The Return Of Ted Haggard

Posted by Kevin |

[I need to preface 3 things; 1st, if you don't know who Ted Haggard is - just google it, you'll get more than you wanted. 2nd, if you do know Ted and you remember what happened 2 years ago, you probably just said, 'Crap, 2 years ago already?' - yeah, life is going too fast. 3rd, my own wife doesn't even agree with the entire contents of this post - so I won't be offended if you don't because our journeys have been different. All I ask is no anonymous stupidity.]

Ted Haggard returned to the public spotlight for the first time in 2 years when he spoke at a church in Illinois this past weekend...news I celebrate.

As a Pastor-been-fired-for-messing-up myself, I not only know what Ted has gone through (much smaller scale obviously) but have also felt the sting of church judgment. It brings up thoughts of second chances, God's enduring love and the frailty of human beings.

It is a powerless feeling to know that you can never change the perception that others have of you when your screw-ups become public knowledge. It is unfortunate that church culture has created socially acceptable tiers of sin. Though the impact of Ted's sin was widespread, the sin itself, the mistakes were no different than the gossiper, the glutton or the lustful thinker. He missed the mark, he fell short, he acted outside the God-set boundaries he believed in, just like you and I do all the time.

I think there are 2 major lessons from Ted that we can learn.

1. We are all human. Just human. Pastors and Christian SuperStars will never be more than human, which means they are completely capable of failure - just like you and I.
2. We should stop pretending we are so right and just live out the redeeming story of Jesus with humility. We should live in such a way that when we fail and when our leaders fail it only reinforces the powerful story of God's grace in our weakness.

The week following Ted's mistakes becoming public,
Bill Maher said this,

"The legacy of the Religious Right will be that: Despite all their Holy pretenses, they made politics not cleaner but dirtier, because when you're so sure your right, you wind up acting so wrong."
I don't agree with much that Bill Maher says, but this has a stinging truth to it. Ted was outed by the prostitute after openly (on air) condemning homosexuals leading up to the elections in 2006. The Christian voice and the Conservative Right have become synonymous with hypocrisy. A hypocrisy made more potent when a Holy pretense of perfection clashes with the frail reality of human brokenness.

So, for those that are followers of Jesus, may all of our failures only reinforce the beautiful story of faith we subscribe to, as we live humbly.
And for those that do not follow Jesus, may you begin to see God outside the hypocrisy of human failures and see Him for who He is in the complexity and perfection of His creation.


just_me_tiff said...

I think you said it beautifully. We do seem to hold people in leadership positions at a higher level. We tend to forget that they are human just like we are. God never intended that we make hero's out of them, or look to them for all of our answers. We are suppose to look at God that way, not man, and this is just a reminder of why.
People are full of disappointment. In worldly standards his sin may seem "bigger" than our daily sins, but in God's eyes it is no different.
I also want to point out that the people of the church are suppose to be set apart from the world, in this case i guess it was to easy to get caught up in what the main stream media said and we looked at him with the same set of judgmental eyes.

Anonymous said...

Just read a clip of his speech at the Illinois church. Honestly, it sounds like the same old prideful Ted. You and I are the same age. As far as I can gather from your blog we agree on many issues regarding the church. I agree that Ted is just a man. I also agree his sins are no greater than mine. However, the scope of his offense is great! Many have been hurt by what he chose to do. I have yet to hear an apology for that. I perceive that this thing is not over. Its not too late for the church to respond in the right way, but he must do the same. I teach my kids that when they offend someone they should not just apologize but do it specifically, with humility then ask for forgiveness. I have not seen or heard this from Ted yet.

allie said...

I don't know how we are all supposed to handle his situation.

I struggle hugely with the paradoxes in the Christian life:
like yes, we all fail and only stand righteous before God in Christ:

but yes, the church, whoever is meant by that, (presumably the leaders), seems to be called to lay down some boundaries.

All I can say is: "Thank You, God, that You did not call me to be among those who have to make the call."

I can't help thinking though, of Jesus and the woman caught in adultery.

Yes, the Law of Moses did say what her punishment should be.

Technically those stoners were right.
But Jesus did things differently, didn't He?

I bought and read Ted's book titled something about Dog Training etc - long before all this happened to him.

