The sins of some people are conspicuous. The sins of others appear later—Rev Iain Campbell being an example.
Jeff Crippen ♦ 4th May 2017 ♦ 21 Comments
UPDATE Sept 2021: Barbara Roberts has come to believe that Jeff Crippen does not practise what he preaches. He vilely persecuted an abuse victim and spiritually abused many other people in the Tillamook congregation. Go here to read the evidence. Jeff has not gone to the people that he spiritually and emotionally abused. He has not apologised to them, let alone asked for their forgiveness.
UPDATE added 1st Oct 2017:
The revelation of IDC’s [Iain D Campbell’s] duplicity.
According to a number of media sources, it was IDC’s wife, Anne, who found the incriminating emails on his computer and confronted him. That is not true. Actually, the husband of one of his women confronted him in early January 2017. Here is a portion of the email exchange between IDC and the woman’s husband.
— Blindsided: The True Story of the Circumstances Surrounding the Death of Iain Campbell, The Wartburg Watch.
That article by The Wartburg Watch is well worth reading.
Do not be hasty in the laying on of hands, nor take part in the sins of others; keep yourself pure. … The sins of some people are conspicuous, going before them to judgment, but the sins of others appear later. (1 Timothy 5:22, 24)
One very common and widespread practice that is opening the doors wide to evil concerns the manner in which church officers (pastors, elders, deacons) are appointed. This error also applies to the procedures used in denominational assemblies to appoint committee members and chairs. What is the error? It is simply this—members vote for (or against) candidates who they really do not know. Let us give you some examples.
This first example is from Jeff’s experience in his current church:– When our church was a member of ARBCA, we would be asked at each annual general assembly to vote on certain issues and on certain candidates. We voted on whether or not to accept an applicant church into the association. We voted on men who were nominated for various committees, including the administrative council which more or less “ruled” the association affairs. We voted on nominees to the theology committee, the membership committee, and so on.
But we had no way of truly knowing much of anything about the nominees. So, boom! Rubber stamp.
The same thing happens in local churches when someone is nominated as an elder or as a pastor. How much do the members really know about these candidates? Very little actually. And add to the complexity of the thing by considering the deviousness and deception of the devil’s plants who creep in among us and you have a real formula for handing over the keys of the church to evil.
And that seems to be exactly what is happening in so many churches today.
A pastor whose sins appeared later — Rev Iain Campbell
A pastor’s wife recently told Jeff, “the members of the church have NO idea what their pastor is really like, and they wouldn’t believe me if I told them.” We should not be surprised that evil men are so easily able to seize power and control in our churches when we are so careless about following the Lord’s instruction in these matters.
The sins of some people are conspicuous, going before them to judgment, but the sins of others appear later. (1 Timothy 5:24)
And it is the second category that is the real problem. The ones whose sin only becomes evident “later.” An example of this second category is the Rev Iain Campbell. He took his own life shortly after his wife confronted him about the emails in his computer trash files which showed he’d been having affairs with several women in his congregation. (see here)
Rev David Robertson, who like Iain Campbell was a former Free Church moderator, wrote in his blog post after Iain’s death: “I don’t know what happened and I don’t want to know . . . God will judge.” (Only a secondary source documents that now, but Barb read the post by Robertson when it was on his own blog and she attempted to comment there.)
Isn’t that typical of what we hear from so many leaders when we make allegations about leaders’ misconduct — “I don’t want to know what happened.” This equates to: “Go away, scram you pestering victims and whistleblowers!”
But thankfully the Presbytery which oversees the church Campbell pastored has investigated the allegations made by Campbell’s wife. This is the result:
The Western Isles Presbytery has completed a thorough investigation into serious allegations about the conduct of the late Rev. Dr Iain D Campbell prior to his death. The Presbytery has now sadly concluded that elements of Dr Campbell’s moral conduct were contrary to, and censurable by, the Word of God (Bible), and seriously inconsistent with that expected of a Christian minister. (source)
Some of you may not know that Iain Campbell had been an internationally respected and admired leader in Reformed & Presbyterian circles. Wonderful tributes were written about him after his suicide. See for example here. [This link is broken and there is no replacement.] Reformation21 and Christian Focus scrubbed their tributes some time after the allegations became public. But the tribute by Professor Donald Macleod is still online here. Here’s a quote from it:
Iain D. Campbell was a brilliant communicator, in constant demand as a lecturer and conference-speaker. He had a quite extraordinary fluency of speech, but the fluency was disciplined by clarity, precision and careful arrangement. The delivery was effortless, though often passionate, the mastery of the subject complete, and while there was no trace of arrogance he spoke with the Bible-derived authority of a true preacher. … Iain D was a rare combination: an academic and a natural preacher…
…within hours of his death an American pastor was writing, ‘I never met or heard Dr Campbell in the flesh, but I knew him from sermon audios, and the sermons I heard told me all that I needed to know of the man. The reason for his high reputation was obvious. He was a man of transparent piety, for whom the Bible and the God of the Bible was a Being with whom he was familiar. The Bible irradiated everything he said…’
Yet Campbell been practising serious immorality for quite some time. The Times UK reported that the “incriminating emails on his computer appear to have exposed a series of affairs dating back to the 1990s.” UPDATE 1st Oct 2017— that report was incorrect. See the update at the top of this post.
