Ted Haggard is in the news again. He's leaving Colorado Springs, where his church is, and going to Phoenix, where he will probably attend the Phoenix First Assembly of God while studying a graduate degree in counseling.
What impresses me about this news is that Haggard is not going off and founding another church or making moves to "restore himself" in ministry. If my memory serves me correctly, the pastoral oversight board that asked Haggard to step down from his church (for sexual sins with a homosexual prostitute) also reiterated the fact that Haggard should never return to pastoral ministry.
Even before Haggard's fall, I was not impressed with the guy. I was actually the original creator of the Ted Haggard page on Wikipedia, mainly because I felt that he was a "wolf in sheep's clothing" within the evangelical church. Not only was a Pentecostal, he was also a dominionist and an open theist. As head of the National Association of Evangelicals and an adviser to president Bush, I saw him as a dangerous man.
So when he "fell", there was a private element of schadenfreude going through me.
But there was also cynicism. Would he be "restored" and return to pastoral ministry at his church after a period of repentance? Would he continue to be blindly followed by American Christians?
It seems that some of my cynicism was wrong. The way things are going, there is no chance that New Life Church will have Haggard back, and no chance that he will return to pastoral ministry. And that is good.
All this is based upon my understanding of what the New Testament says about elders and pastors. They should be "above reproach" and be sexually pure. Haggard, 50, has spent most of his adult life as a pastor but managed to continue pastoring even when he was engaged in private homosexual behaviour. Haggard did not come out and acknowledge his sin - it needed the male prostitute himself to publicly declare the fact (something which, by the way, many members of Haggard's church have thanked him for).
In short, Haggard can no longer be trusted to be a pastor (theological heresies notwithstanding). He lived a double life with major secret sin. I am hoping his humiliation and fall will act as an example for others - that sexual sin (amongst other major sins) by a pastor automatically disqualifies him from the ministry.
A Caveat: I'm not talking here about sexual sin committed before a person becomes a believer, but sexual sin that is engaged in before or during a believer's position as church pastor (or elder).
Let's thank God that Haggard seems to be taking the right steps, and pray that he will be strengthened in his faith during this time and spend the rest of his days in joy as he contemplates the undeserved graciousness of God.
From the Theosalient Department
© 2007 Neil McKenzie Cameron, http://one-salient-oversight.blogspot.com/
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