Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching. For the Scripture says, “You shall not muzzle an ox when it treads out the grain,” and, “The laborer deserves his wages.” Do not admit a charge against an elder except on the evidence of two or three witnesses. As for those who persist in sin, rebuke them in the presence of all, so that the rest may stand in fear.
(1 Timothy 5:17-20)

It’s Way Past Time For Christian Men To Act Like Men

Apprising Ministries is an online apologetics and discernment work, which apparently the Lord thought would become necessary in late 2005. I originally began covering the neo-liberal cult of the Emergent Church, who’ve been busy during this time cobbling together their Liberalism 2.0—a new postmodern form of Progressive Christianity, which they now refer to as Emergence Christianity. I mentioned in Doug Pagitt, The Emerging Church, And Affirming Homosexuality, now that it has its neo-liberal theology in place, a big part of the Emerging Church 2.0 is its growing pro-gay agenda as it begins actively striving for a future which would read as follows: The New Christians With Christianity Worth Believing—No Sola Scriptura: Yes, Women Pastors And Queer Christians.

Tip-of-the-spear for this EC advance into the mainstream of squishy evanjellyfish, and pushing hard for acceptance that having sexual relations with another of the same sex i.e homosexuality within a monogamous relationship is also a viable one for the evangelical Christian, is gay-affirming “pastor” Jay Bakker; the head of a bawdy brood of self-described Outlaw Preachers. Against this background, which is a vivid illustration of the sad state of the evangelical community, I now point you to a online Wall Street Journal piece, from a couple of days ago, called Humbled Haggard Climbs Back in Pulpit. Unfortunately Ted Haggard, former president of the National Association of Evangelicals, is a further example of the now critical condition of the church visible.

Stephanie Simon begins her article by telling us:

The Rev. Ted Haggard stood at a pulpit made from stacked buckets one recent Sunday and announced his resurrection. Mr. Haggard was forced to resign nearly four years ago as president of the politically powerful National Association of Evangelicals and to step down from the megachurch he founded, after admitting that he had bought methamphetamine from, and had a sexual encounter with, a gay prostitute.

Once one of the most prominent church leaders in the U.S., Mr. Haggard confessed in a tortured letter, calling himself “a deceiver and a liar” who had long wrestled with desires he described as “repulsive and dark.” He signed a contract promising to follow a path laid out by fellow clergy: to find a new career in a new state and to stay away from pastoral work. Then, his wife at his side, Mr. Haggard left town… (Online source)

This is where this sad saga begins; and now, because Haggard has made the choice to thrust himself back into the limelight, I’m afraid it only continues. Simon says:

He is back now. In a move that thrilled some of his former flock—and alarmed some of his fellow evangelical Christians—Mr. Haggard and his wife Gayle recently launched a new church in their backyard barn, a few miles from the enormous campus of his old congregation. In two months of preaching with sacks of fence-post concrete at his feet, Mr. Haggard, who is 54 years old, has built a congregation of nearly 200 people.

His church, St. James, has outgrown the barn and this Sunday moves to a rented community center. Ebullient as ever, bouncing with energy, Mr. Haggard said he is back doing what he was born to do. “Tiger Woods needs to golf. Michael Vick needs to be playing football,” Mr. Haggard said as his new congregation joined him and Gayle in their backyard for a post-worship picnic. Little kids, shrieking with joy, splashed in the pool. Men grilled burgers. Women set out chicken salad.

“Ted Haggard,” Mr. Haggard said, “needs to be leading a church.” (Online source)

Hmm, I do have to admit, that’s certainly an interesting choice by Ted Haggard to place himself among Tiger Woods and Michael Vick; however in his case, rather than leading a church, it’s much more likely that Haggard is only heading up a goat herd. Simon then shares some rather amazing information:

He acknowledged grave lapses of judgment in the episode he refers to as “my crisis.” But Mr. Haggard also said that in his sorrow and shame, he accepted too much guilt after the scandal broke. “I over-repented,” he said. (Online source)

Um, what; Ted Haggard “over-repented”? Is he serious; how in the world can one do that? Answer: They can’t. And in what follows from Stephanie Simon’s WSJ piece, it’s pretty clear that Ted Haggard has never even repented at all and accepted responsibility for his defaming the Name of Jesus Christ when he committed the sin of sexual immorality while a minister of His Gospel:

In February 2008, Mr. Haggard asked to be released from supervision by other clergy. His former church, New Life, consented, though officials there put out a pointed statement calling Mr. Haggard’s recovery incomplete. The four pastors who supervised Mr. Haggard wouldn’t comment on his new church. New Life pointed to an earlier statement, released in November 2008, that said, “we cannot endorse his return to vocational ministry.”