The Presbytery of the Western Isles in the Free Church of Scotland is to be congratulated for doing a good investigation and announcing their result. In our experience, many church bodies that investigate allegations of heinous sin are not coming to the right decisions and are not willing to announce their decisions in public like this.
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Iain Murray or Iain Campbell? I’m confused. You mention both.
Jeff has changed “Murray” to “Campbell”. He did this not long after the post went live.
Totally agree. I had a friend whose husband was nominated (and elected) for a leadership position in her church. She told me several times that she was unsure he was even a believer. I think many assume that if a person attends church and seems like a nice guy, he is a Christian — and to question his salvation is to be “negative and judgmental.”
I often think of what Morpheus said in the movie, “The Matrix”:
Many churches / Christians don’t want to hear or see. They want to wake up in their beds and keep believing whatever they want to believe. Those of us who have encountered abuse have our eyes opened and we begin to learn how deep the rabbit-hole goes. There is no turning back.
As a pastor who has experienced this, Jeff, what steps do you recommend for a church body to “know” someone. This Iain person was lying and used a facade for decades. What can a person do to “know” a person’s heart? I agree that the accolades he received after his sin was exposed were ridiculously naive and out of place. What should have been done to prevent this? Thanks!
Debby, what you’ve asked is something all of us who’ve been through the proverbial wringer want and need to know. I was WRONGLY taught to blindly trust everyone and to never question their motives, to fill in the blanks for their lies (when what they SAID didn’t line up with their actions, I was conditioned to assume that I had misunderstood and that it was MY fault……gee, I wonder how I ended up married to a psychopath—it’s a MYSTERY alright!) and to look into my heart and make sure that I was perfect. THIS IS WRONG, DANGEROUS AND ANTI-BIBLICAL and sadly it’s what most Christian communities teach their congregations. We in our ignorance have created a perfect environment for psychopaths, child molesters and all kinds of spiritual monsters to rape and pillage—and then they expect us to turn around and forgive them and allow them back in so they can continue their abuse. It’s why SO MANY OF US HAVE LEFT THE CHURCH.
The best list I can find is in an interview with Martha Stout, author of The Sociopath Next Door.
An interview with Martha Stout [Internet Archive link]
[Barb, as one of the ACFJ admins, has checked this linked article and the majority of she would heartily agree with. She only has two minor concerns about the article, which she will give in a comment in reply to RBE.]
Hi RBE, thanks for giving us a link to that interview with Martha Stout. You had copied and pasted into your comment almost the whole interview with Martha Stout, but I removed that part of your comment in the interests of space. Our readers might not read a comment that is very long!
I’ve read the interview with Martha Stout that you gave us the link to. It’s good. I only had two minor concerns.
1) Martha Stout appears to disparage the whole idea of a ‘holy war’ — that is probably because she isn’t a Christian and doesn’t understand the Biblical narratives and Biblical precepts which support the doctrine of a holy war. The concept of ‘holy war’ is a big doctrinal discussion which we don’t really want to get into on this blog… But we think Stout doesn’t have enough understanding of the doctrine of ‘holy war,’ so we would caution readers to take what she says there with a pinch of salt.
2) Martha Stout ends her interview by saying “Living well is the best revenge.” That’s a reasonable philosophy for a non-Christian to have. I assume Stout defines ‘living well’ as living in such as way as to respect other people’s rights and dignity, doing one’s best to not harm others, the golden rule, etc.
But Christians have a certainty which comes with our faith — that God will take vengeance on the wicked. As Christians, we can leave vengeance to God. As Christians, we ‘live well’ in grateful obedience to our Lord who has forgiven us our sins and cleansed us from all unrighteousness. As Christians we do not live well in order to get revenge on the wicked who have abused us.
Good to see an article on this…just fyi, the post in more than one place mentions the name “Iain D. Murray” and I think you meant to say Iain D. Campbell. Oh, all those Scottish names…. 🙂
Jeff has changed “Murray” to “Campbell”. He did this not long after the post went live.
I notice that the comments from Donald Mcleod were all about Campbell’s surface- his articulate speech, clear thinking, blah blah blah. All about glorifying Campbell, not glorifying God. Nor pointing out that Campbell’s behavior, which represented his true character, did NOT glorify God, honor his marital vows, nor live up to the standard of care that Campbell should have shown his parishioners, including the women he was involved with adulterously. And I’m sure many will heap scorn on Campbell’s wife FOR TELLING THE TRUTH. .It is no wonder the organized churches are in such trouble and that so many are unchurched.
The church which Iain Campbell was pastor of at the time he suicided is on an island that is part of Scotland. After Campbell’s wife reported the allegations about Iain to the church authorities, I understand that she left the island because of what some on the island were saying to or about her — this was reported by in some mainstream media articles.
But the wonderful thing is the Presbytery HAS taken her allegations seriously, investigated the allegations, and found that Iaian’s conduct WAS seriously immoral. So if Iain’s wife did suffer unfair stigmatization when she made the allegations, she has now been vindicated by the Presbytery’s announcement. And one would hope that any people who may have stigmatized her are now apologizing to her.
