interview dealing with Smyth lasted only 6 minutes, but Welby looked tortured…(188–189)

As Graystone’s account continues, he offers sharply personal assessments of everyone he meets; at some points it reads like a Dan Brown novel. I was not clear why such damning personal criticism was warranted when the book could have focused on the real failures of process in a much more objective way. 

One of the key figures, Alasdair Paine, currently rector of the Round Church in Cambridge, was a victim of Smyth’s abuse, and collaborated with Graystone—but he has complained at the misrepresentation and inaccuracy in Graystone’s account. In turn, Graystone accuses Payne of not doing enough, and so being the wrong kind of victim, who is now guilty of allowing Smyth’s of both him and others to go unreported. Graystone says early on in the book:

One of the difficulties in telling this story is that even to this day, many of the victims have chosen not to identify themselves publicly. I respect them in this. It is not my intention to ‘out’ victims of abuse, and I have tried hard not to do so, except in those cases where by their silence they have knowingly caused harm to others (p ix)

In other words, Graystone is making himself judge and jury here, and outing people when he decides it is justified. Andrew Watson, the bishop of Guildford, is also tarred with the same brush—though a victim, now apparently guilty of allowing abuse having initially introduced others to Smyth. I wondered by what right Graystone felt able to out and then label victims in this way. On p 168, he comments in passing:

A handful of other bishops were in longstanding gay relationships, at least two of them with each other.

Is this a helpful way of portraying the culture of the Church—or merely an invitation to speculation?

Other figures who feature prominently question the accuracy of Graystone’s account. James Stileman is a former director of The Titus Trust, and he has listed ’26 passages which I know to be either inaccurate, misleading or untrue’ in the story.

Andrew Graystone’s Bleeding for Jesus, quite rightly, exposes the extent and severity of the horrific abuse administered by John Smyth in the UK and in Southern Africa. It also reveals very serious failings by many involved in the matter once his appalling behaviour became known.  Undoubtedly major errors of judgment were made, and hard lessons will need to be learned from this terrible saga.

But as someone who features prominently in Graystone’s account, I am astonished how inaccurate some of it is.  If material that relates to me is inaccurate, misleading or untrue, what else in the book is wrong?  This is not helpful for those who want to know the truth about what happened, particularly survivors who have suffered greatly from the lack of reliable information to date.

David MacInnes, whom I knew a little when he was Rector of St Aldate’s in Oxford, is another person who is mention several times in the book, and included in the list of ‘offenders’ at the end, and feels badly misrepresented.

There are many questions arising from the book. I was not approached by the author, Andrew Graystone before he published it and he makes a number of untrue assertions about me. I am disappointed that he didn’t attempt to check the accuracy of what he was writing and it leaves question marks about how many things in the book are his conjectures about other people which he has made without checking their veracity, which he could easily have done. I think this inevitably undermines the testimony of the many victims whose stories do need to be told.

If Graystone is serious about unearthing the truth of what happened, doesn’t he need to be held to the same standard that he is applying to others?


The conclusion was something of a theological mess. Graystone offers a critical assessment of the theology of Eric Nash and the camps—and such critical appraisal is surely necessary. But the issues are dealt with clumsily, so that Graystone ends up dismissing some theological themes—the universality of sin, the need for redemption and, of course, historical biblical teaching about the nature of marriage—which are pretty close to the core of orthodox Christian belief.

In his review of the book, Jon Kuhrt observes:

If the book’s strength is its reportage, then its weakness is its analysis of the links between conservative theology and abuse. Take this statement: ‘One factor is the evangelical theology of bodily atonement for sin, that slips so easily into physical abuse. The idea that violence wrought on the Son of God was somehow redemptive invites the vulnerable to believe that pain itself can deal with sin’ [p 200]. The possible links between evangelical theology, especially the idea that Jesus died to appease God’s anger, and violence are a legitimate point of discussion. But it requires a far more careful and focussed attention than Graystone provides.

In this book, conservative theology is only cast as oppressive, whereas I would argue much of it also serves to value, protect and inspire. It means that rather than sounding measured and evidenced, Graystone’s anger overspills into comments which sound dismissive and tribal.

The legacy of abuse and safeguarding remains a messy quagmire in the Church of England, and as Jon Kuhrt has persuasively argued elsewhere on this site, what is needed is a disinterested commitment to truthfulness, for the sake of all, not least the victims. Although Graystone’s book rightly brings some unpleasant truths into the light of day, because of his other concerns, this is, alas, not what this book offers us.

And I am left with a very awkward question: when people use the stories of other people’s abuse to push their own theological and ecclesial agendas, is this not simply adding to the abuse?

(A shorter version of this review first appeared at Premier Christianity online.)


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185 thoughts on “Does ‘Bleeding for Jesus’ help resolve abuse issues?”

  1. “When people use others stories of abuse to push their own theological and eclisial agenda is this not adding to the abuse ?” . Just a couple of points here . When researching abuse across different strands of Anglican theology the major themes are about power control secrecy deference and clericalism. Clericalism is far more powerful in Anglo Catholic areas whereas power control and placing Pastors on pedestals is a dynamic seen more in evangelical strands of Anglicanism. One of the best ways to allow safeguarding to become central in the thinking of all Anglicans, clergy laity bishops and archbishops is to go beyond a theological or culture war to place victim survivors and our families front and centre of policy and support. The links between physical abuse and a warped evangelical atonement theology are compelling but the same warped theology occurs when Anglo Catholics use a warped theology of Priesthood and ontological change to allow the protection of high ranking offenders via a theological mindset such as oncology Al change at ordination. The theology surrounding abuse and it’s cover up seems multi faceted with no strand of Anglicanism being immune. Also something that is perhaps heightened in the UK is the culture of public schools and a degree of elitism which creates further barriers to transparency and accountability. Thanks Ian for this article hopefully the book if inaccurate in places allows for a far more open discussion that goes beyond theological and cultural divides.

    Reply
    • ‘The theology surrounding abuse and it’s cover up seems multi faceted with no strand of Anglicanism being immune.’

      Thanks—that’s a really helpful perspective. I agree that I hope these kinds of discussions contribute to the possibility of progress—but this one feels very strongly hitched to a specific theological hobby-horse to be of wider help.

      I was going to list all the seriously problematic comments on theology—but there were far, far too many. I have highlighted about 180 passages in the book that I think are problematic…

      Reply
    • The writer Roald Dahl on Geoffrey Fisher, Archbishop of Canterbury

      Michael was ordered to take down his trousers and kneel on the headmaster’s sofa with the top half of his body hanging over one end of the sofa. The great man then gave him one terrific crack. After that there was a pause. The cane was put down and the headmaster began filling his pipe from a tin of tobacco. He also started to lecture the kneeling boy about sin and wrongdoing. Soon, the cane was picked up again and a second tremendous crack was administered upon the trembling buttocks. Then the pipe-filling business and the lecture went on for maybe 30 seconds. Then came the third crack of the cane … At the end of it all, a basin, a sponge and a small clean towel were produced by the headmaster, and the victim was told to wash away the blood before pulling up his trousers.”

      The writer is Roald Dahl, on his school, Repton, in the early 1930s. Apart from one fact, it isn’t remarkable: it echoes accounts of boarding school stories in the 19th and 20th century that tell quite blithely of extraordinary violence and psychological cruelty. The notable detail Dahl provides is that the “great man” was a clergyman named Geoffrey Fisher, later to become the Archbishop of Canterbury.

      Reply
  2. In my work with Unite I observe that people very committed to fighting and exposing abuse can behave in ways which are themselves abusive – not least in a carelessness about truth itself, if it does’t fit into their narrative, and an equal carelessness about the impact of their statements and judgements on others – who they may often name. So victims, survivors and their allies can become themselves become the cause of further abuse and damage. creating further victims and survivors. Is this inevitable? I hope not.

    Reply
  3. I have made a list of the more important factual errors on Amazon, with corrections below. I am myself a hasty writer albeit generally unpublished.

    Add to those corrections: Romans in Britain (with Whitehouse diaries) is mentioned only in her second autobiography A Most Dangerous Woman, at length. The 1st (1971, Who Does She Think She Is?) predates it. She does indeed omit it from the more thematic and cursory 3rd autobiography Quite Contrary which has a lot of material to choose from (30 years’ worth). And it was an embarrassing reverse and debt, thanks to Smyth. Also Moody who died in 1999 is put between the wars.

    Anyone who wants a much longer list of corrections can email me.

    Andrew Graystone has played down the number of errors, estimating the number at 3. I would not be surprised if there were 300 but many are trivial.

    He also on the Church Times podcast picked out a trivial type of error as representative of all errors (i.e. was the location shop or office?). But he knows this is disingenuous. No type of error is representative of all other types. No size of error is representative of all other sizes. Everyone knows that.

    Reply
  4. I don’t think it’s inevitable especially with well trained peer supporters who have professional support. In our own group soon to be incorporated our online group is very aware of not naming people unless evidence from public sources eg church investigations,criminal trials or victim testimony that matches other known victim testimony is in place. That said we are also working on a project that data maps offenders and those linked to cover up which will provide an online database of offenders and those who covered up abuse . Again this database will only use publicly available sources. Looking at the UK and the ICSSA Enquiries I am sure that these case studies were only the tip of the iceberg. Pete Hobson your work with Unite is really important but the number of false allegations is small and another question arises in that while assuring natural justice for respondents in abuse investigations and CDM actions victim-survivors who have little support and have often suffered over decades without being heard compassionately may likewise make statements and judgements and name people , this does not always mean those named are not involved in a cover up culture or who responded badly or without compassion. With the Titus Trust and Iwerne situation many victims see on the timeline a totally inadequate response. That is not to say that sometimes victims can out of trauma react in ways that harm their cause. But this needs to be framed in a compassionate understanding of trauma informed best practice.

    Reply
  5. Having done quite a fine toothcomb job on the book, do also add to my list of errors if you wish. The categories of errors include:
    -spelling – v good standard, almost no mistakes
    -syntax/grammar/punctuation – many mistakes (more than one would expect when proofreading) but trivial
    -loose internal logic – this merely has implications for the overall standard of argument, but that is important in itself
    -insinuation and tabloidesque sensationalism – can never receive our respect, but least of all within an unfootnoted book – reminds me of the Brown/Woodhead insistence that John Stott was the author of a book he was not the author of, which they must have known would possibly cost the publisher a great deal to sort out, but authors could not resist putting it in (unfounded) anyway. After all – to bring down John Stott would be an irresistible quarry (to what sort of mind?).
    -speaking only to (interviewing only) those perceived as non establishment and treating those perceived as establishment as 2nd class citizens
    -lack of chronological sense, so that different periods are squeezed into one and chronology veers back and forth alarmingly in analyses of personnel. The trouble is that people will think that the purpose of this is to characterise
    -repetition – frequent, including with inconsistencies, but there is nothing a good editor can’t sort.
    -Spin. Commendations of Iwerne are omitted. Commendations of the charaqcter produced by attention to quiet times and to Christian character are absent. Mary Mullins’s female commendation in the Bash study (she says her view was the common one among females) would be a good example. This book was available to AG. Iwerne is merged with Smyth to far too great an extent, even though the Iwerne leaders knew nothing till after the event. One time AG speaks of a spectrum of figures from Smyth to J Fletcher. But surely within this particular discussion, these 2 are at the same end of any spectrum not opposite ends. All this gets wearyingly predictable. It is the tabloid imperative to have the most sensational conclusion available. But who wants to follow the tabloids?

    As for the outing of Paine, there is a conspiracy of silence which I hope we shall break very soon about who wrote the Investigative Report on Smyth. This semi-outs many and outs Paine. AG says it was widely known that Paine was a victim. But much of that ‘widely known’ will have been because of this report which does not seem to me to be independent of his own researches. The remainder of the ‘widely known’ can be nothing but a subjective impression based on a laughably small and quite possibly unrepresentative sample. So can we have clarity on who wrote the IR?

