“If you wear a mask for too long, there will come a time when you cannot remove it without removing your face.” ― Matshona Dhliwayo link
On March 10, 2017, we posted Calvinist Leader Dr Iain Campbell Dies By Suicide Amidst Allegations of Affairs and an Out of Wedlock Child. His Wife Gets Blamed! Please look carefully at the title. By the time I sat down to write that post, I had become concerned that Anne Campbell, the wife of Iain Campbell, was being made the culprit in this situation. Sadly, it made sense to me. I have seen this all too often in celebrity Reformed circles. (Yes, I know it is in other groups as well.)
- "It cannot be this man of God who did this."
- "It must be an attack of Satan."
- "I bet his wife drove him to it."
The more I read the accounts of his death, as well as the history of his life, the more I became convinced that Anne was being cruelly targeted and that it was Iain D Campbell (hereafter known as IDC) who was fully to blame for his actions.
Over the last number of months, since the writing our initial posts on the matter, TWW has been receiving emails from those who knew about this particular situation. Most all of them confirmed that we were correct in our concerns and that there was much, much more to be explored. These communications have come from concerned individuals who are acutely aware of the details involved in the situation. A couple of thoughtful individuals have educated us on a number of concerns within the Presbytery, including providing us with evidence and descriptions of other worrisome occurrences. We shall share some of these in future posts. Deb and I are so grateful for the trust these folks have placed in us. Our information comes from impeccable sources, and their identities will be held in strict confidence. We stand by the information we post here.
We will be writing more on this situation next week and in the future. We believe this is a story that must be followed up by any theologian who takes the ministry of God and the study and exposition of theology seriously. In fact, we think this has the makings of book.
The Isle of Lewis in Scotland is where IDC pastored and wrote.
This story takes place on the Isle of Lewis. This 2014 article Isle of Lewis: Language and life inside the Outer Hebrides provides an overview of life in this beautiful area of Scotland.
The unspoiled beaches stretch into the distance and its twisting roads lead you through endless miles of heathland and mountains. With a population of about 20,000, the island is close-knit and daily life is very much a shared experience.
Protestant faith is a major force here. The Sabbath is widely observed and the main town of Stornoway is eerily quiet on Sundays.
…Breaking the silence is a distant echo from the Free Church of Scotland.A distinct melodic drone provides the soundtrack to the empty streets and creaking boats in the harbor. The congregation are singing psalms in Gaelic.
…Sunday worship remains a formal occasion in the Free Church in Stornoway. Women heartily sing wearing dresses and hats; the men are all in ties and jackets.
The solid Presbyterian faith of the Free Church of Scotland (sometimes called the Wee Free) is found in Lewis.
It is important that the reader understand the absolute devotion to the Reformed tradition in this area. Many American pastors trek to Scotland to attend Edinburgh Theological Seminary. For many, this area of Scotland is thought of as ground zero in the Reformed world.
Forgive my use of Wikipedia, but it gives a concise description of the Free Church of Scotland.
Historically it comprised that part of the original Free Church of Scotland that remained outside of the union with the United Presbyterian Church of Scotland in 1900. It remains a distinct Presbyterian denomination in Scotland.
The Free Church was and still is sometimes colloquially known by the term The Wee Frees, even though, in 21st century Scotland, it is the largest Presbyterian denomination after the national church. Since this term was originally used in comparing the Free Church with the United Free Church (which is now a much smaller denomination), the Free Church of Scotland now deprecates the use of the term.
…The church maintains its strong commitment to the Westminster Confession and Reformed Theology. Its polity is Presbyterian. A complete psalter in modern English was published in 2003. Its offices and theological college remain on The Mound, Edinburgh, although the denomination no longer holds the original Free Church College buildings.
The Free Church continues to be evangelical in character, presenting its understanding of the Christian message, namely that Jesus Christ is sole Lord and Saviour.
IDC was an internationally well known theologian and pastor.
It is important to note that IDC was roundly revered by theologians and pastors in America and well as the rest of the world. You may not have heard of him but, if you attend a Reformed church, I bet your pastor knows who he was. Once again, I use a concise synopsis from Wikipedia that shows these international ties. Note that, in spite of his fame in theological circles, he remained as pastor in Lewis.
Campbell attended the Nicolson Institute, a school on Lewis, before studying at the University of Glasgow, where he graduated with First Class Honours in Arts in 1985. He then pursued theological studies at the Free Church College and the University of London, again graduating with First Class Honours as a Bachelor of Divinity.
He studied for a PhD at the University of Edinburgh and was awarded his doctorate in 2001. A version of his thesis, on George Adam Smith, was subsequently published in book form.
