The book "Apostles of Fear"


by Morag Zwartz

some thoughts, rather than a review, by Richard Ashton

At $30 - or more if you add postage and packing to the cost - I think I have better things to do with my money. But books in Australia have always been very much more expensive than in other countries in which I have lived.

First of all, I'm very concerned that all of this author's writings appear to have been about congregations and denominations against which she appears to be conducting a single-handed vendetta - if the bibliography is accurate.

There also appears to be no citation of her credentials to conduct such a crusade - or should I say "purge", notwithstanding her insistance that those in ministry among the affiliated congregations are "unqualified and lay people". While I'm not a lay person in the engineering disciplines, I am in theological circles, if secular university degrees are of greater value than the concept of the "priesthood of all believers". There is something which does not fit there, like a jigsaw with wrong pieces in the box.

The author is also a journalist, and my observation has been that few of that group of workers are really savvy with Christianity, and many use Christian beliefs as a punch ball regularly. Not so Islam, though, because Muslims are "multi-cultural", and that makes them "okay" people.

As someone who has fellowshipped and still maintains friendship with many of the people she mentions, I'm wondering if I have a "blind spot" Yes, there is evidence of control within. But I believe there is a reason for it, which sticks out like a sore themb when you look at the morality problems which surfaced in around 1987.

I'm in the process of writing a response to some of the points Morag makes. However I was lent the copy I have "for a few days" and I'm not about to lash out with money to swell the publisher's coffers, nor the author's, so it may need to be written piecemeal, and take a while.

That is why this is an "interim" page.

In about 1993 I discovered David Holden's pamphlet published by the unknown "Alethia Publications", and I wrote a detailed response to this, sending courtesy copies to Brisbane Christian Fellowship and Citywide Christian Assembly (Adelaide). I also discussed it at very great length with Jeff Hammond whose acquaintance I had made through his publication "The Biblical Church Pattern" (written while he was ministering at the Tentenna Bible College in Indonesia), and its printed, bound and expanded follow-on called "God's Wheel".

Having questions about the content in them, I was referred to him by Brisbane and Adelaide fellowship elders, who were still selling his books at the time. They even gave me Jeff's phone number, and I was unaware that he wasn't part of them any more. Jeff didn't tell me, either, until later when I was researching the Holden book.

Jeff agreed with me about all the points I made to David regarding inaccuracy and incorrect statments quoting of things he claimed to have said. I listened to all service cassette tapes he referred to, and in all cases he had either misheard, or had changed the context. This was notwithstanding that Jeff and Annette Hammond no longer associated with what I call the "Immanuel System". As a result of reading David Holden's pamphlet I realised that the Ray Jackson in Melbourne (who I had never met nor seen) had to be a different Ray Jackson from the one who founded themovement, and appeared to have had morality issues.It was through this that I discovered the way in which they close ranks, not in support of someone who errs, so much, as around the movement as a whole. I found this disappointing, because this appears to me to cover up the truth with non-truth.

Sure, people, when hurt, hide what's hurting them. But when there are others waiting to stick knives in, I believe it isn't good sense. They will have lost a lot of friends and support through doing this.

I lost my original of my rebuttal toHolden's pamphlet and decided I would try to put together - if there was no objection - an accurate history of the movement because I could not find one anywhere. Jeff Hammond gave me an original print copy of "God's Wheel" which had the removed stuff in it. This helped me fill in s ome corners. I was able to get help from many past and present folk, and am grateful to them. It sat in an unfinished state from the end of 1999 until a few days ago when I looked at Morag's book. At that time, I decided I would publish it in its no-frills unfinished state. It can be found at www.wildernesschristianity.net/immanuel

Next thing, in about 2003 or 2004 I saw a "Four Corners" program on the ABC TV channel, about BCF, and blow me down, maybe six months later, I saw what looked like identical footage on the Nine Network's current affairs media - with almost word-for-word commentary (in much of the content)

Having worked in Television broadcasting, doing both Outside Broadcasts and studio work, these things hit you between the eyes when you encounter them subseqyently. My memory is good. I am aware that seldom (if ever) does the taxpayer-owned and funded ABC ahare copyright material with "the commercials". My thoughts moved to a possible, more logical, scenario, that best fits the known facts...

