What is the place of charismatic theology after Mike Pilavachi?

Christopher Landau writes: These are testing times for anyone even loosely connected with charismatic life within, or adjacent to, the Church of England. To discover that a figure whose ministry was widely celebrated ‘used his spiritual authority to control people and that his coercive and controlling behaviour led to inappropriate relationships, the physical wrestling of youths and massaging of young male interns’ is proving seismic. The severe impact of Mike Pilavachi’s actions and behaviour has been underlined in the last few days, through the release of Matt and Beth Redman’s Let There Be Light documentary, and a poignant statement from Tim and Pete Hughes. 

There are many important areas for reflection in this tragic situation: the support offered to victims; the silence of certain leaders, churches or movements; the Church of England’s safeguarding and disciplinary processes; and questions about complicity in notions of ‘Christian celebrity’ and the power of platforms. All these are important. But for me, working for a charity that champions renewal in the Holy Spirit, I have been reflecting in particular on some of the theological questions. In essence, to what extent does Mike Pilavachi’s disgrace negatively impact the charismatic theology he championed?

There are some initial observations which I feel are unavoidable. One is to note the barely disguised glee of some who clearly have no enthusiasm for informal worship or charismatic spirituality, using this episode as a convenient excuse to criticise a part of the church they already dislike. Perhaps naively, I continue to believe in the value of cross-pollination between the traditions of the church. Many of us had plenty to learn from Soul Survivor about engaging with the faith journeys of the young people who are so markedly absent from much of the Church of England. 

It is also important to recognise that even those with little time for the charismatic are unlikely to be Donatists, expecting a sinless cadre of priests to lead God’s people. It is self-evident that abuse occurs in all traditions and expressions of church. Perhaps one of the most galling aspects of a prominent Christian leader falling from grace, like in this situation, is the recognition that elements of fruitful ministry co-existed with terrible sin. Theologically, this surely shouldn’t surprise us—but it does. 

How the church responds then easily becomes an additional part of the problem—and the Church of England’s woes surrounding safeguarding are widely documented. My particular concern relates to the danger of importing a secular ‘cancel culture’ approach to abuse. The right pursuit of justice, and the preferential care for victims, are both vital. But the church must also continue to be a community that offers mercy and forgiveness to all people.

I always remember an example from my life as a journalist before ordination, producing TV news coverage of the sex abuse scandal within the Catholic Church in the USA. There was a case of a notorious priest whose abuse failed to achieve any threshold for legal action, but who was defrocked and expelled from the church. He had then gained work as a greeter at Disneyland, spending his days hugging children. The church had washed its hands of a sinner, with counter-productive effects. Meanwhile a pioneering Catholic centre seeking to rehabilitate offenders saw its funding from the national church reduced. 

I have been deeply impressed by the L’Arche movement’s response to the posthumous discovery of Jean Vanier’s sexual abuse, and I wonder if this (though the comparisons are inexact) might offer a model for Soul Survivor’s future discernment. L’Arche has managed to recognise the distinction between an authentic call of God to a particular community within the church, and terrible human failure in a key individual. Its theological commission is unflinching in its analysis of the abuses committed by Jean Vanier, yet it has also managed to cherish L’Arche’s continuing call to those with learning disabilities. 

As someone completely committed to the renewing work of the Holy Spirit within the church, I believe there were many jewels within Soul Survivor’s ministry. It is, perhaps, too easy now to offer blanket criticisms—the reality is surely more nuanced. In the context of a church experiencing massive decline in numbers of young worshippers, Soul Survivor offered something hopeful and genuinely transformative for them, rooted in convictions about God’s presence and power. Those claims remain true, even though they were often being shared from the platform by someone, who we now know, was severely compromised.

Some of my own reflections were first prompted in response to a post on Twitter from Becca Dean, tutor in youth ministry at Ridley Hall, Cambridge. She wrote,

I am angry again, on behalf of my younger self and other young leaders who felt that we needed to be ‘teachable’ and well behaved to earn a voice and a place at the table, rather than trust our gut feelings and bring our disruptive questions as well as our passion and talents.

It was her reference to the treatment of ‘disruptive questions’ that intrigued me. Having not grown up in an evangelical context, I don’t think I had fully appreciated the impact of an unspoken silencing culture. 

The former journalist in me continues to value disruptive questions—and the ones being raised by this particular scandal have been considered helpfully by ‘churchgoing religion journalist’ Tim Wyatt in his ‘The Critical Friend’ Substack. He offers a compelling defence of truth-telling and light-shining in response to abuse:

We can brush it under the carpet where nobody sees it and continue in our comforting delusion that everything is OK. Or we can pull it out into the light and hold it there, making ourselves deliberately uncomfortable as we reveal to the world how ugly things can get in church.

The challenge is how we do this truth-telling without failing to ask the question later posed by Becca Dean: ‘In laymen’s terms: “What’s the bathwater and what’s the baby?”‘. I also think it’s worth being reminded—and charismatics of all people should be alert to this—that the principalities and powers of which St Paul writes have no interest in the flourishing of the church. They are quite content for both baby and bathwater to be dismissed.

Indeed, the thief of whom Jesus speaks in John 10:10 loves nothing better than to undermine the church’s ministry when it advances the kingdom. Part of the complexity involves acknowledging that many younger people in active Christian ministry today point to the formative (sometimes decisive) impact of Soul Survivor in their vocation. Those testimonies remain valid.

Recent history shows a pattern of gifted leaders falling, not (largely) because of what they were preaching, but because of private failures. So when we rightly critique that which has gone terribly wrong, we also need to be careful not to do the work of the church’s opponents for them, implying that everything was toxic. The journalistic use of ‘cult’ in relation to SS is an example of this: it risks making a bad situation worse, by condemning the whole rather than offered a more truthful, nuanced account. 

Undoubtedly there are many aspects of current church life, particularly in charismatic contexts, that demand reappraisal. Platforms, ‘Christian celebrity’, and emotionalism are three areas for obvious scrutiny. And yes, there needs to be rigorous examination of leadership cultures, and where theology or teaching itself has become toxic. But let’s not suggest that the core charismatic convictions about God’s transformative presence, that underpinned Soul Survivor, were inherently unhelpful. 

A new book that will be useful to those who enjoy a deep theological read in this area is Revd Dr Helen Collins’ Charismatic Christianity: Introducing its Theology through the Gifts of the Spirit. She offers a compelling vision of charismatic theology ‘as a valid and coherent expression of the wider Christian tradition’. She is also unafraid to tackle head-on thorny topics such as unanswered prayer for healing, or the validity of claims about encountering God’s presence. For those who worry, in the light of this latest scandal, that charismatic theology is built on poor foundations, Collins is an astute and reassuring guide. 

She is one of five speakers I will be interviewing over the coming weeks as part of a series of online ‘Pentecost Conversations’ hosted by ReSource. The series was conceived before the Redman documentary was released, but the scale of commentary it has attracted has only underlined to me the deep need for better conversations about the theology of the Holy Spirit across the breadth of the church. We’ll be hearing from the principal of Westminster Theological Centre, Dr Lucy Peppiatt; the Catholic priest and author of Don’t Forget the Holy Spirit, Fr Matt Anscombe; the church historian and author of a Grove Booklet on revival, Dr Ian Randall; and the host of the Sacred podcast, Elizabeth Oldfield, whose new book Fully Alive includes a chapter reflecting on charismatic experience. 

We cannot deny that a renewed appeal to the presence and power of the Spirit, initially through Pentecostal churches, has had a profound impact on mainline denominations since the 1960s. Soul Survivor’s ministry has been a continuation of John Wimber’s legacy in the British church. Indeed, prior to this scandal emerging, I heard one prominent leader describe Mike Pilavachi as the ‘true heir to Wimber’ – in the sense that it was through Soul Survivor that a new generation was introduced to the tangible presence of God in a way they might not have discovered elsewhere.

In a Church Times article last year, I explored some of the challenges for larger urban Anglican churches wedded to a ‘Wimber model’, which often offer a home to what I suggested was ‘at least one generation of Anglican worshippers who barely appreciate the liturgical norms of the tradition of which they are formally part’. The Mike Pilavachi scandal has heightened my concern in a particular area concerning the confession of sin. In any authorised Anglican service, there is an expectation that this will happen in some form. Yet in the Vineyard-inspired ‘worship, teaching, ministry’ model, it is often the case that worshippers will be invited to welcome the Holy Spirit without first having attended to their sin. As one veteran of charismatic renewal recently put it to me, ‘God doesn’t fill dirty vessels’. 

However much we might seek to hide our sin or compartmentalise our lives, it is only the truth that will ultimately set us free. Perhaps it is this public facing of sin within the church which is particularly required in the months ahead. Perhaps this involves a rediscovery of the place of lament. Perhaps in certain churches or at certain conferences, time will be set aside to weep over what has been lost, and pray for a better future. 

Whatever happens at Soul Survivor, and in the ministries to which it was most closely related, I genuinely hope and pray that the response will not be to lose theological confidence in the ongoing dynamic work of the Holy Spirit. Too much has emerged for good, which was about more than one man and his terrible failings. These failings and the vital associated questions can be assessed and faced without losing hope in the living God whose presence continues to animate the life of his church. At Soul Survivor, many lives were changed for the better by powerful experiences of this God. In the testing journey of healing and justice that lies ahead, those memories don’t deserve to be cancelled.

Revd Dr Christopher Landau is the director of ReSource, and author of Loving Disagreement: the Problem is the Solution (Equipping the Church, 2022).

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231 thoughts on “What is the place of charismatic theology after Mike Pilavachi?”

  1. I’ve not watched Redman (30mins – transcript please!) or read Hughes (I won’t accept Zuckerberg’s cookies) but has anybody accused Mike Pilavachi of coercive anal sex or masturbation? Pilavachi’s actions were exploitative, probably homoerotic and certainly inconsistent with Christian leadership, but they are not in the same league as those things.

    I chuckled at the phrase “Charismatic theology”. Charismatics and conservative evangelicals need each other more than they think. Unifying the two in order to get a Bible-based church having spiritual power requires both to get out of their comfort zones. Charismatics need to stop confusing the emotional with the spiritual, and conservative evangelicals need to renounce cessationism, which many of them tacitly hold but which is a very dangerous heresy indeed (Matthew 12:22-32).

    • Anton, I assume you mean mutual masturbation. Although I assume, while St Paul would include that as ‘men lying together’, it does not have the same medical dangers as anal sex. As a day boy at a mainly boarding school, I remember the derision given to a headmaster advising us in a school assembly, to talk to a housemaster if we were tempted to masturbate.

      • Gosh – an article about some pervert who thought that church ministry would be a great place for him to exercise his revolting proclivities – and after just two comments the whole thing has gone down-market – spelling it out in all its lurid and gory details.

      • Let me return the subject to Mike Pilavachi. I’ve now viewed the Redman video, and the pattern of Pilavachi moving people who were invested in him on him in and out of favour should be a massive red flag.

    • The emotionalism feeds the cessationism I would argue. That’s certainly my feeling – when an extended worship set does the same tricks with tone, rhythm etc that a non-christian rock group does at a concert to generate a mood and emotional response but we are told that it is ‘the presence of the holy spirit’ it tends to make one sceptical. Likewise ‘words of knowledge’ that are not based in scripture but a vague vision from the person delivering them – are they building up? Don’t get me started on glossalia.

    • Anton

      No, there’s no accusation of penetrative sex.

