Tony Blair: Secret Cash Oil Deal

Watchdog orders publication of former prime minister’s payment by oil firm that was kept secret for 20 months

Tony Blair has received cash from a South Korean oil firm in a deal kept secret until the business appointments watchdog intervened, the Guardian has learned.

After 20 months of secrecy, the former prime minister has now been overruled by the chairman of the advisory committee on business appointments, the former Tory cabinet minister Ian Lang.

Lang this week ordered publication of Blair’s deal with UI Energy Corporation, which has extensive oil interests in the US and in Iraq.

Blair repeatedly claimed to the committee, which assesses jobs taken up by former ministers, that the existence of the deal had to be kept secret at the request of the South Koreans, because of “market sensitivities”.

Lang, who is understood to have reviewed the files, told Blair he saw no reason to keep the deal secret any longer.

The committee website now publishes a statement identifying Blair’s job as “advice to a consortium of investors led by the UI Energy Corporation (Publication delayed due to market sensitivities)”.

The committee also detailed on its website a similarly unpublished Blair deal with the ruling family in Kuwait. He has been in their pay since December 2007, with the task of producing a general report on the oil state’s future over the next 30 years, at a reported £1m fee.

Blair, who set up a commercial consultancy firm, Tony Blair Associates, following the Korea and Kuwait deals, has been secretive in the past about his money-making schemes.

A Guardian investigation last year found that he had put his multimillion-pound income through an obscure partnership structure called Windrush Ventures, which enabled him to avoid publishing normal company accounts.

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Tony Blair, Rick Warren, to launch Faith Offensive across US

Former prime minister builds network of Christian allies as he prepares to launch a religious ‘offensive’ in North America

Tony Blair is preparing to launch a “faith offensive” across the United States over the next year, after building up relationships with a network of influential religious leaders and faith organisations.tony-blair-faith-offensive

With Afghanistan and Iraq casting a shadow over his popularity at home in Britain, Blair’s focus has increasingly shifted across the Atlantic, to where the nexus of faith and power is immutable and he is feted like a rock star.

According to the annual accounts of the Tony Blair Faith Foundation, a UK-based charity that promotes cohesion between the major faiths, the foundation is to develop a US arm that will pursue a host of faith-based projects. The accounts show that his foundation has an impressive – and, in at least one case, controversial – set of faith contacts. Sitting on some £4.5m in funds as of April last year, mostly gathered through donations, it is now well placed to make its voice heard.

The foundation’s advisory council of religious leaders includes Rick Warren, powerful founder of the California-based Saddleback church. It attracts congregations of nearly 20,000 and is reportedly one of the largest in the US. Warren, who has addressed the UN and the World Economic Forum in Davos, has been named one of the “15 world leaders who matter most” and one of the “100 most influential people in the world”.

His influence was confirmed in December 2008 when Barack Obama chose him to give the invocation at his presidential inauguration. But the decision angered many liberals, who see Warren as an opponent of gay rights and abortion on demand; a prominent alliance with Warren is likely to attract similar attacks on the former British prime minister.

Also on the council is David Coffey, president of the Baptist World Alliance (BWA), a Virginia-based network of churches that spans the globe and is particularly active in the US.

Another initiative has been to team up with the Belinda Stronach Foundation in Toronto. Unknown in the UK, Stronach, daughter of a Canadian billionaire, is hugely influential in Canada where as a philanthropist, businesswoman and former politician she has served in both the Conservative and Liberal parties. Attractive and barely into her 40s, media commentators have dubbed her “bubba’s blonde”, a reference to her friendship with Bill Clinton.

According to the accounts, Blair intends to open an office in Toronto to develop the relationship.

His desire for North America to be the focus of his faith-based operations was confirmed by the decision to hold his foundation’s inaugural event in May 2008 in New York, for the “charity’s key partners and religious stakeholders”.

Tony Blair Faith Foundation:

May 2008Launches the Tony Blair Faith Foundation in New York.

September 2008Opens a three-year programme at Yale exploring the role of faith in the modern era.

October 2008 – Supports Face to Faith programme, a pilot project for schools in the US, Canada and India.

December 2008 – Teams up with the Belinda Stronach Foundation in Toronto.

February 2009 - Speaks at the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington.

March 2009 – Helps to open a Baptist World Alliance centre in Jordan.

August 2009 – Takes part in launch of the Faiths Act Fellowship, bringing together young leaders from different beliefs in the US, UK and Canada.