Maybe a "stringer" producer-cameraman made the program, and tried to sell it as widely as possible, to make a name (and money) for himself. That happens a lot in the Australian media. I knew "stringers" (self employed roundsmen) back in 1965 when I first entered the broadcasting field. I even repaired some of their equipment for them!

When I was told about this book, and on reading it, I found the same people interviewed, and remarks made by the same narrator/producer of the ABC program, coupled with "Google searches" of both the author's name and the book title, I became really convinced that my evaluation of the circumstances was likely to be spot-on. The name of the Four Corners journalist appears on almost all of those google searches. Couple with that, Morag is also a journalist, and journos often share work, not always with a by-line.. I also suspect that Morag would have provided Chris Masters with a Christianity input because very few in the media actually understand Christianity.

Read my lips, please. I didn't say "believed in Christianity". I said "understood Christianity". You see, I happen to understand a reasonable amount about Islam - and am prepared to admit when I'm wrong, but I do not believe in the Islamic Allah.

Also, the media is a strong force in the community, busily making fun (or worse) of Jesus Christ and His mission, and the beliefs that have flowed in the community since His time. We need understand that some ideas claimed to be based on Christianity are accurately based on His teachings, and some are not. That's because all men and all women are flawed people.

Without casting any aspersions, I would also like to suggest that Morag may very well have church-hopped to all those denominations she mentions - out of disillusionment - and eventually encountered or manufactured thoughts that "they are all wrong" as a result. I've met church-hoppers like that, who still go to church for the social connection with others. If that is the case, I sincerely feel sorry for her.

Read my lips again. I did not say this was her situation. In my case I church hopped looking for Truth with a capital T, knowing it can't be found fully in any one location. But listening, and reading, and prayerfully seeking answers, puts the person in a remarkably different place from one who has given up. Which was, in my case, actually what I did between about 1977 and 1986.

Readers should note that the book was published in the same year as the Four Corners and Channel Nine progams went to air. This makes sense too, if my speculations are orrect, because Morag would have been able to check statements made by interviewees, uing what is called a "dupe" - a duplicate copy of the camera footage.

 

Now, let us move on please. I have taken longer than I intended in discussing my thoughts on whatever connections there were between two vitriolic documentaries and one vitriolic book. At least it is my belief that they were all produced and presented in a way calculated to convey the impression that "Here the Christians go - again - and you can't trust them".

I'm very concerned that this author's writings all appear to have been about congregations and denominations against which she appears to be conducting a single-handed vendetta. There appears no citation of her credentials to conduct such a crusade - or should I say "purge". Closer examination suggests the crusade is about actually believing what the Bible says. One has to wonder if another journalist of the same surname, Barney Zwartz, who writes for The Age, with similarly secular-typical views about Christianity, might have had any input and/or assisted with research. Maybe a "partnership" (to use a modern euphemism in liberal circles) exists between the two of them?

I have saved a selection of pages - by and about - both their writings, so that you can get a feel for what may well be partly - if not totally - joint authorship. Please check their names in the /info directory on this site which is where some of my research is located, paying particular attention to the connection between Barney and the Richard Dawkins Foundation, and his apparent hatred (or perhaps scorn?) for what he calls "Fundementalism".

In case you didn't know, Dawkins is totally opposed to Christianity.

In saying that, there is obviously considerable hurt there, among those she interviewed - and probably many others.While not a psychologist, or psycho-analyst, I can see some of the things they point out in anger management and so on.

While I don't know Morag (or Barney), nor Chris, or even any of the people in the case studies they did, they have now intruded into my life, without my invitation, and I feel I need to make a response on the stuff they have presented, and more particularly, the way in which they presented it.

Importantly, though, please be assured that I bear them no animosity, but rather feel that what they presented was some truth with a fair bit of conjecture or assumption on their part, and a misinterpretation, in part by some of their interviewees at times.

I've been offered an extension of time to re-read, and type up bits to respond to, as a book the size of "Apostles of Fear" is difficult to keep a reader's concentration, let alone the writer's (big grin).

I shall continue later, as I believe I should post this page as soon as possible in order to say something helpful about some of the content. :)

text.

 

last updated 16th October 2010 (Rev 3)