Many of us have been waiting for Andrew Graystone’s book about the John Smyth abuses and Iwerne camp culture for a while now. Well, it’s out; and it is dividing people along perhaps predictable lines. But my fear is that the many important elements within it are avoided because of some of the book’s problems. So I’ve tried to walk the tightrope between total rejection and total endorsement. I don’t claim for a moment to be offering a definitive response, not least because I’m not well versed on some of the details.
But as someone who did Iwerne camps in the 90s, I have a perspective on it at least.
To download the doc, click here (NB slightly edited). Or read below.
This Post Has 2 Comments
I couldn’t stop reading this post about Andrew Graystone’s book on John Smyth. Your analysis of Iwerne culture helped me analyse my own experience of being a member of a church whose leadership culture was moulded by Fletcher, which we recently left after seven years. In fact, all your posts on this topic have provided a valuable sense-check for me as my wife and I try to process our experiences. I particularly appreciate your willingness to stop and interrogate the deeply personal contradictions that arise for people who have experienced the kind of culture described in Graystone’s book. It seems to me that unhealthy cultures deny that contradictions can exist at all. Yet the pain we felt when we realised that something is wrong in our church, arose precisely at the point where our personal experience parted company with our understanding of the leader’s behaviour and what was driving it. I can’t hide or deny these inconsistencies if I want to be open and honest with myself, let alone with others and with God. In fact, bringing contradictions into the open in order to reflect on our experience and deepen our understanding of what was ‘really going on’, might prove the best antidote to the unhealthy culture that gave rise to those inconsistencies in the first place. I think your blog posts are a great illustration of that and I’m especially grateful that you affirm the vulnerability that is necessary for the process to work. It’s a great help to me and I hope to many others too.
Thanks so much Nick