    Reply
    • For insistence, read speculation. I doubt they would have speculated about a nonentity, since a big name has cachet in the tabloid world of build them up and tear them down.

      Reply
  6. Unfinished sentence: The trouble is that people will think that the purpose is to characterise all 90 years of Iwerne as having the characteristics of the years of Smyth’s shame (1978-82).

    Reply
    • The idea of picking church leaders on the basis of being good public school hearties rather than on the basis of personal holiness is very wrong and leads to a wrong sort of church. I am not suggesting it leads to an abusive one, simply criticising Iwerne on other – and biblical – grounds.

      Anne Atkins’ takedown of the Iwerne gatherings is well worth reading:

      https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/02/03/anne-atkins-inside-thesexual-apartheid-john-smyths-summer-camps/

      Reply
      • The idea of picking church leaders on the basis of being good public school hearties rather than on the basis of personal holiness is very wrong

        It would be, but was that the intent? I haven’t read the book but according to the review:

        ‘These […] camps […] targeted boys from public schools with the aim of converting future leaders of the nation to Christian faith. ‘

        which sounds to me like picking those who are likely to become leaders in the secular world (not, or not necessarily, church leaders) and bringing them to personal holiness (or trying to, at any rate).

        And what could be wrong with that?

        Reply
        • Is that not the way of the world, picking the so-called high flyers, rather than the ‘ordinary’? One would have thought a lesson is to be learned from Jesus’ choice for His apostles.

          Reply
          • Is that not the way of the world, picking the so-called high flyers, rather than the ‘ordinary’? One would have thought a lesson is to be learned from Jesus’ choice for His apostles.

            You make a good point, though if you take a wider perspective God doesn’t exactly never put His faithful in positions of secular influence: Esther, Daniel, Constantine, etc.

          • It is good that you have replied, because this comment was actually meant to be addressed to a lower comment of your on this thread. (I put it in the wrong place.) It was a polite way of saying that you are not worth engaging with.

        • Starting with the very small subset of people who have been to the right school is what is wrong with that. Holiness plus leadership qualities are equally abundant elsewhere.

          Please do not suppose that I am criticising public school men who went into the church. I am criticising the strategy.

          Reply
          • Starting with the very small subset of people who have been to the right school is what is wrong with that. Holiness plus leadership qualities are equally abundant elsewhere.

            Not saying they aren’t, but that’s kind of irrelevant. The point is that in the society where this strategy was formulated people with certain backgrounds were much more likely to end up in positions of influence. That’s the landscape that they had to work within, and changing it wasn’t within their power. So in that landscape, what is wrong with the strategy?

            Imagine you were the church in a Communist dictatorship. Would you not try to reach the sons and daughters of the Party rulers with the gospel, given they are going to be the ones in power when their fathers die, and are therefore your best hope for change?

            What would be wrong with that, and how is it different from the strategy behind these camps?

          • Exactly, and also it is good to have a ministry to the hardest to reach, namely the rich.

            However, it is not necessarily the case that ministries to circumscribed groups are best. Billy Graham spoke to all, and local assemblies gather all ages simultaneously.

          • Dear S

            You are free to declare my reasoning irrelevant, but that does not constitute a counter-argument.

            Holiness plus leadership are the biblical qualities needed. If you want to put worldly criteria ahead of those, you will get a worldly church. Go by those criteria alone and some public school chaps will have them, and God bless them in preaching to their own. But you would be locking out an awful lot of holy men from the lower orders having leadership qualities, who can speak to *their* own – and are probably holier than the second rank of public school men.

          • You are free to declare my reasoning irrelevant, but that does not constitute a counter-argument.

            Um, yes it does. If I were to say X, and you were to say, ‘no, not X, because Y’ and I were to prove that in fact Y was irrelevant to whether X was true or false, that would indeed be a counter-argument to your argument that ‘not X because Y’.

            Holiness plus leadership are the biblical qualities needed. If you want to put worldly criteria ahead of those, you will get a worldly church. Go by those criteria alone and some public school chaps will have them, and God bless them in preaching to their own. But you would be locking out an awful lot of holy men from the lower orders having leadership qualities, who can speak to *their* own – and are probably holier than the second rank of public school men.

            I don’t understand what you mean here. Who is ‘locking out’ anybody, and what are they locking them out of? The strategy of finding those who are likely to become influential in the secular world and presenting the gospel to them in order that they can use that influence to promote the gospel when the time comes doesn’t involve locking anybody out of anything.

          • Specify the binary propositions X and Y in the present case, please.

            There are only a finite number of positions available, so if one goes to a less holy public school man than to a more holy non-public school man having equal leadership qualities then the world’s criteria have trumped the Bible’s and the church is poorer thereby. Is it not?

          • Specify the binary propositions X and Y in the present case, please.

            X is ‘there’s nothing wrong with finding those likely to occupy positions of influence in the secular world and trying to bring them to personal holiness’, and Y is ‘holiness plus leadership qualities are equally abundant elsewhere than in those people’.

            And Y is irrelevant to X because while Y is true, in that holiness plus leadership qualities are equally abundant elsewhere than among those doing PPE, the fact is that the people doing PPE are the ones who are going to end up running the country, so they are the ones you have to target if you want to have people of faith in positions of influence.

            Yes, there are holy people with leadership qualities in lots of other places. But they aren’t going to be Prime Minister, are they? Or at least they’re a lot less likely to be.

            There are only a finite number of positions available, so if one goes to a less holy public school man than to a more holy non-public school man having equal leadership qualities then the world’s criteria have trumped the Bible’s and the church is poorer thereby. Is it not?

            There are only a finite number of leadership positions in the secular world, indeed. There is only one Prime Minister, only a finite number of cabinet positions, permanent secretaries, director generals of the BBC, central bankers, CEOs, etc etc.

            So you’re right about that. But whether I don’t follow you is this idea that finding the people likely to occupy those positions in the society in which they lived, and introducing them to the gospel, makes the church poorer. Could you explain please how you think ‘the church is poorer thereby’?

          • Re X and Y, if you are looking for church leaders then you want people who are already holy and have leadership qualities; you should not identify people who have leadership qualities and went to a good school and then try to inculcate holiness. Only a fraction will tread that path and you are wasting your effort.

            The Bash idea is to start with people who went to major public schools. Why? Why not start with people who went to schools with names beginning with B? Or J? The favour of an answer to this specific question is requested.

          • Re X and Y, if you are looking for church leaders then you want people who are already holy and have leadership qualities; you should not identify people who have leadership qualities and went to a good school and then try to inculcate holiness

            Yes, obviously that’s true — if you’re looking for church leaders. But what has that got to do with these camps? They weren’t about looking for church leaders, were they?

            The Bash idea is to start with people who went to major public schools. Why? Why not start with people who went to schools with names beginning with B? Or J? The favour of an answer to this specific question is requested.

            I don’t understand the question you’re asking, so I can’t answer it. You seem to be asking about finding church leaders, but the ‘Bash idea’, as I read it, wasn’t anything to do with finding church leaders at all, so I don’t understand why you’re asking about church leaders.

            If you explain what the connection is with church leaders then I will happily answer the question but right now I can’t answer a question that doesn’t seem to make any sense.

          • From the article above:

            ‘ These conservative evangelical vacation camps in Iwerne Minster, Dorset, were found by Eric ‘Bash’ Nash after the Second World War, and targeted boys from public schools with the aim of converting future leaders of the nation to Christian faith. ’

            Note: not ‘with the aim of finding future leaders for the church’, but ‘ with the aim of converting future leaders of the nation to Christian faith’.

          • Presuming Ian Paul is reading, what is his evidence that the principal aim of the Bash camps and Iwerne was to win future leaders of the nation for Christ? On Nash’s Wikipedia page I find this quote, which suggests that Nash was aiming to influence the *church*, and the world through that means rather than directly:

            Many ‘Bash campers’ went from school to Cambridge and became pillars of the Cambridge Inter-Collegiate Christian Union, so that it was possible, when the movement was at its zenith for a boy to go from public school to Cambridge, to ordination, to a curacy and to a parish of his own without encountering the kind of life lived outside those particular circles…”

            Notice in corroboration Anne Atkins’ comment that these young men were “Destined for ordained ministry; or as teachers; lawyers; businessmen.” She puts ordained ministry first.

          • On Nash’s Wikipedia page I find this quote

            You really shouldn’t believe anything you read on the wiki-pædia. Don’t you know that anybody can put any old nonsense on there?

            Notice in corroboration Anne Atkins’ comment that these young men were “Destined for ordained ministry; or as teachers; lawyers; businessmen.” She puts ordained ministry first.

            It really would be ironic if a strategy set up with the intention of making those who would be movers and shakers in the secular world into Christians had instead backfired by diverting them into ordained ministry. It would certainly explain why it was so singularly unsuccessful at stopping the anti-Christian drift of the culture. But it wouldn’t mean the intention itself was ‘very wrong’: plenty of right intentions end up going off the rails.

          • Was it not clear that I was citing a verbatim quote on Wikipedia by someone else – and someone agreeing with Anne Atkins?

            How many people high up in politics went to these camps, and how many people high up in the church?

            Please avoid condescension while we await Ian Paul’s explanation of where he got his comment about future leaders of the nation.

          • Was it not clear that I was citing a verbatim quote on Wikipedia by someone else – and someone agreeing with Anne Atkins?

            It was. My response stands.

            How many people high up in politics went to these camps, and how many people high up in the church?

            None of either, at the time they went to the camps. They were schoolboys.

            Please avoid condescension

            Not possible, I’m afraid.

          • Dear S, I asked you, “How many people high up in politics went to these camps, and how many people high up in the church?” and you replied “None of either, at the time they went to the camps. They were schoolboys.”

            I meant – and my words do not exclude the meaning – “How many people who went on to be high up in politics went to these camps, and how many people who went on to be high up in the church?”

            As well as answering that, please answer this: Were you deliberately misunderstanding me?

          • I meant – and my words do not exclude the meaning – “How many people who went on to be high up in politics went to these camps, and how many people who went on to be high up in the church?”

            I know you meant that; my point was that you are committing the historian’s fallacy.

          • So you deliberately misunderstood me, making constructive dialogue impossible.

            I did not deliberately misunderstand you. I understood you and made the point that you were committing the historian’s fallacy by pointing out the erroneous premise in your question. If that’s not constructive dialogue I don’t know what is.

          • You knew what I meant. So you deliberately misunderstood me.

            If you wish to show here the parts of your personality that Christians are told to keep in check, that is up to you.

          • You knew what I meant. So you deliberately misunderstood me.

            Sigh. No, I did not deliberately misunderstand you. I pointed out the false premise in your question. How could I have done that if I misunderstood you, deliberately or otherwise? Clearly I had to understand your question in order to point out what was wrong with it, didn’t I?

        • Extracts:

          I looked up to John Smyth as a distantly alluring adult when I was a tiny child: handsome, brilliant, charismatic. He was a Beach Mission leader during our seaside holidays, and Christian role model for many… Thanks to John Smyth my brother became an officer on Iwerne Christian camps, and the summer before I went up to Oxford I was invited too.

          In my teens I met many of my brother’s friends: Christian, good-looking, sporty, decent, public-school-and-Oxbridge-educated, many of them blues. Destined for ordained ministry; or as teachers; lawyers; businessmen. My parents couldn’t have wanted nicer friends for me. (Nor I, for my daughters.) These were extremely pleasant young men. Their sisters helped at Iwerne (and often found husbands!) I was looking forward to it immensely.

          Within twenty four hours I felt a complete freak. Unknown to me, it was a world of extreme sexual apartheid. We were confined to the kitchen bashing spuds. The men, glorious in the sunshine and their cream cricket sweaters, played sports; gave talks in the meetings; swam and batted and even I believe flew aeroplanes.

          I was discreetly steered away from volunteering for a helicopter trip advertised over breakfast; told off for stopping to chat to a young man I was introduced to destined for the same Oxford college; then for agreeing to play tennis with my brother (he was not); and finally for talking to some boys who lay down near us at the swimming pool. It was the last straw: it was politely suggested I should leave, as I didn’t fit in.