      From a gay perspective wrestling someone is very sexual. Maybe this is why his abuse went unchallenged for so long – perhaps the straight people in charge didn’t realize this was sexual

    • What is wrong with you? Your response to this post is firstly to denigrate the OP by stating that you would not to listen to the source material, then to publicly ponder about whether a lack of an accusation of buggery has relevance to the safeguarding failures, and then to chuckle before spouting a lot of guff to make yourself sound intellectual.

      Honestly – you have a problem. Please seek help. And stop posting things on the internet.

  2. I sometimes wonder why people make the whole issue of ‘safeguarding’ so impossibly complicated. 99% of problems can be avoided simply by following sensible guidelines for behaviour and touching.
    When I initially worked as a teacher, a good few years ago, physical contact with a pupil of the same sex was not uncommon, but could easily fall into abuse. Most teachers learned from that to avoid unnecessary physical contact unless there was danger or preventing a fight etc.
    Teenage boys and girls can be tactile among themselves, but leaders should know limits. Why weren’t they observed?
    It doesn’t look as if Pilavachi broke and laws but he was at the very least unwise. Did anybody in his chain of command tell him to stop?
    For the record, my kids went to Soul Survivor camps for years and it did them no harm. Not the wrestling sort.

    • It’s certainly absurd to have complex rules and paperwork for most people, but then ignore 20, 30 complaints of abuse against the same individual just because he’s seen as successful

  3. For me the key issue in this is not a style of worship, or being renewed by the Spirit—it is: Does God speak with authority to any individual? Many who would not claim to be charismatic think so. Thus, we have the expression ‘God told me’ —and immediately this can be (often I suggest unintentionally) a means of coercive power, especially on young and vulnerable believers. I have witnessed many instances of this.

    • 100% agree Colin.
      Taking the theme further – is ‘God Told Me’ substantively different from ‘Did God Really Say..?’
      Its always possible to deceive oneself, to inadvertently deceive others, or to do so deliberately.
      I think that’s my real beef with the charismatic movement is that its often not sufficiently repentant, self-reflective or grounded.

    • Colin – I don’t understand how this can be a means of ‘coercive power’. If somebody says ‘God told me’ – we instinctively understand that we are talking to a 24 carat loony, who has to be treated with the gentle respect that is due to the criminally insane. I fail to see how someone making themselves look as if they are possessed of daemonic forces which make them deranged and delusional can be a means of ‘coercive power’.

      • God has told me more than one thing – including an unlikely promise that came true years later about someone for whom I was praying intently (a promise which was obviously private). This was the only time I got words from Him rather than impulses to action. I am in no doubt it was God; the words came unexpectedly and with a flood of feeling. You presumably think not only that I am a loony but so were most of the writers of scripture – unless you are a cessationist, in which case let us discuss the scriptures regarding alleged cessation of the gifts of the Spirit.

        • Anton – you presume wrong – I’m not a ‘cessationist’ and I do not believe that most of the writers of Scripture were loonies. We’re given good outline (for example) with Samuel (1 Samuel 3) where the idea that God was speaking was initially treated with a healthy degree of scepticism. This bit seems curiously lacking in the modern-day Charismatic movement. Another example of Gideon – where he quite sensibly and rightly, asks God for two proofs (Judges 6) that the voice is really the voice of God, before going ahead.

          But (of course) you already know all of this.

          • I do indeed! But I fit the description you give of one type of ‘loony’. Do you consider that I am a loony or do you withdraw the description?

          • I fear God. He says in the third commandment those who take his name in vain will not be held guiltless (Exodus 20:7). I am not sure what that means but I certainly want to avoid it.
            And yet believers are happy to say that God has told me such and such, which if it is not true, would surely be taking his name in vain. I suggest to anybody who asks me, particularly young believers, to avoid saying it.

          • Anton – well, I don’t know you – I don’t know the circumstances, but I withdraw absolutely nothing of what I said. Holy Scripture indicates that if someone says ‘God told me’, we are to treat this with extreme caution and that very often the person who utters these words is deceived and the forces that deceived the person are out to deceive the believer – if that were possible.

          • Backtracking without admitting it, Jock. That’s a shame.

            We can presumably all agree that it is wrong to say “God personally told me” to somebody which requires that person to take an action they do not wish to take. (I add the word ‘personally’ because we are all meant to discourage others from sin, but that can be inferred from the Bible without need of private revelation.)

          • Anton – I’m not backtracking. Since you press me, I reluctantly admit that what you described of yourself has all the hallmarks of ‘loony’ as far as I can see. The ‘flood of feeling’ gives it away – and kind of makes it look all wrong to me – particularly in the context of this article, which seems to be about the type of ‘charismatic’ worship where people really are looking to ‘feel the vibes’ and they do seem to think that their worship is somehow more ‘spiritual’ if they do ‘feel the vibes’.

          • I press you because, like anybody else, I do not like being called loony. I’m content to be categorised with the writers of scripture, although my experience was personal and of course was not a revelation for all believers. I suggest you be more careful with your words, especially in view of Matthew 12. I fully agree that the charismatic movement often confuses the emotional with the spiritual; did you miss my earlier post saying that?

          • Jock, I think most charismatics who feel they have a ‘word’ from God for someone would typically say ‘I think the Lord is saying…’. That reflects a more humble spirit, understanding that theyre not speaking Scripture with such words. I think often the ‘word’ is recognised by the person it is for, thus to some extent confirming it is from God (particularly when the person giving it would have no knowledge about the person concerned). It seems to me that is a valid test of any word, though clearly it doesnt always apply.

            Perhaps Ian could comment on how he thinks prophecy in the church can be ‘tested’ per Paul? I note in Andrew Bartlett’s book he briefly mentions it but he refers to fellow ‘prophets’ testing others’ words. Im not sure about that.

            In a comment below you react negatively to Anton’s ‘flood of feeling’. I can give you two examples in my own life when I had such a ‘flood’. During my conversion experience, after I had been largely convinced intellectually of the truth of Christianity, I was not fully ‘there’. Then one day I was listening to a secular album on headphones, which I had often done before. Unlike these days it was a proper vinyl with the lyrics printed on the cover. As I was listening to this album, which Id heard many times before, and looked at the lyrics as the songs played, it was as if the meaning of the words changed as I read them inwardly, changing to saying that everything I had recently read about Jesus was true. It was really quite odd and I became quite emotional as I sat there, thankfully on my own. Tears came, and I had to rush upstairs to my bedroom to let this ‘flood of feeling’ settle down, as I didnt want my family seeing me like that. After I felt ok, I went down again and started listening, and the exact same thing happened. Had to rush upstairs again to calm down. That was a genuine ‘flood of feeling’, quite unexpected. With hindsight, I have little doubt it was the Lord/Holy Spirit ensuring I was ’emotionally’ converted not just in my mind but in my spirit, if I can put it that way.

            A second time was when I went to a service at a church which had been affected by the so-called Toronto blessing. I have my own criticisms of what happened there, but I think God really impacted at least some people’s lives through it. At the end of the service during the prayer time, a guy praying for me said he felt the Lord wanted to say ‘…’. It was just a single sentence (actually from the Bible). I broke down and sobbed for 20-30 mins. Believe me Jock, I am the last person to cry in public, never mind snot-inducing sobs. But I felt a warmth in my chest as they prayed and and I couldnt stop myself.

            So I dont think Anton is a loony!


          • in Andrew Bartlett’s book he… refers to fellow ‘prophets’ testing others’ words. Im not sure about that.

            That’s 1 Corinthians 14:29. But I agree that how they do this is an interesting question.

          • PC1 – well, not something I have experienced myself, but if the emotional reaction is grounded in a firm moral understanding with the mind, then this is consistent with Scripture.

            But the goalposts have been shifted somewhat. My original comment was in response to Colin Hamer, who was commenting on people who announce ‘God told me’ in order to gain some spiritual authority and get themselves a following. Such a following is necessarily a following of deluded people who do not belong to the Saviour’s family. I’d say that if someone announces ‘God told me …’ in order to impress people and get a following, then a Christian mind will see right through this instantly.

            But even with the sort of experience that Anton related – I don’t see much connection at all between this and OT characters who related direct communications from God. They usually wish that God had chosen somebody else instead. For example, somewhere Jeremiah says, ‘you deceived me and I was deceived.’ At Mount Horeb, Elijah doesn’t seem so happy that he is the one whom God chose. The excuses that Moses tries to make for himself ‘oh I am slow in speech – please get someone else to do the job’ indicate a clear and plain qualitative difference between the sort of communication from God that Anton is talking about and the emotional experience upon receiving it and what we see in the Old Testament.

    • Hi Chris, If we test the gifts that charismatics claim to have, we find that they are not the Biblical ones. Speaking gibberish (seldom with an interpretation as required) is not the Biblical gift of tongues. Prophecies are invariably false (I remember Wimber prophesying UK revival in 1990). Healings are generally psychosomatic and don’t last. As I said in another comment, I was a charismatic for decades, I didn’t want to give it up, but I had to when I realised it was all false.

    • Chris
      1 John 4:1-3 was written before the NT was completed. I suggest we ‘test the spirits’ now by reference to Scripture. Scripture cannot affirm that John Smith has had a revelation from God so I would give no such claim that John Smith made any authority.

        • Colin,

          In Acts, the apostles relied on prophetic revelation to inform re-direct conflicting missional priorities (e.g., Acts 8:29; Acts 16:6, 9; Acts 18:10; Acts 20:23; Acts 21:5).

          The sufficiency of scripture is related to specific spiritual purposes (teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness).

          While scripture provides us with the overarching call of the Great Commission, we are still reliant on the direct prompting of the Holy Spirit (and the collective counsel of committed Christians) to reach decisions about whether God is calling us to prioritise missionary work in Macedonia over Bithynia.

          • Hi David,
            I think the difference in understanding is that Paul was an apostle the New Testament equivalent of an authoritative prophet. I do not believe there are such apostles today.

        • How so? I’m citing the scriptural account of Paul’s missionary endeavours.

          As described in Acts, it was Paul’s vision of a Macedonian man pleading for help (rather than scripture) that prompted him to head for Philippi, instead of continuing to Bithynia.

          How and why is that at variance with scripture?

  4. This terrible scandal raises many questions… here’s one of them which I don’t think anyone has mentioned previously.

    It’s clear that Pilavachi was abusing people for decades. During that time, he will have rubbed shoulders with a huge number of leaders in the charismatic branch of the church. Whether it was at St Andrews Chorleywood, Soul Survivor Watford, the New Wine / Soul Survivor festivals, or on his many travels worldwide, he probably met every leader there was – from John Wimber downwards. He probably counted a lot of them as his friends.

    Yet there is no evidence that any of these people had a word of knowledge, prophetic revelation, or supernatural insight that Pilavachi had a very dark side. And I think we have to ask “why”? The people Pilavachi met would have been in the highest echelons of charismatic christianity,, who say they powerfully operate in the miraculous spiritual gifts. They were silent. Charismatic leaders like to say things like “God has told me that Fred has a pain in his right shoulder”, but God never told them that their friend Mike, one of the highest-profile charismatics in the world, is an appalling abuser. That does not compute. It strikes me that stopping people from being badly harmed is something that must be very close to God’s heart. If God is going to talk to people, why wouldn’t God give them knowledge that would expose one of the worst abusers ever?

