December 4, 2020

The Comeback Kid?

By Chaplain Mike

Americans love a comeback story. Don’t we?

And Christians believe in the God of second (and third and fourth…etc.) chances. Don’t we?

Yesterday in Saturday Ramblings, Jeff noted and commented on Ted Haggard’s return to ministry.

Ted Haggard’s “surprise announcement” was anything but a surprise. He is planning to launch a new church sometime soon in Colorado Springs. How many sheep will be stolen from sheepfolds in that town? (And I can almost guarantee Mere Churchianity: Finding Your Way Back to Jesus-Shaped Spirituality will not be recommended reading for Haggard’s new congregation.)

Jeff obviously shares the skepticism of a large number of people about this move. And I’m right there with him. One might think, being the staunch advocates of grace that we are around here, that we would be featuring this story as a great example of God’s restoring power, in spite of our weaknesses and failures.

Is this a comeback story we should love?

At many places along the line in my pastoral training, I have heard teaching about a subject that at times seems almost forgotten—pastoral ethics. One of the central tenets of that teaching is this: if a pastor leaves a church in a certain locale, it is unethical to become a pastor in another church in that same locale. This ethical standard recognizes that pastors may bring great harm to their former churches by drawing away members to their new ministries, whether intentionally or unintentionally.

Ted Haggard’s home is less than a mile from his former church. And he is starting a new church. In his home.

This has been a rather curious process. It started with moving from Arizona back to Colorado Springs. Prayer meetings were started. No word about a church. Then he started speaking at various places. His wife wrote a book about why she chose to stay with her husband. After that, things seemed to accelerate. A few weeks ago, a non-profit organization called “St. James” was founded. Its stated purpose was to give the Haggards a corporate entity to help with the accounting for speaking fees and traveling expenses. No church. Then, despite earlier denials, St. James has now been announced as a new church. In Colorado Springs. Starting in the Haggard home.

Another curious matter involves how Ted Haggard seems to be having trouble specifying exactly what his role will be in this new church. According to the Colorado Springs Independent, here’s how he put it:

“Because of what Gayle and I have gone through the past 3½ years, I don’t think I’m qualified to be a pastor or spiritual leader,” says the former New Life pastor, who had also been president of the National Association of Evangelicals before the 2006 scandal that derailed his career. “But I do believe I’m qualified to help people.”

That, says Haggard, is the motivation behind St. James, the non-denominational church he’s starting with his wife. (“Gayle and I are going to co-pastor,” he says, “even though I think of myself as more of a ministry coordinator.”) And unlike the informal — though highly publicized — prayer meetings he held at his house back in November, this time, he says, it’ll be a full-blown, honest-to-God church: “We’re not going to start and stop,” he insists. “We’re in.”

So, Haggard is starting a church, but he doesn’t think he is qualified to be a pastor or spiritual leader, so he is going to be a co-pastor with his wife, though he thinks of himself more as a “ministry coordinator” because he does see himself as qualified to “help people.” Huh?

The new church will start with a “launch party” this Sunday, and by the third week they plan to start renting facilities in Colorado Springs. The Guardian-Observer (UK) reported the following quote about the potential size of the congregation:

Haggard talked quickly and frequently cracked jokes and burst into laughter as he confessed he had no idea how big St James could eventually be. “I have no future plans for that. I am going to accept every blessing and see how it goes. We have got 200 chairs for our first service and maybe in a few weeks we will need 2,000. Or maybe we won’t,” he said.

In a couple of bizarre notes,

  • Tithing at the new church will include a “lottery.” A church member’s name will be drawn at random and that member will receive 10% of the offering. The member and his family gets to keep 25% of that and they will then arrange to give the other 75% to a charity of their choice.

Ted Haggard has made a special point of saying what the ethos of St. James will be. The San Francisco Examiner reports:

In a stunning change of message, the former minister first seemed to admit his mistakes and shortfalls by saying, “When the crash came in my personal life, it was so incredibly embarrassing and heartbreaking. It broke me. And I’m still broken, some.” He also says, “I may be qualified to help other people … go through the most difficult times of their lives. I think I’m qualified to hold their hands.” Additionally, Haggard states that “everybody is welcome: Democrat, Republican, independent, gays, straight, bi, tall, short, addicts and recovering addicts.”

