Below is a snapshot of who one can refer to as "an ideal Englishman" or "a model student." Indeed an aspiration most parents would love their offspring to acquire, and those fortunate enough to afford to educate their children privately would not hesitate in laying down the cash, even if such a decision would cost the couple dearly in sacrificing their own luxurious lifestyle, particularly in expensive faraway holidays, or owning a top brand of car.
Such being the case of ex-Etonian Andrew Picard, son of a wealthy Westminster lawyer. Just by looking at his image, it is easily understood why he would fit in well in any exclusive gentlemen's club, company boardroom, and of course - in any local church. By walking into church, he would be instantly noticed, and if the service is about to begin, or had just started, not a few in the congregation would mentally note him for an after-service chat. Even the minister up front may consider him as a potential future leader, starting as a deacon while at the same time, pruning on his preaching skills to the level of etiquette professionalism.
He is the ideal example of who a British church-going Christian should be. Smartly dressed, well educated, from a wealthy family, self reserved, not given to emotional displays, and choosing his friends carefully - mainly among women of his age. Although he is exceptionally good at team sports - rugby in Winter, cricket in Summer, any feelings of team comradeship remains confined to the playing field. In the evenings he is more likely to be found in a nightclub socialising with up-and-coming young ladies - each one cherishing the hope to be the one whom such an eligible bachelor would set his eyes on. An evening in the pub with some working-class mates would be obnoxious to him.
And so looking at his snapshot, or actually passing him as he walks along the street, is how I would suss out his status and way of life. Because such a life profile is not from a novel, or even from a television documentary or drama. Rather it's from real experience. A few years ago I invited a fellow window cleaner, who had just turned to Jesus Christ as a result of my testimony, to a Saturday morning Men's Breakfast. He wasn't dressed smartly but in tidy casuals, as were everyone else in the room. Neither does he have that "academic look" about his facial features, as Andrew Picard has. Apart from myself, only one other male took the time and effort to chat with him, and he was the Breakfast co-ordinator. He was totally ignored by everyone else, something we both noticed, and that had discouraged him from attending church of any kind since then. Furthermore, more recently, another friend and I have both successfully weaned him off from getting involved with Jehovah's Witnesses.
By contrast, the high respect such a one as Andrew Picard would have received in church became true to life within the past few months, when a tall, intelligent-looking graduate from Holloway College had arrived at our fellowship, and after a short period, had already preached from the front several times, and is held in high regard by both our Elders and the rest of the congregation. This is far from being a unique case. On the contrary, it is the norm for churches across the United Kingdom to seek out graduates and even doctorates for future leadership, a notion which makes me wonder how the heck did the likes of Peter, James and John make it into the role of apostleship in the first place. How could this Jesus - "The Christ, the Son of the living God" be so short sighted? Didn't he realise that these three were mere fishermen, and not graduates? However to save face, and to give the Lord some credit; he did choose in Paul a religious intellect, a Pharisee, and himself a son of a Pharisee, to write a large portion of the New Testament in the form of theological and devotional letters to churches of his day.
Jesus knew what he was doing when he chose his immediate disciples. Because he was looking at the heart, rather than social status. After training them to a suitable level, he went to the cross. On it he atoned for all the sins of mankind. After his resurrection and ascension, he chose an intellect of high standing, but he had to temporarily blind him in order to bring him to his conviction that this Jesus, whom he persecuted, is the risen Christ. And this had brought him in direct line with Peter's testimony that the Jesus they crucified is the Christ resurrected, the Son of God, and to change their minds to believing this revelation reconciles them to God, forgives all their sin, and receive "a time of refreshing from the Lord" (Acts 3:19). Whether Peter fully understood that one's acquittal is meant to be eternal is debatable, I can't be sure. Quite likely he didn't fully understand. But with Paul, he had a better understanding, as so well presented in his letter to the Romans. He used the case of Abraham's acquittal as a yardstick for justification for all believers. And then, further on he writes that nothing physical or spiritual, nor anything else in all creation, can separate us from the love of God (Romans 8:28-38).
Christ died to atone for us, was buried, and then three days later, rose physically from the dead, defeating death, and ascended into Heaven to intercede for us as high priest. And anyone believing this in his heart, with the resulting trust in the record, has all his sins forgiven, and imputed with the righteousness of Christ, and can never be lost again. It is as simple as that!
But why is such wonderful news virtually unknown by much of the world population? For example, the concept of Eternal Security, or Once Saved Always Saved, has been dubbed, "the Devil's Doctrine" or "Heresy of Satan". But if that was true - for one whom Jesus called, "The Prince of this world" - Satan has failed disastrously. Had he succeeded, then Once Saved Always Saved would have been accepted universally by all religions, not just within the whole of the Christian faith! Even among atheists and humanists, the concept of Eternal Security is dismissed as nonsense. Instead, all who fully believe in this truth makes up a very small proportion of the population, including a minority within the Christian faith, who accepts the Omniscience of God as a vital Biblical truth, and one of the major three pillars of God's eternal essence.
So interfaith wars continue to be fought, one insisting that Mohammed is the true prophet of God, while another says, "No, ours with a pantheon of different Hindu deities is the true faith", while another bases his faith on the founding by someone else, such as Buddha, another on Confucius. Within Christendom, a large proportion insist that Peter was the first Pope, along with Mary being the Mediatrix. Then para-faiths such as Jehovah's Witnesses, Mormons, Christian Science, Unification, Theosophy, Freemasonry, and other splinter groups, all having their own interpretations of the Bible, but all of them denying the threefold pillar of salvation: Forensic Justification, Imputed Righteousness, and Eternal Security. Then within the Reformed churches, the Arminian idea that the believer can lose his salvation and still end up in Hell after all, even after years of remaining faithful, is not only a denial of God's Omniscience (and also his Omnipotence and his Omnipresence) but also a rebuke to the threefold pillar of God's free gift of salvation. Yet many insist on this doctrine, even among the highest Oxbridge academics, resulting in a large percentage of churchgoers with a question mark over God's redemptive love and sincerity, and trying to be "holy" in their attempt to pacify a misanthropic or moody deity.
For the likes of Andrew Picard, like all other unbelievers, they slide into a lost eternity questioning whether God actually exist, let alone whether God loves them. He looks to religion, including the church, only to see much warring among themselves, along with insincerity, and hypocrisy. He sees fear of punishment underlying their quest for morality rather than love for God and a love for morality in itself. In other words, to do good to another in order to escape punishment, rather than out of love for the recipient. Little wonder that he regards the Bible as old hat, full of fables, and irrelevant to his needs, and instead rely on Darwinism as truth rather than the God of all Creation. Not surprising then when he has only himself and science to trust.
Why was Andrew Picard in the papers in the first place? For us to admire his prestige and social status? Rather, because he was charged with having more than 2,000 images of distressed young children, even as young as two years, as victims of sex abuse on his computer, together with some videos of abuse carried out on very young children, including that of a three year old girl being raped by an adult man. Other children were photographed crying in agony while sexually abused, and there were even some of bestiality with dogs. He had them to share among others in the paedophile ring. His computer, after being traced to its source, was confiscated and charges brought forth. But while justice for this crime would have normally locked up the offender, this fellow escaped with just a ten month prison term suspended for eighteen months. The judge made it clear that he has admiration for his Etonian education, his wealth, and his social standing, and therefore considered fair not to be held in custody. Therefore he escaped with a mere fine.
So if you want favouritism in both the church and in the judicial system, make sure you are born in a privileged family, attend Eton for your education, and always remember to dress smartly. The world is your oyster.