    I’d suggest that the Pilavachi scandal is just one of many problems that require us to take a long hard look at the claims of charismatic christianity. Are they genuinely true? Are the miraculous gifts really available today? There’s a lot of excitement, energy, and passion in the movement, but is there anything underneath the hot air? And I think the evidence is now clear that the answer to those questions is no.

    This may be hard for charismatics to contemplate – it was for me. But despite being a card-carrying charismatic since the 1980s, and loving the movement, many years ago I had to leave it behind. There’s a lot more I could say but I don’t have time now. Happy to discuss further if anyone wants.

    • Hi Dave,
      Yes I agree with all of this —I have had a similar experience.
      Apart from what I believe is clear biblical teaching that we are not to claim to have direct revelation from God there are huge practical issues with it as you point out.
      Apparently, God reveals all sorts of trivial things and chooses not to reveal things that have a significant adverse impact on the gospel.

    • Dave

      1 Abusers are often very charming to people they want to impress. That’s how they get in places of abuse

      2 Lots of other leaders *did* know, but either didn’t want to lose their position by outing a major figure in the church as an abuser OR thought it a reasonable price to pay for keeping youths in pews. And they *all* encouraged their young people to go to the festivals despite this knowledge. I dare say some of them even encouraged applications to the intern schemes from which MP sourced his victims

    • Chris,
      And I would give the same answer. Paul was addressing the church at Corinth. The New Testament was not yet complete and I would argue that that is the Paul’s argument in 1 Corinthians 13:8-13.
      Of course it is up to everybody to decide for themselves. But if you have ongoing revelation Scripture is not the final revelation which is the basis of the Roman Catholic Church and all the cults.
      And my opening comment still applies—if we believe that somebody has a ‘word from God’ it gives them an element of coercive power over another—whether they choose to exercise it or not is another matter.

      • Colin,
        My experience as a church leader with people who claim to have a ‘word from the Lord’ is to treat them with extreme caution. After reading your very excellent blog, I am sure you are aware that the letters written to the churches in the NT were not written to us specifically but to them and the particular issues and circumstances they had to face in their place and times.

        So while we can read and learn from the letters and other scriptural writings, there is nothing specific to my own church that I can find other than some general (and sometimes specific) principles from which together with the other leaders, we have to use to chart a particular course and direction as to what Gods want us specifically to do in our community, where we represent the Kingdom of God,

        So for example, I won’t be able to find any revelation in the scriptures that tells me that we must sell our church building and move into a bigger one down the road. Instead we must be guided by the Spirit as to what to do. So how should that guidance happen?

        If a member of my church comes to me and says that “God told me that we must do xyz etc.” then it immediately puts my spiritual antenna on alert not least, as it is a form of spiritual half-Nelson since it implies that if you disagree with them you are disagreeing with God. I think Jock made this point.

        If however they say “I believe that God may be saying that we should do xyz etc what do you think?” – then to me, that is a different proposition. In the first case one is displaying a potential proud spirit, whereas as in the second a humble one.

        So I think discerning the personal spirit of the person who makes these kinds of assertions can be a useful (but not infallible) guide as to whether one should listen to them or not.

        The second principle is to be dispassionate about what is being said and leave it to cool. I have found in many cases there is too much personal enthusiasm and gullibility where people have claimed to have heard from God. One needs to see if the message persists and surfaces elsewhere. In many cases, patience is needed.

        And then there is the personality of the person to be considered- who often claims to be a humble servant of God. To such people I say ‘have you ever considered that God might want you to be a truck driver?’ and see how they react (not that there is anything wrong with being a truck driver you understand).

        I am often struck that when God has spoken to people in both the OT and NT in order to achieve his ends then more often than not, they were individuals who were reluctant to take the job and didn’t want it. e.g. Moses – ‘send Aaron’.

        In my own church which is a small Baptist church, then we have tried to apply these principles when attempting to reveal how God wants us to function in our local community and as well as looking to the scriptures, this is what we understand as ‘weighing’ what is being said. We don’t want peoples good ideas.

        We pray a lot- but we do not act impulsively or passionately. As a result, we have been seeing steady growth (our numbers have doubled in the last 12 months) with people coming to faith, and becoming members, and we are slowly having a much stronger influence in our local community. We have also found our financial needs are being met without having to make appeals etc (we do not have collections), and can give more away.

        So for us, Psalm 127:1 is how we want to act.

        • Chris,
          Yes I agree with much of what you say. But regarding ‘guidance’:

          “So for example, I won’t be able to find any revelation in the scriptures that tells me that we must sell our church building and move into a bigger one down the road. Instead we must be guided by the Spirit as to what to do. So how should that guidance happen?”

          My comment would be that we should not seek guidance, but seek wisdom. God spoke to Aaron and Moses but both were prophets.

          • “My comment would be that we should not seek guidance, but seek wisdom.”

            Was it wisdom or guidance that led Paul to alter his missionary itinerary to include Philippi, rather than Bithynia (Acts 16:7 – 10)?
            Was it wisdom or guidance that encouraged Paul to persevere in Corinth, despite synagogue opposition (Acts 18:9 – 10), but to make a hasty exit from Jerusalem (Acts 22:18)?

            As sources of divine insight, wisdom and guidance are not mutually exclusive.

          • Well Colin,
            Is it right or not that you have been a pastor of a Charismatic church?
            Is silence to be regarded as an affirmative answer?

          • Hi Colin,

            St. Paul didn’t make any “attempt to determine God’s will for the future” and neither should we.

            However, there is nothing wrong with responding to the Lord graciously revealing the greater urgency of a specific missionary endeavour (Philippi) more than another (Bithynia).

        • If a member of my church comes to me and says that “God told me that we must do xyz etc.” then it immediately puts my spiritual antenna on alert not least, as it is a form of spiritual half-Nelson since it implies that if you disagree with them you are disagreeing with God.

          A good reply is often “Don’t you think he’d have told me first?”

          • Hi David Shepherd,
            “Was it wisdom or guidance that led Paul to alter his missionary itinerary to include Philippi, rather than Bithynia (Acts 16:7 – 10)?”

            Paul was an Apostle and received direct and personal revelation from God.
            I suggest that we only see God’s providence in our rearview mirror. The future is hidden from us as Deuteronomy 29:29 suggests. I believe any attempts to determine God’s will for the future is forbidden and belongs to the realm of mystics and fortune tellers.

          • Well, God told me to ‘Write’ in a word by his Spirit, which is the reason why (amongst other things) I write and host this blog.

            The idea that Paul was unique in hearing from God is, well, not very biblical!

          • Reminds me of chorister days and Goss’s setting of Rev 14.13. Some wag changed the wording in the copy from ‘Write!’ to ‘Right!’.

  5. Jock
    April 19, 2024 at 9:29 am

    Jock, don’t you know that on here sex sells, and that such attracts a large correspondence compared to a few who engage with the Scripture threads?
    I note that; –
    The sin of David was exposed by a prophet, and David although repentant and restored, consequently
    lost his son and “the sword did not depart from David’s house” thereafter. 2 Sam. 12:10 and 11

    In Ecclesiastes 10:1, the passage reads in KJV, “Dead flies cause the ointment of the apothecary to send forth a stinking savour: so doth a little folly him that is in reputation for wisdom and honour.

    Paul explains how he disciplines his human nature so that while he was preaching the gospel, he might live and act with love to support his preaching, lest he be counted a counterfeit /castaway (1 Corinthians 9:27).
    Time does not allow to speak of Beelzebub – Baʿal zəvuv
    is translated literally as “lord of (the) flies”.
    Or of the follies of the saints e.g. Abraham’s folly, the consequences of which appear in the Middle East to this day.
    The follies of men are numerous but the Wisdom of God is unique in using the follies as teaching aids.

    Obviously, the SS model had some flaws, and needs major rectification, soul searching to survive.

    What is the place of charismatic theology after Mike Pilavachi? Who can say?
    the subject is beyond these brief posts. I recommend; –
    has some very sound practical thoughts.

    For me in general, any group that majors on a single doctrine model is suspect [I know nothing of SS]
    When the focus is on the gifts, rather than the HOLY Spirit and the pursuit of Holiness seems to me to be indicated in this issue

    Yes “My sheep hear my voice” [Jesus] which I have found on several occasions to my benefit and blessing
    to be true.

  6. Anyway, getting back to my question about guidelines over physical contact with teenagers: did none of these ever exist in Soul Survivor?
    Did nobody in MP’s chain of command ever speak to him about this?

    Teachers realised many years ago to avoid unnecessary physical contact, lest they be accused of assault or molestation. How can church youth workers make this simple error?

    • James

      From the testimony that is in the public domain,at least 20 young people came forward to complain with similar complaints.

      They were basically told that this was normal behavior for a church leader and to put up or shut up. That’s why the Redmans and the Hughes left the movement

      • So why did Tim Hughes become a trustee less than a decade after leaving?

        Why did Matt allow his goddaughter to be Mike’s PA in the 2010s? Why did he allow his daughter to work for Soul Survivor for a summer around the same time.

        Why did they keep coming back for events?

        Why was Pete Hughes inviting Mike to run conferences at his church literally the month before Matt convinced him that Mike was a spiritual abuser and that if Pete didn’t see that then maybe he was less of a victim and more of an enabler of abuse?

        They didn’t “leave the movement”, they left their paycheck. Which in Matt & Tim’s case was less than 10% of their quarterly royalty cheque.

    • That is to give in to a treading on eggshells mentality. How can that be the best situation of those available?

  7. I think there is a further category of Christians that Christopher Landau doesn’t otherwise reckon with in his very helpful article. It is those of us who simply don’t understand or ‘get’ charismatic worship. That is as much to do with personality as it is with theology. The music simply isn’t to my taste – I listen to classical and jazz mostly, and so the type of music that I encounter in charismatic worship is simply off putting to me. I find it just turns me off any attitude to worship. Then there is the language of charismatic worship. That too is just a turn off for me. It makes me long for the language of the BCP.
    None of this is a judgment on charismatic worship. It’s simply a fact of human difference. Not everyone likes jazz and classical music. Not everyone likes a more silent contemplative style.
    What I think does need some further questioning is whether the style of charismatic worship necessarily attracts younger people. I have never ‘got’ it, and when I first encountered it as 16 year old (in 1975) I was completely turned off by it. That feeling has remained for nearly 50 years.

    • Music can easily kid people that they are in the presence of the divine. Formerly, great choirs and exquisite classical music did that. Today, a form of modern popular music does the same thing. Both can be wonderful, but neither has anything to do with knowing Jesus Christ personally.

      • “but neither has anything to do with knowing Jesus Christ personally.”
        I agree wholeheartedly. All that music can do is help a person into worship. Or turn them off.

        • I would argue that, scripturally, “psalms, hymns and spiritual songs” (in church) are what people sing *to each other* as they address the Lord and celebrate his truths. If that’s happening, rather than a confusion between the emotional power of music and “spiritual worship,” then style is of far less importance: it is truth held in common (through a powerful medium) that unites and builds up, being a spiritual gift that all may bring to the table.

          First comment here – I speak as a church musician, and sometime church leader, for 38 years.

    • Andrew – Oh, I ‘get’ charismatic worship all right. It’s all about ‘feeling the vibes’, ‘sinking in on divine ground’, in short it is a form of mysticism – i.e. the category of religion where one achieves communion with God in mystical ways, feeling the holy vibes – whatever lip service they pay to Christ, their method of achieving communion with God bypasses Christ as Mediator.

      I tried the ‘not to my taste’, ‘not my cup of tea’ style of dealing with it – until I understood that I was ‘exchanging the truth for a lie’.

