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By Julian Mann
August 28, 2019

The article on Anglican Ink, The English, the evangelicals and the elites: The School for Scandals http://anglican.ink/2019/07/04/the-english-the-evangelicals-and-the-elites-the-school-for-scandals/ , certainly landed a lot of punches against Church of England conservative evangelicals from private school backgrounds connected with the Iwerne or 'Bash' camps. The author is clearly a very clever man but unfortunately he showed himself to be neither a kind man nor a brave man.

He is not brave because he would not put his name to his attack. He made it under the name of the late Hungarian-American film actor and director Cornel Wilde (1912-1989).

His decision to write under a nom be plume was ironic because of his observation that in the wake of the revelations in June in The Daily Telegraph https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2019/06/21/minister-spiritually-abused-vulnerable/ about Jonathan Fletcher's abuse 'there is also a feeling that those who should be concerned with bringing the truth out into the open, and, who presumably would preach hearty sermons on 1 John 1:5-7 about not "walking around in darkness" but "walking in the light" and only then "does the blood of Christ cleanse us from all sin", are so chary of doing so'.

The irony of this is that penning an anonymous attack hardly squares with 'walking in the light'. The further irony is that his citing of this particular Bible verse against his targets to accuse them of hypocrisy shows 'Cornel Wilde' himself to be a hypocrite as well as a coward.

As for the author's lack of kindness, that was apparent in the way he framed his attack on Jonathan Juckes, president of Oak Hill Theological College in north London http://oakhill2.ablette.net/blog/entry/president_appointed_to_oak_hill_college/ .

The author aired his suspicion that Mr Juckes got the job at Oak Hill because of his southern private school, Bash camp and large London church pedigree: 'Many are bewildered and bemused as to why someone who has not published anything of a theological nature, or contributed as a national or international speaker and having no advanced theological degree could be appointed...The suspicion invariably grows as to whether here we have another instance of the "old school tie" at work.'

But the author failed to mention Mr Juckes's 19 years of faithful service as a parish minister in East Yorkshire in the north of England. Whatever view is taken of Mr Juckes's qualification to be head of a theological college, surely that level of frontline parish ministry experience in a part of the country southern conservative evangelicals do not tend to gravitate to is to be greatly prized on the staff at Oak Hill?

The author then turned his fire on Vaughan Roberts, chairman of the Proclamation Trust, which organised the Evangelical Ministry Assembly in June at which more facts were revealed about the Fletcher scandal https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2019/07/12/evangelical-minister-jonathan-fletcher-gave-prayer-group-naked/ .

He quoted Canon Roberts at the EMA: "There is much here that does not reflect well on our constituency. Serious questions will need to be asked about what went on and how it (Fletcher's abuse) was able to continue. To the extent we have been complicit in a culture which allowed this to happen, real and deep repentance will be needed. Change will be necessary."

This drew from the author an accusation masked as a question: 'Is this an admission that they were complicit?'

Thus, it would appear that conservative evangelical leaders are damned if they do admit that there has been a problem in the culture of their constituency and damned if they don't.

It would seem likely that 'Cornel Wilde' is either a church leader with first-hand knowledge of the English conservative evangelical scene or a theological educator or both. He is clearly a very intelligent man. But because of the lack of courage and of kindness that he showed in his piece he is not a role model for the new generation of conservative evangelical leaders with no links with the savage abuser John Smyth https://www.churchofengland.org/sites/default/files/2019-08/ToR%20John%20Smyth%20final%209%20August%202019.pdf or the manipulative Jonathan Fletcher, who, the Lord willing, will emerge after the recent scandals.

Julian Mann is vicar of the Parish Church of the Ascension, Oughtibridge, South Yorkshire, UK. He has recently been appointed minister of Emmanuel, Morecambe in the Free Church of England https://fcofe.org.uk/ .

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