THE Vicar of Croydon has chastised Canadian evangelist Todd Bentley for claiming Malcolm Wicks' death was the "Lord's justice".
Canon Colin Boswell described Mr Bentley's claim that the respected Croydon North MP's death had been divine retribution for leading a campaign to have him barred from the country as "about as far from the understanding of God that I have ever known".
"I believe Malcolm to have been one of the most courageous people faced with death that I have ever met and someone speaking such theological nonsense is an insult to his memory," Canon Boswell told the Advertiser.
Bentley had planned a UK tour in August, including a three-day visit to Croydon.
But he was prevented from entering the country after Mr Wicks urged the Home Office to take action following concerns about his controversial "healing" techniques and criminal past.
Bentley, who was as a teenager convicted of a sex attack on a seven-year-old, claimed God had visited him in a dream and told him to mark the date in his calendar.
In the video, he referred to Mr Wicks' death as "the Lord's justice" and was joined on stage by another preacher who claimed God was "removing opposition from his people".
Canon Boswell, who led the memorial service for the Labour MP at Croydon Minster, said Bentley had "lost any connection with the reality of a loving God".
He said: "If he thinks that Mr Wicks suffered cancer because he campaigned against him, he might like to go to the children's ward of his local cancer hospital and tell them what God is punishing them for.
"To imagine a God, who the Bible says is 'love', causing someone to have cancer is contrary to any understanding of the concept of a God who creates, sustains and saves."
Bentley, 36, is known for his controversial preaching techniques, which have included intentionally kicking an elderly woman in the face. Canon Boswell said: "I feel it important to speak as the Vicar of Croydon and to assure people, especially those who are not committed to the Christian faith, that the talk of the death of Mr Wicks as the Lord's justice, is just about as far from the understanding of God, or the reading of the Gospel, as I have ever known." He added: "If you are wondering about the Christian faith, please find a sane expression of it and open yourself to the possibility of God.
"I can assure you that he won't kick you in the face."