Monthly Archives: April 2016

Christian communication -some reflections

Christian-communication-e1432326443819I was recently having a theological discussion with another clergyman. The exact topic that was being discussed is not here of any importance. But the exchange we had started me off on a reflection on how communication is possible between two people when they try to share ideas beyond a merely factual exchange of information. Every discipline has its own vocabulary or, some would say, its own jargon. To talk theology or converse about any other discipline there has to be a common language which both sides tacitly accept. Enormous confusion comes about when we find ourselves using words in a different way from the person we are speaking to. The potential problem of miscommunication is not just a matter of what words we use but also the possible differing philosophical or cultural assumptions which may be held by either side. Put simply the words we use may not mean what we think they mean to another person. Problems are compounded when a native of one country tries to explain something to a person who has been brought up using a different language. Any of us who have studied foreign languages know that there is more to meanings of words that what is contained in the dictionary definitions.

As the conversation proceeded I realised that Christians have a distinctive set of words and meanings in their communication which they use with one another. In this blog we have frequently referred to those conservative Christians who maintain that the Bible must be always be factual when it appears to be making statements of a factual nature. Their ability to welcome poetry or metaphor as a part of Scripture is severely curtailed in this pursuit of propositional truth. We end up with the absurdities of the story of Jonah being set out as historical fact and the scientifically implausible theories of a ‘young earth’ . This latter theory is celebrated at the Creation Museum in the States where dinosaurs and early man walk side by side. The people who make these claims seem to think that factual propositions are the chief if not the only valid form of discourse that can be used to communicate ‘Biblical truth’.. Something is true or not true; there are no other ways of speaking about the world we live in. The communication that I was having the other day was not rooted in this particular assumption. Far from it. There was in fact a quite different issue being revealed. The clergyman I was speaking to was a believer in the supreme power of intellect and rational thought. In short she appeared to believe that all issues could be solved by the rigorous application of science or rational thought. There was no place for any kind of irrationality within the Christian faith and it was necessary to pursue truth using all the methods that are provided by science and philosophy.

The conversation did not develop very far and perhaps I did not want it to. But as I reflected on the conversation I became aware of the way that I try to communicate with other people. I realized that I am not indebted to the stifling methods of fundamentalist reasoning which can so often ignores nuance, poetry and symbolic ways of understanding truth. Equally I am not locked into a strong rationalistic framework for speaking about the Christian faith. In contrast to these two ways of speaking I would in fact claim to be biblical in an important sense. This is because I try to follow the Bible in the way that truth is given to us in a whole variety of ways. Sometimes the Bible writer presents his truth using history but his historical account is seldom a simple parade of facts. It is history strongly interlaced with interpretation. On other occasions a biblical writer will speak the language of poetry. Through such poetry he will examine both the sorrows and joys of human experience. On another occasion truth will be presented in the language of drama and story. There will be the dilemma of a fictional character like Job. This story will be examined and will become the source of moral teaching and wise counsel. I could of course go on to say much more about all the different strands of truth and spiritual communication in the Bible. But as I was having this conversation with a strongly rationalist clergyman, I realised how much I need to preserve all these biblical varieties of communication and understandings of truth in my own ministry. Sometimes, for example, it is important to communicate truth through the use of story. The telling of a story, fictional or true, is a powerful method of encouragement for someone who needs to hear a new insight which will help them carry on in the face of adversity or pain. On other occasions, it is not the power of story that helps people, but simply the sharing of a powerful visual image to stir their imagination. Such a picture can evoke a powerful response and a longing for truth.