Folks, I’m having a hard time swallowing this. Here is the evangelical pastoral issue that I’ve written about in the flesh. Notably absent in any discussion of this situation? How about—submission to history and tradition, episcopal oversight, agreement on Biblical standards for ministry, pastoral ethics, and accountability. The Ted Haggard story represents pure entrepreneurship. It’s me and Jesus and the free market.

For all I know, Ted Haggard may be truly repentant and sufficiently transformed by his fall to take on ministry responsibilities of some kind. Who knows? To me, the real question is, how would we know? Because he says so? Because his wife says so? Because a group of people who like him say so?

What about these concerns?

  • It certainly seems like the whole discipline process was short-circuited.
  • The process of “recovery” has been suspect.
  • The way Haggard has taken steps toward this new church plant has raised many questions.
  • He doesn’t seem to be coming clean on the nature of his leadership role.
  • The pastoral ethics of starting a new church in the backyard of one’s former church is unquestionably unacceptable.

I’m all for comebacks. I question whether this one is truly ready for prime time.


  1. As the warning goes in the retail world – ‘let the buyer beware’.

  2. Mike,

    One of the more difficult things for me is the qualification for an elder/pastor to be “beyond reproach.” (1 Tim 3) Haggard’s downfall certainly flies in the face of this. I’m not sure somebody who has fallen so short in this area could ever be trusted with that position again.

    • Well, that one always gets me, this does seem to fly in the face of it though.
      I do wonder at times though to what extent this applies. Pastors are men, men are sinners, sinners tend to have character flaws for which they can be reproached. I mean even Peter had to be rebuked by Paul.
      My issue is the wife being a co-pastor. Just can’t see that.

      • You have apparently not read much from Egalitarians Gordon Fee, Craig Keener, Ben Witherington III, Scot McKnight and Philip Barton Payne, to name a few Evangelicals who don’t or no longer see Scriptural support for church positions and functions and offices being restricted by gender. (F. F. Bruce is deceased.)

  3. Please don’t think me a troll…but when the history of Protestant theology has always been “me and my interpretation of Scripture”, essentially appointing oneself the authority of one’s own “theology” (yes, I believe in paedocommunion, no, I don’t believe in a literal seven-day Creation…and so on down the menu…), then what makes Mr Haggard so unusual?

    We live in a day of solo scriptura: not so much Scripture alone, as me alone with my Scripture. We live in a time where the submission to ecclesiastical authority is an authority based on schism. Calvin, Zwingli, Luther et alia found themselves to be in disagreement with medieval Catholicism and, rather than look for authority elsewhere (although Luther tried), they looked to themselves and an inward authority they did not have; producing creeds and confessions with no more authoritative force to them than what I write here, now, today.

    And, hence, we have Mr Haggard. And we are dismayed. But why? What makes what he does so very different from any other Protestant who, by the force of his Scriptural interpretation of who and what the Rock is, hies himself off to start a church?


    quote ~ “submission to history and tradition, episcopal oversight, agreement on Biblical standards for ministry, pastoral ethics, and accountability.” Whose? Everyone has their own…but which one is One, Holy, Universal and Apostolic and has the force to make this stick?

    Jesus did well to pray for our unity…

    • Laura, you’re right. The saddest thing to me is that Mr. Haggard is NOT all that unusual, just perhaps more prominent than countless others doing the same things.

      • Thank you, Chaplain Mike, for “hearing” me… 🙂

        In the interest of full disclosure, I’m a recent convert to Eastern Orthodoxy, having spent most of my adult life as an Orthodox Presbyterian. (Yes…I can spell “supralapsarian” and use it in a sentence! ;p) This is a tough issue within my Family as we wend our way through the minefields of authority amongst the various and sundry understandings: Catholic, Protestant, EO.

