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mrmando

Ted Haggard just won't go away

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Ellen, my original point in posting was in response to what I perceived to be a questioning of the validity of any of Ted's teaching or ministry. As perhaps the only person who had any connection to New Life as a parishioner during the time that Ted was senior pastor, and as someone who benefited in some way from his ministry - despite his personal downfall - I simply wanted to dispel that perception.

This is why I have mixed emotions about Ted. While I'd never choose a ministry of this sort, or of New Life, there should be no denying his effectiveness. And everyone has stuff to hide. Everyone. If seminaries excelled at manufacturing transperancy I'm not sure we'd like the output, nor would many put up with such a program long enough to graduate. It's not the hiding of issues in the long run. It is just what it is that is hidden compared with a ministry's or church's ideals. And the severity of what is hidden and the perception when inevitable light is shed on some of what is hidden that matters. There will be hiding and there will be finding out.

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No worries, Joel - I can understand your reasons for posting as you did. I guess i have never understood the appeal of megachurches. Equally, I don't understand many aspects of evangelical church culture (and denominations), because that's not in my background.

all the best (and I hope things are going well with you!),

e.

Thanks Ellen. I find it doesn't have the same appeal it used to, though I still feel a strange faithfulness to it, partially as a result of my experiences there. Attending a 50 member Anglican church plant in the present has made that past iteration of church feel rather foreign for me, even when trying to defend it. Odd how past experience manifests itself!

This is why I have mixed emotions about Ted. While I'd never choose a ministry of this sort, or of New Life, there should be no denying his effectiveness. And everyone has stuff to hide. Everyone. If seminaries excelled at manufacturing transperancy I'm not sure we'd like the output, nor would many put up with such a program long enough to graduate. It's not the hiding of issues in the long run. It is just what it is that is hidden compared with a ministry's or church's ideals. And the severity of what is hidden and the perception when inevitable light is shed on some of what is hidden that matters. There will be hiding and there will be finding out.

True enough. Some churches realize this very human phenomena better and more fully than do others, and do a better job preparing for it. It's one of the peripheral reasons I'm in an Anglican church right now.

Edited by Joel C

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FWIW, I think there's a significant difference between Peter's one moment of cowardice (in a very high-pressure situation) and Ted Haggard's years of hypocrisy and deceit. Perhaps someone in Haggard's position should be allowed back into ministry at some point, perhaps not, but I think one can also argue that he's rushing back into the job far too quickly.

Well it's been three and a half years, and as far as I can make out he's not returning to high profile ministry, just a small church full of people who know what he's done and what his weaknesses are.

But if Peter were the only biblical example that would be one thing, but the Bible, not to mention church history, is chock full of them.

Matt, I also have grave reservations about Haggard based on the recent past. However, as I've said before, he seems to have thought the "churchy" things through and come up with a few fresh ideas. He also seems to want to be more inclusive on the issue of sexual sin. If I can speculate based on what I've read from Barna and some few other sources, the intent is for a via media of chastity as a work in progress. My suspicions lie with his discernment in his own life as a leader of St. James. No one questions his obvious pastoring abilities. How will he stand as an up front example in personal life and working on his weaknesses?

I also have some reservations, but I'm encouraged that he is doing this in team, not as a one man/couple show.

I've been around enough career politicans and pastors in my life to know that people quickly become attached to "leading" others. This insatiable drive to "make a difference in the community and the lives of others" is almost always fueled by the desire to be on stage.

I disagree. I think "leading others" is an inherent part of who God has made someone. Sure for some there's a desire to be on stage, but for many it's who God has made them and called them to be.

I know a couple of former pastors who've done pretty well selling insurance.

lol

Even if he has to start a second career, Ted could still be effective in some kind of lay ministry. But going back to full-time pastoring? I don't think so. We've all seen how Ted copes with the pressures of church leadership, and it ain't purty. At this point, yeah, St. James is only a small house church, but then again, that's exactly how New Life started.

But that's all conjecture. His actions in the past may not have been due to the pressures of church leadership, but numerous possible other factors, including the fact that not only was he leading a massive church, but was also a major figurehead for other church groups (I'm a little hazy on the details). I doubt that's what he's aiming for, and even if he was with his past I cannot foresee him ever being given that chance. But leading a small church? In team? Sure I hope and expect it to grow, but I sincerely doubt it will ever become a mega-church, or that he will get national figurehead status.

I disagree. First of all, at Haggard's age, where at and what you studied is not as important as the fact of the degree(s) and subsequent career. The things that make for a good leading pastor are those that can be employed anywhere.

