Ted Haggard and Jim Wallis: A Couple Brief Thoughts

I found this post over at God’s Politics – Jim Wallis’ blog it was a statement about Ted Haggard and the issues that were raised in the last couple weeks, and I think it’s really good to read.

My impression of this whole thing is that like everything else, when leaders “fall” they fall hard, and everyone jumps on the opportunity to bash from one side or the other. This should never be the response of the church, not just for its own leaders, but even for them which is often the harder thing to do. We get embarrassed by failure, and so instead of finding ways to reconcile and heal we denounce and alienate.

Jim Wallis has written the kind of response that exemplifies the way the church should handle this situation.

Here are two long quotes for consideration (but the article is worth reading).

The whole situation reminds us again of the basics – that we are all sinners and utterly dependent on the grace of God. Ted’s failures, and our own, remind us of why we all need a savior. What it should also remind us of is the need for humility and forgiveness in response to such painful revelations. Ted even expressed his concern for and called for the forgiveness of his accuser, a male prostitute who sought to expose him during an election campaign as a “hypocrite.??? Some critics of religion, and evangelicals in particular, will say this situation shows that all Christians and their leaders are hypocrites. That’s not true, but it does remind us that all Christians, and their leaders, are sinners with their own “darkness??? in deep need of the light of Christ. “None are righteous, no not one,??? says the Apostle Paul, and we perhaps should be reminded by these tragic circumstances to not expect so much of leaders—who are every bit as human and fallible as those they lead, and every bit as dependent on God’s grace.

And finally,

In a particularly insightful comment, Haggard’s letter said, “The public person I was wasn’t a lie; it was just incomplete.??? In my experience, that’s true of most, if not all, leaders. And his letter also contained a warning for public leaders: “When I stopped communicating about my problems, the darkness increased and finally dominated me. As a result, I did things that were contrary to everything I believe.??? Ted and his family are paying a high price for his behavior and he himself says he should be “disciplined and corrected.??? In every tragic situation like this, there are always redemptive possibilities.

I hope that this situation, our response to this tragedy and what Ted and his wife have said, will be seen as an example for the rest of us and our leaders. That is, I hope we can come to understand that in hiding our struggles and mistakes and being unwilling to open up to other, we slowly become dominated by darkness.

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Wess

…is the William R. Rogers Director of Friends Center and Quaker Studies at Guilford College in Greensboro, NC., PhD in Intercultural Studies from Fuller Theological Seminary, served as a “released minister” at Camas Friends Church, and father of three. He enjoys sketchnoting, sharing conversation over coffee with a friend, listening to vinyl and writing creative nonfiction.

2 thoughts on “Ted Haggard and Jim Wallis: A Couple Brief Thoughts”

  1. For me too the issue isn’t that Haggard fell — ‘fall” is the correct term. It is the church’s response and the part it played in that fall. The “sins” here were illicit drug use, adultery (homosexuality). However far his mischoices may have gone, his response was that of Adam in the garden — lying, misdirection — in modern terms — damage control. And the response of his community(ies) essentially confirms that he was right. He was not condemned for the drug use or for the lying to the congregation. He was condemned and released from his position(s) for sexual misconduct.

    I wonder what would have happened to Adam and Eve if they had simply told the truth?

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