Christian communication takes place at many levels. Were it ever to remain simply at the level of factual propositions, it would be an extremely dull affair. I wonder whether ‘facts’ ever have the power to attract an individual who like me responds better to colour, beauty, the texture of story, poetry or visual imagery. Of course Christianity is based on certain truth claims – the birth the teaching and the resurrection of Jesus, but equally it achieves its power through the way that it is able to touch people at a very deep instinctual level and move them to feel after and to find the spiritual reality of God. The significant conversations that I have had with individuals, particularly in a hospital setting, have required me to be sensitive to the language and forms of communication that the other person can manage to understand. I would like to think that I can be adaptable to any kind of understandings and thinking that the other person normally feels comfortable with. The person who thinks visually, I hope to be able to use visual language. The person who responds to intellectual discussion will find in me also a readiness to respond that kind of discussion. In short Christian communication is about discovering the language through which two people can communicate.

I have not spoken much about the problems of language in Christian conservative (fundamentalist) discourse, except in passing. But if I were to criticise it, I would want to say that an obsession with truth in a scientific way is an incredible impoverishment of truth and language. We are given so many other ways of communicating the deeper things of life. Discovering and sharing these deeper things is what gives life its zest and vitality. On the day after the celebration of Shakespeare’s death, I would remind my reader of the famous saying of that brilliant man which perhaps sums up what I have been trying to say in this post, There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.

Beware Christian counselling!

christian-counselingI have been reading recently some interesting material on the subject of counselling people who have been through a traumatic experience. It picks up the ideas of Judith Herman who wrote a classic book in 1992, Trauma and Recovery. This sets out the principles on helping people to recover from trauma. The word ‘trauma’ would apply to any damaging experience from seeing terrible events in war to having your self-determination completely stripped away through membership of a extreme religious group. The first thing that a traumatised person needs is to find in the counsellor a place of safety where they can tell their story. It needs to be a place where the client can be assured that they are being offered real understanding and empathy. This kind of attunement with a sufferer is something that will require considerable experience as well as training on the part of the therapist. The sort of thing that can go wrong for any inexperienced listener is that he or she would be unable to listen to the events of the past without himself becoming themselves emotionally over-aroused. Emotion in itself is not inappropriate but it must never, on the side of the therapist, be so strong that it upsets his ability to calm the client down. The technical jargon puts it this way, that the therapist must regulate their own affect. The therapist must hear the story and be able respond to it with empathy but also with a level of detachment. Otherwise the client may easily go back into the shell of their undigested pain.

The ability to hear the extremely painful memories of another person without rejecting, disbelieving or in some way switching off, takes skill and training. This will require, on the part of the therapist, that the thinking part of their brain is working properly in tandem with the feeling, experiencing side of the brain. In short they need to have good left brain/right brain integration. Without such integration on the part of the therapist, the client may feel, either an over-intellectualised approach to their problem or the opposite, an over-emotional sympathy that does not allow them to have new insight into the issues of the past. Either way they still remain trapped and isolated in their pain and the terror of their memories. Proper connection with another human being, in this case the therapist, is the first stage of the journey through which the traumatised individual is brought back into connection with the wider human race. A gradual facing up to the past, experiencing it in a safe environment, is an essential stage of the journey towards healing and integration. One of the terrible things about trauma is that the one who experienced it may not at first be able to give it any kind of verbal expression. The part of the brain that has been traumatised does not have words and concepts. Part of the task of the therapist is to help the client to find symbols and later actual words to describe his or her experience. In this way they can relate to it in a new way, using the tools of intellect and reasoning rather than simply experiencing it as a traumatic event. The article I was reading picked up on the way that psychotherapy has as its aim the reintegration of parts of the brain that may have ceased to synchronise. These may have been sundered apart, either by one traumatic event or through years of subtle undermining of the personality by some cultic exposure. There is a lot more to be said about this and we have to leave it as a topic for another time. I would however just mention here the way that many cults undermine the parent-child relationship so that the instinctive need to protect children by parents is undermined has been undermined by cult teaching. The cult leader has constantly taught that the only true ‘father’ is himself

I give this summary of what is generally regarded as good practice in psychotherapy. It is offered in the context of helping clients get through the trauma of a terrible event like violence, rape or seeing something that causes flashbacks and nightmares. In contrast I want to quote some words from a ‘Christian therapist’ which was offered as a comment on Nigel’s Peniel blog. The Langlois report clearly indicated that many of the ‘victims’ from Peniel were suffering from a degree of post-traumatic stress which has resulted in a need for years of counselling.