      • “It’s all about ‘feeling the vibes’”

        In the 18th century, Bishop George Lavington expressed a similarly broad-brush contempt for Methodism by comparing the overt fervour of the movement to the social contagion attributed to St.
        Vitus’ Chapel in ‘The Enthusiasm of Methodist and Papists Compared’:
        “Of the same contagious nature is what is called St. Vitus’s Dance; imputed by some to hysterics, convulsions, & c. This distemper raged much in Germany; seizing most sort of people, especially the
        vulgar, who in great numbers became horridly furious, running about roaring, foaming, till the breath failed. This happened particularly when they visited St. Vitus’ chapel; and might be thought a
        just punishment for their loving a false and wicked religion, had not the cure followed by prayer to St.

        That’s much a mean-spirited stereotype as yours is.

        • David – yes – absolutely mean-spirited, because I believe that the devil is heavily involved here. That is why I’m not prepared to use phrases such as ‘not to my taste’ or ‘not my cup of tea’ and leave it at that. I do see the style of worship as the adoration of the golden calf that Aaron made and the Prophets of Baal calling down fire from heaven in the time of Elijah. Also, while paying lip-service to Jesus, it has all the hallmarks of a style whereby they achieve communion with God through their hypnotic rituals – the Prophets of Baal were trying to call down fire from heaven in pretty much the same way.

          So mean-spirited – absolutely yes – because we don’t compromise with the devil.

          • Jock,

            Your reply is peppered with subjectivity (“because I believe”…”why I’m not prepared”…”I do see”) and, I repeat, your broad-brush denunciation bears a striking resemblance to those that Bp. Lavington levelled at Methodist fervour.

            So, objectively, how is your criticism any different from his?

          • Jock,
            Well, only if his point was to propagate uncorroborated gossip by playing fast and loose with truth (as J.H. Barr explains in ‘Methodists under persecution’):
            “ ‘Bishop Lavington accused him in print, upon the alleged statement of a Mrs. Morgan at Mitchell, of having made indecent proposals to her maid. In the presence of Mr. Trembath and Mr. Haime, the woman denied to Wesley that she had ever made any such statement. Wesley, however, was “not sure that she had not said just the contrary to others.”

            Thereupon the Bishop furnished his witnesses to prove that Mrs. Morgan had made the statement which he had published. But he seemed to have felt no obligation whatever to prove the fact of his accusation. The maid concerned seems not to have been questioned at all about the matter.’”

          • David – I had never heard of Bishop Lavington before – and I the information you give does establish that he was a thoroughly bad egg.

            As for the Charismatic worship – my starting point is that the style of worship feels all wrong and any time I have gone along to a Charismatic church service, I’ve been deeply convinced that I shouldn’t be there. It did give the impression that they were calling God down, in much the way of the Prophets of Baal called upon their god – in stark contrast to Elijah, when he stood triumphant.

            So I don’t think it’s simply a question of ‘not my cup of tea’ – I believe there is an awful lot more to it – and that there are dark forces at work.

          • Jock,

            “It did give the impression that they were calling God down, in much the way of the Prophets of Baal called upon their god – in stark contrast to Elijah, when he stood triumphant”.

            Well, the false prophets were not trying to call Baal down. Instead, they were petitioning Baal to respond to Elijah’s contest of honour by consuming their sacrifices with fire from heaven. The perverse desperation that resulted in Baal’s prophets resorting to self-injury was a consequence (rather than a cause) of their ineffectual false worship.

            However, to call on God importunately and emotionally per se is not an unmistakeable hallmark of satanic counterfeit religion (when compared to godly faith) because scripture holds forth both Christ Himself and Elijah as virtuous in imploring God importunately and with ardent emotion (Heb. 5:7; James 5:16 – 17)

          • David – well, I suppose ‘petitioning Baal to respond to Elijah’s contest of honour by consuming their sacrifices with fire from heaven’ is basically what I mean by ‘call Baal down’, since Baal had given them no prior reason to suppose that responding in this way was according to his will, or that he thought it appropriate to prove himself by responding in this way. Elijah, on the other hand, had already received assurance from God that this was according to His will. The two examples you cite, on the other hand (Hebrews 5:7 and James 5:16-17) show Jesus and Elijah earnestly praying according to God’s will. Their prayers showed that they had truly understood and appropriated the will of God and made it their own – and from this position were imploring it to happen.

            You’re right that the self-injury of the Prophets of Baal was induced by desperation – as the day wore on, Baal continued to refuse to answer – and they imagined that more and more desperate measures, working themselves up to a frenzy and increasing the hysteria and emotion, might induce a response. It did come from an attitude that the greater the hysteria, the more spiritual the worship, the better Baal would be pleased and the greater the chances of eliciting a response.

          • Jock,

            As a footnote, I would challenge you to cite the specific wording of petitions expressed in prayer by charismatic Christians that are divorced from any “prior reason to suppose that responding in this way” was according to God’s will.

            Otherwise, your attempts to cast the modern charismatic movement as the prophets of Baal is just a calumnious broad-brush caricature born of a censorious party spirit.

          • David – your challenge is spurious, since what is omitted is much more important than what is actually said.

            I don’t have an overview of the modern Charismatic movement; I only have experience of a few selected Charismatic establishments.

            1) One was on Sodermalm in Stockholm – where what was omitted was very important. The morning I went along there was a baptism and the person being baptised was asked to give a profession of how she came to faith. There was nothing – absolutely nothing – of guilt of sin, coming to understand that she was a sinner in need of repentance and coming to trust in Christ, that in the crucifixion and resurrection her personal sin was dealt with. Oh no – nothing like that at all. It was all about feeling that being a Christian felt like the right place for her, etc …. absolutely nothing about the fundamental problem that Christ came to solve.

            Her profession was taken by the pastor as a good solid profession – and the baptism went ahead.

            If you don’t have your own sinful nature at the forefront, if your worship isn’t gratitude towards God for dealing with your personal sin through Jesus, if that isn’t at the forefront of your profession, then it is worse than worthless – and is ‘sinking in on divine ground’ in a mystical way that essentially bypasses the need of a redeemer.

            I’m aware that not all charismatic fellowships are like that. I’ll move onto another experience of Charismatic churches.

            2) I saw a weird and schizophrenic view of repentance at a Korean charismatic fellowship in Los Angeles approximately 30 years ago. Just before the communion part of the service, people who had seemed reasonable started making contorted faces, bursting into tears – and then seemed utterly serene while they were actually taking the communion and after the communion bread and wine. I subsequently discovered that they were ‘repenting of their sins’ – in a way that was contrary to my understanding (which is that you repent *before* going along to church – and repentance actually involves trying to make amends to any victims of your misdemeanours – it doesn’t mean working oneself into a hysteria, bang on cue).

            The whole business seemed utterly weird to me.

            I deliberately keep myself away from things that look like bad news. There were so many other things from experience 1) that I could relate, but prefer not to (and, as I indicated, one service is probably not representative of the whole charismatic movement). But it wan’t what they *said* that was the problem, so much as what they *didn’t say* and what was *omitted*. If my own personal sinfulness is curiously absent, if repentance is absent (especially from a baptism profession), then that speaks louder than anything that is actually said.

          • David …… and I’m sure you’ll agree that any worship that doesn’t have what Christ did for each of us individually in the crucifixion and resurrection (i.e. dealing with my sin) is a sort of un-Christian mysticism which is attempting to achieve communion with God directly, in a way that bypasses Christ as Mediator.

    • Thanks for this Andrew. If it’s any consolation I was immersed in the Anglican choral tradition when I ventured into an HTB plant in my early twenties, and that particular church’s desire to maintain a 9am traditional Communion with hymns (with me swiftly recruited as organist) played a significant role in me sticking with the church, even if the music and style of the main services was alien. At ReSource a key aim for us is to show that life in the Spirit needn’t mean a particular style of music or (lack of) liturgy. One of my favourite stories of the charismatic renewal involves the Holy Spirit’s impact on a service of BCP choral evensong; I think the (Roman) Catholic charismatic movement is often better at integrating the sacramental. This is a conversation I love to have so please do be in touch if you’d like to pursue it further!

      • You’re right that the Roman Catholic charismatic movement is often better at integrating the sacramental life of the Church. One sadness of the charismatic movement in the C of E is that it has largely adopted wholesale the style of the non-denominational protestant churches of the US, and is therefore largely antagonistic to anything liturgical and sacramental. Indeed, HTC/CRT plants are often determined to destroy the existing tradition of any congregation already worshipping in a place as they move in the kids with guitars. I suspect you are a minority voice among Anglican charismatics in valuing traditions that have shaped the worshipping lives of generations through the on-going work of the Spirit.

    • I cant stand jazz and classical doesnt exactly float my boat!

      But I suspect more modern songs are more attractive to younger folks. But then Im more a pop/rock guy (though not young anymore).

  8. “L’Arche has managed to recognise the distinction between an authentic call of God to a particular community within the church, and terrible human failure in a key individual.”

    Is there more of a potential problem when the “key individual” is the creator of the community? It then, in foundation and in practice, revolves around that person.

    • I tried to link to an article in Sage exploring the rather heterodox mystical Catholic theology that underlies (or underlay) L’Arche which was very Mary-centred but also slipping into dodgy eroticised territory. Vanier was influenced by a Father Philippe of the L’Eau Vive movement and this may have been the basis of sexual abuse.

  9. I have been thinking about this and I’m not sure the baby and the bathwater analogy is the most helpful.

    A baby is clearly distinct from its bathwater.

    I am unsure whether evangelical charismatic theology is so easily separable from western evangelical charismatic culture. It seems to me that there is much messier intertwining of aspects of the two, with bits of weed growing veeeery closely in with the healthy plants.

    When I was training to be a doctor, we talked about the ‘swiss cheese model’ of medical error, where errors happened because lots of things lined up. So to reflect on critical incidents, it’s important to put everything on the table, as a potential contributing factor, to do a ‘root cause analysis’. If we rush to say ‘this thing that I hold dear and have derived personal benefit from couldn’t possibly have been a contributing factor’, isn’t that a bit dangerous?

    It is my conviction that our job is to let the light of Christ shine into all the nooks and crannies of our lives. I don’t think that by unravelling the complex knot of theology and culture to try and remove any debris from it, that we should worry that we will unravel our entire faith. I think the trustworthy threads will pull taught when we pull at them. But if we continue to leave them in a big messy tangled ball, how can we be sure that the unhealthy threads aren’t still somewhere in the middle?

    • Jennifer,
      That is an interesting analogy. The main issues I have encountered with the medical profession are not listening to the the patient and poor communication.

      And then there are the consultants: There are some who work with God and some who think they are God.

      All of these find their analogies in what we are currently discussing.

      • Chris, you’re far from alone in that observation – particularly in view of what’s happened over the last 4 years!

  10. Look up “The Troubled Inheritance of Jean Vanier” in Sage (online) and Christianity Today for details of the enormous report on him and the development of a secret abusive mystical ‘theology’.