          It was not until the following weekend, reintroduced to normality at my parents’, that I realised I was not an aberration. Iwerne was out of step with the world, not I. My husband – not eligible because not public-school-educated, but with his clergy world heavily influenced by it – has boasted ever since that I am the only person to have been sent down from one of its camps.

          Iwerne was – is – its own world. Imagine a coterie of every glamorous person you know, all those you admire, men (or women) you have modelled yourself on since childhood… What is vital to recognise – if we are not to write off our fellow human beings (even ourselves) as monsters – is how peer pressure works. We are herd animals. Our very survival depends on our deeply ingrained instinct to conform. One definition of mental health is compliance with surrounding expectations. It is incredibly difficult to run against the herd… and not be trampled underfoot.

          In 2012 I wrote about John Smyth’s abuse, without enough evidence to name him but with enough to arouse the interest of the Police; also of a boy who later died, allegedly because of him…

          It is considered ungodly to challenge leadership put in place by God.

          Reply
          • Thank you for quoting this extract. It is a concern that the sexism and treatment of women in the narrative of this corner of the evangelical world still receives little attention, despite the reporting of Anne Atkins and others.

          • David, Anne is talking about nearly 50 years ago.
            The idea, misguided or not, was to replicate school conditions (all boys, then) with no distractions. Girls would have been not just a distraction but the biggest possible one. Whereas Anne Atkins had grown up with choir school boys and was I should imagine very used to natural and normal friendships with boys, and a good thing too, not all single-sex-educated boys would be so natural around girls. Nevertheless boys joined girls for the Christmas 6thform conferences and girl senior campers joined the boys’ camps from at least 1986 onwards.

          • Christopher, I am struggling to understand your responses here. “Girls would have been not just a distraction but the biggest possible one.” Distraction from what exactly? Jesus? The bible teaches male and female created for partnership in this world – not good to be alone. We might ask why this teaching did not lead evangelicals to an approach to discipleship training that subverted those thoroughly unhealthy, sexist, elite education norms by bringing men and women together to learn and grow in Christ and human relationships. Iwerne (and many parallel programs) actually contradicted scripture in fact by hiding girls away in servile cooking and cleaning roles and throwing all their immense money and resources on (elite, hand picked) boys alone. And in what way does it help boys reach early adulthood without having learned to form natural, maturing relationships with the opposite sex – but, rather, learned to see them the ‘biggest possible’ distraction. This has been as unhelpful to men as it is offensive to women and this discussion. It still is and this is not unrelated to the Smyth/Fletcher scandals.

          • (1) If you are speaking of Scripture, as you are, then you are speaking of cultures where all-men and all-women settings are frequent, in fact more frequent than today.

            (2) Of course girls would be a distraction from serious consideration of commitment of one’s entire life – because they are typically the one topic that can be liable to fill one’s mind to the exclusion of all else. The former topic also requires that. So the one could very easily distract from the other.

            (3) Girls were not kept in servile roles. Most of the servile roles were done by male senior campers. Girls were not on the camps at all by and large, it was not a female setting. But it was good for teachers etc to travel with wives rather than without them. And the wives loved to make themselves useful.

            (4) There was from a certain date no embargo on girls, but I mentioned that already and was ignored.

            (5) Before and after that time, the girls were just as much catered for as the boys, just in a different camp.

            (6) The setting replicated the schools which were single sex. Blame them not the camps.

            (7) Or don’t blame them, because single sex and mixed both being available gives a choice that would be denied if only mixed were available.

            (8) All-female activities are vastly popular and I have not heard anyone decrying them. But there is a lot of misandry (which is a kind of discrimination) around.

            (3)

          • Christopher. ‘Of course girls would be a distraction from serious consideration of commitment of one’s entire life’. Goodness – and I actually think you are serious! So much for partnership and mutuality in creation and kingdom. So women are a distraction and danger to a man seeking a godly life. Really? Are you seriously unaware of the way this assumption has resulted in the despising, violence repression and silencing of women in the church through long Christian history?

          • “Of course girls would be a distraction from serious consideration of commitment of one’s entire life – because they are typically the one topic that can be liable to fill one’s mind to the exclusion of all else.”

            Christopher I have read some very bizarre things on this website before but I think that has to be the most bizarre of all. It is absolutely sub Christian, sub human, sexist, mysoginist. Downright dangerous. Because you find girls liable to fill your mind to the exclusion of all else does not mean that everybody finds things to be that way. This post says so much about you and so little about the reality of life. If it was the reality at Iwerne, then I fear for anyone who was subject to that kind of attitude.

          • The idea that seems to be underpinning this thread, that the ‘default’ position would have been for residential holiday camps for children to be mixed and there would have had to be some reason for single-sex camps, such as sexism or girls being a ‘distraction’, seems totally off-planet to me.

            Surely the point is that for most of the twentieth century it would simply have been unthinkable to take a group of mixed-sex children away from home overnight?

            For most children, surely, their experience of such camps would have been either through the Scouts or the Guides — single-sex organisations, and therefore single-sex camps, up until girls joined the Venture Scout movement in 1976, and then only from 15 upwards. Girls didn’t join Scouts at all ages until 1991, and unless I missed something, boys still can’t join the Guides (unless they claim to be girls on the inside, of course).

            The idea that residential camps being segregated by sex was something remarkable in the mid-twentieth century is bizarre and ahistorical. It would have been more remarkable at that time, and quite possibly scandalous, and would certainly have had parents asking searching questions and potentially forbidding their children from going, had the camps been mixed.

          • The higher the quality of thought, the more cultures and ages people are aware of. The lower, the more is the probability that everything must defer to their own age and culture, since they have little awareness of or understanding of or respect for any other. Which is a form of cultural imperialism.

            Certainly there is nothing unusual about single sex camps and children’s work and uniformed organisations – in fact they are the *more* usual form.

            Andrew’s response does not even rise to the level of accurately reproducing what was said. I could, also, have predicted in advance that he would inaccurately reproduce the idea that girls would be a distraction to teenagers and 20-odds as ‘*you* (a 55 year old married man) find girls liable to fill *your* mind to the exclusion of all else’.

            Tabloidesque and sensationalist twisting of words, the very reverse of careful, accurate and truthful rational scholarship.

          • Christopher, your shame in trying to deflect what you said is clearly evident. Let’s just recall what you said one more time:

            “Of course girls would be a distraction from serious consideration of commitment of one’s entire life – because they are typically the one topic that can be liable to fill one’s mind to the exclusion of all else.”

            Priceless. Un-Christian. Un-human. Very troubling.

          • While Andrew acts like a tabloid journalist trying to extract and squeeze insinuations from so many things, let’s imagine the following exchanges:

            Teenage boy: ‘I often get obsessed with girls.’
            AG ‘You are unChristian. Unhuman.’

            CS: ‘Teenage boys often get obsessed with girls. Fact.’ (Speaking about boys here, not about females.)
            AG: ‘How misogynistic!’

            Clearly determined that I should wallow in the ‘shame’ of having stated the bleedin’ obvious. I would not stoop to the level of replying were it not to highlight the slander, and I will also not stoop to the level of continuing to address what looks to me like shallowness.

          • Christopher. Yes of course there are all kinds of separate groups and activities for men or women. The issue is the basis of that separation. What concerns us here are separate, elite Christian groups for boys and young men that are actively discriminatory in their attitude towards, and treatment of, women. Did you read Anne Atkins here? Andrew and I have both quoted your works back to you. No one has twisted your words. Frankly, if you do not intend to heard as supportive of such groups here then you need to find a much clearer way of saying so.

          • What concerns us here are separate, elite Christian groups for boys and young men that are actively discriminatory in their attitude towards, and treatment of, women.

            Surely what concerns us here are residential holiday camps for children in the mid-twentieth century… a time when single-sex would have been the norm for such activities (cf Scouts, Guides) and being mixed-sex would have been unusual, remarkable and required explanation.

          • Er – no.

            (1) Women were not the kitchen staff at Iwerne any more or less than they were the kitchen staff at schools of all kinds at the time Anne Atkins writes of. Agree or disagree?

            (2) The schools of all kinds did not have males:
            – doing the massive amounts of washing up,
            -nor preparing the sandwiches and packed lunches,
            -nor doing loads of broomwork and cleaning.

            Did I read Anne Atkins here? I read and reread it nearly 5 years ago. I think that the camps probably did not know what had hit them with her maturity, naturalness and suspicion of rot. It certainly was different from the woman-deprived psyches of single-sex male boarders.

            ‘No-one has twisted your words’: so a remark about young campers is accurately taken to apply to one 55 year old married for twenty years who has not camped for 30? And (secondly) you think you understand my thought processes better than the thinker does? Does anyone agree that you do?

            When you speak of ‘such groups’ then you make the same chronology-blind error as Andrew Graystone that of course every ministry (even those that no longer exist as such – which pertinent fact does not lessen your outrage at them) must now be acting precisely the same way as they did in the 1970s, in a time warp. I made this point already.

            PCD: Far be it from anyone to make themselves useful or want to help. Hindrance and unhelpfulness are the order of the day. Far be it from spouses to accompany their other halves rather than going it alone for a month. And far be it from anyone to point out that the drudgery was very much a matter for the university-age male senior campers, alongside the role of wives and sisters. A further repeatedly-unacknowledged point. I recognise the stereotype, though would be ashamed to indulge in stereotypical thinking myself. But I know the reality, and alas many who don’t are actually trying to claim parity with those who do.

          • And just to remind us of your *exact* words again Christopher:
            “Of course girls would be a distraction from serious consideration of commitment of one’s entire life – because they are typically the one topic that can be liable to fill one’s mind to the exclusion of all else.”

            Not sure who ‘one’ in ‘one’s mind’ is meant to refer to, but usually it refers to the first person singular.

            Nothing tabloid about quoting your exact words. Your juvenile defence is telling.

          • Not sure who ‘one’ in ‘one’s mind’ is meant to refer to, but usually it refers to the first person singular.

            OED, ‘one’:

            ‘ 17.
            a. Any person of undefined identity, esp. one considered as representative of people in general; any person at all, including (esp. in later use) the speaker himself or herself; ‘you, or I, or anyone’; a person in general.’

            So it can mean the speaker him or herself, but it by no means always or even ‘usually’ does.

          • You are confusing the solidarity & common experience we had with other teens and 20s when we *were* 16-25 ourselves (‘one’ here refers to people of camper age in general, and is not a first person substitute, nor any kind of reference to a *single* individual, unless the speaker is the Queen or posh) with clearly false ideas:
            (a) the idea that when the category of people spoken of is the category of people who are in the position of being asked to commit their entire lives to Christ, we *must* (obviously?) be referring to a single individual in their 50s who has been a Christian for many decades;
            (b) the idea that when the category of people spoken of is the category of people presently engaged in camping, we *must* (obviously?) be referring to the present state of a married person who has not been near a Iwerne camp for more than 30 years.

            Are you seriously unaware of the use of ‘one’ to mean ‘people in that category/context in general’? I share S’s amazement, though alas have got to the stage where it is unsurprising to me (and predicted by me) that any mention of a half-racy topic in any context whatever is taken by people of a certain nature to be a blubbering personal confession, since it suits baser instincts (which I sometimes refer to as being predatory or vulture-like) to do so.

          • Christopher: of course *one* CAN mean what you want it to mean. I should not be too amazed by anything S writes. S is convinced that God spills ink over any biblical manuscript that God did not approve of. Perhaps this is a method of biblical authorship you also share – I’ve asked you before and you were not clear in your answer.

            Nowhere do I refer to anyone aged 50 or 55 or whatever. I was referring, as you were, to campers at Iwerne in their teens. Of which you were one.

            You seem to forget that a number of those major public school boys would have been equally attracted to members of their own gender. Either way, what you wrote is alarming.

