Welcome to another stimulating issue of the Global Journal!
As noted in our previous number, your Editor will be using (or misusing) his Introduction to touch on contemporary issues of potential interest to the Patrick Henry academic community–and doubtless also to the evangelical community at large.
So: a cautionary tale. A U.K. doctoral candidate in Christian education faxed me recently, asking me to verify his student status. The data were to be sent to a Detective Sgt of the West Yorkshire Police! I of course immediately phoned the student to find out what possible reason there could be to do this. He told me that he was comparing administrative policies in Anglican and Roman Catholic schools in the area and had given questionnaires to Principals of several of the schools; then, out of courtesy, he sent a letter to the Roman Catholic director of schools for the diocese, one Eileen Fitzpatrick, who thereupon contacted the local police. Our student was then interrogated by one Detective Sgt Damien Carr, accompanied (they always are) by a second officer, in this case Detective Gareth Cope; these gentlemen were from the Child Abuse Division. When the student produced proof of his doctoral registration, it was suggested that he may have made up (i.e., forged) the document himself! Needless to say, the student had never been involved in any questionable activity whatsoever, much less any activity involving school children, nor had he ever known anyone who was so involved.
After listening to this truly appalling story, I phoned (1) Ms Fitzpatrick, (2) her boss, Monsignor Kieran Heskin, moderator of the curia, (3) Carr’s boss, a detective inspector, and (4) the solicitor for the diocese. Every one of these people was uncooperative, insolent, and unrepentant. Fitzpatrick would hardly let me get in a word edgewise. Heskin categorically refused to discuss the matter and referred me to his solicitor. So I ended up sending a letter to Carr, with copies to all parties–including the Bishop of Leeds and the Director of Liberty, the major general civil liberties organisation in England–in which I said:
“We are providing this information as a courtesy. As I made clear to your superior by phone, we find it remarkable that the police should be involved in accreditation matters and we see this as having a potential chilling effect on civil liberties and educational research. You have neither probable cause nor even a ground of reasonable suspicion to justify such an intrusion. Moreover, when you personally suggested to Mr Brooke that the document he showed you might have been created (i.e., forged) by him, you went entirely beyond the province of proper police work and common decency. You in fact moved into the realm of legal defamation. Hopefully such conduct is not common in the police departments of this country.”
Lessons for research students? Here are three: (1) Choose your subject very carefully; some subjects automatically raise spectres. (2) Choose your geographical area very carefully; some locations are just to the right of Khomeni’s Iran when it comes to issues of academic freedom. (3) Choose the churches you research very carefully; some are more neurotic than others.
On the latter point: the underlying reason for all this fuss is, of course, the fact that the Roman Catholic Church is always having to deal with questionable activities on the part of their own, supposedly celibate, clergy. In England, this has involved, more than once, allegations and actual instances of child molestation. Now the Church is so paranoiac that it asks the police to vet virtually anyone who wishes to step inside a Catholic school–even if, apparently, the research to be done would entail no direct contact with the school children themselves. We must agree with Luther that enforced clerical celibacy is contrary to Scripture; and we also agree with studies such as the 18th century classic (unfortunately only in French) by Jacques Gaudin, Les inconvéniens du célibat des prêtres, prouvés par des recherches historiques (Geneva, Switzerland, 1781), which demonstrates beyond all question that the unnatural character of the priestly lifestyle in the Roman Church can and does lead to perversions of conduct.
But how sad that serious academic research can be impeded, as in the present case, in such an atmosphere of suspicion, closedmindness, and immaturity . . .
Enough of the negative! In the previous issue of the Global Journal we promised you several stimulating essays, and here they are:
Ben M. Carter, who contributed a valuable article on “Communication As General Revelation” to our very first issue, now returns with a particularly relevant essay dealing with New Ageism and the soul. Surely (if you are doing any serious witness to unbelievers) you have been confronted by New Agers and by Postmodernists. Carter’s essay is just what the doctor ordered to give you needed background on such thinking.
An old Encyclopedia Britannica advertisement asked the question: “How long is it since your mind has been stretched by a new idea?” We at the Global Journal believe that our readers should be challenged. Two interlocking articles on “The Logic of True Narratives” and “Biblical History As True Narrative Representation” offer a striking hermeneutic theory directly applicable to the issues of biblical inspiration, authority, and inerrancy. The authors are Dr. Steven Collins of Albuquerque, New Mexico, and John W. Oller, Jr., of the University of Southwestern Louisiana at Lafayette.
And, finally, your editor takes apart Edinburgh theologian Duncan Forrester’s “Christian Justice and Public Policy”, whilst associate editor Dr Edward Martin is considerably kinder in reviewing Millard Erickson’s “God the Father Almighty”.
Good (and productive) reading!
— Dr. John Warwick Montgomery