  11. The Redman video seemed to me to have more than a whiff of #MeTooism. My comment appertains to it.
    Why now? Why didn’t they shout out louder, earlier?
    The scandal has opened the door to more of the world’s approach. The term ‘abuse’ is having a wider and wider catchment which we simply must learn to detect in all its subtleties. Soon brusqueness will be bullying. Even Jesus’ exasperation with the disciples?
    We have to now be achingly empathetic. The church further feminised. Task-orientated, feelings-insensitive male leaderships regarded as toxic masculinity perhaps.
    People not learning resilience but being taught that their experience of a controlling bully is a devastating, life defining thing. MP was wrong, he was a bully and homo-erotically abusive to a mild degree. He should’ve been called out but was prob protected as he was successful. But King David did worse and we appreciate the good things he brought. Hopefully we can recognise the good MP did at some point. But the aftermatth seems to make him out to be a monster, beyond the pale, to validate the pain of the victims and survivors – language borrowed from MeToo.
    The push for the ‘professionals’ to take over and be the go-to sages – at a cost no doubt. What? The church of Jesus Christ can’t answer need? Stop believing in psychiatry and psychotherapy as panaceas with all the answers. They often do quite as much harm as amateurs with toxic, blunt instrument drugs and as many as 10% of people undergoing psychotherapy harmed by it. AA and Teen Challenge were v successful in dealing with addicts, with no need for those disciplines for instance.
    A big Q is ‘What does the church do with homoerotically inclined leaders?’ Society puts boundaries around heterosexual interaction, not so much same sex. The RCs got in big trouble by not curating that and attracting a large proportion of homosexuals as clergy. Does the Anglican clergy? Why, if so? It’s something the Church won’t touch as to call out and deal with a sizeable minority of homosexuals’ predilection for young flesh is taboo and risky. MP’s sexual desire and expression wasn’t questioned enough despite all the warning signs. Guard rails put in to protect him and the ministry God created through him. We have to start assuming that people will fall eventually without probing accountability – there are few true saints – and structure accordingly. Leaders can feel above correction.

    • I don’t see that MeToo is relevant; Redman’s claim has not been denied, and it is what happened that counts.

      A big Q[uestion] is ‘What does the church do with homoerotically inclined leaders?’

      In practice you never have to answer this question without further information – notably the information that led you to believe he is homoerotically inclined. This further information helps to guide the response.

    • I agree with you on a lot of points.
      1. Why don’t people speak up earlier?
      2. Much (not all) of what happens is not private. Therefore it is either only slightly bad or of a different culture.
      3. Even when it comes to light, it does not reach the level of being criminal.
      4. That is in a context of people approving all kinds of gross sexual practices as options – if, however, people kiss on the lips in excitement of the moment, or brush someone’s knee, that is something majorly abusive.
      5. The word ‘abuse’/’abusive’ is, in its present usage, far too broad to have meaning, and is often weaponised and used to shut down conversation. This is dishonest, and so unnuanced as to put completely innocent people at risk.
      6. Even before it has been agreed that the word is apposite in this particular context.
      7. You are exactly right about things like Jesus’s brusqueness and impatience and exasperation.
      8. Wrestling is a sign of a healthy relationship.

      However, not when the age/authority discrepancy is present. And I still sympathise more with the Redmans in this instance than with Revd Pilavachi.

        • I see the individual champing at the bit to condemn without reading, understanding or analysing or addressing points has logged on. I made 8 points, and your track record of addressing 0 out of 8 will not impress.

          • Every single one of your points is a red flag of seeking to discredit/minimise claims of abuse. Any abuse victim hearing similar points in a church setting will be further discouraged from seeking support and reporting the abuse.

            Abuse complaints should be taken seriously.

            But currently, safeguarding in most churches is a joke – so cases like MP will keep happening.

          • Joe, you clearly have not read my final paragraph. People select and in some cases massage facts, and often what they say is completely true, except that they leave out relevant context. My final para is central to what I am saying.

          • Cases like MP will keep happening? People are queuing up to get the same wall to wall scrutiny and exposure and demonisation and repetitive poring over tiny details?

          • As a rule of thumb, James, comments that are finely judged, nuanced, detailed and precise are going to be better than comments that are sledgehammer unsupported assertions; and for obvious reasons.

      • 1. They did. The senior leaders in the church hushed it up
        8. Wrestling can be benign, but in this case it wasn’t consensual and was almost certainly sexual in nature

        • 1. Yes, some did – you are right.
          2-7. A large number of points you cannot yet address?
          8. I already addressed that point by saying ‘not when the age/authority discrepancy is present’.

          • 2-7 sorry I dont even understand what you mean by lots of these so I only addressed the two I did understand

            8. The theology MP taught at Soul Survivor was that sexual activity was for heterosexual marriage only. MP is not a woman and nor was he married to any of the boys or men he abused

          • Which long words did I use? I can’t see any. So are you making an excuse?
            An answer which cannot address more than a quarter of the material is partial, which is similar to being biased, and certainly inadequate.

          • This was not ‘the theology taught at Soul Survivor’, it is the theology of the Christian Church and indeed of practically all large international communities through history.

    • But my main point is this new development wherein tabloidy chatter is seen as a good way of Christians spending their limited time. It is, however, soulish and carnal.

      What needed to be corrected could be corrected swiftly and privately. Forgiveness and hugs are powerful. The former is Christianity’s central message. If even Christians revel in airing their private interactions and demonising with an expose’ those not present to answer, what has the world to aspire to?

      Most of those constantly talking about safeguarding are also constantly talking about sexual issues. Which is what I mean by tabloidesque – that is the common denominator: that they choose as their favourite topics the spicy ones.

    • Grahame

      It’s a myth that gay men are pedophiles.

      I suspect part of the reason why senior leaders were ok with the abuse is that they were ignorant of gay people and didn’t realize that the wrestling was a sexual act.

      The solution is in the Bible. 1 Corinthians 7.9.
      If MP had been allowed a normal relationship perhaps he would not have gone down the abuse path or perhaps it would have made no difference.

      The Redmans did complain at the time so did Pete and Tim Hughes. They were told that this was normal behavior. They were young and presumably at least half believed what they were being told.

      • ‘Gay men are pedophiles’??? Who said that? People have often said (accurately) that different groups of people are more or less likely than other groups to be (how could it be otherwise?), and that GM are very much among the groups that have a higher rather than lower average likelihood.

        • Christopher

          Grahame said that gay men were attracted to young males. It’s long been a claim against gay men that we are sexual predators. Here in the states, the Republican Party have used such claims in the last year to justify restrictions on gay rights, such as banning drag shows in certain states. I myself have been called a “Groomer” by these types.

          • I said that a sizeable minority of homosexuals are attracted to young flesh. Not paedophilia (pre-pubescent children) but peri-pubertal boys and adolescents. Hebephilia and ehebophilia. As with heterosexuals, maybe more. This was the predominant problem with the RC church. MP was attracted to much younger men and teens. That’s not uncommon and presents a big problem to protect boys from predatory behaviour as the societal boundaries aren’t there as with heterosexuals. Pederasty has been common in certain societies when allowed ie Ancient Greeks, Samba tribe New Guinea, Japanese Buddhist monks. Such abuse is harmful as we now know, a misuse of authority, taking advantage of the boys. Yet it was encouraged. Perhaps leaders should be asked about their proclivities. It is assumed that girls should be protected from predatory heterosexual men but boys from homosexuals? Why not? The problem has arisen repeatedly.

          • Grahame

            The problem with the RC church is that they covered up for priests who sexually assaulted children and helped them attack more kids. And then they have the nerve to condemn surrogacy! Increasingly I find it hard to find senior church leaders of any ilk who are not deeply evil.

            Gay people are not responsible for priests who are sexual predators. Gay people are not sexual predators. Its not true. It’s a lie that’s used to justify discrimination. We can’t be teachers, or any job in a school, because we might prey on the kids. We shouldn’t be allowed to parent because kids are not safe with us etc etc. It’s just lies.

          • Gay men are attracted to young males?
            Is anyone seriously denying that?
            Everywhere youth and attractiveness have always been understood to overlap. That is what the life cycle is – to become more and more attractive until the point of fertility/reproduction.

          • Christopher

            Most people, gay straight, whatever, generally find younger adults more attractive than older adults.

            Thats very different than suggesting all or most gay men are attracted to 13 year old boys!

          • Who suggested that? My stated position, in line with the evidence, seems to be exactly the same as yours.
            In fact, were it not for the social/conventional constraints, the internet search figures (and secondly historic ages of marriage and of consent; and thirdly biological development) which suggest that very many are drawn to youth (and [thus?] to the more youthful among the youth) show 3 things: (1) where would we be without social constraints? – and look what happened within just a few years when they were taken off in the case of homosexuality; (2) the practically unique (historically) recent trend of marrying late is not healthy or natural, and complicates many things, as well as producing far fewer lovey-dovey devoted strong-bond marriages; (3) those who disparage the Christian way of virginity are lying, since in fact it is what they prefer, albeit in a ‘Do what I say not what I do’ way.

          • Christopher

            Gay men are not pedophiles just because homosexual sex used to be illegal or whatever illogical point you’re trying to make.

            I’m not sure what you mean by “what happened” after SSM became legal? Are you now blaming gays for Liz Truss or the death of the Queen?

          • Peter, every reader of this blog has written evidence how you misrepresent what I said more often than you accurately represent it.

            Your last comment has 2 paras. 2 misrepresentations. Both avoidable if you had read more carefully.

            (1) ‘Gay men are paedophiles because homosexual sex used to be illegal’. Neither I nor anyone else said anything close to that. As a misrepresentation it ranks extremely low in its concern (or otherwise) for accuracy. You add ‘or whatever illogical point you intended to make’ – yes, it would indeed have been very illogical IF anyone had made it. Or even if they hadn’t.

            (2) ‘After SSM became legal’ – I never mentioned that either. I mentioned homosexual sexual acts becoming legal. After which within just a few years came HIV/AIDS, together with significant increases in the other diseases that are very disproportionately contracted by men who have sex with men: e.g. anal cancer, gonorrhea, syphilis, and now monkeypox, etc.. But you know all this already. The mere category of men who have sex with men is statistically one of the reddest lights in terms of correlation to such diseases/epidemics.

            If you cannot yet understand what people write, do more reading, and assume that you have not understood them right – given that more than half the time it is true that you have not understood them right. It is not as though they are using difficult language.

  12. If the organising principle of any church is control (rather than love), then same abuse pattern will keep repeating. Abusers thrive in a culture based on control. They won’t hesitate to manipulate and lie their around any new set of safeguarding rules. When facades are all that really matter (as they are in any cult-like environment) followers/congregations will also much rather smear a whistleblower or abuse victim rather than believe that their ‘holy’ leader has been faking it the whole time.

  13. As long as the average Christian is insecure in their faith they will always defer to the preternaturally energised individual on a mission who craves followers. This is why I like Ant and Dec, the Hairy Bikers and Ian n James.

  14. Sexual and physical abuse, intimate partner violence and marital rape can be the fruits of all theologies and ecclesiologies. Claiming that they only arise from heterodoxy or secularism is special pleading. As is the argument that they are due to the feminisation of the church. Rather more to do with the fallen nature of patriarchy. Father/pastor knows best is a dangerous belief. Every day I see Christians on Twitter justifying marital rape.
    It is also deeply disturbing that, even after multiple cases of abuse, victims are still disbelieved and dismissed. There are many reasons why victims don’t disclose abuse for decades. Nor is it up to us to decide which kinds of abuse are ‘worse’ – anal sex is worse than half naked massage, for example; that is for survivors to determine.
    Until we acknowledge that orthodox doctrine can bear bad fruit and that victims’ experience should be taken seriously, ecclesial violence will persist.