She/he writes ‘It seems to me that unless this is sorted out in prayer then any one can jump on the band wagon and say they suffered at the hands of MR…..I have worked in the area of abuse, sexual, physical and emotional, but NEVER have I came across a group of victims who want to be reminded constantly about their abuse, and NEVER have I spoken to any who would take money as compensation…..This should all be `put to bed` so the abused can start to heal with the love and mercy of God….Leave Trinity/Peniel to sort out their own problems and find a decent Church to attend on a Sunday….that’s just my opinion based on years of experience both as a counsellor and Christian….

These words are possibly typical of the dangerous attitudes of some so-called Christian counsellors. They show how there is a serious mismatch between responsible therapy and what seems like ignorant nonsense. Christian forgiveness and prayer seem to be the only tools of therapy on offer in some forms of Christian-inspired training. It is not surprising that the majority of survivors at Peniel are steering clear of the therapy being offered to them by the church when they are faced with this kind of dangerous nonsense. This therapist who has worked, as she/he puts it, for years with the victims of trauma seems to have completely avoided good therapeutic practice by refusing to allow a victim or survivor to face up to the trauma of the past within an empathetic setting. Instead of the listening skills and empathy that are required for this kind of work, this particular therapist seems to have offered what she considers to be the Christian response, forgive the past and get on with your life. The secular model which Christian counselling so often turns its back on suggests the complete opposite – a slow painful facing up to the past with the support of an empathic therapist. According to the responsible mainstream literature, the part of the brain that experiences trauma, the limbic system, has trapped certain events so that they continue to trouble and plague the sufferer. These events need to be released and brought to the surface. That is the task of responsible therapy. ‘Putting to bed’ the events of the past is a far more complicated affair than this counsellor seems capable of imagining.

There are many other issues I have with so-called Christian counselling and some of these have been discussed before in this blog. In summary I object to the comment of the Christian counsellor above because he or she responds to the hard work of listening and empathising with clients by offering them mere platitudes and ‘holy’ language. The love and mercy of God will have a far better chance of working when a counsellor himself is freed from bringing unhelpful dogmatic beliefs into the counselling room. Forgiveness does not in fact solve everything. Christian love surely recognizes that much more is involved in the recovery from trauma. For myself I would entrust myself only to secular counsellors – never to people think that dogma and Bible quoting somehow sorts out every problem. The survivors of Peniel and indeed survivors of any traumatic experience deserve the best. Sadly what they are being offered is something that will probably totally fail them and they may end up far worse than before.

Evangelicals – mainstream and maverick

Evangelicalism-580x308I was having a conversation with a mainstream evangelical church leader the other day who knows of my concern about the abuse that takes place within this culture. He found it very difficult to understand why I should focus on the evangelical world when there is so much material about abuse emerging from Roman Catholic sources and indeed all strands of the church. In many ways he had a valid point to make. I found it initially difficult to marshal my thoughts in responding to the concern of an honourable evangelical. In this particular case he is one concerned for social justice as well as the traditional task of bringing people into a relationship with God. The problem that I was trying to articulate and which he was unable to grasp, was that however many honest evangelicals exist in the world, there are many others who are not so honourable. They use the same turns of phrase and the same traditional theological ideas but somehow they create something which is often grotesque and unworthy of the name of Christian. A respect and love for the Bible can indeed be something which is life changing and may allow an individual to make a new beginning in discovering what his life is for. Equally the same apparent respect for the Bible in the hands of a manipulative person can drag an individual, especially a woman, into a life where they end up in effective bondage to a powerful and corrupt charismatic leader. The promise that Christianity is a way to a full life has delivered a form of slavery. This blog has given many examples of the corrupt version of the evangelical message. A love of power and money seems to motivate far too many Christian leaders who preach from the orthodox evangelical hymn book. It is this corruption of evangelicalism that is a the heart of this blog’s concern, not the word itself.