          • These are the ways you are wrong:
            (1) ‘One’ normally (not, as you suggest, occasionally) means ‘people in general’ (or ‘people in that situation in general’).
            (2) It does not mean ‘I’ except (as already stated) among very posh people. Goodness knows why the present exchanges were assumed to be posh.
            (3) This being the case, what S wrote was not amazing at all.
            (4) Dictionary definitions are not amazing: quite the contrary, they are as one would expect.
            (5) Ink spilling – the idea has never entered my head.
            (6) You have asked me about it before? Have you? Where?
            (7) I was unclear in my answer? But I hate unclarity and vagueness, so that sounds unlikely. My adherence to ink-spilling theory would always be a very clear ‘No’ indeed. What was my answer and where?
            (8) Nowhere do you refer to anyone in their fifties? Yes you do. You pretend I (in my fifties) am speaking of my present predicament (reminds me of the first page of The Sacred Diary), and frame what you say round that.
            (9) I never camped at Iwerne in my teens.
            (10) Nor did I camp at Iwerne as a boy camper, only as a senior camper aka semi-drudge. And I much appreciated it.
            (11) A number were equally attracted to both sexes? I do not forget this, since it is not true. I have rarely met anyone equally attracted to both sexes.
            (12) In any case, I would be more in a position to judge about that than you would be. You are very sure about what was true in a place you never were among people you never met.
            (13) Even if your speculative assertion were completely true, how would it invalidate in any way my prior assertion? Even the imaginary people you posit – let alone the rest of the campers – were still keen on girls.

            12 lines, 13 errors – but please I have better uses for my time than living through a proofreader’s nightmares.

          • Christopher. You write: “I hate unclarity and vagueness”. Indeed. Which is why I am no doubt you meant exactly what you said when you wrote – “Of course girls would be a distraction from serious consideration of commitment of one’s entire life – because they are typically the one topic that can be liable to fill one’s mind to the exclusion of all else.” I have nothing further to add.

          • S is convinced that God spills ink over any biblical manuscript that God did not approve of

            You keep implying that this is some kind of mad belief, but I still don’t see how you can believe in a God who can answer prayer, but who is incapable of protecting the integrity of His word.

            For instance, I assume you agree that God might choose to answer someone praying for their child who has cancer by healing the child, right? Not miraculously healing, like big and the cancer is gone, but through natural means causing the cancer to go into remission. We agree that happens, right?

            But cancer is just as much a product of natural forces as anything I have suggested. So how can you believe in a God who can answer prayers by sending cancer into remission, but who is incapable of, say, causing a breeze to blow,

            Can you explain that?

          • Hi David R
            I did indeed mean exactly what I said. Which meant using ‘one’ in its normal sense rather than in the sense in which the Queen would use it.

          • Christopher: I fully realise that you are the chief apologist/senior prefect/head boy in defence of all that is Iwerne. That role is played out not just on this website but on others and no doubt in the whole of your life. I have much better things to do than try to dissuade you from role.

            Yes, you can frequently be vague and imprecise. You offer vast generalisations and distort what people have said. I have pointed it out often. You have a selective memory and back some very peculiar horses. It will all come back again. I too have nothing further to add.

          • Far from that, I was not one of the individuals selected for mentoring, being far too independent minded. Not good looking either, if that matters to anyone. Nor smart. Actually I was amazed to be asked in the first place, but there was a competition between Oxford and Cambridge to see who could have the most senior campers at camp. Apologist or rather champion, yes. I thought it was great in many of its dimensions.

          • “You keep implying that this is some kind of mad belief,”

            I’m not implying, I’m very clear that it is a mad belief. If it weren’t, there would be considerable NT scholarship investigating it. Far from considerable, there isn’t any at all. We are talking about biblical authorship and textual transmission. It’s a well established discipline.

          • I’m not implying, I’m very clear that it is a mad belief

            Okay, so can you explain how you justify thinking that is a mad belief while agreeing that God can control natural forces to answer prayers by causing cancers to go into remission?

            I can’t see how you can consistently hold both those positions, but obviously you do, so can you explain please?

          • Once you produce some scholarship to support your mad belief, yes, gladly.
            Until then I regard you as the troll that you are and won’t be responding to you any further.

          • won’t be responding to you any further

            So you can’t explain the contradiction. Interesting. Means your worldview must be totally incoherent.

          • S: you don’t seem able to read, as others have observed. I will, I repeat, gladly explain the answer to your question when you produce some scholarship to support your mad idea. Until then …..

          • I will, I repeat, gladly explain the answer to your question when you produce some scholarship to support your mad idea.

            And your girlfriend is totally real, right? She just goes to another school and that’s why we wouldn’t have met her.

            I mean there’s no reason your world-view has to be coherent. You could just come clean.

          • when you produce some scholarship

            By the way your obsession with credentialism is unhealthy and you should probably try to get over it.

          • Says the person with no credentials whatsoever

            The you go again. What matters is a person’s arguments, not their certificates; and you clearly have no answers to mine.

          • “What matters is a person’s arguments, “
            This is dangerous drivel. I’m sure David Icke says exactly the same thing as you in this regard.
            Arguments are nothing until they are subject to scholarship. Until then they are mad ideas. Yours bears no scrutiny. Every piece of biblical scholarship suggests that your idea is simply ridiculous.
            And so I repeat, I won’t give you any answer until you produce some scholarship to support your argument.

          • This is dangerous drivel. I’m sure David Icke says exactly the same thing as you in this regard.
            Arguments are nothing until they are subject to scholarship.

            That’s what they said to Copernicus, isn’t it? ‘This heliocentric idea is dangerous drivel! Never mind your observations and deductions, we want to know, where’s your scholarship?’

            And as we all know it turned out they were right, and the idea with the most scholarship turned out to be correct while the one that had only ‘arguments’ and ‘maths’ and ‘logic’ on its side was justly forgotten by all but a few cracks who today everyone laughs at for their stupid ideas of a mobile Earth.

            Every piece of biblical scholarship suggests that your idea is simply ridiculous.

            And yet you haven’t been able to come up with any half-decent argument for why it’s ridiculous. You’ve claimed it would violate free will, but it doesn’t. You’ve claimed that it would require God to be able to exert control over natural forces, but we know God can do that, or how else could He still storms, answer prayers, and raise the dead?

            If it’s so patently ridiculous, why can’t you come up with an argument against it that stands up to a moment’s scrutiny?

            And so I repeat, I won’t give you any answer until you produce some scholarship to support your argument.

            Bluster all you want, we all know the truth is that you don’t have an answer.

          • Every piece of scholarship, documentary evidence, the way transmission and translation and so on and on indicates that your idea is barking mad. There is no shred of evidence to support it and every piece of evidence, as noted here, against it.
            The answer is that you probably are David Icke….

          • Every piece of scholarship, documentary evidence, the way transmission and translation and so on and on indicates that your idea is barking mad.

            In which case why can’t you, or anyone else, come up with a single argument to refute it?

            I mean, it’s not exactly a new idea — it’s in the Westminster Confession — so you’d think if there were an argument to refute it, someone would have come up with it by now.

          • God spilling ink is in the Westminster Confession?

            ‘ The Old Testament in Hebrew (the native language of the ancient people of God) and the New Testament in Greek (the language most widely known internationally at the time the New Testament was written) were directly inspired by God17 and have been kept uncontaminated throughout time by his special care and providence.’

            Chapter 1 paragraph 8

          • Absolutely nothing about God spilling ink there.

            So what precisely do you think ‘special care and providence’ means in practice, if not intervening in the world to ensure the integrity of the Bible?

          • I think it’s meaningless. It’s not part of Anglican tradition either.
            Nowhere is anything about God spilling ink in Christian tradition or history. It’s something of your own invention with no grounding in anything.

          • I think it’s meaningless.

            Those who wrote the Westminster Confession clearly didn’t think it was meaningless, though. People aren’t generally in the habit of putting stuff they think is meaningless into their creeds.

            So what do you they meant by it?

            It’s not part of Anglican tradition either.

            The doctrine of special providence is not part of Anglican tradition? Are you serious? Can someone else confirm that?

            Nowhere is anything about God spilling ink in Christian tradition or history. It’s something of your own invention with no grounding in anything.

            Is spilling ink very different from stilling storms, healing the blind, sending plagues of frogs and locusts, and having food brought by helpful ravens? Because all those things are in Christian tradition and history, and I’m not sure why you think spilling ink is ridiculous and, say, causing an earthquake in order to free an imprisoned apostle is perfectly reasonable.

          • The Westminster Confession is absolutely not part of the C of E or Anglican tradition. You can find that by simply searching the internet.

            As to what is the Anglican tradition regarding scripture – we have covered that many times. LLF describes 7 different approaches and LLF is clear that 2 of those 7 – one of which is the approach you take – is not part of the Anglican tradition.

            There are many different translations of the bible and there continue to be. There are significant differences between them, and significant differences of interpretation. God seems happy to allow all of those differences. Ink is not spilled over every incorrect retranslating. You only have to read some of the dialogue around the committees involved in the New English Bible translation, for example.

            S – you may hold whatever wacky view you like. Joseph Smith was convinced he had the right and only ideas about God’s revelation when he found some special plates. And so we have the Mormon tradition. What you are proposing falls more into that category than anything mainstream.

          • The Westminster Confession is absolutely not part of the C of E or Anglican tradition.

            Did I ever imply it was? You claimed no scholars had ever held the view that God had by special providence maintained the integrity of the Bible. I pointed out that the scholars who produced the Westminster Confession did so in black and white.

            Unless you are claiming that there exists no scholarship outside the Anglican tradition, what did it matter that the Westminster Confession is not part of that tradition?

            As to what is the Anglican tradition regarding scripture we have covered that many times.

            But what is the Anglican tradition regarding special providence? That’s what you claimed wasn’t part of Anglican tradition, which I find hard, nay, impossible to believe.

            God seems happy to allow all of those differences. Ink is not spilled over every incorrect retranslating.

            ‘Ink is not spilt over every incorrect retranslating’ is obviously not an argument in support of the idea that God does not take pains to preserve the integrity of the Bible in the original languages because, well, what has that got to do with any translations?

            What you are proposing falls more into that category than anything mainstream.

            You’re saying the Westminster Confession isn’t mainstream?

          • I’m saying, as I have said all along, that God causing ink to be spilled is not mainstream. Nobody else has ever said it, so far as can be discovered. Unless you can produce *any* other support for that claim, then I will not engage any further. So – produce your support for your claim, otherwise it remains just the idea of S. , and no one else.

          • I’m saying, as I have said all along, that God causing ink to be spilled is not mainstream.

            So you think no ink was spilt when God caused the earthquake that freed Paul and Silas? That seems implausible. Would a Roman gaol not have had stocks of ink? Would they not have been spilt in an earthquake powerful enough to tear a locked door from its hinges?

            So given we agree that God did cause that earthquake, how can you possibly claim that God had never spilt any ink?

            Nobody else has ever said it, so far as can be discovered.

            Again: what do you think that the writers of the Westminster Confession meant by ‘special providence’, if not that God causes events in the world in order to preserve the integrity of His Word?

            So – produce your support for your claim, otherwise it remains just the idea of S. , and no one else.

            I produced support in black and white and you denied it and refused to answer any straight questions — as will be plain to anyone still reading, because you have no answers that would not expose your worldview as an incoherent mess.

          • Oh I’m sure ink has been spilled many times as a result of accident. What we don’t have any evidence of is God directly causing accidents like that to happen. You are just using your imagination to justify your particular belief.

            The Westminster Confession was written in the 17th century as a part of the Reformation shake down. It is certainly not one of the catholic creeds. It is certainly not evidence of the way that the scriptures were written many hundreds of years before.

            You don’t have any evidence. Your imagination is certainly productive. But that’s all this ink spilling idea is: S’ imagination.

          • Oh I’m sure ink has been spilled many times as a result of accident. What we don’t have any evidence of is God directly causing accidents like that to happen.

            What do you mean? We know that the earthquake that freed Paul and Silas wasn’t an accident, don’t we? That earthquake was caused, whether directly or indirectly, by God, wasn’t it? And so we do have a direct record of God causing something to happen that quite probably spilt a drop of ink or two.