I've heard this argument many times, believed it, and it's been to my detriment. People don't take those achievements seriously, and optimistically suggesting it damages people's lives.

I don't know if this will make sense to anyone, but... he makes me very uneasy and always has done, and I've seen very little of him, with the exception of film and a couple of TV appearances. I think he says all the "right things" (evangelical buzzwords and platitudes) but all the words ring hollow and false to me. If I were to meet someone like him IRL, I think I would find them untrustworthy.

It's almost as if the surface is painted on, concealing - ??? (I'm not sure, exactly.)

FWIW, I fell uneasy about this type of comment. I know you're very good at making it clear that things like this are only your opinion, but here that approach seems somewhat at odds with the harshness of your language, particularly given that, by your own admission, you know very little about him. No matter what he has done in the past, he's still your brother in Christ.

I don't like the idea of Haggard trying to get back into a pastoral/leadership position, and think Greg P. is right about Haggard and celebrity.

I don't know if this will make sense to anyone, but... he makes me very uneasy and always has done, and I've seen very little of him, with the exception of film and a couple of TV appearances. I think he says all the "right things" (evangelical buzzwords and platitudes) but all the words ring hollow and false to me. If I were to meet someone like him IRL, I think I would find them untrustworthy.

It's almost as if the surface is painted on, concealing - ??? (I'm not sure, exactly.)

Well, you are right in some senses, and in others, of course, entitled to your own perspective on his approach to pastoring. As someone who went to New Life regularly for a couple years while he was there, I can't deny that there were a lot of problems in the approach to leadership as it related to visibility and celebrity; and yet, I think most people from New Life who attended while he was senior pastor (including myself) would say that he did have a strong ministry, that really blessed a lot of people. And not just in a "right things" way; he was thoughtful, thorough, and occasionally deep. I'd go so far as to say that in his prime of teaching, he was an exceptional expositor of the Word. You might not know that, as the way he operated within the bounds of the church was often more grounded and settled than the way he approached the press. Ted will always be for me a quintessential example of the ability for someone to be living a life of deep sin and deception, and still ministering the word of God in a powerful way.

That said, I'm in full agreement that this new pastoring thing is very problematic. There's no way that decades of deception and struggle is turned around in four years.

Even if he has to start a second career, Ted could still be effective in some kind of lay ministry. But going back to full-time pastoring? I don't think so. We've all seen how Ted copes with the pressures of church leadership, and it ain't purty. At this point, yeah, St. James is only a small house church, but then again, that's exactly how New Life started.

[edited to answer particular quote]

Yeah, but it's different this time around. Colorado Springs is very small in some ways (especially north Colorado Springs), and everyone in the area, Christian and non-Christian alike, knew of Ted, before and after the scandal. Everyone had an opinion of him then, and there's no doubt that everyone still has one. It's a little amazing to me that the Haggards felt coming back to the Springs was a good idea in that regard. Not that they aren't welcomed back in grace, but people don't forget easily.

I don't worry about New Life that much. Brady Boyd, the current senior pastor, has already guided New Life through the tail end of Ted's departure, as well as tragic shootings a couple of years ago that took the lives of a couple parishioners; this is small beans from one perspective. And, contrary to popular belief, New Life has always been about the community, not the celebrity. There was certainly a certain amount of refocusing away from that sense of visibility and celebrity after Ted left, but the church stayed relatively strong and lost comparatively few members in the wake of Ted's departure, mostly due to the fact that it was and always has been a strong community. Consequently, I think the Haggards will find it much more difficult to establish themselves (and their church) coming back.

By the way, hi everyone! It's been a while.

Thanks for that.

Matt

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It's not clear to me that Ted has ever been entirely forthcoming about what he did or didn't do -- he and the male prostitute involved seemed to have two different versions of the story, and it was Ted's version that kept changing.

It's possible that Ted made a clean breast of it all, somewhere, sometime and to someone, and that either it hasn't been reported or I missed it. But my general impression is still that he's hiding something. Whether that's because he's basically untrustworthy or I'm basically suspicious, I can't say for sure.

Given the nature of Ted's past behavior, I don't think the size of the church he's leading much matters. Deceit is deceit, whether it affects 25 people or 25,000. If (and please, folks, this is an inexact analogy at best) Ted were a priest who had molested children, we shouldn't think reassigning him to a smaller parish would solve the problem.