In this blog post I want to summarise the areas where the mainstream evangelical message sometimes becomes corrupted and distorted through the selfish and power seeking activities of certain types of Christian leader. I repeat once more that I am not making a condemnation of one particular tradition within the Christian church, even if I do in fact have queries about the theology that is being preached. It is one thing to disagree with the theological position of another person. That is almost inevitable when we live in a world of a variety of thinking, different historical backgrounds and the sheer variety in people’s psychological make up. What I do object to is when I see human exploitation of the vulnerable and weak by people who use the Christian message with which to do it. If I have any criticism of mainstream respectable evangelical church people it is in their blindness to all the things that are done by people who claim to belong to the evangelical camp. Superficially these latter preach the same message as the mainstream but in fact are verging on the evil in the devastation that the actions sometimes cause.

One particular area of activity in which evangelicals of all kinds seem to excel is in the conduct of worship and music. At its best this worship helps people to have a lively sense of God’s presence. At its worst, as I have written in past blog posts, the style of music offered is a form of seduction to draw people into the building, particularly the young, and encourage them to have a good time. It could be claimed that the style of music on offer at some churches is a bit like a night club or a party. No doubt people enjoy themselves in this carnival atmosphere and there is a release of inhibition and a flow of goodwill engendered through the loud music on offer. The party atmosphere is particularly striking in many black led churches. Here the women are encouraged to dance and, in their wild gyrations, there seems to be an element of sexual exhibitionism present. The dominant part that deafening music plays in the worship of many free and independent churches means that these congregations are not encouraged towards reflective contemplation of spiritual things. Such music, if I can be bold, also completely destroys the possibility of any kind of intelligent appreciation of what is going on in other areas of worship. There is thus a considerable gap to be found between these ‘noisy’ churches and others, evangelical or otherwise, where there is an emphasis on good preaching and intelligent understanding of the Bible and the Christian message. In one church there is a mind blowing cacophony of sound. In the other there is stillness, reflection and silence. It is not hard to imagine a considerable gap of understanding and communication between the two.

The next area of behaviour which separates out what I want to call the parasitic evangelical churches is in the area of money and financial wealth. It would not be an exaggeration to say that many independent church leaders seem to be obsessed with wealth and high status. The first sign of this is the importance given to acquisition of wealth and prosperity for the minister personally. This is justified as a sign and an exemplar of God’s blessing on him. ‘Health and wealth’ teaching will require an aggressive teaching of those passages in the Bible which refer to tithing. A congregation of 200 people all giving 10% of their pre-tax income will produce considerable sums of money. This will allow, as in the case of Peniel Church Brentwood, the ministers to be paid obscene amounts of money. A second related part of the corrupting effect of wealth is to purchase or build magnificent church plant. This will involve sometimes the raising of millions of pounds. When a church spends large sums of money on itself, one has to ask whether there is comparable concern for the social needs of the area around them. From time to time I look at the websites of independent churches to see what activities they are involved in. It is quite clear that many ministers value their ministry by the magnificence of the buildings which they occupy. These buildings thus often seem to become monuments to human hubris. They are massively expensive to heat and maintain. It is also not easy to justify their existence when the space within them is not being used to its full extent or shared with the wider community.

I am sure that there are many good evangelical churches who do not corrupt their people by the excessive noise of mind-numbing music and sound or demanding huge sums of money from those who attend. But to these uncorrupted churches I would ask one thing. Do they not know how quickly and easily a similar message to the one that is being preached in their building has been allowed to become something tawdry, cheap and corrupt in a church down the road? The same message of eternal salvation has been subtly twisted and polluted by another minister who, superficially at any rate, is saying all the right things. At the same time he is clearly concerned not with the glory of God but with his own gratification, his power and his material advantage. Both the good church and the bad church share the title ‘evangelical’. I call upon the good evangelical church to name and perhaps shame the institution that brings the word ‘evangelical’ into ill repute among those of us who do not identify with this description of their religious identity. Perhaps I can go further and say that the word ‘Christian’ is also being brought into ill repute by those who exploit others and enrich themselves with the tools of preaching and church leadership.

