I wish I could say I was surprised at this latest set of allegations about John Smyth. (HT: Brent Detwiler)
To me, the larger issue here is not so much John, who is mostly a non-factor today, but rather his son P.J.
While P.J. cannot be held guilty for the sins of his father, he does owe the larger Body an accounting of what he knew, when he knew it, and what his role–if any–was in these “camps”.
To date, his denial–and clarification–has raised more questions than answers.
The nature of the allegations against his father are damning; if one percent of those are true, then he deserves to be hanged, drawn and quartered. If the allegations are true, then John Smyth is a wolf in sheep’s clothing.
But P.J. has some things for which he needs to answer, as they are pertinent not only to John’s victims, but also the operations at Covenant Life Church.
(a) What was P.J.’s role in his father’s camps?
(b) To what extent was he aware of the abuses?
(c) Which abuses did he personally witness?
(d) Did he participate in any abuses?
(e) If so, at what age was he involved?
(f) If he was involved in abuses, did he ever break off his involvement?
(g) If the answer to (f) is yes, when?
(h) How many allegations of abuse came his way?
(i) What did he do with those allegations?
The answers to these questions are important, because the men, women, and children of Covenant Life Church have a right to know what kind of man is leading them. Does he consent to such abuses? What would he do TODAY if an allegation of abuse came his way? What culture does he foster among his fellow elders and deacons and small group leaders regarding such conduct?
As for you, P.J.:
I don’t give a crap about your theology.
I don’t give a crap how many books you have published.
I don’t give a crap how many butts you get in the pews on Sunday.
I don’t give a crap how many conferences at which you get invited to speak.
That you subscribe to a conservative theology makes it all the more incumbent that you provide substantive, honest answers about your past. This is because, in that past, you were an integral part of what was ostensibly a Christian ministry.
Your father’s sins are not your sins; you are, however, responsible for what YOU did.
And you have not been forthcoming about your roles.
I’ve said it before: what you saw and did as a child–or even as a teen–is one thing: I do not hold children and teens to the same level of responsibility that I would hold an adult.
But what you have seen and done in adulthood, that is something for which you owe the Body an answer.