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I disagree. First of all, at Haggard's age, where at and what you studied is not as important as the fact of the degree(s) and subsequent career. The things that make for a good leading pastor are those that can be employed anywhere.

I've heard this argument many times, believed it, and it's been to my detriment. People don't take those achievements seriously, and optimistically suggesting it damages people's lives.

I'm not sure that I understand what you mean here. I was suggestin that there is a certain amount of salesmanship and technique involved in being a successful pastor. That would help towards success in almost any other line of work. What do you mean by your experience? Which lives damaged?

Edited by Rich Kennedy

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It's not clear to me that Ted has ever been entirely forthcoming about what he did or didn't do -- he and the male prostitute involved seemed to have two different versions of the story, and it was Ted's version that kept changing.

It's possible that Ted made a clean breast of it all, somewhere, sometime and to someone, and that either it hasn't been reported or I missed it. But my general impression is still that he's hiding something. Whether that's because he's basically untrustworthy or I'm basically suspicious, I can't say for sure.

Eggs-actly. He seemed eager about a month after the scandal initially broke, to declare himself healed and ready to pick up where he left off. This type of denial is standard issue addict behavior and in light of the severity of his deception, totally suspect. The "Oops, i made a bad mistake! Never EVER gonna happen again!" declaration is always a red flag.

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MattPage wrote:

: Well it's been three and a half years, and as far as I can make out he's not returning to high profile ministry, just a small church full of people who know what he's done and what his weaknesses are.

FWIW, I would echo what mrmando and Greg P have said. I don't think it matters much how big his new church is (the fact that it's Haggard himself leading the church makes it kind of "high profile" to begin with, no? I mean, he had a press conference and everything to announce the existence of his brand-new church, however small it might be -- and apparently he's open to the possibility of doing a "reality TV" show about his new church).

: But if Peter were the only biblical example that would be one thing, but the Bible, not to mention church history, is chock full of them.

FWIW, no examples are coming to mind right now. I can't think of any biblical characters who were spiritual leaders, who hid their sins and addictions from their flocks for years if not decades, who were exposed against their will, and who got right back into leading spiritual flocks just a few years later. (Someone like King David might have committed adultery and a form of murder, but he was a political leader, not so much a spiritual one, and in any case he never stepped down from the throne.)

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I plan to keep the phrase "repented too much" in my pocket...who knows when that will come in handy.

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"Over-repented". Heh.

Following the scandal, when he was jobless and living in a hotel, I actually kinda liked him. Now that he's back in Mr. Pastor mode I'm back to thinking he's an avoidant liar and ministry whore.

Having worked with drug addicts for many years, I find this classic addictive behavior. Minimize your transgressions, use revisionist tactics on the past, quickly declare yourself completely "better"... His sins were nothing more than a "massage that went awry"? Oh man... the late night talking heads will have a field day with that one!

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Exclusive: Controversial pastor Ted Haggard lands TLC reality project

Ted Haggard is coming to TLC.

The controversial Christian evangelical is getting his own reality project on the cable network. Ted Haggard: Scandalous will air as a one-hour special on the network.

Haggard was the head of the National Association of Evangelicals, leading 30 million followers across 45,000 churches, when he was caught having an affair with a male prostitute. He also admitted he had been using crystal meth.

The revelations generated worldwide headlines and forced Haggard to to leave the NAE. Haggard, his wife, and five children have since been trying to rebuild their family. The pastor speaks out about the TLC special after the jump . . .

Entertainment Weekly, January 6

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Maybe Bill Mallonee can re-record "Drunk on the Tears"?

Jim and Tammy and Reverend Swaggart Haggard

They don't look like Jesus and they're a whole lot fatter

Don't miss the truth for a stupid side show

Don't confuse the cup for the contents it holds

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Ted Haggard to appear in 'Celebrity Wife Swap'

Ted Haggard's life was already a sort of reality show.

Well, now it's official. Or almost official. According to unconfirmed reports, the former New Life Church pastor and his wife will star in the new ABC reality series, "Celebrity Wife Swap," on which they will swap partners (without sex) with actor Gary Busey and his partner.

Sources have told The Gazette that the show will shoot Thursday at the GLBT Pride Center in Colorado Springs. . . .

Colorado Springs Gazette, September 20(?)

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It's kind of a funny show, but given the severity of his moral failure and the traumatic nature of his marital woes, you would think he'd want to stay off the reality show circuit for a few decades.

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It's kind of a funny show, but given the severity of his moral failure and the traumatic nature of his marital woes, you would think he'd want to stay off the reality show circuit for a few decades.