      • DW

        There’s a specific problem with “orthodox” (not to be confused with the orthodox churches) theology that may or may not be at the root of MPs abuse – current orthodox theology has no place for gay people. Gay people have to try to kill off any romantic or sexual expression,which is highly unnatural and unbiblical. It’s tempting to believe that had MP been allowed a normal relationship this abuse may not have happened, but probably still would.

        • I do not think that all kinds of ‘romantic’ feelings or all kinds of ‘sexual expression’ are justifiable on a biblical basis, and so should be able to be practiced. Perhaps the most obvious counter-example would be the case, say, of a senior surgeon who develops a strong romantic relationship with his theatre nurse, but married to someone else. That is called adultery and is abusive, in a way, of both women.

          Kierkegaard wrote a short piece called “Works of Love”. Its main point is that romantic love, or any preferential love, is deficient. The love which is most akin to God’s love is neighbour love.

          We do have a problem in our Modern culture which assumes that we should have ‘romantic’ relationships, which actually means a relationship based on sexual attraction, and that the resulting sexual desire should be able to have physical expression. It is an assumption which can be challenged. Desire is well known to be a problem.

          • DW

            It’s wierd. I talk about he problem of forcing individuals to have no romantic expression and you read that as me endorsing adultery.

            My advice to you is marry someone you actually like

    • I think it is obvious that anything involving penetration and genitals is in a different league, as with uncoercive sexual experience.

      • Of course it is. It is tantamount to rape, which is worlds away from giving someone a back massage.
        Bishop Peter Ball didn’t go to prison for giving back messages to seventeen year olds, it was for sexual molestation.
        The problem with the homoerotically attracted man in youth work is that he may exploit grey areas in male-male physical contact. Teenage boys often wrestle and play fight (or real fight), and every father has also wrestled with his sons. It’s a normal part of growing up. And therefore open to abuse, when proper boundaries are not observed.

      • Anton

        Agreed but that doesn’t make it ok for 40 something church leaders to isolate a young man or boy and force them to wrestle or massage him in their underwear.

        Nor does it justify the mental abuse that was more widespread

    • That is so true. The moment that we assume our theology protects us from sinning is the moment that the door is opened to allow abuse to enter. Regardless of our convictions we ought to have a low anthropology with regard to sin and to recognise that we are fallen and incapable of truly knowing ourselves – leaders and congregants alike.

  15. Apparently Zoomers are dissatisfied with social media and crave a levelled playing field with no influencers etc etc on pedestals. How about a new church of peers? I foresee the latest ‘charismatic’ iteration will follow this trend.

      • I had to look it up. It is what I thought, 11 to 26 year olds.
        Young people tired of influencers and celebrities desire a more egalitarian experience on-line. In time, church culture will try to identify with this new demographic me thinks.

      • There is a local(ish) church that meets in person for Sunday service and on zoom, with the access code only for church members.
        It is probably a more restricted access than having the service on-line on you-tube.

  16. 1. Little of this is new, in that a number of years ago there were accusations of a “heavy shepherding” movement. Here is an introductory article which highlights key malign manifestations:
    Some of the leaders renounced the movement.
    2. A key aspect seems to be an irrefutable personal sense of God’s calling and spiritual gifting which can be reduced to, domineering, manipulation, control. A phrase employed at that time perhaps encapsulated the underpinning practice: men of power for the hour.
    3. A corollary would be that the focus would be on the person/people, not God.
    4. Similarly, we can too often focus on music, liturgy, not God.
    5. A well-known expression is: all word and we dry up; all Spirit and we blow up; word and Spirit, and we grow up.
    6. I won’t be the only one who visits this site who has been in services where there has been the palpable presence of God. Revivals down the ages also evidence the Biblical theology of the Presence of God. Jonathan Edwards in his book Religious Affections sought to discern the real from the counterfeit.
    7. Notwithstanding, nor justifying, MP’s behaviour, the Church has cause to appreciate and be thankful for the music ministries of Redman and Hughes.

  17. One does need to reiterate that abuse seems to happen in, probably, all different traditions.
    About ten years ago I was a church safeguarding officer, and I received from a member of the congregation, someone I know, a disclosure of historic child abuse. It took place in the curate’s flat of a middle of the road to high church parish (e.g. it has imposition of ashes on Ash Wedneday) – not the church of which we then were a part. The curate presided over and encouraged homoerotic activity among teenage boys. The surviour had reported this to the diocesan authorities some years before, but this was brushed aside. It seems that the clergyman involved had died. However, I filled in a report and I am glad to say this time the survivor was pleased with the reponse of the diocesan safeguarding team. I was not informed of any developments, not that I was expecting that.

    A more high profile case is that of Peter Ball, who was convicted of indecent assault, and misconduct in public office in a monastic environment: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_Ball_(bishop)

    I would point out that in the case of Jean Vanier, I think there is no suggestion at all that he engaged in sexual abuse with the disabled folk in his centres. It was with the able-bodied people drawn into the work.

    • The Peter Ball and Jean Vanier cases showed sexual abuse going on sanctioned by heterodox Catholic mysticism.
      In Ball’s case it involved medieval mysticism about “nakedness before God”, a metaphor encouraged all too literally by the abuser.
      In Vanier’s case it was a secret theology taught for decades that “true believers” weren’t bound by boring laws of chastity.
      Instead, both Ball and Vanier seem to have convinced themselves that their sexual desires were a way to the divine.
      It’s one of the oldest delusions of the world, found in tbe sacred prostitution of Canaan and the howling maenads of Bacchism – and the contemporary musings of a Jim Cotter.

  18. Anton – regarding prophetic words, it’s not obviously clear who the ‘others’ are that Paul is referring to. It could be other prophets, others in leadership of the church such as elders (it would be odd if they had no say in such things) or indeed the people in general, if it is said in public. Indeed ‘others’ might imply not another prophet. That is, a more objective judgement.

  19. Q. How did Mike Pilavachi get away with it?
    A. He pretended to be one of the good guys.

    Every church should contend with this – not with universal suspicion but with an awareness of how bad guys operate and dismissing the idea that bad guys don’t exist in our tribe.

    • I think a bigger problem is actually assuming that there are two groups, the ‘good guys’ and the ‘bad guys’. As Christopher says, we are all fallen and have faults, and all need good practices and structures of accountability.

      • That is surely correct. The “bad guys” and the “good guys” are the same group because any of us can slip into wrong ways of behaving if we fail to watch our walk and lose track of why we are in ministry in the first place.
        Personally I think it a bit odd for someone to be in youth work all his professional life, and have always thought the work is best done by a married couple, not a single man. Same as church ministry, generally speaking.
        The significant point to note is that abusers are usually male. Occasionally you hear of female abusers in teaching or youth work, but this is very rare in my experience.

        • Abusers are more likely to be male.

          But abusers are more likely to get away with it if they belong to a protected class – meaning anyone held in “high regard”. Jimmy Saville was an abuser hiding in plain sight because he was a well loved celebrity who did so much for charity.

          The social status of the accused should play no part in assessing the complaint of someone who claims to have been abused. Safeguarding is the process of taking complaints seriously.

          • After watching the Matt Redman video, it seems to me that this story fits the pattern of narcissistic abuse – including the testing/violation of sexual boundaries but not restricted to that form of abuse.

            If that’s the case, the lies will continue. You could try an exorcism but I guarantee you that any pastoral care initiative will met with false displays of repentance, pity plays, blame shifting and other manipulations.

          • Joe S – yes, the fellow is clearly a ‘bad egg’. The question is, therefore, why do ‘bad eggs’ get away with it? Why don’t people see through them? Naively, I always thought that 1 John 2:27 was supposed to be definitive of the Christian attitude – if we really have the anointing that John speaks of, then we see through the likes of Mike Pilavachi immediately. So I think the biggest failure here may be church teaching – that the church doesn’t teach people what it means to ‘keep in step with the Spirit’, to recognise what the Spirit does to us when we come to Jesus and the Spirit transforms our hearts and minds.

            We know the ‘way of the world’ – there are megalomanic authoritarian leaders and we can understand the horrific attraction of that. But they would never get anywhere if there wasn’t an innate tendency to be an ‘authoritarian follower’ – a desire to look up to and worship a strong leader in the hearts and minds of ‘natural man’, those who have not been regenerated by the Spirit.

            So people like Mike Pilavachi get away with it (a) because of this ‘authoritarian follower’ tendency within ‘natural man’ and (b) (of crucial importance) because the church neglects the clear and plain teaching of 1 John 2:27 and other important themes of Scripture telling us what the Spirit does when it transforms the heart and mind of a person.

    • All the guys are capable of both good and bad. That is basic gospel.
      The goodies and baddies message, on the other hand, is fashionable but cartoonish.
      If the idea is that there are two possible orientations of a life at a given time, that is truer.

      • “Good guys” and “bad guys” refer to the categories of people we instinctively trust or distrust. MP got away with it because everyone around him trusted him, believed his lies and dismissed the complaints against him. He was treated as special, elevated, above suspicion… one of the “good guys”. As always it took about 20 or 30 people to come forward with very similar complaints before anyone took any one of those complaints seriously.

  20. He wasn’t wrestling youths, but (alleged?) children as young as 13 in their underwear.

    I think it’s only super churchy people who will think this reflects badly on charismatic theology.

    I think most Christians haven’t noticed it much because cofe “safeguarding” has done an excellent job of playing it down and making sure as few people are implicated as possible…and screw truth, justice or repentance, right?

    Some will blame the cofe, some will blame Christians more generally.

    MP wasn’t at the heart of the purity movement, but he certainly was an advocate of something like it. I am not his direct victim, but I did go to Soul Survivor and hear him put huge relationship burdens on a generation that he himself was not living out.

    Nobody has apologized for this. I’d guess 50% of the people in their 40s still attending church were damaged by his teaching. I cannot tell if his real victims have been given any support (from previous scandals I’d guess not), but there’s been no attempt to apologize for all the lies he told on behalf of the Cofe or any care about the damage he did to two generations of British Christians

    If the leaders cannot live according to their theology then nobody can and very probably the theology is wrong.

    • It is guaranteed that you will ”spice up” every story to the max. That says something about your spirit.
      Wrestling 13 year olds in their underwear? Can you document that?
      I thought the underwear theme was re massage not wrestling.

        • No, he said he was first *wrestled by him then. Certainly, questions arise over that.

          Second, you multiplied the 13 year olds from single to multiple. I wonder which impulse led you to do that. Because it sure as anything was not a love of accuracy. So what was it instead?

          Third, you introduced a 13-year-old / underwear link which was purely from your own wish to combine disparate points to make the whole thing more spicy. Anyone would think it was precisely the spiciness that you like. Not only having an eye for it, but also introducing it out of thin air when it is not present.

          Your whole exaggerated presentation can serve as a model for the future for how your interests are not particularly in truth but only in making your presentation maximally spicy.

          • I think the idea that MP was wrestling thirteen year old boys in underwear is pretty difficult to credit. If this had been alleged, I am sure the police would be investigating this.

            Peter Jermey is certainly given to making things up. His statement “I’d guess 50% of the people in their 40s still attending church were damaged by his teaching” is absurd projection with no basis in fact.

          • Christopher

            All of this is in the Redmans video or the statement by the Hughes.

            It’s hard to believe either are lying since the church of England has admitted he abused children and young adults

          • James

            Lots of people in my generation were encouraged by our churches to attend Soul Survivor. From memory about 10,000 young people attended every year.

