Dr. Iain Campbell, Reformed Leader Caught in Scandal, Kills Self

In all honesty, I had never heard of Dr. Iain Campbell until his suicide was reported by TWW.

Initially, his colleagues provided a sympathetic assessment of his suicide.

FWIW: I generally am very skeptical of such assessments. Suicide is a big honkin’ deal. I can understand a younger person–acting stupidly in a dark moment–doing it, but when a grown adult does it, what you have is either (a) a profound case of trauma (e.g. PTSD) or (b) a serious mental illness or (c) an attempt to evade or atone for one’s sins.

Apparently, Campbell got caught–proverbially with his pants down–in at least seven extramarital affairs, allegedly with at least one of those affairs producing a child. Other accounts suggest that he confessed his infidelities to his wife, then killed himself, then she found the details.

At any rate, Campbell, a revered leader among hard-core Reformers, was living a double life.

On one hand, he was a highly-respected Church historian and communicator for the Reformed perspective.

On the other hand, he had more in common with Donald Trump in the morality department, than he had with the Apostles.

Like the folks at TWW, I find it galling that others would blame his wife, even remotely, for his demise. If he had a bad home life, then he had no business being in any leadership capacity in the Church, as his house was clearly not in order. (That is a Biblical requirement for any would-be overseer.)

I don’t care if his wife was Jezebel incarnate; he is responsible for his own life before God.

There is no pretty way to spin this. Campbell, from what we know to be true about his life, was almost certainly a wolf in sheep’s clothing.

Did he teach unsound doctrine? I don’t know. I do not classify Reform theology as unsound doctrine. But false doctrine is not the only marker of a wolf. Wolves can teach otherwise sound doctrine while sowing discord through immorality and other practices. You can preach a 5-star sermon on Sunday while carousing in private.

But here’s the thing: you will never outrun your character. It will ALWAYS catch up with you. Your comeuppance may be private, but, in the case of sexual sin (particularly adultery) it is almost always public.

The Bible says it plainly: “your sin will find you out.”

The best thing you can do is address those matters BEFORE you enter the ranks of leadership. 1 Timothy and Titus present a set of requirements that, on balance, call for spiritual mileage.

Spiritual mileage is not about having “zero defects” in your life. What it entails: a track record of being a student and practitioner of Scripture, rightly dividing the Word of Truth, giving sound counsel, living it out in your own life, falling down often, getting up more often. It means working for a living, working through crises, dealing with personal failure, dealing with being wrong and being wronged, being honest and transparent.

If you’re married, it means having the kind of marriage that reflects Christ’s love for the Church. If you have children, it means that they comport themselves in a way that testifies to your faithfulness in both grace and discipline.

And, if you don’t remember anything else, I am going to hit you with two fundamental truths:

TRUTH #1: CHARISMA IS NOT CHARACTER!!!
TRUTH #2: A CREDENTIAL IS NOT CHARACTER!!!

I don’t care if you have an MDiv from SBTS. I don’t care if you have a PhD, a DMin, or ThD. I’ve known excellent pastors who had no college education; I’ve known some very damnable ones with high marks from the most respected seminaries.

As for charisma? Puhleeeeze. That’s actually a hallmark of a “wolf in sheep’s clothing”. The better one’s charisma, the more you ought to be on the lookout for BS. Fact is, the most evil people in your church–the child molesters, the serial adulterers, the fraudsters–don’t “look” evil. In fact, they are often the most likeable people in your church.

Sadly, as we are learning, Dr. Iain Campbell was a phony.

The purpose of his life, in retrospect, is a warning to YOU.

Class dismissed.

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