        May God continually bless you and yours and the work of your hands here, and off the internet… I have an especial love for Hospice Chaplains. You guys were there for me and mine three times in five years: Dad, Mum, and Hubby. :”)

        • Dana Ames says

          So very sorry to hear of your great losses, Laura. May their memory be eternal. I’m of the same opinion as you wrt hospice chaplains.

          I’m one year Orthodox on Pentecost. Hope you have found Fr Ernesto Obregon’s blog (one of the “Liturgical Gangstas” here) and Fr Stephen Freeman’s blog.

          • Thank you, Dana.

            Yes! I have Fr Ernesto on my blog-feed. I will have to google Fr Stephen. I enjoy a good blog! 🙂

    • Preach it, sister!

    • Laura,

      To suggest that the modern non-denom independant mentality is the same as the Reformers is not being intelectually honest. The Reformers believed in authority, many of them believed in authority that centrally located and anciently rooted, they just believed medieval Catholicism had moved away from that authority.

      Sorry, but couldn’t let you speak so generally without challenging it a little.

      • ” centrally located and anciently rooted”, what in heaven’s name are you ntalking about.

      • Thank you, Austin, for your gentle challenge. I appreciate it.

        But I’m rather with Steve here. To what centrally located and anciently rooted authority are you referring?

        • Laura, glad to know about your conversion to eastern church. Welcome. Yet, let me advice you that it is more important to be born again!!!

          • Indeed! and thank you… 🙂 I have been born, again…

            There was a man sent from God, whose name was John.

            This man came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all through him might believe. He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light. That was the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. (John 1:6-13)

        • Laura,

          I was typing in a hurry and was about to begin the long ardourous process of getting the kids settled in to bed, but what I meant was that not all the refomers were “extreme individualist,” they were not in the same vein as today’s one church denominations.

          A specific example would be the historic episcopate.

          My point was that for many reformers there was such an acceptble thing as a centraly and anciently rooted authority rigthly guided by the scriptures.

          To say the reformers were all radicals in their ecclisiology would be wrong.

          • Christopher Lake says


            Full disclosure: I’m a former Reformed Baptist who is, Lord willing, about to return to the Catholic Church. You are right, of course, that the “solo Scriptura” mentality of many non-denominational evangelicals is not the same understanding as the “sola Scriptura” of the Reformers. The Reformers took into account the ancient creeds (Apostles’ Creed, Nicene Creed), and they also read the early Church Fathers.

            However, the Reformers also held to the Bible as their finally *authoritative* authority. What this meant for them, and what it means today, can be seen in the splintering of Lutheranism, Anglicanism, and Prebyterianism.

            The idea of “the authoritative, infallible Bible, with the early Fathers and the creeds as lesser, fallible authorities” has not kept Protestantism from splintering into many competing denominations, even within Lutheranism, Anglicanism, and Presbyterianism.

            Sola Scriptura, in practice, works out to be basically the same thing as solo Scriptura– because even within sola Scriptura, it is *one’s own* interpretation of the Bible, the Fathers, and the creeds that ultimately rules the day for each individual person.

          • I hope it works out for you. Some people need a Magisterium and sacramentalism and sacerdotalism, and some people don’t.

          • Christopher Lake says


            I’m not concerned about my subjective peace of mind. I’m concerned about truth, historically and theologically. The question is not, do I subjectively “need” a Magisterium, sacramentalism, and sacerdotalism, while others seem not to “need” it. The question is, did these concepts exist in the early Church?

            You wrote, in another comment, that the early Church did not view the bread and wine of the Eucharist as being truly changed into the Body and Blood of Christ. There are many passages from the Church Fathers’ writings which disprove this assertion– beginning as early as the homilies and prayers of Ignatius of Antioch, around 107-110 A.D.: “I desire the bread of God, which is the flesh of Jesus Christ, who was of the seed of David, for drink I desire his blood which is incorruptible love.”

            I could provide quite a few other quotes, from Ignatius and other early Fathers, showing that the early Church did believe in the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist. However, it would probably just be better to recommend “Crossing the Tiber,” by Stephen K. Ray, for its entire section on the Bible, the Church Fathers, and the Eucharist.