Mr. Haggard said that is ridiculous. He portrays his encounter with the prostitute as a massage that went awry and said he doesn’t have same-sex attractions. He dismisses as a “witch hunt” the findings of his former church that he engaged in a pattern of misconduct, including sordid talk and inappropriate relationships. (He said his only fault was cracking a few crude jokes.) But his assurances have raised some eyebrows. (Online source)

Godly Sorrow, Not Worldy Remorse, Is What Leads One To True Repentance

Someone who is repentant would willingly accept the discipline of his local church and not ask to “be released” from the supervision of its elders. If Ted Haggard had truly repented he certainly would not refer to their godly council, “we cannot endorse his return to vocational ministry,” as “ridiculous.” Now, for the sake of argument, I’m leaving aside Haggard speaking of simply one “encounter” with a male prostitute; however, Gayle Haggard herself confirms in a January story run by The Denver Post that her husband was sexually attracted to men:

Almost from the day Gayle Haggard learned in early November 2006 that her famous evangelical husband, Ted Haggard, had a secret life of drug use and homosexual liaisons, she knew she would try to forgive him. That’s what Christians do, she writes in her book, “Why I Stayed: The Choices I Made in My Darkest Hour.”…

Gayle Haggard says in the book, co-written by Angela Hunt, that she knew forgiving her husband would not happen all at once. In the days after learning that many of the allegations against her husband were true, she says she heaped “spadefuls of guilt onto Ted,” who considered suicide at one point.

“You should divorce me. I’m so toxic, Gayle, I’ll ruin you,” she writes he told her. “You and the kids could leave me. The church would take you in and help you.”… Even with the searing pain of the revelations about her husband’s long struggle with same-sex attraction, she writes, part of her was thrilled he had finally decided to trust her with the truth.
(Online source)

Personally, I find myself in agreement with the following; all of which really doesn’t bode well for the future of Ted Haggard: 

“I’m still skeptical that the whole sorry story has come out in full,” said Tim Morgan, an editor at the evangelical magazine Christianity Today. Others fear the pressures of leading a congregation will grind down any defenses Mr. Haggard may have built up against temptation.

“We become enamored with our own successes,” said Larry Magnuson, who counsels pastors in crisis at SonScape Retreats, outside Colorado Springs. “We fall back into the same traps. We are masters of self-deception.” (Online source)

Sadly, with Ted Haggard we only saw remorse, worldly grief, after he’d been caught in sin; but we have yet to see a godly grief [that] produces a repentance (2 Corinthians 7:10). Instead Simon shows us that:

Mr. Haggard, who said he draws a weekly salary of $300 from St. James, said he founded the church as an act of humble repentance, because it forces him continually to confront his sin. “If I was arrogant, I would have gotten a job in a farm bureau co-op somewhere in Iowa, changed my name and never been heard from again,” he said. (Online source)

Huh; where again has Haggard confronted his public sin that he’s attempting to gloss over above? And note here the postmodern irrational philosophy he uses, which ends up precisely backward: No, if Ted Haggard was humble, and not someone who’s likely a sociopath who must have attention, adulation and constant ego-stoking, he would have submitted to the church discipline prescribed by the leadership of his former church. Ted Haggard has no business standing behind a pulpit claiming to be a minister of Jesus Christ; and yet, Simon informs us Haggard’s friends say he “has matured.” She continues:

“He has a humility of spirit and a recognition of how gripping sin can be in a person’s life,” said Paul DeVries, president of New York Divinity School, an evangelical seminary in Manhattan. Many in his new congregation echo those words, saying they can relax and be their imperfect selves with Pastor Ted; there is no pressure to put on the facade of a model Christian… (Online source)

Well, of course not; because neither does their “pastor,” whom we’re even told announced, “‘I cuss now,’ he said proudly.” No, in a tragic case like that of Ted Haggard the Bible still says — Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy (Proverbs 28:13). Ted Haggard has clearly not done this. He has not made a full confession and public renunciation of his gross misconduct as a prominent member of the visible church. And as former president of the NAE i.e. a bishop, as well as a pastor-teacher, the following applies to him:

Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness. (James 3:1)

You see, only after genuine repentance can then have, what all of us who truly love Christ and His Church should be praying for; that Ted Haggard would embrace the Gospel of repentance and the forgiveness of sins in Jesus Name, and a restoration to Christian fellowship. As it says in Galatians 6:1Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. You must understand that the false philosophy of postmodernism—relativism in trendy clothes—has convinced so many people that to stand for the absolute Truth of God’s Word and to tell someone its truth, as I’ve just done here, is not loving.

This is a sincere appeal for Ted Haggard to stop trying to hide any of what God already knows, to show his heart for Christ, and to completely and publicly renounce all of his sin, which was revealed by the Lord before this entire nation for everyone to see. Because Charles Spurgeon is right when he says:

Many make a mistake about salvation; they mistake the meaning of the term, and to them salvation means being delivered from going down to the pit of hell. Now, the right meaning of salvation is purification from evil…

When a man is tied up to be flogged for a deed of brutal violence, and his back is bared for the lash, depend upon it—he repents of what he did; that is to say, he repents that he has to suffer for it, but that is all, and a sorry all too.

He has no sorrow for the agony he has inflicted on the innocent victim, no regret for maiming him for life. What is the value of such repentance?

It’s not until we see a godly sorrow that we will be able to find ourselves in Galatians 6:1. And only then can the Body of Christ fully begin the process that every genuine Christian would wish to see; restoration. Until such time Ted Haggard, please, go away…and repent…before it’s too late…

See also: