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

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We exchanged a few emails and agreed on a date and a restaurant. I took two men from my staff, and we met him for lunch. All the way there, I quietly played out in my head how he would act. Would he be reserved? Sad? Angry or distant?

Surprised by friendship

In less than five minutes of talking with Ted, I realized a horrible truth—I liked him. He was brutally honest about his failures. He was excited that the only people who would talk to him now were the truly broken and hurt. During our conversation a lady approached him. He instantly went into "pastor mode" and cared for her. Deep inside God was teaching me that true salvation is an ongoing process. We spent two hours together and decided to stay in touch. I began to call and ask him church-related questions. He possesses a wealth of wisdom. He even has a growing church in the very city that knows him for his biggest failures. I thought I had it tough as a church planter! But God is causing his church to really grow. I met his wonderful wife, Gayle. She is a terrific teacher of grace and one of my heroes. When I grow up, I want to be Gayle Haggard. And so I became close friends with Ted Haggard.

But then the funniest thing started happening to me. Some Christians I hung out with told me they would distance themselves from me if I continued reaching out to Ted. Several people in my church said they would leave. Really? Does he have leprosy? Will he infect me? We are friends. We aren't dating! But in the end, I was told that my voice as a pastor and author would be tarnished if I continued to spend time with him. I found this sickening. Not just because people can be so small, but because I have a firsthand account from Ted and Gayle of how they lost many friends they had known for years. Much of it is pretty coldblooded. Now the "Christian machine" was trying to take away their new friends.

It would do some Christians good to stay home one weekend and watch the entire DVD collection of HBO's Band of Brothers. Marinate in it. Take notes. Write down words like loyalty, friendship, and sacrifice. Understand the phrase: never leave a fallen man behind.

Where's the love?

I had a hard time understanding why we as Christians really needed Ted to crawl on the altar of church discipline and die. We needed a clean break. He needed to do the noble thing and walk away from the church. He needed to protect our image. When Ted crawled off that altar and into the arms of a forgiving God, we chose to kill him with our disdain. I wrestled with my part in this until I got an epiphany. In a quiet time of prayer, Christ revealed to me a brutal truth: it was my fault. We are called to leave the 99 to go after the one. We are supposed to be numbered with the outcasts. After all, we are the ones that believe in resurrection. In many ways I have not been aggressive enough with the application of the gospel. My concept of grace needed to mature, to grow muscles, teeth, and bad breath. It needed to carry a shield, and most of all, it needed to find its voice.

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Related Topics:AdulteryConfessionForgivenessGracePrideRepentance
Posted: December 3, 2012

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Displaying 2–6 of 788 comments

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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Carl Docksteader

July 08, 2013  6:51pm

Here's a different perspective. I don't know this Ted fellow. I don't need to. I subscribe to the principles of "love", not "Christianity". Same thing, you say? Maybe a lot of the principles overlap, but the rules of love are a whole lot less confusing and a whole lot more universal than the rules of Christianity. I used to be Christian. Finally saw the light and walked away. Finally found true peace. This guy Ted, whatever he did, obviously it went against what the "Christian church" professes, etc. So the church has to go through it's disciplinary steps if and only if the guy wants to remain a member. But here's where I challenge you readers of this to think for yourselves... who made that process? You might say "Paul", or you might say "the board of directors". Regardless, it's made by man, so it's prone to weakness and fault. But in fact, it doesn't matter. What matters is that you(collectively) are so focused on your rules and your doctrines and your processes you forgot LOVE!

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