I want to finish by repeating the point made above. It is not the word evangelical that is the cause of a problem. It is the use of the word and its style and culture by certain maverick ministers and congregations that create a huge problem. If mainstream respectable evangelicals want to use the word and hold onto it as a word of dignity and integrity, then they must be prepared to own up to and critique what is done in the backyards of their culture.

Confronting evil in others?

confronting‘Why are people so critical of other people when things go wrong?’ This was the first sentence in a recent blog contribution. I thought about my response before deciding to make a blog post out of my reflections on what is my answer to this question. The simple answer is that sometimes when things ‘go wrong’, a large number of people may be affected by what has been done. The ‘wrong’ action has perhaps become an instrument of abusive suffering for maybe many people. It is important that the perpetrator of the action becomes aware of this fact. There is a particular issue when a person of power or influence misuses their power as all the people under their influence may well be affected. A different way of judging what is going on comes into play in such a situation.

Thinking about this further I have come to see that we need to think about wrong actions as existing on a continuum. The degree of seriousness which we ascribe to them will depend on the extent to which they have affected other people. A supremely wicked act might be one which initiates tens of thousands of people being slaughtered because of their colour or race. Being critical of another people’s wrong actions is obviously an extremely important task. That is why we have laws to express society’s disapproval towards evil actions that harm others. At the other end of the continuum of wrong actions we have an immoral act which only affects and harms the person doing it. The watching of pornography or the taking of drugs will no doubt be seriously harming the individuals involved and their relationships. Such things are no doubt wrong, but some of the time they are not illegal or deemed to be matters of public interest. It is probably not helpful that other people outside the situation (the press?) take the high moral ground by publicising these misdeeds and naming them.

In the case of the leaders of God TV, the mentioning of the issue of Rory Alec’s adultery is not in fact the same as taking a moral stand on the rights and wrongs of committing adultery. We may of course have strong feelings in the matter but in most cases we have to accept that this transgression is a private matter and not for us to probe into. We may of course privately speculate on the way that any act of sexual betrayal will normally be cataclysmic for the people close to the situation. But adultery or any non-criminal sexual affair takes on a different dimension when it is perpetrated by people in positions of trust. The situation is of course compounded when the activity is criminal in addition to being immoral. The Bishop Peter affair was far more serious than just a misdemeanour against young men. These young men were the immediate victims but many more people felt betrayed and the trust in the integrity of the church as a whole was undermined by the Bishop’s activities. In the case of Rory Alec and God TV, tens of thousands of listeners had believed that they were listening to the authentic word of God through the presenters, Wendy and Rory. For one of them to betray high moral standards would be potentially deeply disturbing to the listeners. However we understand the relationship between broadcasters and their audience in this situation, something important was going on in this relationship which gave meaning to the lives of those who follow God TV. Many had given considerable sums of money; they had followed these Christian leaders with enthusiasm and now they were being let down. Of course the adultery itself is important but here it only becomes of greater concern because massive issues of trust and betrayal were also involved.

It is interesting that there is much current discussion in the churches about what I would call private morality. The Anglican bishops for example are giving the impression that the most important moral issue today is that of homosexuality and the possibility of ‘gay marriage’. Whatever one’s moral stance towards this particular issue, it could be claimed that it is a clear example of a private moral matter which affects very few people beyond the relationship. It would be hard to claim that there is any abuse going on affecting those outside the relationship. In contrast, the historic betrayal and failure to protect children in many religious institutions and the imposing of religiously inspired ideologies harmful to women damages millions. This blog and its editor is concerned with these evils that are tragically endemic in many church institutions. These have the effect of damaging enormous numbers of people in the context of God and the Christian faith. Of course it is and always will be important to name and be critical of such behaviour. Here in this blog we explore the psychologically deviant among Christian leaders, corrupt and self-serving interpretations of the Bible along with bullying and other examples of abuse of power in the church. All these things have and continue to do enormous damage to the integrity of the church and that is why they must be explored. The naming of evil actions towards the vulnerable is the first stage towards preventing them happening in the future. Rory Alec’s failure was, to repeat, not simply or even mainly about sex. It was the fact that his action had the effect of betraying large numbers of people who looked up to him. It was in short a massive case of hypocrisy. That is serious, far more serious than simply going off with another woman while already married.