I thought the book was outstanding

Kevin Davis said...

just_me_tiff - thanks for your comment.

rymsmall - I'm no defender of Haggard (so don't get me wrong), but I'm not sure what you mean by the 'same old prideful Ted.' I grew up in the Springs and had a lot of exposure to Ted, his ministry and read his books. I've always looked to him as a great leader in the Christian faith of our time.

I guess what bothers me is that so many people looked up to Ted and then cast him aside when all his crap went down - probably because of my own mistakes and the mistakes of dear ones to me growing up, I have a different view of grace. His books still have relevance and his sermons still have God's truth and God used plenty of far worse people in the bible to accomplish His mission.

But I have heard him apologize, don't know if I've heard him ask for forgiveness. But even if people don't ask, we still have a responsibility to give it.

Kevin Davis said...

Allie - I was writing a response to the first two apparently while you were writing your comment.

I loved his 'Dog Training, Fly Fishing and Sharing Christ with the 21st Century.' It was a great book.

Hopefully my wife will comment on this topic, as she disagrees with me. I think she is more along the lines of rymsmall - which I understand. But as Allie is saying, Jesus' view of grace and forgiveness was radically different (turn the other cheek, walk the extra mile, forest in your eye kinda stuff).

Ryan Billings said...

I see a very scared man, not because he f#cked up in the eyes of the church and god, but because maybe he really is gay (gasp!) and afraid of the fallout associated with that revelation.

Justin Chandler said...

I'm on board with you Kevin. I loved Ted Haggard. I always thought his teaching was amazing and had a great way of revealing God's word. The unfortunate part about his situation is that he was ousted because of what he did, where as if he was a glutton, they would have gotten him on a diet. The church has an interesting way of dealing with sin and sinful people. It's a shame that the same people who are quick to judge (and stone) are the same ones that should be dropping them and turning away since they have sinned also. Kind of reminds me of a woman who was brought to Jesus and everyone was ready to kill her...

Mike James said...

Good thoughts, and you are right about them being along the same lines as my post. I have to believe that the fact of his fall is more an indictment on the system the church operates in than anything else, that requires us all to "put on perfection". I by no means excuse his sin or struggles, but I understand the pressure. Too often, abilities to "perform" ministry overshadow the heart issues...because we all just assume too much. We assume that a person who can stand up and perform in perfection is indeed perfect (of course I use perfection loosely). We don't allow for humanity, so we catipult people into authority who are talented but might be struggling severely with heart issues...yet they must maintain a certain image. It's a sad commentary on our structure as a church. I'm done rambling

Kevin Davis said...

Re-read an article Ryan Billings sent me that said Ted is opening his own insurance company - which I think is stupid. He should open a second chance church and not abandon all the dreams he had prior to the 'fall out.'

Chandler - I once heard someone say that the church is the only army that shoots it's own wounded.

Mike James - thanks for the twitter love. It is crazy to think about how accepting we are of someones talents but condemning of their faults.

Jared McCarty said...

That's good to know. I hear his classes are very good. In case you were wondering, I am one of Pastor Mike's former students when he was in Pratt.

Anonymous said...

1. just_me_tiff, I was referring to an experience I had with Ted about a month before this all went down. I'll not mention the details, just know that I and a good friend of mine were taken a back by what we experienced. Anyway, when it comes to the Gospel I need more grace and forgiveness than anyone, so hear me out. I just think that ideally Ted should be careful to humble himself in public vs. talk about what the church did wrong, leave that to the leaders who fight the battle over lust everyday, you know we all do. No doubt if we are sober we can see how the church has failed in may ways in recent decades!
Personally, I wish Ted and his family the best. I also agree that he should get back into ministry, it is obviously a calling on his life but then again maybe what we are talking about here is the fact that Ted has not yet fully healed from this.

Kevin Davis said...

just_me_tiff - I get you. I was actually having more conversation about Ted tonight and other's remarked along the same lines as you. I would have made my first teaching back more humble and more about how messed up I was and what I did.

I think the real question for me is how do we live out our faith in such a way that when we fail it reinforces God's grace and goodness? How does that look and is their a way to redeem the outsiders perspective when Christian leaders do mess up?

Gill said...

I have such strong feelings about how judgemental Christians can be. I personally feel that we are not called on to judge, we are called on to love.