First, none of what follows should be understood as an attempt to undermine essential theological commitments held by Conservative Evangelical (CE) churches, whether that be on sexual ethics, the authority of Scripture, the nature of the atonement, or anything else. (In so far as labels are helpful, all of us would ourselves own the label ‘Conservative Evangelical’ to describe our own beliefs). Rather, our desire is to strengthen the cause of biblical orthodoxy by applying its tenets to the dreadful abuse committed by people like Fletcher, who falsely purport to uphold it.
Indeed, one of the prime motivations for all of us to serve on the IAG was that the Review would show that the task of safeguarding the vulnerable is integral to the gospel. We recognise that, sadly, in some CE contexts safeguarding has been regarded with suspicion and even been denigrated as a “distraction” from the gospel. On the contrary, we are convinced that the failure to protect the vulnerable documented in this Review is incompatible with any biblical understanding of the person and work of Christ.
And so, our prayer is that through the publication of the Review, and the ensuing public discussion, to which this is our contribution, those who were Fletcher’s victims may begin to find an increasing measure of justice and consolation as they see the compassion, love and truth of Jesus embodied in the response of CE churches who name Him as their Saviour.
Second, it should be noted that as an IAG we were not privy to any transcripts, witness statements or other confidential material provided by the participants in the Review. Our only knowledge of the events and consequences described in the Review is from reading the report itself, together with earlier drafts, regular progress meetings with the Reviewers and our own experience of, and contact with, the world described in it, including in some instances, with survivors. Everything we say in what follows is based on publicly available material, either in the Review or from other sources that have agreed to it being published. “