          • Peter, do stop talking nonsense. We know what is in the Redman video. You then exaggerated it (as sensation seekers and tabloids do) by adding untrue details. My answer focussed on the untrue details that you added.

            The stereotype is gossipy and trivial – there is no need for you to fulfil this stereotype.

          • Christopher

            No, I don’t understand why but you are denying what the video clearly says. I can understand you disbelieving the alleged victims, but I cannot understand why you would lie about what they are claiming

          • Peter, I am affirming everything that is in the video. And I have listed 2 things which you added which were not in the video, and which you added. Those are the things which no-one is affirming.

            I am now repeating myself, which would be less necessary with a more apparently honest person.

        • I have just watched the first few minutes of “Let There be Light”.
          Matt Redmond (MR) states that he first came into MP’s orbit when he was 13. It is not clear how quickly the relationship developed to the point that MP was giving him counselling, with wrestling afterwards. While this was in private, there is no mention of being partially undressed.
          When MR 13, MP was 29 – there is a 16 year age gap (so I’m not sure where “40 year old” comes from). This was in 1987. Safeguarding was not a word known in any circle at that time, to my knowledge. It was the Soham murders which really raised the whole issue, and led to the CRB and DBS.
          I think this gives some context to the discussion.

          • DW

            Matt Redman says quite clearly that MP was wrestling him from age 13.

            According to the same video the Church Of England’s own report confirms that he was wrestling and massaging “youths”.

            I think the U18 aspect is significant and must not be swept under the carpet.

            I think the aspect of being only in underwear is also in the video, but I cannot find it right now.

            Some of these guys have been living with this sexual abuse for 30 years with nobody believing them and presumably with an impaired relationship with the church amongst those who complained at the time and who were berated for complaining.

          • I would presume massage, if not wrestling, would generally require a level of undressing so noone would be surprised if they were in their underwear during one or both of these activities.

            But accuracy, as best remembered, is very important in such issues so one should not presume but rather go by what victims have actually said.

          • Peter, your point has been answered several times – please do listen. The 13 was mentioned, the underwear was mentioned, but they were not mentioned in combination. The natural gossipy tendency is to bring the two together to create more sensation, and when we see people doing that or having a tendency to do that, it immediately makes us classify them as (at present) people more concerned for spice than for accuracy. So we listen mainly to the people more concerned for accuracy than for spice.

          • PC1 – you’ll get a better idea of the sort of wrestling that was going on if you recall Brian Johnson commenting on the cricket match between England and the West Indies at the Oval back in 1976. At the beginning of an over he announced ‘The bowler’s Holding, the batsman’s Willey’.

          • Not only is that quotation apocryphal (BJ may have used it to sell books, but it will not be found on any recording, I think), but what you say is precisely what is not true.

          • Jock: Sadly this was never stated on air, but we did get Lillee c Willey b Dilley. That was the same Test in which Lillee came out with an aluminium bat.

          • Christopher

            Are you seriously claiming that massage in your underwear is less sexual than wrestling fully clothed?!

          • You are saying I claimed something that clearly (if you scroll back) was a comparison that I never mentioned at all.

          • Christopher

            I’m just accepting what was claimed in the Redman video and the statement by Tim and Pete Hughes. I have not “spiced” anything up.

          • Of course you have spiced things up. You claimed that what happened to one person (namely, that sort of treatment of a 13 year old) happened to multiple people.
            Second, you combined the 13 age with the theme of underwear massage. Again without evidence.
            But, third, these points have already been made to you. Your ignoring of them makes you look dishonest. Is that the impression you are trying to give?

  21. I’ve come late to this post, and, for some reason, I read the comments before the article; I was surprised to find that some key aspects of Dr Landau’s post have not been engaged with at all. One which particularly caught my attention is his mention of the lack of confession of sin as part of charismatic worship. I confess to being guilty of regularly omitting confession as part of CofE worship in a previous, gently charismatic, parish. My (faulty) reasoning was something to do with trying to be ‘seeker-friendly’, and not starting a service with a ‘heavy’ expectation of the congregation. What I failed to realise is that, by getting ourselves straight with God at the beginning of a service, we are freed to receive in word and sacrament, and to worship in spirit and truth. The truth is that, although, as those who have faith in Jesus, we are ultimately redeemed by the blood of Christ, we are all sinners in regular need of repentance, confession and forgiveness. And that applies to ‘Spirit-filled’ Christians as much as anyone else because, in the hackneyed cliché, ‘we leak’. My family and I have benefitted a great deal from the charismatic/renewal movement over many years, and I would not wish to see all the good that has come about cancelled out by scandal. A solid charismatic theology is essential, and I am grateful to Dr Landau for his contribution.

    • Thank you for this constructive comment. I agree with it. I have found the lack of talk of repentance in charismatic circles worrying.
      In the CofE, many charismatic services are effectively Common Worship “Services of the Word”. However, it is required of such, that if it is the principle service on a Sunday that it has pentential prayers.

      You cannot beat the BCP Morning Prayer:
      Dearly beloved brethren, the Scripture moveth us in sundry places to acknowledge and confess our manifold sins and wickedness; and that we should not dissemble nor cloke them before the face of Almighty God our heavenly Father; but confess them with an humble, lowly, penitent, and obedient heart; to the end that we may obtain forgiveness of the same, by his infinite goodness and mercy. And although we ought at all times humbly to acknowledge our sins before God; yet ought we most chiefly so to do, when we assemble and meet together to render thanks for the great benefits that we have received at his hands, to set forth his most worthy praise, to hear his most holy Word, and to ask those things which are requisite and necessary, as well for the body as the soul. Wherefore I pray and beseech you, as many as are here present, to accompany me with a pure heart and humble voice unto the throne of the heavenly grace, saying after me:

    • DC..
      I thoroughly applaud this contribution and the neglect of “Confession”. It’s sometimes omitted on “accessibility” grounds. I believe that’s a serious error in regard to enquirers and for committed Christians. Confession us foundational to the pursuit of grace, forgiveness and new life. Missing it out is shortchanging the congregation…

      • I have never been to ‘Soul Survivor’ worship but for many years have been a member and leader in charismatic Anglican churches which sent young people to Soul Survivor weeks. We have *always had confession in our services; but I have to say the confessions often sound a bit rushed and perfunctory to me, lacking the solemnity and depth of the BCP, and I have rarely heard the Ten Commandments being recited as part of confession. So I decided a few years ago to make saying the Decalogue a daily practice to let the Word dwell more deeply within me.
        Charismatic worship would be benefit from slower and more reflective use of the Decalogue, especially applying it to our speech, thought and attitudes.
        We need as well in teaching congregations to encourage nightly confession of the day’s sins before falling asleep – what the older writers called ‘examination of conscience’. It is salutary to review before the Lord how we have spoken and interacted with others in the course of the day – yes, in blogs as well!

        • On most Sundays for 23 years 8am BCP communion, I stood under an east window with the 10 Commandments in full on golden panels, often with sunlight streaming through filling the church with light. We first wrote to every Member of Parliament about Sunday Observance, from ‘the church of the 10 commandments’, before a year or so later following up with a letter asking that the ‘age of consent’ not be reduced. And I note James, the time you sent your helpful comment.

          • 8am Communion was perverse, forcing dedicated Anglicans to get up early on the day of the week that was meant specifically for rest. I wonder how many people quietly gave up on the CoE because of that folly.

          • Many, especially elderly, were and are very happy with 8am BCP, although we sometimes have BCP at 10am. Family services are better done late morning and more charismatic services for youngsters in the evening (and yes they also still have a place despite Pilavachi) but pensioners are fine getting up early on Sunday morning for communion

          • Because they have retired and don’t have to get up early for work during five of the other days of the week!

            Daft way to do things.

          • T1, my argument is about the Communion-Matins-Evensong format for Sunday services, not about the liturgy used in each service. Please stick to the subject, which was reasonably obvious.

          • Well Evensong obviously doesn’t apply to early mornings and is largely now confined to more tradition Anglo or liberal Catholic churches, cathedrals and Oxbridge and public school and Royal chapels. Matins and BCP appeal to a conservative older element of the C of E, especially present in village and small town churches and they are fine to walk to church for early morning 8am services in that format so liturgy is connected

          • The church in an English village I once lived in did 8am Communion as the only Communion of the day on some Sundays, and it often wasn’t BCP.

            Hving to get up for an 8am service in order to take Holy Communion in your local church is offputting to people who have to get up early for work 5 days a week. That is my point, and it is not lessened by diversions and speculations about the proportion of Anglicans who face this problem. The CoE needs everybody it can get these days.

          • Normally it is BCP though and most English villages now are dominated by the retired, the young live in cities and middle aged families with children live in suburbs and commuter towns. Therefore few people who get up for work 5 days a week will live in villages and the pensioners who do will be fine with Holy Communion at 8am. Indeed early morning services are often preferred by pensioners who are if anything the backbone of today’s C of E

          • Anton,

            8am communion was not that perverse. There was, I think, a practice that one should fast before receiving the Sacrament. Therefore, an 8am service enables one to go home afterwards and have good break-fast.

          • David: Amusing given that Paul specifically tells the Corinthians not to fast before Communion if they are too hungry not to wolf it down.

  22. I note from my S.U. Bible reading notes for today on Psalm 133, about how good it is when ‘a person of prayer and courage takes an initiative…’. Yes of course, ‘in humility’, and in ‘unity’, after testing the spirit with prayerful advice from mature Christian friends. So then can be experienced this ‘wonderful gift coming down from God’.

  23. As a new Christian in the 1990s (but an adult), I was taken by a friend to St Andrews Chorleywood because we had heard that God was moving there. I can’t remember if Mike Pilavachi spoke. Plenty of people keeled over etcetera, but neither my friend nor I felt anything. Was I missing something, or was the charismatic movement off the rails?

    I now believe that the charismatic movement was absolutely right to insist that the Holy Spirit and all his gifts are still available to the church today, but that the movement was largely kidding itself via emotionalism. Which raises the question – a question that honest Bible-focused Christians must also face – why are they gifts largely absent from the Western church? I reckon I have a good idea, but far less an idea of what to do about it. Keep your eyes on Jesus is absolutely correct, but how to translate that very general statement into Christian living and meeting?

    • ‘why are they gifts largely absent from the Western church? ‘

      are they? Paul seems to argue that every single believer has a gift. But I am open to a different understanding of that.

        • And yet so much of that passage is interpreted through Pentecostal spectacles! We have all been trying for half a century to strive to get (or else to deny the possibility of getting) gifts that the Corinthian church, only a decade or so old, had coming out of its ears, uncontrolled.

          The word “gift” is not actually mentioned in 1 Cor 12, “charismata” (literally bits of grace) covering any and every gracious impartation from God, including a useful piece of teaching (Romans 1:11), a pastoral ministry (1 Tim 4:14), or even one particular answer to prayer (2 Cor 1:11).

          Then again everyone emphasizes the work of the Spirit, as if the Church had forgotten him, but Paul is careful to make a thoroughly Trinitarian point in vv4-6. Those three verses cover every kind of endowment that the Spirit-baptized (ie every true Christian, v13) might bring to the table – dispensations of grace, service and working – and he specifically (in order to quench the Corinthians’ pride) points out that God works them in “all men,” ie every believer, not just those “feeling it” or those encouraged to believe their thoughts are words from God and their glossolalia actual languages.

          These are *all* the manifestations of the Spirit that *everyone* in Christ brings to church to share, not attainments they come to church to gain.