His first pastoral position was at Snizort Free Church on Skye, which he commenced in 1988. In 1995, he moved to the Free Church at Back on the Isle of Lewis. Finally, in 2009, he became minister of Point Free Church, also on Lewis.
In 2012, he served as moderator of the General Assembly of the Free Church of Scotland.
Campbell wrote about 17 books on topics related to Christianity, including Bible studies and doctrinal teaching, mostly published through Christian Focus Publications and Day One Publications. He also contributed to Tabletalk magazine published by Ligonier Ministries.
At the time of his death, in addition to his ministerial role, he was vice-chairman of the board of Edinburgh Theological Seminary, editor of The Record, the monthly magazine of the Free Church of Scotland, and an associate editor of Foundations, a theological journal published by Affinity. He was also an Adjunct Professor of Church History at Westminster Theological Seminary, helping to deliver their London-based courses.
In our original post, we printed excerpts from an obituary found in We Love Stornoway (link is no longer active.) A number of obituaries were taken down as more and more evidence of IDC's double life became known. This obituary is important. It points out that IDC was adamant about staying with his church in Stornoway on the Isle of Lewis, even though he would have been welcome at seminaries and universities all over the world. Read the highlighted section very carefully. I believe this is a clue as we work to unravel this disturbing story.
He could have adorned pulpits in the largest cities in the world,’ writes Dr. Geoff Thomas of Aberystwyth, ‘or become a professor in an American seminary, but he valued the community which nourished and nurtured him, and he shared their values.’ To that community (Isle of Lewis in Scotland) he dedicated his life, and from it he drew the strength that supported his wider ministry.
…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.
…But he was also a master of the written word, as his many publications show, and the Free Church recognised this by appointing him Editor of its magazine, the Record, not only once, but twice. He was still serving in this capacity at the time of his death,
…Iain D would have risen to eminence in any profession (and once toyed with the idea of becoming an SNP candidate for the Scottish Parliament), but he chose the Christian ministry, and in that chosen field he became a giant.
The suicide of IDC
IDC died on January 28, 2017 by suicide. He was just 53 years old. It was widely reported that this happened after he was confronted by his wife, Anne Campbell, about emails found on his computer. This report was wrong, and this post will reveal what really happened. It was discoverd that IDC had been carrying on a number of affairs over decades.
Why I became concerned for Anne Campbell, the devoted wife of IDC.
This story suddenly grew in importance to me when I read media accounts that seemed to disparage Anne Campbell. Bruce Gerenscer wrote an insightful post in May 2017 entitled Where the Calvinistic Rubber Meets the Road: Is Dr. Ian Campbell in Hell? Although Bruce and I disagree on matters of faith, I have found him to be a defender of those who have been abused and maligned. As usual, he picked up on the same concerns I had regarding Anne. How anyone could blame her for her husband's duplicity is beyond him and me.
The following is from our original post.
"This is a disturbing part of the story. Anne, a victim in this tragedy is being snubbed by her church. According to the Scottish Sun:"
Anne Campbell, 54, was blamed by locals over the death of Wee Free (ed. Nickname of church) husband Iain, 53, on Lewis.
The churchman’s widow left after a whispering campaign blamed her for airing claims that he was unfaithful to her.
She took leave from her teaching job to escape mounting disapproval over the damage to Reverend Iain Campbell’s reputation.
…A source close to the couple in Stornoway said: “She’s not had much sympathy since it came out.
“Some people bizarrely feel she is in some way to blame for her husband’s behaviour as he was very unhappy.
“The tragedy has taken its toll on her work life — she had to leave.
“Her children are still here on the island but she had to leave with everything that was going on.” The insider said Anne left the Western Isles to stay with friends near Inverness after members of the church — known as the Wee Frees — snubbed her over the scandal.
‘Anne is wanting all this to go in front of a church court and for them to throw them out of the church for adultery.‘It will cause havoc with their marriages and the entire Free Church.
‘Even though she’s a widow people are saying Iain had a difficult home life and there’s a lot of anger towards her.’
I believe the obituary that I quoted from in my original post, which appeared in We Love Stornoway (link no longer active), may have been written by Don MacLeod. Since the link has been removed, I cannot be sure and I am willing to be corrected. However, I had copied this from the end of that obituary. We will be discussing MacLeod in a coming post but suffice to say, he was, and is, an ardent defender of IDC, even in light of the revelations. Please read this carefully. I feel that the highlighted area to be off-putting. From my vantage point, it might seem he is telling IDC's immediate family to keep quiet about the serious details in this situation.
"Yet, for all the consummate ease with which he presented himself in public, he was a very private man who seldom shared his feelings, and he exuded such an aura of calm competence that none of us thought to ask, ‘Are you OK?’
