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Home > 2012 > December Online Only > Going To Hell with Ted Haggard

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Grace must pick a side in the light of day, not just whisper its opinion in the shadows and dark places where we sign our name Anonymous. When a leader falls and then repents, grace picks a side. Grace is strong. Grace is a shield to those who cannot get off the battlefield. Grace is God's idea. Like a spiritual Switzerland, we stay in our neutral world where we can both forgive and judge but never get our hands dirty caring for the fallen. And when we don't pick a side, the wrong side gets picked for us. Crematoriums are more sanitary than hospitals. Let's change this!

Of course, I understand that if a person doesn't repent there is not a whole lot you can offer. But Ted resigned, confessed, repented, and submitted. He jumped through our many hoops. When will we be cool with him again? When will the church allow God to use him again? It's funny that we believe we get to make that decision.

The Ted Haggard issue reminds me of a scene in Mark Twain's, Huckleberry Finn. Huck is told that if he doesn't turn in his friend, a runaway slave named Jim, he will surely burn in hell. So one day Huck, not wanting to lose his soul to Satan, writes a letter to Jim's owner telling her of Jim's whereabouts. After folding the letter, he starts to think about what his friend has meant to him, how Jim took the night watch so he could sleep, how they laughed and survived together. Jim is his friend and that is worth reconsideration. Huck realizes that it's either Jim's friendship or hell. Then the great Mark Twain writes such wonderful words of resolve. Huck rips the paper and says, "Alright then, I guess I'll go to hell."

What a great lesson. What a great attitude. I think of John 15:13, "Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one's life for one's friends." Maybe it's not just talking about our physical life. Perhaps it's the life we know, the friends we have and lose. Maybe I show love when I lay down the life we have together to confront you on a wrong attitude or action. Maybe we show no greater love than when we are counted with people who others consider tainted. Becoming friends with Ted was a defining moment in my life, ministry, and career. Sure, I lost a few relationships, but I doubt they would have cared for me in my failures. So really, I lost nothing. If being Ted's friend causes some to hate and reject me—alright then, I guess I'll go to hell.

Michael Cheshire is pastor of The Journey Church in Conifer, Colorado and author of How to Knock Over a 7-11 and Other Ministry Training (2012) and Why We Eat Our Own (2013)

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Michael Cheshire is the senior pastor of The Journey Community Church in Conifer, Colorado.

Related Topics:AdulteryConfessionForgivenessGracePrideRepentance
Posted: December 3, 2012

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Displaying 3–7 of 788 comments

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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Bill Townsend

June 06, 2013  11:46am

I look for failure in choosing a leader. As a qualification, not disqualification. I acknowledge repentance and the restoration process as essential depending on the issue surrounding failure as when failure is related to intentional rebellion from God, not weak skills and execution. Failure made public can be teacher's teacher. We all fall short. Some are more public. All leaders fail in leadership qualification by definition; failing miserably in certain areas more than others. Whether these failures are "found out" by the leaders' community and the resulting consequences begins the public debate, but not God's work. I have observed the fallen/refined leader to be more teachable/humble; deeper in his/her understanding of the broken; and bolder in grace. I use the phrase "we eat our weak" considering our Christian conduct to the publicly fallen leader, especially in the early stages of found out. The subtle limits we put on grace and qualification. I am a fallen leader by definition

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