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Christians: November 3, 2006

Haggard and Evangelical Pragmatism - Updated

haggard_resigns.jpgUpdate: Rev. Ted Haggard was dismissed Saturday from his church after a board determined the influential evangelist had committed "sexually immoral conduct." "Our investigation and Pastor Haggard's public statements have proven without a doubt that he has committed sexually immoral conduct," the independent board said in a statement. The determination indicates Haggard's initial statements, captured in the video below, are without merit. Sad.

Update II: In a statement to his church, Haggard admitted:

The fact is I am guilty of sexual immorality. And I take responsibility for the entire problem. I am a deceiver and a liar. There's a part of my life that is so repulsive and dark that I have been warring against it for all of my adult life.
Although he really had no other choice, this confession is an important step in the right direction that may bring healing into his life. Unfortunately, his initial decision to lie and deceive calls into question the sincerity of his repentance. Given his double life, he may not be able to judge his own sincerity.

Pyromaniacs' Phil Johnson cut to the chase in his comments about the scandal that has engulfed evangelical leader Rev. Ted Haggard:

It's time for evangelicals to rethink their priorities, reexamine the evil fruits of pragmatic and market-driven "spirituality," and retool their own movement. Better yet, Christians with a concern for the glory of God and the authority of Scripture should renounce the latitudinarian-style movement contemporary "evangelicalism" has morphed into. It is a hopelessly mixed and muddled multitude. The fashionable brand of NAE/Christianity Today-style "evangelicalism" actually abandoned historic evangelical principles long ago, and hasn't taken a firm stand for biblical and evangelical doctrine for some time. The current scandal is only a symptom of that much deeper problem
Sound harsh? Perhaps not. Rev. Rob Brendle, an associate pastor at Haggards 14,000 member New Life Life Church tells CNN that the church has openly gay members. Consequently,
Brendle said he sees no hypocrisy in Haggard's actions. "To my knowledge, Mike Jones [the gay prostitute] has not alleged that Ted asked him to marry him... No, I do not see this instance as hypocrisy. I do see it as indiscretion, and I am grateful that Ted is repentant and humble."
I'm not exactly sure what Brendle is attempting to promote through this redefining nonsense but it certainly seems to confirm Ingrid's fears:
My worst fear is that this man will be circled by followers, given a slap on the wrist, and returned with full honors as pastor to stand under the revolving globe in his church to continue his "ministry", just to demonstrate how full of grace everyone is. Forgiveness is available to all who repent of sin. Pastoral leadership, however, is a special position for those spiritually mature enough to avoid gay prostitutes and meth.
Haggard has admitted he bought methamphetamine -- but did not take the drug -- and sought and received a massage from Jones -- but nothing more (video here).

In an interview (see below) prior to his resignation Haggard denied even knowing his accuser (yes, it's possible he didn't realize ....) And, contrary to Brendle's comments, Haggard denies knowing openly gay parishioners (he's in a big church ...).

The matter really is one for proper ecclesiastical, and possibly civil, authorities to deal with. All we have are news reports and edited interviews with Haggard and his accuser. The matter is certainly hurtful to the families who are involved and the numerous congregations who follow Haggard's leadership. My point is not to judge Haggard.

However, the greater question about the faithfulness of the evangelical church is certainly worth examining. In fact, it is likely that the conduct and decisions of those overseeing the ecclesiastical investigation will reveal more about the evangelical church than the actions of Haggard.

Posted by tim at November 3, 2006 7:51 PM

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Seeing as where we have a prominent pseudoreligiopolitical type being, in essence, "outed" as close to the elections as now (and the likelihood for @ least one more such), perhaps it might be interesting, heading into Election Day, to think about Balaam's Ass as an ideal Biblical metaphor for what these elections may be about all the more for America, her soverignty, her soverign identity ... and her international prestige.

Posted by: the daily phosdex at November 4, 2006 10:19 AM


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