In writing this blog I have had to look at my own behaviour and identify the times when my actions have affected not just myself but other people, sometimes more than one. To betray or harm other people through selfish acts is far more serious on a moral scale than doing something that is stupid and foolish but only harmful to oneself. Many immoral acts against oneself involve some form of self-harm but these quite often can be corrected when the consequences, great or small, become apparent to us. A typical example would be the reforming drinker or viewer of pornography. When harm is done to others through our actions, the consequences do not always appear quite so readily. It may be that some people are around who still carry the burden of something abusive we said or did years later. It will be impossible in this lifetime to undo the damage of all our selfish actions towards other people, but at least we should be aware that such damage exists and, if it is possible, we have to do what we can to put these situations right. Identifying the difference between the harm we do to other people and the harm we do to ourselves may help to make us more careful in the future. In identifying the actions done by us which create the most harm to others, we can be morally more sensitive and less judgmental towards others, particularly in cases where the harm done affects nobody beyond the perpetrator.

More from Trinity Brentwood

TRINTIY-BRENTWOODIt is sometime since I wrote about the events at Trinity Church Brentwood. Part of the problem is that other events, illness and house move, took me away from following the ongoing saga, but also I have had problems in accessing Nigel Davies’ blog. There is some bug in the system which means that I only occasionally manage to get into the discussion. But I can report that the main news at Trinity church in the post Peter Linnecar era is that the massive and devastating report by John Langlois continues officially to be ignored by the trustees. It is apparently evident that even while it does not officially exist, many people, including the trustees have read it. These same trustees have formally decided to respond to the other report from David Shearman and Phil Hills. Their response has been to set up a Reconciliation and Reparation Panel and this came into effect during March. The panel is under the chairmanship of one Peter Jordan, a minister of a local church known as Sawyers. Sawyers is one of the members of BADEF, the Brentwood and district Evangelical Fellowship. Nigel Davies has rightly been constantly critical of this group for failing ever to speak out against the abuses at Peniel/Trinity church, even though all the congregations that are part of this group were receiving a steady stream of refugees from Peniel/Trinity over the years. The stories that these refugees would have shared would have alerted any pastorally minded minister to the excesses of Reid’s ministry. Nigel points out that in fact the BADEF churches were always far too much in awe of the wealth and power of Peniel/Trinity Church ever to make any effective protest or attempt to criticise Reid’s appalling regime or the legacy he left behind him.

The individuals which has been given the task of making up the panel to attempt to reach out to the numerous victims of Peniel/Trinity church have, apart from the chairman, Peter Jordan, been left anonymous. Their qualifications have been set out but they do not inspire confidence, either in terms of their professional achievement or their potential ability to offer a true independent voice. One is a lawyer, one a consultant, and the other two apart from the chairman are a ‘psychotherapist’ and an accountant. Nigel has pointed out that an anonymous group is not one to inspire confidence from the perspective of a vulnerable victim. He is also incensed by the fact that Peter Jordan, the chairman of the panel and a local minister, is due to preach at Trinity on April 10. This acceptance of an invitation to preach hardly implies a detached independent relationship with the church. Jordan has also been active in BADEF for a number of years and is their current Chair. He is thus tainted along with all the other ministers of this organization of a wilful blindness and indifference towards the excesses of Trinity Church under its two former leaders.