Particularly re. reality shows that involve, and I would argue, challenge marriage.

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It's kind of a funny show, but given the severity of his moral failure and the traumatic nature of his marital woes, you would think he'd want to stay off the reality show circuit for a few decades.

Particularly re. reality shows that involve, and I would argue, challenge marriage.

Agreed. Those who watch the show know-- it's mainly the wife that's put under the gun and humiliated. As if she hasn't already eaten enough sh*t already Ted, thanks. What a gem.

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It's kind of a funny show, but given the severity of his moral failure and the traumatic nature of his marital woes, you would think he'd want to stay off the reality show circuit for a few decades.

Particularly re. reality shows that involve, and I would argue, challenge marriage.

Agreed. Those who watch the show know-- it's mainly the wife that's put under the gun and humiliated. As if she hasn't already eaten enough sh*t already Ted, thanks. What a gem.

It' a sad commentary on an attention-starved, broken man. And yes, it's humiliating for his wife. I really hope Ted Haggard gets the help he needs. In terms of his public persona, I wonder if the Pat Robertson approach isn't best. If we ignore him, maybe he'll go away.

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I see Isaac Air Freight founder Dan Rupple is one of the producers ...

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I wonder if the Pat Robertson approach isn't best. If we ignore him, maybe he'll go away.

But...Robertson never went away...the more we ignored him, the closer he got. So that doesn't work. :)

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I'm in the middle of reading Happy Days Were Here Again, and ran across this column, which reminded me of this thread -

On Having Fun with the Fundamentalists, March 27, 1987 -

... The implied notion here, of course, is that the whole idea - the idea of preaching the word of Christ on television - is discredited. How is that? Well, because a preacher called Jim Bakker ... engaged in an act of adultery and then paid blackmail money to prevent his transgression's getting out.

Implicit in the handling of the story is the notion that those who do not practice what they preach invalidate that which they preach. To suggest such a thing is to betray a most awful misunderstanding of Christian teaching. The man whom Christ designated as the rock on which he would found his church sinned three times before the cock crowed. It is testimony to the profoundest understanding of Christian teaching that such generalities as "Physician, heal thyself" are utterly empty of moral and empirical meaning. If a doctor himself smokes cigarettes or drinks alcohol to excess, his failings do not invalidate his medical advice to others not to yield to weaknesses he cannot dominate. (After receiving a scolding from his physician for drinking too much, a character in Rabelais responds, "Forsooth, I do believe I know more old drunkards than I do old doctors.")

It has not been noticed in any account I have seen that we are dealing with a communion of people among whom an act of adultery is a Watergate-gravity offense. There is a certain irony in beholding the mirth among people for whom an act of adultery is no more offensive than, say, serving white wine with red meat, over the distress caused by a single act of adultery by a preacher who preaches against adultery ...

Whatever virtues Mr. Bakker does regularly practice, asceticism is certainly not one of them. That paradox is as old as the first effort by the first pilgrim in the first catacomb to make a sacrifice in order to adorn an altar. That habit, in 1,100 years, produced the Cathedral of Chartres, whose incomparable beauty gladdened not only the heart of Henry Adams, but also the millennium of peasants who made sacrifices to create it. The adornment of the altar grew, almost inevitably, to the adornment of the house of the ministers of the altars, and the bejeweled palaces in which the popes and the cardinals and the archbishops lived. In some, the paradox (despite the things of this world) is never jarring: Pope Pius XII could be wearing the Hope diamond and still, beholding him, one saw a man wearing the simplest cassock, pursuing the vision of Christ.

Nothing Christ taught requires despising beautiful surroundings. But he did teach that priorities must inform the Christian, and it is not easy for anyone to judge whether the apparent vulgarity of the physical surroundings of the Reverend Jim Bakker reflects disorder in his spiritual discipline. That he did not, at a crucial point, succeed in resisting temptation merely confirms that he was a sinner. That he expressed contrition invokes the extrasecular promise of forgiveness, seventy times seven times. But even granted divine forgiveness, there is the penance to be paid, and he is paying it by losing his exalted position in the public ministry.

There is great sport in catching up the hypocrite, bu the cliche - "Hypocrisy is the tribute that vice pays to virtue" - must never get lost in the exercise ...

The point is that Christianity not only survives such enormities, it takes strength from them because the abiding lessons of Christianity are reaffirmed: Man is a sinner. Man can repent. God will forgive. That is so very different from the fashionable secular complement, which is: What is sin?

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