Wednesday, November 08, 2006
TED HAGGARD’S FALL AND HIS REPLACEMENT’S SPIN
Christian witness is not morality in itself but an ongoing story of God's gift of redemption as we humbly embrace the brokenness of our sin.
Our efforts at salvaging a measure of integrity from the rubble of a scandal can sometimes sound truncated.
Rev Leith Anderson, is Ted Haggard’s replacement at the National Association Of Evanglicals (NAE). Haggard resigned because of a well publicised moral failure in Colorado. Anderson said in relation to the public perception of Haggard’s fall:
“They will understand that if there are 45,000 churches (affiliated with NAE), that 44,999 of them have leaders that did not misbehave and that one person misbehaved and that that is an anomaly." (my emphasis)
Externally, he said, people looking from the outside at evangelicals may attempt to paint them all with one brush.
“There will be those that will think the worst of evangelicals because of this and I’m sorry about that,” Anderson said. “This is not who we are. This is not what we do. This is an exception.” (my emphasis)
eerrghh…does this mean that those 44,999 churches have faultless Pastors who don't misbehave?
My sympathies are with Anderson. He's back is against the wall and something needs to be said in order to put the NAE in a good light. His statement above however borders on spin. People these days can smell spin a mile away!
He may have also unknowingly painted an overly generous picture of Pastors in his attempt to convince people that the NAE is a network of mature Pastors who do not indulge in homosexual trysts. Anderson of course is empirically right. There are men and women in difficult pastorates who are exemplary. This is not to say that exemplary Pastors don't misbehave or do dumb things. There is nothing exceptional or anomalous about sin in Christian leaders. Church history does not exactly put a positive spin on the moral failures of Christian leaders. And yeah…read the Bible too…David, Abraham, Jacob, Noah and Peter - these guys would NEVER have made it to the Times list of the top 50 influential leaders of the decade.
The difference between Haggard and the rest of us? his sins were brutally exposed; ours are either hidden, tolerated or seen as Christian virtue. Most Pastors may not be involved in homosexual trysts. Several of us however lie on occasion, exaggerate in the pulpit, struggle with pornographic temptations, get angry, cuss and yell, don’t pay taxes; there are times when we say “God told us” …when in fact He did not. And let’s not forget all the prideful religious back biting. Pastors don't model political correctness but the terrifying and bloody work of Christ's redemption in our lives.
"whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it. Jas 2:10"
When people taunt us for our moral failings, lets repent and NOT take refuge in our own sense of righteousness and claim it was an exception or an anomaly. Suffering taunt and lampooning for our sins is good for the soul! The Psalmists and the writer of Lamentations saw God's hand behind the sorrow of their sins and it was to Him that they directed their cry.
The self deception and self denial that drove Haggard’s "misbehaviour" lurks in all Pastors and takes different sinful shapes and forms. And that, Leith, is neither an exception nor an anomaly!
Pray for your Pastor and his family.