          That understanding governs the list in v7ff: if a wise man offers useful wisdom, or a knowledgeable one his knowledge, those are gifts of the Spirit to the church, even if nobody identifies that someone has backache in the congregation. The whole list is not exhaustive, as vv27ff show: the church secretary appears to have a true ministry of the Spirit, as does the helpful lady.

          And given that v27ff speak of apostles, none of which were members of the church at Corinth, might it not be that Paul is, once again, taking the shine off the Corinthians’ pride by reminding them that his list of God’s blessings is about the whole Church, Christ’s universal body, and they are not all focused on *their* church?

          Many non-charismatic, as well as charismatic, churches have instances of answered prayer for healing (whereas few charismatic churches can honestly claim consistent ministries of healing). Many ordinary believers have experienced the unprompted need to share some spiritual advice with others, that proves life-changing – whereas in 50 years involvement in Charismatic circles I can’t remember a single non-trivial “prophecy” coming true. (Even the recently discredited Mike Bickle only claimed a 20% accuracy rate for prophecies at the very epicentre of prophecy in Kansas City – would you trust a weather forecast that unreliable, or believe it came from the Spirit of Truth?)

          In short, I suspect that Charismatic theology needs a thorough and honest re-evaluation, not discarding supernaturalism, but perhaps doubting Pentecostalist exegesis of the key texts for a more biblical and egalitarian concept of communal worship.

          • The need is to focus on Jesus and let the Holy Spirit do what He will; Paul tells the Corinthisnas what the Spirit does, or can be expected to do. If those things are not happening in your church, charismatics tend to confuse the emotional iwth the spiritual in a form of wish-fulfilment when they should be redoubling their focus on the Lord Jesus Christ. But at least they know that something has gone wrong.

          • 100% Agree Jon.
            My big disagreement with Alpha is (or was, haven’t done it for years) is the insistence that the charismatic approach to faith is the way that Christianity is ‘meant to be done’. I always found the ‘Holy Spirit’ days to be very manipulative, almost cultish.
            I am deeply sceptical of overly charismatic strands of Christianity and I wonder if some who make it that far in the course feel the same.

          • Paul: Alpha has two weaknesses, namely it is light on repentance and its Trinity is skewed toward the Holy Spirit. I also find the latest incarnation of its DVDs almost unbearably smooth. The genius of Alpha is in its meal-then-discussion format, which is non-patentable and which I commend to all. Find better videos to present within this format if you wish, but do make sure they are well presented because sloppiness is not the endearing thing that some charismatics wrongly believe.

  24. Was the Angel’s wrestle with Jacob consensual?
    Taking a biblical event to justify himself perhaps?
    A new sort of priestcraft? Ministers now attending meetings are expected to bring oil for anointing and their own swimming trunks.

  25. It cannot escape anyone’s attention how much homosexual or homoerotic misconduct is utterly roiling British public life, and especially the British Conservative Party. In the past couple of years or so we have seen:
    – TV presenter Philip Schofield first ‘come out’, then resign over lies about an affair with a young man he may have groomed since he was fifteen
    – Deputy Chief Whip Chris Pincher MP resign over sexual advances to male MPs
    – Will Wragg MP resign the whip after getting caught on a ‘honeytrap’ through Grindr
    – Mark Menzies MP resign the whip after it’s revealed he was caught up in some gay extortion racket (previously he brought rent boys into Parliament’s bars)
    – Nick Brown MP losing the Labour whip for hidden reasons which are not hard to discover
    – BBC newsreader Huw Edwards finally resigning after 9 months on so-called ‘sick leave’, after he asked a 17 year old boy for lewd pictures
    – and this miserable Pilavachi affair.
    Meanwhile, the Church of England keeps trying to legitimise homosexuality.
    What is it about the ‘ruling class’ in Britain that an uncontrollable homosexual element is so prominent in public life? Is it self-interest?
    Many of us cannot help seeing God’s hand of judgment in this.

      • Yes, the ‘(not for the) public schools’ are very poor (in conduct, not assets) and have lost the Christian vision which, however dimly, guided them, but the problem in the Conservative Party is the influence of that public schoolboy David Cameron and his predecessor, public schoolboy Tony Blair (under the shadow of Peter Mandelson). It is a remarkable fact – which no commentator can discuss publicly on the BBC or ITV – that homosexuals have had a disproportionately large influence in British politics in the past generation. Politics is of course open to the impact of zealous activists, and those without families to look after can give all their energies to ‘the cause’.
        The BBC also has an extraordinarily large number of homosexual employees – more than 12% on their own figures – and this undoubtedly sways any discussion of the matter. The way the Huw Edwards scandal was handled (or covered up) by the BBC illustrates this point.
        The big scandals that have afflicted the C of E in recent years – the Peter Ball fiasco that engulfed George Carey, Trevor Devamannikkam’s abuse and episcopal evasion of safeguarding responsibility that caught Croft and Sentamu, the Alan Griffiths affair and the Martin Sargeant scandal – have a similar thread running through them.

        • James

          A lot of gay men are of artistic bent. It’s not a new or sinister thing that many gay men work in entertainment – I understand Jewish people are over-represented in the arts too.

          I haven’t followed very closely, but my understanding is that Huw Edwards kind of had an affair with a younger adult male, which at worst wasn’t even an affair. The parents of the man claim that Edwards paid for naked photos from the other guy. The man himself says this isnt true and the police have not charged him with anything. It wouldn’t be a media story if they had been opposite sex… and now he’ll never work again.

        • James

          And I just want to be clear that I am not condoning adultery. I’m only saying that it is still treated as an absolute scandal if it’s homosexual and completely tolerated if it is heterosexual

          • Ian Paul

            The obvious examples of tolerance for heterosexual adultery are Boris Johnson and Donald Trump, but this has been pointed out by multiple people already.

            The RCC even let Johnson marry his mistress in their cathedral

    • As opposed to Bill Clinton, Charlie Elphicke, Trump, Jeffrey Epstein, Jimmy Saville, Julian Knight, Bishop Peter Hullah etc all of whom were involved in heterosexual sex scandals. A sex scandal is a sex scandal, regardless of the sexuality of those involved.

      Indeed one could argue denying the right of homosexuals to marry or have a civil partnership and long term relationship makes them more likely to engage in sexual abuse

      • Nobody stopped Pincher, Wragg, Menzies, Brown, Schofield and the rest from entering a civil partnership etc.
        Schofield would have to divorce his wife first, same with Edwards. What you are failing to see is that male homosexual patterns of behaviour are very often very promiscuous. That is why tbere is such a high level of STDs among male homosexuals – including anonymous sex snd “cruising” in public parks – as former MP Matthew Parris said in The Spectator he used to do in Clapham Common in
        London. I think Nick Brown MP also did this.
        The gay demi-monde has long been known as a ‘feature’ of the diocese of London, as the Griffiths/Sargeant debacle highlighted.

        • They were even more promiscuous and unsafe before homosexuality was legalised and before civil partnerships and same sex marriages were passed into UK law. Indeed cruising in public parks back then was one of the few places you could meet a partner for sexuality, certainly sex within a loving relationship was not an option.

          Plivachi was of course a charismatic evangelical outside the Diocese of London

        • James

          For balance Boris Johnson, Matt Hancock, Nigel Farage have all had affairs too.

          It’s seen as normal when straight people do it! Straight politicians dont even have to resign any more when they are exposed.

          • Who is defending them? Not me! The point you and Simon miss is the inherent promiscuity of male homosexual sex. Unlike heterosexuality- which is controlled by female feelings and the chance or risk of pregnancy, male homosexuality is driven by male sexual desire and doesn’t entail pregnancy. But it is very risky behaviour from the health point of view, That is why STDs like Aids and monkeypox are so common among male homosexuals.

          • So on that basis lesbianism is the safest of all? As 2 females are much less likely to be promiscuous than when a male is involved

          • Serially promiscuous instead, since the average relationship length is shortest for them. No satisfaction to be found in twisting the glorious biology.

          • James

            Sorry, but I know lots of gay monogamous couples and I know a fair few celibate gay people.

            Lots of gay men are promiscuous because they choose to be. Lots of straight men and women are promiscuous too. I know-I’ve lived in lots of house shares with single straight people! I ad the least sex of anyone

          • Peter, that point has been answered before, and you know it.
            It is completely irrelevant whom one person knows.
            Particularly one random person.
            Even more particularly one person whose acquaintances will be self selected.
            Because the sample is absolutely tiny and may or may not be representative.
            Whereas studies have been done on a vast scale whereby we can gain more accurate knowledge.
            You are saying that your circle of acquaintances is better than anyone else’s??
            It is certainly not nearly large enough.

      • T1

        I think there is no doubt that banning any group of men from legitimate romantic expression means more covert and abusive expressions of sexuality. And it’s not just me who says this, St Paul agrees too! Unfortunately the people running the church dont’t seem to have read that bit yet

        • Indeed, though even the Pope seems to be moving towards prayers for same sex couples in committed relationships. Even if most evangelicals are still opposed

        • You know full well that Paul was referring to male-female marriage and that alone. Ive yet to see any persuasive arguments that in Paul’s mind male-male sexual relations were ‘legitimate’.

    • James

      It’s homoerotic scandals aplenty because its no longer a scandal if straight people do it!

      I remember the latter days of the Major government – there were just as many scandals then. I think it has to do with feeling untouchable and unaccountable after so long in power.

      • It has to do with the absence of Christianity among MPs.
        The other aspect of the Edwards and Schofield scandal – and probably Menzies – is the corruption of teenagers and young men by men in their 50s and older – very close to grooming.
        Both Edwards and Schofield are or were married men and are fathers.

        • If inappropriate sexual behaviour is all to do with the absence of Christianity, Id love to know your explanation of the many Christian leaders, particularly in the US, who have behaved sexually inappropriately on a regular basis. And most of them have been male-female!

          • PC1 – simple. These ‘Christian’ leaders are not Christian. The followers of these leaders are not Christian either. One thing that the book of Revelation teaches us is that the devil makes a very good imitation of Christ – and that people (who are heading for perdition) are deceived.

            I mean – for example – Jimmy Swaggart had ‘total joke’ and ‘complete fake’ written all over him long before he got caught with his trousers down. He made lots of money out of Jesus – and then he sinned. Frank Zappa wrote a very good song about him – but the lyrics contain the sort of language that it would not be polite to reproduce on a blog read by ladies.

      • Those were not the later days of the Major government – though people do sometimes save up potential scandals and tactically start making a hue and cry of them as the election approaches.

        The media had a peak of political scandals post the 1992 election. The Back to Basics speech was at the 1993 autumn conference and the cluster of subsequent scandals like Stephen Milligan were late 1993 – early 1994. But the election was not till 3 years later: May 1997.

    • Yes blame all the gay people. It’s not like straight people in the public eye ever sin sexually. Does anyone actually know how man kids Boris has?

      And God’s judgement doesnt just apply to gay sex.

      • Indeed it doesn’t… It applies to all sinners.. But I can’t recall anyone suggesting it doesn’t.

        Political parties and newspapers don’t exactly stand on Christian values. What they choose to condemn or praise is irrelevant to God.

        • My comments were in response to James’ post above re ‘It cannot escape anyone’s attention how much homosexual or homoerotic misconduct is utterly roiling British public life…’

          I may have clicked the wrong ‘reply’.

    • Thanks, Chris. 200 comments in, and here’s one (of just a few) that actually addresses the original post! I still listen to Ishmael…..


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