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Spurgeon Quotes on Easy Believism

What is the use of religion which comes up in a night, and perishes as soon? Ah, me! what empty bragging we have heard! The thing was done, but then it was never worth doing; soon things were as if it had never been done; and, moreover, this sham way of doing it made it all the harder toil for the real worker.  C.H. Spurgeon

We do not consider soul winning to be accomplished by hurriedly inscribing more names upon our church-roll, in order to show a good increase at the end of the year.  C.H. Spurgeon

As you learn, teach; as you get, give; as you receive, distribute. Be as the small rain upon the tender herb. Do you not think that in trying to bring people to Christ we sometimes try to do too much at once?  C.H. Spurgeon

A man’s converts are always a disgrace to him. It is only those that God converts that will last. When we go fresh into a place, there is always a number of people who hear with a degree of profit, and who are affected by us. But let that minister be taken away, and they go back again. One wave washes them up on the shore, and the return wave sucks them back again into the great deeps.  C.H. Spurgeon

“Oh,” writes one to me this week, “I have believed that Jesus died for me, but it does not keep me from sinning in any way whatever. Our minister says that if we believe that Jesus died for us we shall be saved.”  No, no, but that is not the gospel, and such a belief is not faith at all. I did not wonder that a poor creature should have tried such a gospel and found it fail. Do not these men say that Christ died for everybody, and then declare that if you believe he died for you (which he must of necessity have done if he died for everybody) then that will save you, and yet there are scores and hundreds who are proofs to the fact that it does not save them, but that they can believe this universal redemption and live as they did before?  C.H. Spurgeon

I have known, in my short time, certain churches, in the paroxysms of delirium, meeting houses crowded, aisles filled, preachers stamping and thundering, hearers intoxicated with excitement, and persons converted by wholesale – even children converted by hundreds – they said thousands. Well, and a month or two after, where were the congregations? where were the converts?  Echo has answered, “Where, where?” Why, the converts were worse sinners than they were before; or mere professors, puffed up into a superficial religion, from which they soon fell into a hopeless coldness, which has rendered it difficult ever to stir them again.  C.H. Spurgeon

I have never preached to you that you may live in sin if you only believe in Jesus: I have never preached that you shall be saved without being purified in heart.  No, the salvation which this pulpit has proclaimed is not salvation in sin but salvation from sin, not a licence to evil but a deliverance from evil.  C.H. Spurgeon

You must not imagine that in this church all who have come to Christ nominally have come really.  C.H. Spurgeon

The apostle Paul not only said of Titus that he was his son, but he called him his “true” son. The Revised Version correctly translates it, “My true child.”  We have, alas! some who have called us “father” in a spiritual sense, of whom we have cause to be ashamed. There are converts and converts.  C.H. Spurgeon

It is an idle attempt to heal those who are not wounded, to attempt to clothe those who have never been stripped, and to make those rich who have never realized their poverty.  C.H. Spurgeon

Our converts are worth nothing. If they are converted by man they can be unconverted by man.  C.H. Spurgeon

Beware, beloved, of all dry-eyed reformations.  C.H. Spurgeon

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Fellowship in Truth

The Bible is the only authoritative source from which Christianity is derived. Sound strange? That used to be the defining characteristic of evangelicalism.

Collectively evangelicals seem to have drifted far from that principle, and evangelicalism is taking on some strange shapes.

So the first thing that is true about the delivered, the true Christians, is that they do not believe error because they have come to the light. They have come to the truth. To borrow the language of Ephesians chapter 6, they are engaged in a battle against the spiritual forces of darkness but they are triumphant because they have put on the armor of God and the first piece of armor is the belt or the girdle of truth.

A Christian is someone then who understands the truth, who has been delivered from Satan’s lies to God’s truth. To be saved, according to 1 Timothy 2:4, to be saved is to come to the knowledge of the truth. That’s a very important verse, write that down, 1 Timothy 2:4, “To be saved…and translating it this way…even to come to the knowledge of the truth.” That is to say, one and the same. Being saved is not some kind of mystical cryptic, some kind of inexplicable feeling. Being saved is come to the knowledge of the truth. Luke tells us in the book of Acts that when the gospel was preached on the day of Pentecost, 3,000 people believed and they continued in the Apostles’ doctrine. They started there and they continued there. A true Christian is a person who has been deposited, rescued out of ignorance and deposited in the realm of truth. They came into the realm of truth and they continue in the realm of truth. To be saved is to come to the knowledge of the truth. The Christian is someone who understands the truth, who believes the truth, who embraces the truth, who loves the truth and who submits to the truth.

And, you know, it amazes me that there are so many people in evangelicalism today, leaders in evangelicalism, pastors and writers, who believe a person can be a Christian without ever being delivered from error to truth.

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