On June 2, 2010, fallen pastor and former leader of the National Association of Evangelicals, Ted Haggard, announced his plan to launch and pastor a new church in the Colorado Springs area this upcoming Sunday, June 6. Here is the video of his public announcement…
Thanks to Mike Foster and the profoundly inspiring People of the Second Chance blog for bringing this to my attention. UPDATE: For a clear and simple timeline on the history of Ted Haggard’s ministry from author Jason Boyett, click here.
This news spawned some significant cognitive dissonance in me. On one hand, I actually feel some anger at Ted Haggard. We’ve never met. But his public fall from grace – and his profoundly hypocritical public stand against homosexuality while (at least) dabbling with it (if not much more) behind closed doors – hurt the reputation of the faith I love. Pastor Ted was a public representative of Jesus – both to those inside and outside of the Church. How many souls turned away from Jesus in disgust, seeing such reckless hypocrisy? Every human being is weak and sinful, yes. But another evangelical leader? Really? Satan must have revelled in the fallout.
That’s on the one hand.
On the other hand, I believe to my core heart of hearts that when God forgives, the sin is gone. He is in the business of REDEMPTION. And I love to see Christian leaders brought beyond discipline to RESTORATION. I love it. It is the power of the Gospel on display. It is the story of Christ’s victory lived out in the local congregation. Restoration of the fallen is unique in the Church – and it brings me deep joy.
I can’t give names, times, or details, but I can say this… I have personally witnessed this process, in all of its beauty and power, with two close friends and ministry leaders I know well. They owned their sin. Confessed it. Repented to church leaders and to their congregations. They were removed from ministry for a season. They sought out forgiveness. They remained in humble submission to authority. And in the right time, after an appropriate season away, they were restored to ministry positions where their gifts were used to honor God and build up the church.
Every time I hear that kind of story, I want to cheer. Redemption on display! Isn’t it AWESOME?
So what is it about Ted Haggard’s return to ministry that has me conflicted? Am I still holding him in judgement? That’s not my job. Do I feel that he hasn’t had an appropriate time away from ministry? Who am I to say? I have decided to forgive Ted Haggard for the insult he represented to my Jesus and His Bride. And yet I know that just because God can forgive completely and forget sin forever, and even other believers can forgive in our limited way, consequences of our choices remain. Often for years. Often for the rest of our life on earth. Is that what I expect for Ted Haggard?
I’m starting to believe that Mike from POTSC is right. I’m starting to believe that the most God-honoring stand to take in a redemption story like this is on the side of the sinner being restored. I’m still conflicted. But I suspect that my struggle with this has more to do with my own sin of judgement than it does with Ted Haggard’s readiness to minister.
What do you think?
“do i really believe in redemption? :: ted haggard’s return to church leadership” by Joshua Skogerboe is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.