As part of the exercise of reparation and reconciliation ex-members of Peniel and Trinity have been sent forms to fill in. The forms suggest that a sum of money may be made available for those who have suffered to enable them to receive some form of counselling. Meanwhile the third member of the panel who is named as a qualified psychotherapist and counsellor inspires absolutely zero confidence with regard to her professional competence and qualifications. I wrote a contribution (set out below) to Nigel’s blog to point out that many qualifications held by so-called Christian counsellors are not recognised by any professional accredited body in the UK. Nigel’s most recent blog links this member of the panel to an organisation called Deep and another known as Barnabas training. I have not yet had the opportunity to check out these two groups, but I would certainly not want to entrust myself to any ‘Christian’ group if I had been abused at the hands of Michael Reid or Peter Linnecar. My feelings about Christian counselling bodies have been severely jaundiced by some bad experiences over the years. I here insert the comment I made on Nigel’s blog.
I was somewhat alarmed to read the ‘qualifications’ of the panel member no 3 mentioned in the previous blog post. Most of us who have ever had anything to do with ‘Christian counselling’ (eg nouthetic counselling) are very cautious of the qualifications and actual content of these courses for ‘Christian training’. The only professionally accredited people are those who have done courses recognized and overseen by the British Association for Counselling and Therapists (BACP). Others who write or study courses (online etc) may be able to call themselves therapists but their standards of expertise range from the ignorant to the appallingly dangerous.
I once wrote a reference for a woman who was the least qualified person to start counselling that I had ever met. I tried tactfully to say to the Christian course organisers that the candidate totally lacked listening skills, thrust opinionated views on everyone around and was generally in my opinion unfit for the course. She was accepted and qualified!
If I go to a therapist, I want to know that they have achieved a proper professional qualification. Nothing about panel member no 3 suggests anything but a home-grown in-house type training. It reminds me of the way that MR and PL never submitted their preaching and pastoral skills to outside scrutiny. Look at the havoc they were able to achieve!

The suggestion is being made that the total amount being allocated for each survivor is around £300. Whether or not this is an ex gratia payment or a contribution towards meeting the cost of a limited number of counselling sessions is not clear. But, as someone pointed out on Nigel’s blog, this is a very small amount of money when set against the £7000 a month that was being paid to Peter Linnecar over the last eight years.
Nigel is thus extremely angry at at what he perceives as extremely half-hearted efforts to put right the wrongs of the past. His complaint in summary is as follows:
• The reconciliation panel shows no signs of true independence. This cosy relationship between the chairman of the panel and the church is symbolised by an invitation from the church to preach at their morning service on April 10th.
• An anonymous group of people will not inspire confidence from the victims of past spiritual abuse. The breakthrough of John Langlois was that, for the first time, Peniel/Trinity victims were able to see that somebody who was totally independent and without any bias was available to hear their story.
• The reparation that is being offered to past victims is derisory and half-hearted. Once again Nigel sees that the main efforts on behalf of Trinity is to preserve their assets while going through the motions of a limited gestures towards the victims of past abuse.

For all these reasons Nigel is to continue his courageous protests outside the church. This will incur the hostility of current church members who feel that their church is somehow doing the right thing for the victims of past evil. Even from the perspective of someone like myself living in the remote north of England, it would seem that Nigel is doing the right. This so-called panel inspires no confidence either for practical competence or its solutions being offered to past victims of the church.

As a final comment I am surprised that anybody would want to associate themselves with such a manifestly feeble attempt to put right such monstrous past evils. In view of the fierce outspokenness of the Langlois report we should be surprised that anybody, even a small group of ordinary church people, would want to have anything to do with this weak attempt to whitewash and try to bury the awful past of Peniel/Trinity church. It will be interesting to see if anyone in fact is prepared to fill up the reparation forms and meet a bunch of doubtfully competent people, all for the sake of a totally inadequate £300 worth of counselling. The victims of the Peniel church, as identified by the Langlois report, deserve better and we must be grateful to Nigel Davies for continuing the struggle to secure a more adequate justice for those who have been so cruelly and devastatingly abused by Christian ministry.