In the meantime, we have a duty of care to Iain’s wife, Anne; to his mother, Lily; to his sons, Iain and Stephen; to his daughter Emily; and to his sisters, Margaret and Alma. He was their hero. May they do him proud."
Is it the goal of some in the Presbytery to remember IDC as a hero of the faith?
It is thought, by some, that there are those in the Presbytery who wish to brush the circumstances surrounding the double life of IDC under the carpet. In order to do this, they must attempt to discredit the extent of his duplicity. TWW believes, after reading documents, that Anne Campbell may be made the scapegoat for her husband's imbroglios. We sincerely hope we are wrong.
The double life of IDC
IDC was involved in immoral behavior for most of his adult life, and he successfully managed to conceal it. Here is an example from an email in 2011. I removed the name of the individual to whom this was sent. There are many more where this came from. It is my understanding that the Presbytery has a number of these emails in their possession due to their investigation of the matter.
The revelation of IDC'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.
(I am writing in the initial text from IDC to the husband because names of the involved parties are mentioned.)
From IDC 13 Jan 22:57
(Name of husband) I can't begin to tell you of the shame that I feel
with (Name of husband's wife) again. It goes without saying that I shall be considering my position as a minister very carefully.
During and after this exchange, IDC traveled from Lewis to Yorkshire and then to London to carry out several preaching engagements. However, in spite of being in trouble with the one husband, he spent a day with a second woman from Lewis who met with him secretly in Glasgow. He spent the day with her on Friday, January 13.
On January 16 he returned home. There he confessed to Anne, his wife, what had happened with the husband who had confronted him. Over the course of the week, he began to reveal the incredible details of his immoral lifestyle. He preached on the evening of Wednesday, January 18, in spite of his many sordid revelations which had caused tremendous turmoil for his wife.
Stop for a minute and think about it. How can a man, who reportedly loves the Gospel and serves the church, be chastised by a husband for one affair and then run immediately into the arms of another woman while continuing his preaching engagements? How? Then, after confessing to his family, obviously causing them great distress, he has no trouble preaching a sermon? Where is the shame? Even many pagans would be uncomfortable in this situation. Something is missing here.
On Friday, January 20, IDC's grown children met with him, and he confessed the details of his affairs. He then hand wrote details of his lifestyle as well as leaving a substantial additional confession on his computer. The family worked hard to support him, planning to stick by him. However, during this entire time, the only issue which seemed to concern him was his reputation. He wished to continue on with his job of being a pastor and a much sought after theologian and speaker. He told his family that he did not wish to confess to his church, apparently hoping to keep it a secret. Sadly, he reportedly told his wife that he was not sorry for the pain he had caused her and did not wish to work to save their marriage. She reportedly desperately tried to work with all that was being thrown at her in spite of being devastated.
Two days later, on Sunday, January 22, he pretended to collapse. At the time, the family thought it was real. There was no overdose or any medical problems as reported by the media. While at the hospital, he strangled himself with a ligature in the bathroom. Five days later, he was declared brain dead.
More disturbing revelations in the aftermath
In 2010, an odd incident occurred. IDC lost his library/office in a consuming fire. This included his entire life's work as well as thousands of books. Some say that they believe it was a warning from God — a warning that he did not heed. After it was rebuilt and completely refurnished, IDC became more deeply engaged in sin, with his library/office becoming the site for his immorality. Following his death, the family found much evidence of this. In the library, as well as the family home, as well as in other locations, he had sex with many women. He took photographs and videos of himself, which he exchanged with at least one woman. He spent a great deal of his time grooming many women by email, Facebook, text and Facebook private message exchange.
IDC's diaries revealed his dark side, too. His relationships with the three women disciplined by the church were disturbing. His behavior with them was high risk, involving direct sexual contact as well as sexting and live sex acts using IT equipment. He was also in the process of grooming several other women and this is evidenced by his social media. Some of his activities included having sex in the back of his car in daylight and in some high risk locations. Perhaps, due to his *above reproach* reputation, he thought he was invincible and above the law.
There is evidence that this was a lifelong pattern, which eventually escalated out of control and led his death by his own hand. There is also some speculation that some people knew of his activities and protected him. I wonder if they thought they were protecting the church? As time has progressed, some believe that IDC may have actually enjoyed telling his wife about the details of his sordid sexual adventures. He reportedly revealed gross and intimate details. His wife, desperate to help him at the time, is reported to have endured all of this. Can you imagine being left to hold these memories? Then, immediately after learning all of these sickening details and coping with his suicide, she was bombarded by the media.
I want to jump in here and make something clear. There is no doubt that IDC groomed a large number of women for his immoral purposes. It was found he was grooming several more at the time of his death. Those women were true victims of clergy abuse. However, there were three women who evidently pursued him directly. It is my understanding that it was only those women who were tried and eventually excommunicated from the church.
