Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Haggard clarified

My original post about the Ted Haggard scandal was meant to address only the issue of how we might initially react to the news. It intentionally said nothing about how the process might proceed. A number of people have asked me informally about this, and then one person made some very good comments on the subject, to I thought I would take the chance to say some of the unsaid things.

There is clearly a need for some time in this process. The hurts that he himself is dealing with, along with those of the members of his family, congregation, and the community that he impacts, all require time and space for healing. While in some circumstances the healing process might proceed while the man remains in the pulpit, it is almost certainly not the case here. So time away from the pulpit is probably necessary, not because he cannot minister at this time, but because he (and everyone else) cannot heal should he remain in the pulpit at this time.

I am less comfortable with the notion that this sin "disqualifies" him from the pulpit at this time. This is a big deal, and has wide-ranging consequences, some of which certainly make pulpit ministry very difficult. These things conspire to make the pulpit unavailable to him, so I guess in a way he is currently disqualified. But I say this with many caveats. I think we cannot allow ourselves ever to forget the we do not minister out of our purity, but in the embrace of the grace of God in the midst of our sin. It is not our purity, but His mercy, that qualifies us for the work of the Kingdom.

Still, it would seem to me that it is best for everyone that he not be in the pulpit right now. I just wonder what will happen when the time comes (should it ever some) that he prepares to re-enter the pulpit.


charlene said...

How does Paul's teaching to Timothy about deacons and elders apply here?
While we agree that no one ministers out of absolute purity, Paul set up some solid qualifications for those who would oversee the body of Christ.
Must be above reproach, husband of one wife, manage his household well, a good reputation...etc.

Also, are we confusing unforgiveness with accountability?
I'm not so sure the church (outisde of Catholicism and its influence) holds divorce as an unforgiveable sin. There are divorced pastors all over America leading thriving congregations. People are growing in their understanding that marriages fail for a variety of reasons. Its when infidelity is an issue (on the part of the minister) that people become uncomfortable.

I feel very sad for Ted Haggard. His life and that of his family will never be the same. If he chooses to walk out the long process of restoration, he will have an opportunity to minister in a new area. God will truly give beauty for ashes.

Unrelated question....How do you start a new subject on here?

Dr. Don said...

I think we cannot lose sight of Pauls's list of qualifications, but we can also never forget, as you said, that none of these are permanent disqualifiers.

While I agree that evangelicals have no "official" rule making divorce an unforgivable sin, the effect of our behavior is very similar. Bethany blogged on this subject on the church's blog site: Click here to read her post

On your unrelated question, you cannot start a new subject. This is my blog, so I get to pick the subjects. You can always ask unrelated questions as a comment to any of my posts, but that's how blogs work.

Jeff said...

Hmmm...interesting questions. This is the ever difficult balance between mercy/forgiveness/restoration and discipline. God both shows us great mercy and great discipline. God cares deeply for our moral development, but He also does not shy away from forgiving us when we mess up.
With church leaders it is different only in the sense that they really are held to a higher standard. However, I must agree with Don that sin cannot disqualify a leader completely from ministry. If he is truly repentant, God forgives Him and we must remember that from God's perspective "The gifts and the calling of God are without repentance." If Haggard was called by God to Pastoral ministry, that calling still remains on his life, even if his effectiveness has been damaged by this sin. I could say more, but this isn't a blog - it's only a comment box.