            Don’t we?

            The Westminster Confession was written in the 17th century as a part of the Reformation shake down. It is certainly not one of the catholic creeds. It is certainly not evidence of the way that the scriptures were written many hundreds of years before.

            Indeed it’s not, but I wasn’t using it as such. You asked for evidence of scholarship that agreed with me. The Westminster Confession is evidence that there is scholarship that agrees with me.

            It’s not evidence that that scholarship is right, but you didn’t ask for that, just for evidence that such scholarship exists. Well, it does. So don’t move the goalposts.

            You don’t have any evidence.

            Evidence for what? That scholarship exists that agrees with me? I just showed you a product of scholarship that agrees with me. You just look silly denying it.

            Now — are you going to explain how you reconcile the evidence that God causes ink to be spilt, by causing earthquakes, with your claim that the idea is ‘ridiculous’?

            Because it’s that or you admit that your worldview is an incoherent mess.

            Or — I suppose there is a third possibility. I haven’t mentioned it up until now, because I hoped it wasn’t true, but I’m beginning to fear it may be. And that is that your worldview is coherent, but that there is no place in it for a God who intervenes in the world. That you don’t think God does directly cause anything in the world to happen — you don’t think that God can still a storm, or cause an earthquake, or send a plague, or cure an illness. You think the Bible is full of myths that credulous people in the past took literally, but that we now in our scientific age know couldn’t possibly have actually happened, so must just be the literary creations of people trying to express the spiritual experiences they had had.

            But you won’t just come out and say that because although you are pretty sure that that’s the view of all the clergy in the Church of England — the intelligent, scholarly ones, anyway, not the dumb evangelicals who still, like medieval peasants, think that those events actually happened, or that God can intervene in the world today — you are aware at some level that you’re supposed to pretend in public that you don’t think it’s all just a metaphor, or a literary device, or true ‘in a very real sense’.

            As I say, I very much hope that’s the case. But I’m beginning to think it might be.

            So to lay my mind to rest, can you explain how you reconcile your statement that it’s ‘ridiculous’ to think that God could spill a bottle of ink, with the fact that we have a direct record of God causing an earthquake that almost certainly did result in at least a few drops of ink splashing over the side of their container?

          • The Westminster Confession is certainly not scholarship that supports ink spilling – otherwise it would have to say so.
            I am not sure we can call the Westminster Confession scholarship. But even if we could, it nowhere mentions ink spilling. Ink spilling is simply your imagination. No one else ever mentions it. Unless you can produce someone at one minute to midnight……

          • The Westminster Confession is certainly not scholarship that supports ink spilling – otherwise it would have to say so.
            I am not sure we can call the Westminster Confession scholarship. But even if we could, it nowhere mentions ink spilling. Ink spilling is simply your imagination.

            And we’re back to the question you didn’t answer above:

            So what precisely do you think ‘special care and providence’ means in practice, if not intervening in the world to ensure the integrity of the Bible?

            By the way are you going to do anything to dispel the idea that you don’t believe in a God who can affect the material world, but you can’t just come out and admit that because you think you’re supposed to pretend you do?

            Because now it’s been brought up, if you remain silent on the matter, it doesn’t give a good impression… Not a good impression at all… When you could just deny it and reassure everyone that you do believe God affects the material world, stills storms, causes earthquakes, cures illness, and raises the dead… I mean, if you do believe…

          • You keep avoiding the very direct question because you don’t have any answer: where in any scholarship or indeed anywhere at all is ink spilling referred to apart from by you? Who else even mentions it? Where else is it mentioned? Answer: nowhere, nobody, nowhere. It’s just something you have imagined.

            Can’t find any reference to special care and providence in Anglican literature yet either I’m afraid. Care to tell me where I might find it……

            No?

            Time up I’m afraid S.

          • You keep avoiding the very direct question because you don’t have any answer: where in any scholarship or indeed anywhere at all is ink spilling referred to apart from by you?

            Are you blind? It’s right there in the Westminster Confession in black and white: special providence. God’s affecting of the material world to achieve His purposes. Whether that’s spilling ink, raising or stilling storms, or causing earthquakes.

            Who else even mentions it? Where else is it mentioned?

            Acts of the Apostles, chapter sixteen.

            Can’t find any reference to special care and providence in Anglican literature yet either I’m afraid. Care to tell me where I might find it……

            Well, I wouldn’t know, would I? But it’s a standard part of doctrine in the Roman church, the Orthodox churches, and the other Protestant churches, so I’d be shocked in the Anglicans had missed it.

            Are you not going to reassure us that you believe in a God who can affect the material world then? Are you instead going to admit that you don’t believe God can affect the material world? Or are you going to keep trying to stick to this ridiculous (note correct use of the word) ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy?

          • Or are you going to keep trying to stick to this ridiculous (note correct use of the word) ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy?

            Let’s make it easy. Multiple choice. Do you believe in:

            (a) A God who can affect the material world, and does;

            (b) A God who could affect the material world, but chooses not to; or

            (c) A god who is incapable of affecting the material world?

            I think that covers all the options. So, which is it?

          • Can you guys change the register, and actually have a respectful exchange?

            I would absolutely be up for a moderated discussion in which we each had to answer, and not evade, all questions put to us both by the other and by the audience.

            Mr Godsall?

          • S: happy to debate with you in any way once I know exactly who you are. I don’t debate with anonymous internet trolls. So please let me know your identity and we can see what might be arranged.

            Your other recent posts are confused and confusing.

            The Westminster Confession says absolutely nothing about ink spilling. It may talk about Special Providence but nowhere defines what that is. In the way you seem to understand it, it is a particularly post reformation Protestant belief that was very much pre-critical biblical scholarship. NT scholarship, especially, made it very difficult to believe in that with much integrity. I have no doubt many Protestants do believe in it – with very little foundation or evidence – but Roman Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy do not. For both, the NT is a product of the Early Church and can only be understood by and in the context of the Church.

            Acts16 says nothing at all about ink spilling, and unless Luke was writing that book at the time of the earthquake, and made some error that was corrected by some ink spillage caused by the earthquake, I can’t see what relevance Acts 16 has to your argument at all.

          • Oh and whilst some Anglicans may individually believe in Special Providence, nowhere does it appear in any Anglican doctrine. It is not part of any C of E teaching.

          • The imagination works through suggestion, not description. Description is always direct and frequently closes off what it names. Suggestion respects the mystery and richness of a thing. All it offers are clues to its nature. Suggestion keeps the mystery open and extends us the courtesy of inviting us to see the thing for ourselves. It offers us the hospitality and freedom to trust the integrity of our own encounter with a thing. This is how a work of art can allow itself to be seen in so many different and often conflicting ways. It does not foreclose on the adventure of revelation. —John O’Donohue

        • I don’t debate with anonymous internet trolls.

          The evidence says otherwise.

          So please let me know your identity and we can see what might be arranged.

          The owner of this web page knows enough to be able to verify that any text really came from me. That is all that is required, at a technical level for arrangements to be made.

          The Westminster Confession says absolutely nothing about ink spilling. It may talk about Special Providence but nowhere defines what that is. In the way you seem to understand it, it is a particularly post reformation Protestant belief that was very much pre-critical biblical scholarship.

          So you’ve backed off from the idea that it is a position unique to me, then? And that there is no scholarship for it — you admit that there is post-Reformation Protestant scholarship that shares the same idea?

          For both, the NT is a product of the Early Church and can only be understood by and in the context of the Church.

          Of course, I also think that the New Testament is a product of the early church and can only be understood in the context of the early church.

          (Did you really mean to write that the New Testament can only be understood by the early church? That can’t be what you meant, can it? That would mean nobody alive today could understand it.)

          Acts16 says nothing at all about ink spilling, and unless Luke was writing that book at the time of the earthquake, and made some error that was corrected by some ink spillage caused by the earthquake, I can’t see what relevance Acts 16 has to your argument at all.

          The relevance is that it shows that God is capable of causing ink bottles to spill, and that He is recorded of having done so in order to ensure the spread of His Word.

          It therefore shows that God has (a) the means and (b) the motive to spill ink (and, more generally, to cause events in the material world to spread and preserve His Word)

          If you don’t understand the relevance of proving means and motive to a case then I don’t think I can help you.

          Reply
          • “So you’ve backed off from the idea that it is a position unique to me, then? “

            Quite the reverse. You have not shown anywhere else where ink spilling is mentioned. It isn’t mentioned in the Westminster Confession or Acts 16. Those are the places you say it was mentioned. It clearly isn’t. So your evidence is quite clearly false.

          • You have not shown anywhere else where ink spilling is mentioned. It isn’t mentioned in the Westminster Confession or Acts 16. Those are the places you say it was mentioned. It clearly isn’t.

            ‘Ink spilling’ is your quaint little way of referring to my thesis that God acts in the material world to preserve the integrity of His written Word (which might involve spilling ink, yes, but might equally involve any thousands of others of interventions, such as are recorded both in the Old Testament and in the gospels and in Acts, whether that’s earthquakes, storms, or the actions of animals, inter alia). The section I quoted of the Westminster Confession spells out that thesis in black and white; Acts 16 records an instance of God acting in the material world in order to ensure the continued spreading of His message. Both are therefore examples of what you quaintly refer to as ‘ink spilling’, but which is more accurately described as the protection of the integrity of the Bible through God’s action in the world.

          • Well I think at last we can bring this discussion to an end then.
            It was you – and only you – who introduced the idea of ink spilling. You insisted that this was the most perfect way of God acting to preserve his word. Now you are saying that actually there may have been no ink spilling at all.
            Acts 16 is not about the writing of scripture so is a complete red herring. The Westminster Confession is a particular Protestant theory about the infallibility/inerrancy of scripture. Fine if you want to believe that. It’s a theory without evidence. It doesn’t find support in modern critical NT scholarship.
            Anglicans do not subscribe to special providence, as I have said. Anglicans have a variety of approaches to scripture and the LLF document sums those approaches up well. I am quite clear that my own understanding of scriptural authorship and transmission is around 3 or 4 on those voices that LLF identifies. It’s thoroughly Anglican.
            Thank you S. I shall not contribute further now. It has gone round and round in circles. At last we can agree to differ.

          • Oh and just for the record, as I’m sure you will wish to know where you ever spoke about ink spilling – which was absolutely not my quaint way of referring to your theory – here are your exact words on the matter S:

            June 27, 2021 at 2:31 pm
            AG said: your version of god spilled ink over the bits that weren’t correct until the fallible human beings got it right!

            S replied: If that isn’t the best description I’ve ever seen of how the Christian God works in the history of the world, then I don’t know what is.
            The quaintness is all yours S

          • Well I think at last we can bring this discussion to an end then.
            It was you – and only you – who introduced the idea of ink spilling.

            Yes — as an example of the kind of thing that God was capable of. A synecdoche. And I also gave many other examples in the same discussions. It is you who, bizarrely, decided to focus on that single detail and make the whole thing about ‘ink spilling’ rather than the broader point about God protecting His Word through acting in the world — and you did that because you know you have no answer to the essential question of how you can reconcile your firm stance that God never intervenes in the material world with the clear records in the Bible of Him doing just that.

            And you have no answer to that question because either your world-view is totally incoherent, or because you believe in a God who is either incapable of affecting or unwilling to affect the material world — ie, you are a Deist — but you won’t come out and say that publicly because you know that people in the Church of England are supposed to pretend they believe in the God of the Bible.

            Acts 16 is not about the writing of scripture so is a complete red herring.

            No it’s not, because it points out that God is capable of affecting the material world, and therefore completely overturns your main argument that God could not have preserved the scriptures because He is incapable of affecting the operation of natural forces, by showing that in fact God can affect the natural forces of the world, and does do so.

            The Westminster Confession is a particular Protestant theory about the infallibility/inerrancy of scripture. Fine if you want to believe that. It’s a theory without evidence. It doesn’t find support in modern critical NT scholarship.

