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Archbishop Welby Denounced by Bishop of Buckingham over Abuse of Boys

Archbishop Welby Denounced by Bishop of Buckingham over Abuse of Boys
Pro homosexual Bishop of Buckingham claims evangelical theology is to blame
Canon Dr. Michael Green Repudiates Bishop Wilson's theological claims

By David W. Virtue, DD
February 9, 2017

The Bishop of Buckingham, the Rt. Rev. Alan Wilson, says that claims made by Archbishop Justin Welby that he was ignorant of boys being boys being beaten by John Smyth at his home in Winchester. The Archbishop vigorously denies any such knowledge. The bishop accused the Archbishop of lying, but declined to clarify his assertion.

Smyth, now 75 and living in South Africa where he campaigns on morality, was the head of a Christian charity, the Iwerne Trust, when he helped on the holiday camps. The young Justin Welby was among the Christian young men who attended the camps. The camps were where public school evangelical Christians were sent if they were deemed to have potential as future leaders in the Church of England.

Smyth was a volunteer leader at the Christian summer "Bash" camps under the auspices of the Iwerne Trust and Iwene Holidays is alleged to have beaten as many as 22 boys who attended the camps, some of whom he met at the camps over a series of years. The attacks only stopped when one victim, the author of the anonymous letter, attempted to commit suicide.

Founded in 1932 by the Rev. E.J.H. Nash, the "Bash" camps invited boys from Britain's top 30 public schools to programs that sought to mold their character and worldview. Over 7000 boys have attended the camps, including many influential church leaders such as John Stott, David Sheppard, Michael Green, Dick Lucas and Justin Welby.

According to U.K. evangelist Canon Dr. Michael Green, there were no such beatings at Iwerne! "They occurred in a shed on his property in Winchester, and later in Zimbabwe."

Canon Green, a contemporary of John R.W. Stott, said he went to these camps three times a year for about 8 years and he never saw or heard of anything untoward. "Smyth was not there in my day. He was clearly a sadist and the beatings recorded are horrific. The Iwerne camps and Bash in particular were major formative influences in my life and that of my friends, many of whom have become substantial Christian leaders at home or abroad. I learnt there, as I have never learnt so well elsewhere, how to lead an inductive Bible study without dominating it, how to preach for decision, and how to help an individual to faith. Bash himself is one of the greatest pastors I have known with immense insight, humor and a strong evangelistic gift without being emotional."

Wilson says Welby's ignorance of the abuse was not credible and alleges he would have known and talked about allegations of abuse.

In a statement released from the Lambeth Palace press office, the Archbishop said he had no knowledge of the abuse until 2013. "John Smyth was one of the main leaders at the camp and although the Archbishop worked with him, he was not part of the inner circle of friends; no one discussed allegations of abuse by John Smyth with him. The Archbishop left England to work in Paris for an oil company in 1978, where he remained for five years. He began training for ordination in 1989. The Archbishop knew Mr. Smyth had moved overseas but, apart from the occasional card, did not maintain contact with him," the statement said.

Later, in a revealing statement, the Bishop of Guildford, Andrew Watson, said he reported to the police the abuse committed against him. "I am one of the survivors of John Smyth's appalling activities in the late 1970s and early '80s. I am also one of the bishops in the Church of England. This has placed me in a unique and challenging position when it comes to the events of the past few days."

Buckingham Bishop Blames Evangelical Theology

But then Bishop Wilson launched into a tirade, charging the abuse at the socially exclusive "Bash" camps in the 1970s was fueled by their conservative evangelical worldview, which promulgated a "nasty" and "punitive" doctrine of a vicious God.

In an interview, Wilson linked evangelical theology with "violence and nastiness."

"These camps and [Smyth] activities had extraordinary influence among senior evangelicals in the Church of England of my generation. Pretty much everybody who was anybody in the leadership of public school Anglican evangelicalism had something to do with John Smyth's operation."

Wilson said, the "bigger question is what lies behind it really about the mentality of these people who have been immensely influential in the Church of England."

The "theology that these people." conservative evangelicals, "bring to the table very often has an element of violence and sort of nastiness in it, a kind of element of punitive behavior. God is seen as this punitive figure who is somehow out to 'get' people and I suppose it does blind people to what's going on in front of them sometimes, when there is that kind of violent basic theology."

Canon Dr. Michael Green Repudiates Bishops' claims

Canon Green fought back saying that Bishop Wilson is a thorn in the side of the diocese and nobody can understand why he was ever made a suffragan!

"The Bishop of Buckingham is only a suffragan, but he makes a lot of controversial statements to the media. He does not like biblical standards nor the evangelicals who uphold them.

"He is in favor of gay sex and same sex marriage, thus contravening the agreed position of the worldwide bishops in Lambeth 1.10, and the recent declaration by the English House of Bishops upholding traditional Christian standards. He certainly does not speak for the Church of England.

"Coming from such a position it is rich that he should blame evangelicals for the Smyth affair. The horrible behavior of Mr. Smyth has nothing to do with being an evangelical but everything to do with his being a sadist, who managed to cover it up for far too long."

Dr. Green, the author of some 50 books and a leading world authority on evangelism, said he was enormously helped as a teenager and young man by the house parties at Iwerne Minster, where he went for companionship and Christian nurture three times a year for some 8 years. "I never saw or heard of anything remotely improper among boys or leaders. There was no trace either of homosexuality or of sadism. The Bishop of Buckingham demeans himself by suggesting that sadism marks evangelicals. Most of his statements are regarded with skepticism in this diocese. This recent charge of his will only deepen it."

Wilson's attack on evangelical Christianity comes with his own personal bias. He is one of a handful of decidedly pro homosexual bishops in the Church of England who, when asked at a discrimination case brought by homosexual activist Canon Jeremy Pemberton against the Church, described the Church of England's teaching that marriage is only between a man and a woman as "a lousy definition".

The Bishop has also given his outspoken support for changing the church's teaching on human sexuality, which has led to a quiet rebellion in the diocese of Oxford. Some parishes under his jurisdiction have asked the Bishop of Oxford to send another bishop to their churches for visitations and confirmations, as the Bishop of Buckingham does not have their confidence.

One victim, Mark Stibbe, attacked the Bishop for his statement about the theology behind the allegations. He tweeted that Bishop Wilson was treating victims like a "theological test case" rather than people.

"These camps and this man's [Smyth] activities had extraordinary influence among senior evangelicals in the Church of England of my generation. Pretty much everybody who was anybody in the leadership of public school Anglican evangelicalism had something to do with John Smyth's operation."

The Rev. David Robertson, minister of St Peters, Dundee and director of the Solas Centre for Public Christianity said, "While I expect the more extreme atheist secularists to take this kind of line (and to be fair many secularists would not make that kind of clumsy connection), it is more than a little disappointing that a professing Christian leader should use this tragic case to further a particular theological/political agenda within the church. It is as reprehensible as those who would use the fact that some Catholic priests have been found guilty of child sexual abuse, as a reason for denouncing Catholicism per se.

CORRECTION: There have been some serious corrections to this story based on new evidence sent to me from England. Mr. Smyth only helped in running the camps. Also none of the abuse took place at the camps themselves, only at his home. We regret the misinformation.


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