It is good that the Presbytery announces this behavior! Agreed! Your article is poignant and true. I’ve seen it. People allowed in leadership positions that never should be. Hasty appointments to fill a position. And the aftermath is not good. Such devastation for the wife. My heart hurts for her. May all here offer prayer for her needs and that God will carry her through this atrocity. It’s just so evil. Thank you for posting this blog. It’s been encouraging and so helpful.
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And he was a COWARD to the end; taking his own life, unwilling to stand for the righteous judgement he deserved.
How devastating for his wife. May God’s healing of her spirit be full and complete.
The ironic thing is that killing himself just sends him to God’s Judgement all the faster. Did he never genuinely believe in Judgement Day at all? (Also possible that he sincerely believes he did nothing wrong in the eyes of God, but with all the praise of his eloquence with how he hid for so long…I suspect it’s more likely he wasn’t a believer. This is a suspicion, though, not an accusation or any such thing, and we’ll find out eventually.)
I have no problem whatsoever in coming to the conclusion that this so-called pastor was indeed, NOT a Christian. And I believe that to be a righteous judgement. It is entirely impossible for the Spirit of Christ to indwell an unrepentant person. God does not dwell within evil. A true Christian becomes a New Creature in Christ by the work of the Holy Spirit. That person cannot remain unchanged; God says so in His promise to finish the work He started — that of Salvation and Justification. His indwelling Spirit is a gift to those that are His: by Grace alone, by Faith alone, by Christ alone.
I agree that there’s sufficient cause to conclude he wasn’t a believer. I personally just prefer being reluctant to make such a judgement, since it’s very possible for someone to be so crushed and molded that they sincerely think wickedness is holiness, and holiness is wickedness.
Such mistaken belief does not nullify the evilness or wrong of a person’s actions; it just means that there’s someone else also culpable for having led the person astray (which means there are probably others that they have led astray).
It’s easier and less stressful for me to keep an eye out for a potential “someone else” who may not exist than to assume they don’t. I realize I’m not precisely normal in that. 🙂
I suppose there is (theoretically) the possibility that Iain Campbell repented just before he took his life. But sanctified common sense would suggest that if such a person truly repented and sought and was granted mercy from Christ, that person would then probably change their mind and choose not go ahead with their suicide.
Let’s imagine a man who’d been committing the heinous sins that Campbell had been committing and then he’d truly repented and been granted divine forgiveness. I believe that this man would straight away realise that the best way to make reparation to all the folks he’d betrayed would be to stay alive and fully confess all his sins so his wife would be vindicated and all the people in Christendom who’d admired him would become more wise about the tactics of wolves in sheep’s clothing.
Even if Campbell repented, that’s not relevant to how we should respond to the fruits he displayed. […]
Hi Misti, I redacted some of your comment. A pastor and eminent teacher (like Iain Campbell was) knows full well what the Bible says about adultery. Someone like him cannot have been ‘sincerely deluded’ — he knew full well he was highhandedly disobeying God’s commandments. He knew he was sinning outrageously. He hid the emails from the women he had adultery with by putting them in his Trash folder on his computer. He was hiding the evidence of his sins.
Nope. Not sincerely deluded. No way. He knew he was sinning in rank disobedience to God’s word.
[I have read that] committing suicide is a common anomaly in psychopaths if they are being discovered or may come to serious ruin or are going to be put to death via the death penalty. It’s a form of control for them almost like, “Well, if you think you can take ME–GOD down–you’re SADLY mistaken!” They refuse to let others have control of any aspect of their lives including their death. (Yet ANOTHER Sunday School Class teaching that I missed. There should really be a booklet available for those of us who missed SO MANY valuable lessons!)
Much more sadly, many of us forced to live in the shadow of [wicked people] commit suicide for far DIFFERENT reasons — they make us feel absolutely worthless, that our lives are meaningless, and that the world wouldn’t even notice if we were gone. …
It is indeed rare that justice is done, as in this case. Usually the woman / women the pastor was involved with get(s) blamed. The pastor somehow was seduced against his will and isn’t really responsible for what he did.
A friend told me about a particularly bad case which happened in a church in my area that she attended at that time: The married pastor had had an affair with a woman in his congregation, which was eventually exposed. In this case, however, it was the woman the pastor had had an adulterous relationship with who then committed suicide. This woman was most certainly ganged up on. I wouldn’t even be surprised if the pastor and / or the other church members pressured her into committing suicide (or maybe she was even “suicided”). Now that the “culprit” is gone and the image of the pastor and the church is restored, business goes on as usual.
So if your pastor is after you, watch out! I had this happen to me in one church. No, I didn’t have an affair with this (married) pastor, but I was even blamed for the pastor just being after me and eventually bullied out. This man was a womanizer, as I could tell by his demeanor, and I heard that he was (unsurprisingly) also after other women. This was years ago, and he is still pastor, as is the other one mentioned above. Somehow churches seem to consider it sufficient to just get rid of any woman their pastor might be tempted by and pretend he is a virtuous man.