Long ago I wrote an entry about Michael Reid and the Peniel Church in Brentwood, Essex (http://collegeblog.midbible.ac.uk/michael-reid-and-the-peniel-church/). At that time, I felt uneasy with some of Reid’s theology and behaviour. By now, most of you will be aware that Michael Reid is in disgrace after admitting to an extra-marital affair which apparently lasted for some time. He has now resigned his position as leader of the Peniel church. On top of this shocking piece of news, there are murmurings of other irregularities at Peniel, with dodgy financial dealings being alleged. We are left wondering what other unpleasant revelations may ensue following Mr. Reid’s disgraced exit.
Mr. Reid’s downfall is made all the more disturbing because, as a co-founder of CCTV (The Christian Congress for Tradtional Values) he made a great deal of noise about the immoral behaviour which currently swamps our society. How sad it is that someone with such a background – and such a high media profile – should fall in such spectacular fashion. I’m sure that his family and many in that church will be feeling very let down and disappointed at this time.
However the saddest thing of all to come from such revelations is the negative publicity it brings down on the Christian Church as a whole. Neither the wildest attack from the most bigoted atheist, nor the most crackpot remark from the trendiest Anglican bishop, can do half so much damage to the cause of Christ as someone in such a position falling in such disgrace. The ‘world’ – especially the media – will tend to have a field day at such times, but we, as Christians, though disappointed, shouldn’t be surprised. We know only too well that we are all fallen, fragile, vulnerable human beings. And at such times, we’re liable to go to either of two extremes. We can join in with the ‘world’ as it shouts ‘hypocrite’, or we can pray for all those involved in the situation. I believe we should do the latter and pray for Mr. Reid – and his poor wife and family – at this difficult time. We should pray too for the ‘other person’ involved in the illicit relationship who may be waiting nervously for those ready to cast their stones. And finally, we should pray for the congregation at Peniel who are left – in very difficult circumstances – to continue as faithful witnesses to the Gospel of our Lord and Saviour.
Chris Lazenby is Tutor in Theology at the Midlands Bible College and Divinity School.