            So when you said ‘scholarship’ you mean ‘and I only count as scholarship, scholarship that agrees with me’? Good to know but you could have been clearer about that from the start.

            Anglicans do not subscribe to special providence, as I have said.

            Anglicans who are Deists don’t, obviously. But I would still like to hear form someone else whether that is the official position of the Church of England, and if so how they can possible reconcile that with the fact that there are recorded instances of God’s special providence throughout the Old and New Testaments (for instance, in Acts 16).

            By the way, you still never answered by simple multiple-choice question above. I will repeat it here, so that all those still reading can draw conclusions from your inability to answer honestly and publicaly.

            Do you believe in:

            (a) A God who can affect the material world, and does;

            (b) A God who could affect the material world, but chooses not to; or

            (c) A god who is incapable of affecting the material world?

          • Another fruitless exchange, where neither of you appears to have listened to the other or learned from them.

            I don’t think you can know it was fruitless; you don’t know the affect it has had on those reading, which is the most important fruit it could have.

            I think that I have managed to expose Mr Godsall as either having a totally incoherent worldview where he sometimes thinks God can affect the natural world, but arbitrarily rules out other ways in which God might affect the world; or being a closet Deist who doesn’t believe any of the events in the Bible which point to God’s ability to affect the workings of the natural world are accurate records of what actually happened.

            I think that’s a worthwhile thing to do, as otherwise it seems to me that people in the Church of England who don’t believe in, well, in Christianity, can get away with pretending that they do because of some polite omerta where you all agree never to actually put one another on the spot about what you actually believe — a sort of ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ approach to doctrine that has and continues to run your denomination into the ground because it’s full of people who don’t actually believe in Christianity. As, conveniently enough, is outlined in today’s Times: https://twitter.com/andytrenier/status/1462008916074811399

            Are either of us going to change our minds? No. But that is not the point of a debate. The point of a debate is to allow the audience to make up their minds.

          • AG said: your version of god spilled ink over the bits that weren’t correct until the fallible human beings got it right!

            S replied: If that isn’t the best description I’ve ever seen of how the Christian God works in the history of the world, then I don’t know what is.

            And what I meant by that — as is so obvious that you surely must be being disingenuous in the extreme by implying that you misunderstood — is that the whole history of the world, according to Christianity, from the Fall to today, is one long sequence of humans messing things up and God having to save us from the consequences of our screw-ups (hence metaphorically spilling ink over the bits that weren’t correct — a reversal of the usual metaphor about Jesus washing away our guilty stains, but making the same point that God makes things right where we got them wrong).

            Nothing about the Bible — or rather, only about the Bible inasmuch as it’s about everything, including the Bible.

          • And in fact, thinking about it, I was wrong, of course. That’s not the best description of how God works. There’s a better one, and it’s that the story of history is God spilling not ink, but blood — His own blood — over the bits that weren’t correct.

      • Surely outreach to a specific people group is the normal way mission works in the church? Just because that people group are the children of rich elitists that’s no reason to exclude them from the same strategy.

        Reply
      • ‘Bash’ who started the Iwerne camps in the 1930’s saw his mission field as the public schools of England. At the time, the state of Christianity in these schools was dire. Others had their mission fields, and camps for those at school were already running at places like West Runton. [A question for the historians: did the West Runton camps in the ’30s also call their leaders ‘officers’?] Bash himself was no ‘hearty’, and many of those I know who attended the Iwerne camps and benefited from them, including church leaders, are also in no way hearties.

        That the public schools somehow produce those who finish up in leadership positions in this kingdom of England is obvious. So, it is not surprising if some of the products of these schools are brought to faith in Christ, that such are to be found in positions of leadership in the Church.

        Reply
    • Unfortunately, Smyth’s shame was buried in England and shuffled off to Zimbabwe and South Africa where he abused many more (and younger) boys. Iwerne enabled this. Which is rather more important than calling Nick McKinnel the Bishop of Portsmouth.

      Reply
      • To be accurate, Iwerne facilitated him going to Zimbabwe under the reliable umbrella of Michael Cassidy.

        It was when he decided first to dominate that organisation and then break off and do his own organisation that the trouble started. Should that have been predicted? Its possibility certainly should have been, on the basis of his known character.

        As for errors of fact and errors of morals, the latter will always be more important, and this will always be a both/and and can never be an either/or.

        Reply
        • Abusers have often been moved on under the aegis of ‘reliable’ people. Inevitably, they carry on abusing. And lots of people continued enabling Smyth to do that. Ditto Peter Ball. I am not attacking churchmanship [sic], I am attacking deference and faulty ecclesiology.

          Reply
  7. This review on Amazon (by ‘Robin M’) sums up the range of positives and concerns here quite well:

    ‘This is a very readable account of how John Smyth, an eminent British QC, used his position of authority initially in the Iwerne Christian movement to sexually abuse vulnerable teenager and young people. He did this for many years in England and then Zimbabwe, his crimes disastrously covered up by senior leaders in the movement. A book of this sort, recording such sad events and the damage it caused the victims, has been much needed.

    My only worry about the book is that it is not particularly accurate and some of the assumptions about the Iwerne movement are heavily filtered through his crusading cynicism. There is some irony here in which his obsessive approach combined with his technique of force majeure argument is unfortunately reminiscent of the person he is writing about. This involves labelling the Iwerne movement incorrectly as a cult and seeking to discredit most of the people involved, which includes some of the victims. An example is his shameless outing of one of the victims in the book, adding to his abuse.

    Having said this, if it can be read with these caveats in mind it captures the awfulness of Smyth and how apparently good people can act in ways that compound evil.’

    Reply
  8. And I am left with a very awkward question: when people use the stories of other people’s abuse to push their own theological and ecclesial agendas, is this not simply adding to the abuse?

    Spot on. This is obviously being used to attack Justin Welby and Nicky Gumbel, even though they very obviously had no knowledge of Smyth’s abuse at the time.

    I don’t wish to diminish the experiences of the victims in any way, but what I have read about the accounts of abuse doesn’t really add up. Why did none of the victims’ parents go to the police at the time? Why didn’t they notify the trustees or organisers? Why didn’t they take civil legal action against Smyth or the Titus Trust? If the injuries were as serious as reported presumably victims would have sought medical attention. If so why didn’t the doctors or nurses report the abuse? The victims were boarding school pupils, why didn’t their fellow pupils and teachers notice the wounds e.g. in communal showers?

    Reply
    • Boarding school parents of that kind do not do what you have suggested, i.e. go to the police, or at least they didn’t in the 1980s. They close ranks around the school/organisation, and make sure that the offender is removed but the reputation of the school/organisation remains intact. This is precisely what happened with John Smyth; he was quietly packed off to the colonies, and no more was said.

      Reply
    • Most of the beatings took place after they had left school – though naturally the press will go on pretending that they were essentially boys not young men. For those which took place at school, the schools were divided into boarding houses of only 50, and in Kingsgate House (the most affected by the Christian Revival) the ones being beaten while still at school – not all that many in total – were largely friends of one another and sometimes will have shared a room. Failure to shower with the others in order to hide wounds is mentioned in the book, though on an occasion that postdates schooldays. Bandaging to hide wounds on the school sports field is mentioned.

      Reply
      • The boys in Africa were boys. The young men in England were young men. Being in their teens and early twenties does not mitigate the egregious abuse. One committed suicide, others are still suffering the effects of serious trauma. And the Church continues to re-abuse them.

        Reply
          • Correction. One young man attempted suicide as a result of Smyth’s appalling abuse. Abuse note, not ‘misdemeanours’. Belittling Smyth’s sins (whatever their ecclesiological or theological origins) is one of the ways abuse continues to wound those abused. Smyth was an evil man, whose evil was enabled by snobbery, deference, misogyny, and repression. If Iwerne/Titus wasn’t itself corrupt, its dangerous ideology allowed cruelty, sadism and sexual perversion to flourish.

          • Anyone who attended any camps would be thoroughly bemused by such a summary as your final sentence PCD, which bears little or no relation to what they would have experienced on a camp – but you did not. One attempted suicide more than once, and one contemplated it. Can one blame them? – how awful to have the very roots of one’s life sullied, seemingly irreparably. You have now repeated the ‘misdemeanours’ point; when I used the word, I was just meaning bad or negative deeds as opposed to good ones, insofar as I thought about it.

          • Well, may I suggest you think about it a little more if you believe using the word misdemeanours aptly describes Smyth’s sins.
            I think the young men who were abused would understand exactly what I mean by cruelty, sadism and sexual perversion. That is what they encountered.
            Your attempts to minimise Smyth’s actions and to paint him as one bad apple ring very hollow. Iwerne enabled systemic misogyny, elitism and perversion. I don’t know whether its theology was to blame or its ideology, or a mixture of both, but it was a perversion of the gospel.
            It happens in more than one Christian tradition. It happens in Anglo Catholicism and Roman Catholicism, again enabled by deference and perverted interpretations of authority and suffering. It often happens in all male environments. One of the scandals which surrounded Jesus was that he travelled with and was supported by women and that he proposed a community of barren women, eunuchs and children. How easily we forget those teachings in favour of systemic white, male privilege.

          • The word misdemeanours expresses that, as to whether they were good or bad, they fell into the bad category not the good one.

            As to the cause of suicide attempt PCD is right not S: Smyth was clearly the main or only cause.

            One bad apple? Please don’t frame discussion in terms of stereotypes. I have never suggested that out of many thousands of people there is just one bad apple, nor will I. In fact, I would think that any bad person who was attracted to young men would be minded to gravitate to Iwerne before they gravitated to almost anywhere else, simply because of the very notable quality of Iwerne exports – a fact acknowledged not least by women (Anne Atkins as above; Mary Mullins in Bash: A Study in Spiritual Power). Whether there were more bad apples than elsewhere, proportionally, is a complex sum that many unscrupulously are happy to rule preemptively on without having done the math.

          • OK, for one bad apple, substitute lone wolf or snake in the grass.
            One thing I find hard to understand is your insistence on the excellence of Iwerne leaders. From what I have read, none seem accomplished in biblical scholarship or theology. By all accounts preaching and talks were narrow and simplistic.

          • What I would find very hard to understand is the idea that a person can be excellent in only one way. I have always been referring to character, brought about by the quiet time and by attention to character traits. Billy Graham, Peace with God suggested Christian men outdo each other in being the perfect gent. The older Iwerne leaders we have known are of a generation to have been influenced by B Graham. To this we add the female commendations of Mary Mullins (in the Bash memoir) and Anne Atkins (who is a very straight talker indeed). Both echo my superlatives, and their gender is in this case significant. Iwerne is by a street the best producer of character that I know.

            Of course John Stott was a top theologian and his The Cross of Christ summarised the same essential theology as Iwerne’s which he came to understand had been correct. Michael Green had a mind like a rapier. I do not think that many others have been leading church thinkers, but CJ Davis has a PhD in NT, James Steven in Charismatic matters, Peter Walker in NT, Mark Stibbe in NT and literature. There have been some maths whizzes (Vernon Wilkins, Patrick Miles) and Johnny Juckes is highly qualified in psychology.

            And in general the Proc Trust style of preaching found in Iwerne churches is at a good logical level, often very good indeed. It has fine exegesis and application and is the least likely to impose on the text.

            I am entirely puzzled by what could be the difference between a ‘lone’ wolf and ‘one’ bad apple. Even with a snake in the grass one never imagines more than one!

            But please please listen to those who were there. What have those who were not there to go on apart from fruitless contentless baseless speculation?

          • I know of no commendation by Anne Atkins. She writes of being asked to leave because she contravened the extreme sexual apartheid. And she draws attention to abuse hidden in evangelical circles which she tried to draw attention to, but was fobbed off.

            As for lone wolf or snake in the grass, they are, like bad apple, cliches which imply that Smyth’s actions were unconnected with his context. The same context produced Jonathan Fletcher and other abusers; it also produced men keen to cover up that abuse.
            That is systemic corruption.

          • Er – it sounds like you are there parroting Andrew Graystone’s one-line simplification.

            The Cross of Christ is his major theological opus, and it reproduces the Iwerne line, which of course does not belong just to Iwerne but ultimately to Isaiah 53.

            As for this narrow and broad thing, what on earth can it possibly mean? Theologies are bespoke, and conceived to make the closest fit with reality. Narrow and broad are mere styles that one can parade, tribes, images to project. *What* is it that is narrow/broad? There are several main doctrines, and one tries to be as accurate as possible about each of them. None of that has anything to do with something called narrow/broad. But some are concerned with image alone.

          • Anne Atkins’s same article, one excerpt as given by Anton above:

            ”My parents couldn’t have wanted nicer friends for me. (Nor I, for my daughters.) These were extremely pleasant young men.” I second that. And of course, one reason there were so many marriages to sisters of friends is that the combination of Christian-outdoor-upright is an especially good one, and people with that combination tended to gravitate to Iwerne. So the pool of young peers was incomparable and it accordingly made sense to remain within it.

          • Anne Atkins writes of the delightful young men, contemporaries of her brother. She does not commend those who abused them.

          • Now, of course, the tabloids take the worst example and then extrapolate from that to say ‘They’re all at it’. Of all the possible people to imitate, the tabloids are surely quite the worst and least admirable.

            To Anne Atkins’s commendation we add first Mary Mullins’s and secondly that of the women on whose behalf she says she speaks:
            Women ‘saw how spiritually mature these young men were: how seriously they took the demands Christ made on them; they noticed the powerful effects of the workings of the Holy Spirit in the lives of the men they encountered, as well as the competence and quiet confidence most of them displayed, both in their knowledge of the truth and in their clear-cut presentation of it. They were generally profoundly impressed.’

          • Anne Atkins’ topic is not the products of Iwerne, but the boys who were recruited for the camps, like her brother and his friends. I have no doubt that they, or most of them, enjoyed the sports and companionship. Whether they enjoyed or endured the simplistic bible teaching is open to debate. I don’t know how much harm such a set up created, absent the abuse. Mary Mullins observed that Iwerne recruits were often awkward with women. It seems a thoroughly unhealthy model.

          • So unhealthy that a straight talking insider (and you will see that both MM and AA are very straight talkers) is in both cases effusive in their praise for the young men’s character.

          • As to the difference between products of Iwerne and boys at camps, search me. MM certainly in her encomium lists character the boys learnt or gained through Iwerne. AA is speaking of Iwerne men, so it would be missing the point if what she meant was that they were admirable when they first arrived there and then got corrupted. No meaning seems further from her text. That is clearly exactly what she is not saying.

            But I recognise absolutely the good traits of character she speaks of, and anyone who didn’t attend is several hundred times less able to speak accurately about this than anyone who did.

          • Nice young men, quite apart from their involvement at Iwerne. Iwerne did not make them eligible husbands; birth, education and privilege did.

          • So why did they commend Iwerne and not commend public schools in general? That punctures your point.

            I have known both to a certain degree, and one looks far superior to the other.

          • Atkins didn’t commend Iwerne!
            She commented about the nice young men in their circles.
            Atkins is critical of Iwerne. She was asked to leave!

          • Correct. I’ll rephrase, because of the ambiguity of the term ‘Iwerne’. Although the nice young men attained their qualities to a notable extent after not before being Iwerne men, and although they were not simply nice by being virtue of public schoolboys, since public schoolboys often were not nice at all, nevertheless there is a difference between Iwerne as seen through its human products and Iwerne at an institutional level. This distinction has been made by me, by Anne Atkins, by Nick Harris on Thinking Anglicans and so on. The institutional level became too rigid at times because it canonised some of Bash’s random and idiosyncratic perspectives together with his commonsensical and warranted perspectives. And (secondly) it was the victim of its own success. It is only a successful operation that would be so immune to change; if an operation was not working, then people would try to change it so that it worked.

  9. Smyth’s misdemeanours are being used as a Trojan horse to smuggle through (by ‘association’) condemnation of everything that might be found foreign or alien within evangelicalism. I believe people have spotted what they perceive as an opportunity here, to bring down everything they don’t like about evangelicalism; but they would have to be unscrupulous people. Maybe Cathy Newman who did the original excellent Channel 4 report is one of them. One of the ways that one can tell that this is going on is the obsession with the case (with every last detail and latest development) that one sometimes meets.

    But I think A Graystone shows some nuance here. Messrs Stott, Green and Watson, all Iwernites who learnt and exported a great deal from the movement, were all honest and truthful, and independent minded. And they are perhaps Iwerne’s top exports. A Graystone (himself a former SU worker, something he unaccountably omits to mention – but does it mean he has a dog in this fight?) agrees with this.

    Reply
    • The reason I make this judgment is his podcast for the Church Times. He dismisses the inaccuracies highlighted by James Stileman as thoughto highlight them is the same thing as not to care about Smyth’s abuse. This is mischievous, because if we followed that through to its logical conclusion then the book could be as inaccurate as anything and no-one would be allowed to complain. But lack of factual accuracy leads one to suspect a degree of lack of accuracy altogether, which means lack of accurate judgment. That is one important reason why it matters.

      Reply
  10. I welcome this book review and all serious engagement with the issues. That said, the victims need to be at the heart of our concerns and only in this book, has their story been widely made made known. Many senior figures knew or suspected and looked the other way -or worse. Keep that aspect of the scandal uppermost in your mind.

    I wrote the following to the Church Times when the book was published.

    “ A book exploring the facts and context of abuse by John Smyth and others within the Christian camps at Iwerne was always going to ignite controversy. Having just completed reading it, I think there is one “red flag” and a number of consequent actions that need to be considered.

    All manipulative abusers work to exploit the vulnerabilities of the context in which they operate. Iwerne’s context included the structured encouragement of ongoing off camp relationships between an older man and an adolescent youth. Often these are innocuous, but when the man has attitudes towards his own sexuality and women which are complicated, that is a potentially dangerous situation. Smyth, Fletcher and others were able to develop such relationships in plain sight for their personal gratification. Discipling may legitimately involve the intimacy of sharing personal reflections about belief and prayer life: curiosity about masturbation, and getting naked are not the marks of a Christian mentor. Such intrusion was known and scandalously ignored

    What should be done in consequence of the book?

    Archbishop Justin should set an example to everyone whose actions will be scrutinised by Keith Makin by volunteering a comprehensive timeline and account to answer the three questions “ What did you know, when did you know it and what did you do about it”. It will save time and money if they do. He should urge all to do so promptly. Claimed amnesia should be viewed with concern.

    We should be urgently looking at the early identification and compensation of Smyth’s African victims by the CofE and Titus Trust jointly. The fact they have been ignored completely is itself a scandal and frankly racist. The policy of catch and release in Africa was a disgrace.

    The Church has been suspending people of late on the slightest of rumours and allegations. If those who aided the suppression of this scandal remain in uninterrupted Ministry pending the delays of the Makin report it will further damage the reputations of the Church. There is cogent evidence already in the book, the public record and in their own published admissions to ask leading actors in the story to stand back for a while or be suspended. There comes a point on the leadership ladder when, if you know an abuser’s identity and that he is out there working with minors, your primary duty is the protection of the young. There must be no equivocation or favouritism.

    The Makin review should be better resourced and project managed to ensure that there are no more delays. A lot of the work has been done by survivors and Andrew Graystone in compiling the facts and the agenda, now it needs to be independently scrutinised, but much of the heavy lifting has already been done.

    Archbishops Council should report to the next General Synod on the structural failings of the Church’s management of this 40 year scandal. There will be many new Synod members who will need to be brought up to speed before reform can be properly scrutinised: the Smyth scandal is as a good a case study as any for assessing our continuing weaknesses.

    Finally, the book is attracting criticism. Good, nobody should be above scrutiny, but it is important to examine things in the right order. It is not the inaccuracies that worries me, it is what is plainly true, as we hear the story directly from the victims , witnesses like Smyth’s son , and the public and private records in both the UK and Southern Africa. Nothing must distract from the core virtue of the book which is that it makes further delay and obfuscation impossible, individuals and institutions alike”

    Finally there is to be an online presentation by the author with questions Chaired by Jeremy Vine on 13 November at 6 pmFree and open to all. I will post a link separately

    Reply
    • Hi Martin

      The approved perspective is ‘cover-up’. It would be one thing if ‘cover-up’ was the conclusion once all dimensions had been considered and factored in. The trouble is that people are never going to be impressed by a ‘conclusion’ that has never analysed or even acknowledged those other dimensions. The conclusion that will impress is always bound to be the one that has looked at all the dimensions and has analysed on that basis.

      My Church Times letter yesterday picks out 7 dimensions as follows – all of which are large and all of which are being brushed under the carpet:
      (1) The need for victim confidentiality (a fiscal priority for Titus) – and obviously what is really confidentiality will look to the hasty like cover-up. Just as has been predicted, confidentiality has indeed now gone for a burton. It is how the tabloids operate.
      (2) The fact that the victims by their non-disclosure over 30 years by and large showed that they (unsurprisingly) wanted confidentiality – there was unanimity in their action here.
      (3) Things only changed when social norms changed post-Savile (close attention to 30 years ago, more than to the present day, is after all unusual and in need of explanation), and therefore we are in danger of punishing those who do not live in our own era as though only one set of norms exists. Rather, those who are aware of only one set of norms are the more impoverished and less informed group and the less likely to be accurate/rounded in their perspectives.
      Post-Savile was also the time when victim culture grew up. Alongside all the very genuine victims.
      (4) Parents wanted anonymity and closure for their children, as was normal, logical and compassionate (all those parents who were consulted, anyway – and any others could always break rank but in reality did not see a need to do so). Everywhere we see faceless organisations who do not know children from Adam muscling in and thinking they know better than those children’s very parents.
      (5) The tabloids would (because of the fame of several parents) have taken a sledgehammer that would have prevented the smooth running of the victims’ lives (which would have been a scandal), and would also have put to an end all the good done by the organisation, which several can attest has been considerable.
      (6) The Iwerne leadership had no knowlegde of the beatings at the time – as is agreed on all sides. The point being that they were not culpable in the face of Smyth’s deliberate secrecy.
      (7) There may have seemed no reason to doubt Smyth’s accountability in Zimbabwe where he was put under Michael Cassidy.

      The point that we must prioritise is entirely right. The point that addressing spin and loose argumentation and factual error are not significant priorities would be wrong. If one cannot trust someone’s facts then one cannot trust either their research (to some degree) or their analytic powers, or their freedom from bias, or any combination of these. That is important.

      An example of ‘spin’ would be what AG says about Iain Broomfield. ‘Of a safeguarding nature’ can mean two quite different things: an individual is her/himself a risk; or alternatively they have failed to follow safeguarding procedures, which are themselves a minefield, involving as they do the danger of kyboshing innocent lives in some instances. If a writer does not distinguish between these two things, which they know perfectly well are quite different from one another, then they may seem to be massaging language for maximum innuendo.

      Many thanks.

      Reply
    • ‘It is not the inaccuracies that worries me, it is what is plainly true ….’ I agree. And the tough reality is that until that is fully investigated, with due accountability and victims appropriately responded to, claims here about misreporting, even where justified, just sound like attempts at evasion.
      May I also say I do not consider reading the book ‘essential reading’. I have chosen not too. This is all being investigated by those properly equipped and informed. I am intent to wait and pray for the light to shine in this darkness, hopefully before too long.

      Reply
      • Thank you David for this characteristically very sane approach. It is not the inaccuracies that should dominate our thinking but that which is horribly and painfully true. And clearly lots of it is.
        Anne Atkins, who I very often disagree with, also puts it clearly: “… Iwerne was out of step with the world, not I. “. She describes a very peculiar and weird set up which others who were involved in the very cream of public schools have also described to me. Unhealthy is perhaps the best description.

