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Home > 2012 > December Web Exclusives > Going To Hell with Ted Haggard

I didn't plan to care about Ted Haggard. After all, I have access to Google and a Bible. I heard about what he did and knew it was wrong. I saw the clips from the news and the HBO documentary about his life after his fall. I honestly felt bad for him but figured it was his own undoing. When the topic came up with others I know in ministry, we would feign sadness, but inside we couldn't care less. One close friend said he would understand it more if Ted had just sinned with a woman. I agreed with him at the time. It's amazing how much more mercy I give to people who struggle with sins I understand. The further their sin is from my own personal struggles, the more judgmental and callous I become. I'm not proud of that. It's just where I was at that time in my walk. But that all changed in one short afternoon.

Eating our own

A while back I was having a business lunch at a sports bar in the Denver area with a close atheist friend. He's a great guy and a very deep thinker. During lunch, he pointed at the large TV screen on the wall. It was set to a channel recapping Ted's fall. He pointed his finger at the HD and said, "That is the reason I will not become a Christian. Many of the things you say make sense, Mike, but that's what keeps me away."

It was well after the story had died down, so I had to study the screen to see what my friend was talking about. I assumed he was referring to Ted's hypocrisy. "Hey man, not all of us do things like that," I responded. He laughed and said, "Michael, you just proved my point. See, that guy said sorry a long time ago. Even his wife and kids stayed and forgave him, but all you Christians still seem to hate him. You guys can't forgive him and let him back into your good graces. Every time you talk to me about God, you explain that he will take me as I am. You say he forgives all my failures and will restore my hope, and as long as I stay outside the church, you say God wants to forgive me. But that guy failed while he was one of you, and most of you are still vicious to him." Then he uttered words that left me reeling: "You Christians eat your own. Always have. Always will."

Change of heart

He was running late for a meeting and had to take off. I, however, could barely move. I studied the TV and read the caption as a well-known religious leader kept shoveling dirt on a man who had admitted he was unclean. And at that moment, my heart started to change. I began to distance myself from my previously harsh statements and tried to understand what Ted and his family must have been through. When I brought up the topic to other men and women I love and respect, the very mention of Haggard's name made our conversations toxic. Their reactions were visceral.

Please understand, this isn't just my experience. Just Google his name and read what is said about him in Christian circles. Most Christians would say God can forgive him, but almost universally people agree that God will never use him again. When I pressed the question, "Why can't God still use Ted?" I was dismissed as foolish or silly. Most of these people got mad and demanded I drop the subject. Perhaps they saw something I was missing, but this response seemed strange. After all, I reasoned, Jesus restored Peter after he denied Christ. That's a pretty big deal. And what about the Scripture that teaches us that the gifts and callings of God are irrevocable? So I felt I needed to meet Ted for myself. So I had my assistant track him down for a lunch appointment. I live outside Denver and he was living in Colorado Springs, a little over an hour away. Perfect!

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Related Topics:AdulteryConfessionForgivenessGracePrideRepentance
Posted: December 3, 2012

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Displaying 1–5 of 788 comments


December 01, 2013  10:20pm

I don't see how Christianity is any kind of guide in disciplining or rehabilitating a leader. His fitness for any position can be judged on objective criteria without agonizing over WWJD. After half a century in the church I realize that spirituality is an impediment to knowledge, good works or leadership because it burdens and confuses its practitioners.

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Bernard Henderson

September 12, 2013  12:12pm

I truly thought this was a great article. I believe everyone knows a Ted just maybe not on the that level. I thought to myself truth to be told we all are a Ted. Each one of us deals with some type of sin just wasn't exposed. Just in case we forgot -- If we say we have no sin we make Him a liar. We need to take a good hard look within before looking outward. It takes courage to go outside the box and not be a Pharisee or have that type of mentality. It reminds me when Jesus was with the Pharisees and they were looking for Jesus to break the Sabbath instead of ministering to the man that was in pain with the withered hand. The mission of Jesus hasn't changed to seek and to save the lost. Since the Grace of God is greater than sin in man we should be careful to let God build His masterpieces of Grace. Selah ---

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Beck Pulv

September 02, 2013  2:47am

I am not a Christian. I found this as I was prowling google in curiosity about where Ted haggard is now. The comments won't let me put my whole story, but long story short, after realizing my beliefs categorized me as 'non-Christian' and stating so publically, I was subjected to a lot of hate from Christian friends, family, and strangers. I began to act in kind. When ted was in friends of god, i mocked him. But seeing how my non-Christian friends reacted to Teds scandal, and struggle caused me to realize that they, and I, were reciprocating hate with hate. It caused me to fundamentally change my actions, and even some of my beliefs, particularly in terms of morality. I just wanted to let the author know that your doing it (christianity) right. Even I know that the bible says he who hates has committed murder in his heart and will be denied heaven. I'm glad to hear Ted is doing well and hope his ministry to the broken will bring healing to those he helps, and to himself.

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July 27, 2013  10:59am

Steve, I was just thinking -- I hear you and at first blush would agree (re: disqualifying oneself from leadership)...but I'm thinking that at some point, in someway, we have all done this. True repentance, however puts us in a whole different place...we have had a change of mind, heart and are now devoted to Christ in the area that was in need of repentance. What better person to lead? (I do however, believe that there needs to be a time of establishing whether the repentance is real -- God can see the heart, we have to see what God allows us to see so there needs to be time. And the truly repentant will, I believe, graciously live with the limits God allows to be placed on us with humility and trust in Him to open doors at the right time)... I'm just thinking aloud here.....

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July 13, 2013  12:02pm

I wonder when people will come to the realization that in the Lords mind all this is not s about Ted; or even about this article (though it is very well said). It is really about you. You as an individual. Christ forgave the woman caught in adultery. He forgave a cripple lowered to him in a basket. He forgave those who spat on him. Those who crucified him, those who pierced him. He even forgave you (believe it or not). Now in this world we are like him (or we're supposed to be). To the lost it is written, 'Judgrment without mercy will be shown to all who have not been mercifully. Mercy triumphs over judgement. He has cast our sins as far as the east is from the west, into the depths of the sea, They are forgotten. Can you forgive in the same way? There is no real forgiveness if we do not separate the sin from the transgressors the same way he did this for you. It is only in this was that Ted can be truly restored, and maybe even you too! Remember. 'Mercy triumphs!

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