Sadly, in some of his communications discovered after his death, it was found that he spoke poorly of members of his congregation and his elders. He abused their time, money and property. He used them. The church as well as his family, were his respectable cover for his activities. He worked hard to ensure that everyone thought Anne and his family were the center of his universe, with his congregation close behind.
If there was anyone who knew what was going on and covered it up, he/she needs to hear this. In the United States, we call a person who helps a criminal to pursue his crime an *accessory.* That person can receive as much jail time as the one who commits a crime. If anyone in the church knew that IDC was having multiple liaisons and helped cover it up, or said nothing, they are guilty of a terrible sin, and they need to repent of it. They helped a sick, perverted man continue to wreak havoc in the lives of many.
Where does this leave us?
- IDC had a severe personality disorder which manifested itself in serious sexual perversion. In other words, he was seriously mentally disturbed.
- He was a bright man and was able to successfully hide his disorder from those around him.
- He didn't love anyone. He viewed people, particularly women, as a means to an end.
- He was not a pastor. He used his position to feed his compulsions.
- He was a master manipulator. I am sure that there are those today who continue to think he was a wonderful man. Sadly, he is still manipulating them, and they are letting him do so.
- We believe he stayed in Lewis because he felt safe to pursue his immoral behavior in an area where he was known and trusted.
- Did he believe the Gospel? How does a theologian and pastor who knows the Scriptures continue in such despicable behavior over decades?
I believe IDC's many writings may provide clues to and insight into his double life. I want to discuss this more on Monday when I will look at some of the obituaries and subsequent posts on the life of Iain Campbell by his admirers. I am concerned that there are those who wish to portray an IDC who never really existed.
Anne Campbell and her family
My heart goes out to Anne Campbell. Imagine having your life turned upside down when you found out the man you married was not the good husband, father and pastor you thought he was. I hope that the Christian men and women of Anne's church, as well as the Presbytery, are supporting her during this unimaginably difficult time. I seriously cannot imagine anyone who would attempt to blame her for the actions of a husband who was profoundly disturbed.
Sometimes it is difficult to know what to say. If Anne Campbell reads this, I want her to know that Deb and I care deeply about her and her family. What happened to her should never have happened. I only wish I lived close by. I would learn how to make a great clootie dumpling and serve it with a cuppa and a hug. (I hope I got that right!)
Will everyone reading this take a moment to pray for Anne and her family. Then join with me and tell others that #IStandwithAnne.
The Findings of the Western Isle Presbytery
At Edinburgh on 23rd May 2017 at 6.30pm, and within Free Assembly Hall, the General Assembly did again convene and was constituted with devotional exercises.
Western Isles Presbytery – Petition
The General Assembly took up consideration of a Petition from the Presbytery of the Western Isles regarding the late Rev. Dr Iain D. Campbell.
Finding It was moved, seconded and agreed to that the General Assembly receive the Petition and grant its crave. They declare that Rev. Dr Iain D. Campbell was engaged in moral misconduct in the years leading up to his passing on Saturday 28th January 2017. They further declare that such moral misconduct is contrary to, and censurable by, the Word of God and is now, because of the public scandal arising from it, detrimental and injurious to the good name and honour of Jesus Christ, and worthy of the highest form of censure by the Church, which in the case of a Minister of the gospel is deposition from the ministry. They note the conjoint view of the Church’s Law Agent and Legal Counsel advising against retroactive deposition based on natural justice and that of jurisdiction, a matter which became relevant with Dr Campbell’s death.
They instruct the Principal Clerk of Assembly to notify all Kirk Sessions, all Presbyteries, our sister churches, and the mainstream publishers of Dr Campbell’s books of the Assembly’s finding. They call on the Church to pray for healing and restoration for Mrs Anne Campbell and her family. They also commend Mrs Lily Campbell and her family to the prayers of the Church. They further urge the Church to pray for its ministers, office-bearers, members, and all those affected by the recent tragic event, that they may be protected and strengthened in the face of the challenges and temptations presented by the society in which we live.
General Assembly Statement The General Assembly of the Free Church of Scotland has this evening considered the events and subsequent investigation carried out by the Western Isles Presbytery into the conduct of the Dr Iain D Campbell. Sadly, we must concur with the Presbytery’s conclusion that the late Dr Campbell’s actions and conduct were seriously inconsistent with what is expected of a Christian minister – and were contrary to and censurable by the Word of God. We would echo the Presbytery’s sentiments in hoping everyone within the Free Church of Scotland and in the wider Christian faith joins us in praying for all of those affected by this situation, and in particular,Dr Campbell’s family. The General Assembly will now consider what lessons we can learn from this situation and discuss how we can bring healing and restoration to our members and our communities.