        Reply
  11. While it has been touched on , but little developed, there seems to be little consideration given to the influence of the culture of Public/ Boarding schools on the exercise of discipline, on heirachal structure; of preferment, elitism, in manipulation domination and control as it was stretched, developed and applied into Church structures, even into hermeneutics.
    It is far too easy, flaccid, erroneous even, to attribute the causes primarily to evangelicalism and tar everyone with the same brush.
    What troubles me as a former lawyer, is a seeming lack of weight given to burden and standard of proof, especially in relation to those in the outer circles, such as Stott, Welby, and others.
    Hindsight, through the lens of current mores, can succumb to seeing more, than was there, with no benefit of the doubt given, holding to a self-superior righteousness and crusading indignation.
    In all of this evangelicalism has been used in a pejorative way, with a presupposition that there is any agreement over what it is or isn’t.
    What is the evangel?
    *Who is the Christ who IS the gospel…? Christ himself is the gospel…The gospel offer is Christ himself…the gospel benefits are only in him…they ca not be separated from him…as if we could possess them independently of him…in ourselves…* The Whole Christ; Sinclair B Ferguson.
    Jesus Christ, himself is the evangel: he is the hermeneutic of evangelicalism.

    Reply
  12. Colin Coward, a prominent lgbt campaigner looks to be taking the same line as the Graystone book http://www.unadulteratedlove.net/blog/2021/11/5/the-abusive-toxic-culture-produced-by-the-evangelical-doctrine-of-penal-substitution that penal substitutionary atonement is a toxic and abusive theology. There’s then an equally shocking attempt at guilt by association – which I’m guessing parallels Graystones book – listing a raft of prominent evangelical leaders and evangelical churches, as if being identified with Iwerne puts them all in the dock.

    The more I hear about the Graystone book the less I want to read it, but based on what’s written above, I’m guessing the Coward piece is basically a precis of the main argument of the book?

    Reply
    • Thank you, Anton,
      I would anticipate that it reads far differently from the book above (which I’ve not read and have no intention to do so), and as a report (which I have read), to me, it carries a cumulative and chronic and troubling weight that would be missing from any format that seeks to make political and/or theological capital from events, with and admixture of fact, speculation and presuppositional theological comment.
      It is far from the Christian world, life, that I recognise nor inhabit, even while I’ve lived through state, mixed- sex, education where discipline was openly dispensed, if rarely, by strap, cane, wooden ruler, shoe, on backside, legs, hands, where missiles of blackboard duster, chalk, would be hurled through the classroom at miscreants.
      The report draws-out chronic, repeated, unrepentant, behaviour that can not be justified, defended, condoned, theologically, biblically, morally, nor recognised as evangelical Christianity. To seek to do so, to employ adversarially, either for or against, in my view, would be hideously anti- Christ.

      Reply
  13. I seriously doubt the morality of ‘parents’ who farm their young children off to someone else to look after for long periods of their lives. One wonders why they chose to have children in the first place, as it seems to be so much trouble for them.

    Reply
    • The practicalities of parental employment may make it unavoidable in come cases, but in general I think you’ve made a sound observation. And you have to ask what kind of homes were so unappealing to these elite (but in many ways impoverished) schoolboys that they preferred even to spend their free holiday time in an extension of narrow school life! I attended a public school from the age of 9, but as a ‘day boy’. The education was excellent but the suggestion of any extra time spent in that kind of narrow, school-like environment would have been a nightmare to be resisted at all costs.

      Without laying any blame on the poor abused guys involved, you do have to ask how such a supposedly elite bunch were unable to discern the insane and wicked abuse that Smyth was ‘inviting’ them to receive. Many a lad from my village would have taken those garden canes to his backside and then burned his garden shed to the ground – and rightly so. It just shows the devious power certain individuals can wield over others, particularly those who have a very narrow life experience from which to judge other people.

      But it may also warn of the shortcomings of a public school system that essentially aimed to produce clones, ready made for positions of authority across the nation: well educated, confident and reliable, yes – independent thinkers, modest, easy mixers with all types of people, not so much. If you allow the kind of attitudes involved to cross fertilise with evangelical teaching, I think it’s possible to understand how things could go badly wrong. I think we evangelicals have to own up to our mistakes, deal with them, and learn from them. And that’s exactly what appears not to have happened over the Smyth affair.

      As has been said above, it’s hard not to conclude that the Iwerne project (which it’s only fair to assume was well meant) was fundamentally ill-conceived. Certainly the Bible doesn’t show God (or specifically Jesus) picking winners on the basis of educational or social privilege – although he certainly didn’t exclude people with those advantages either eg Abraham and St Paul from opposite ends of the timeline.

      I actually came across Smyth when I was about 8 or 9 at a beach mission in Sheringham in Norfolk. He was a striking, charismatic kind of guy with wavy blonde hair, and made quite an impression on my older sisters. No one would have guessed then the evil that would take hold of him.

      Reply
      • However, he was already then dominating younger men. But he may have thought it was discipleship in all sincerity, and much of it may have been. Always taking changing historical norms into account.

        Reply
        • Hello Christopher,
          As you know, sincerity of belief is not the point.
          All I really know about Smyth, was gleaned from the report linked by Anton. From that, it is clear that Smyth would not heed correction.
          He had reached the highest rank of his profession, as Queen’s Counsel. This is a generalisation, but QC’s are not known for humility, but as being highly individualistic, intellectually combative in argument and even in subtle persuasion; superior, influential in the status of the elite, to lesser (and impressionable) mortals.
          The Public school culture in Barristers Chambers, and changing rooms in Courts of that period, would have provided an insight to a type of mindset within that profession at that time. Charm and charisma could be part. The evidence would suggest that that baseline robust individualism (a product of that, but not only that, time) was carried over from the field of law into the field of Christianity.

          Reply
        • “But he may have thought it was discipleship in all sincerity, and much of it may have been. “
          I’m sure Jimi Saville thought much the same.
          Your inability to see anything much wrong in what went on at Iwerne and around its edges is quite extremist.

          Reply
          • But we are talking of things that did not go on at Iwerne.

            The young John Smyth at Sheringham is being rigorist in his training of a young man. He believes, with many Christians, that if the Christian life is worth doing then it is worth doing devotedly.

            Where is the connection with Jimmy Savile who was into self gratification and discipleship was not in his vocabulary?

            Your theory is that Jimmy Savile thought he was discipling.

            The older John Smyth shows clear marks of corruption. It is of the 1960s John Smyth that we were talking.

          • Great question Geoff. I’m sure it’s the exact question asked by those who worked with Saville at Stoke Mandeville hospital, as producers of Jim’ll Fixit, Top of the Pops etc etc.
            Have a read of Dorothy L Sayers excellent radio play Zeal for thy House. It addresses exactly your question.

          • A good question, Andrew?
            What a shabby reply with a profoundly false equivalent, Andrew.
            It is in effect a none answer within the confines of the comments section.
            Deeply revealing!
            Anyone good? Or are you seeking to slander, those who remain alive, who have been mentioned in this the sum total of the article and and comments, and rubbish the the life and ministries of those who have died and can’t answer your theological vapours, who have been mentioned such as Stott, Watson, Greene?
            I’m done here. The CoE is cannibalising itself and Christianity, if your comment is anything of a measure. An inability to concede any points in favour is indicative of a paucity of balance, of any sense of objective, impartial, judgement but is rather more theologically loaded and jaundiced.

        • I see that you are not only an apologist for Iwerne, but for Smyth too.
          Whenever he was corrupted, he was a violent abuser who abused young men and boys for his own sexual gratification. I doubt if his victims derive any comfort from knowing that he veneered his abuse with Christian justification. Savile was a Christian too.

          Reply
          • PCD,
            Is that a reply to me?
            I have never been an apologist for Smyth if you would take the trouble to read what I’ve written above.
            You are repeating the same hideous fallacy, false equivalent. I make the same comment to you as to Andrew in relation to those people who remain alive and who have died, such as Stott, Watson and Greene. In the same category as Saville? If you have nothing of an evidential nature to say about them, please shut up. I’ve done here with you as well.
            Saville a Christian? How so? Who knew?Well, you’ll be able to have an interesting, conversation with him, in the world of universal salvation.
            Goodbye.

  14. Theology cannot be separated easily from practice and done in a vacuum, and I think almost everyone agrees on this (at least from the commentary/responses I’ve read). We do need to stop pretending any one stand of Christian thought produces more (or less) abuse than any other though… One could argue that the theological tradition shapes the way in which such abuse is carried out, but even then I think one might be stretching it a little, and blithely walking into the realm of pop-psychology.

    So far as I am concerned plenty of these men were fine theologians and intelligent thinkers, but that doesn’t make them immune to the sins of corruption and abuse any more than than it draws them to it.

    Reply
  15. Geoff

    No. It was a reply to Christopher, who is acting as an apologist for both Smyth and Iwerne.
    I have said nothing about Stott et al; I certainly haven’t suggested that they were abusers.
    The only abuser I know of connected with this set up, apart from Smyth, is Jonathan Fletcher.
    Both are as evil as Savile. Who was a Catholic, as is , I thought, generally known.

    Reply
    • There is no such entity as ‘Smyth’. There is Smyth at different parts of his life and in different situations. Like Andrew Graystone, the pretence is that chronology does not exist, and that widely different time periods can be collapsed into one. Hence the Spitting Image view (opposed to the reality view) of Iwerne that it is perpetually populated by Smyth victims and Smyth victims only, rather than more than 99% of its boys never having heard pre2017 of Smyth’s horrible deeds.

      What I said was that when the Beatles’ first no.1 came out, JS was already involved in discipling, but at this distance it is too far to tell whether his motives were 100% pure, 100% impure or somewhere in between. Which is true.

      Reply
      • True. But who brought up the 60s? Not me. We know nothing of Smyth’s proclivities at that time.
        However, Larkin, whose poem you echo was enjoying rampant sex with his girlfriends in 1963, so sexual intercourse certainly didn’t begin for him before the Beatles first LP.

        Reply
        • I brought up the 1960s because I was referring in the conversation only to JS’s discipling of a young man in the 1960s when he was a beach missioner.

          Reply
          • Christopher, just to clarify what I mentioned about John Smyth at Sheringham: I was 8 or 9 years old and one of a bunch of kids who would have been sitting on the sand for a while during a (CSSM) beach mission presentation of the Christian gospel. They would make a kind of raised platform of firm sand, and young Christians (probably students in their early 20s) would hop up, one at a time I think, and do a short talk. John Smyth was one of the team, and my recollection is of supreme confidence and a lot of energy – clearly a very gifted guy. However I don’t remember any personal contact with him at all.

            Whether the dark inclinations were already within him at that time, I doubt anyone would have suspected. From what’s been revealed, and despite him living a conventional married life, they were sadistic, same sex proclivities, possibly with an exhibitionist tendency due to reports of his regular nudity at the camps he ran in Africa. However did he get away with his outrageous behaviour for so long? Is there not a serious judgement to be made about anyone who knew but let him carry on? I don’t really buy into the line that this was all deemed to be less concerning at that time; certainly Christians should have moral standards which are more fundamental than mere reflections of social norms at any particular time?

            There’s probably a lesson here regarding the downside of being a highly gifted person: the gifts you have may carry a proportionate vulnerability to temptation. Arrogance springs to mind, and that can cloud judgement and also produce contempt for those you perceive as unable to match your own capabilities. Surely there were also echoes of this in Jonathan Fletcher? There’s no shortage of lessons and things to ponder in this shocking story for all of us!

      • There is no such entity as ‘Smyth’

        I’m not having that. If true it would mean that I am not the same entity I was twenty years ago, and if that were true then how could I still be the same entity as I am now when I am in eternity?

        There is continuity of essence; we are not reborn new each day, unconnected to yesterday save for our memories.

        Reply
        • I agree. Let me rephrase. We all have physical and mental continuity amid change, but what is true of us at one period of our lives is often not true at another period. This is what PCD was omitting. She was therefore in danger of a Tacitean view of people whereby they are good or bad in essence. That would if taken to its logical conclusion mean that JS was once an evil baby.

          Reply

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