Europe: Home | Religion

The Atonement And The New York Times


The church’s reaction has been to paint Smyth like a one-off single incident, but it’s not,” said Giles Fraser, a priest and journalist, who recently wrote a column about the beatings he endured at boarding school.

“It’s about a mind-set that allows this to happen. This sort of muscular Christianity enforced by theology, education and the cane that dominated the public education system and produced your caricature Englishman — strong, emotionally incapable in some ways, reserved and superior,” he added.

“I think the idea that this is just about Smyth is in itself a cover-up,” Mr. Fraser said, “and it’s because the church is desperate for people not to say how all of this grows out of theology.”

The theology made Smyth do it, Fr. Fraser would have us believe. As an opinion columnist (not a journalist) with the Guardian, Fr. Fraser is free to offer his dismissive views on conservative Evangelicalism. Yet the New York Times makes the category error of not identifying these views as coming from a theological school of thought at odds with the worldview held by those affiliated with the Iwerne camps.

New Zealand commentator, the Rev. Peter Carrell argues the claim put forward by Fraser and accepted as true by the New York Times that “Smyth represents an unchecked development in evangelical theology” is untrue.

The article does not “bring forth one further example of a Smyth at work within evangelicalism. Not one. Let alone, say, 100 caners or even 1 published author boldly declaring caning as the logical outcome of Romans and Galatians on justification by faith. Now, that would be a sign of evangelical perversity. Rather, Fraser links Smyth to the general theme of British public schools, that caning was essential to discipline and to ensuring that young men grew up morally upright. Reputable newspapers and popular columnists ought to do more work than this lazy elision from one rogue, viciously obsessive evangelical to a whole system of education as a sign of evangelicalism's nasty ills.

Customize This