          • Christopher Lake says

            In the third sentence of the first section there, “it” should be “them”…. the perils of commenting in a hurry… sigh 🙂

          • Christopher Lake:

            In the interests of full disclosure, I was a non-denominational Protestant (mainly, but not exclusively, Charismatic) for most of my Christian life. Several years ago, depressed and frustrated with the crazy marketplace of Evangelical non-denominational and charismatic Protestantism, I, too, began again studying church history and concluded some of the things you have likely concluded. I then spent over 3 years in the Eastern Orthodox Church, 2 years as a serious and faithfully and regularly attending (not just the Divine Liturgy, but vespers, various other services, etc.) and fasting and praying and book-reading, etc., etc., catechumen, and then over a year as a fully baptized and chrismated weekly Eucharist partaking and monthly confessing Orthodox Christian. Even though it was an OCA (Russian) Church and the Liturgy and services were in English, I followed the services in my original all-Greek prayerbook (ΜΕΓΑΣ ΚΑΙ ΙΕΡΟΣ ΣΥΝΕΚΔΗΜΟΣ ΟΡΘΟΔΟΞΟΥ ΧΡΙΣΤΙΑΝΟΥ) and similarly said all my daily prayers and weekly Eucharistic-preparing prayers in the original Koine/Byzantine Greek. To this day, if I want to recite the Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed, I have to mentally back-translate it from the Greek in order not to leave out a word or clause. I’ve read the Apostolic Fathers in English and some of them in the original Greek. I’ve read probably a dozen scholarly books on the Liturgy and its history, including Cabasilas and Wybrew on the Orthodox Liturgy, have numerous books by numerous authors on Church history, have read all 5 volumes of Pelikan’s Christian Tradition, his Credo, etc., etc.

            My godfather was himself from a similar background, though he had studied the Orthodox Church more thoroughly than I had before he entered. Yet he, too, left a few months before I did, having been a baptized and chrismated Orthodox Christian for nearly two years. He left for reasons unrelated to my departure, and vice-versa, but what we had in common was that we could no longer affirm the Orthodox interpretation of church history or of itself being The One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church in accordance with either church history, church doctrine or the Scriptures.

            And before I went to Byzantium, I similarly explored and attended/visited Roman Catholic Churches, read the Catechism, read lots of convert testimonies and apologetics, Thomas Howard, Scott Hahn, Karl Keating, Patrick Madrid, Augustine, Chesterton, Newman, etc., etc., as well as the aforementioned books on church history and Christian doctrine.


          • And I read Stephen K. Ray’s book (and still have it), INCLUDING ALL THE FOOTNOTES, Rod Bennett’s FOUR WITNESSES, Mike Aquilina’s books on the Mass and the Church Fathers, Mark Shea’s BY WHAT AUTHORITY, etc.

  4. Ministry coordinator? Is that like church CEO, marketing director, mission guru or all the other euphemisms for “pastor” out there these days, but simply mean the pastor call has been delegated to underlings? Doesn’t sound any different than when he was at New Life. He’ll still be the star attraction.

  5. Clay Knick says

    Makes me glad I’m in the mainline. Can’t think of much else to say.

  6. Interestingly enough, I think Haggard offered an answered your ecclesiastical question in his interview with “The Independent” earlier this year:

    “It’s an element of free-market religion. If you’re gonna have freedom of religion, the people have to be responsible for who they support. Just like freedom of the press … if you want government or religious hierarchy to make those choices, that would be a very sad day for freedom of thought, freedom of faith and freedom of expression. ” – Ted Haggard.

    Without an strong, central authoritarian magisterium or church government, it’s up to each congregation to hold their leaders accountable. But it’s a very idealistic notion – sort of like bringing free elections to Palestine and being shocked when they elect members of Hamas. I think the ultimate answer is a marriage of the two extremes between centralized and congregational government. Don’t ask me how; I don’t think we’ll see the leaders of the 3,000+ protestant denominations meeting together any time soon.

    I think whoever chooses to join Haggard’s new endeavor will have to deal with the issue of accountability. I think that will be a tall order. If he does not just bring in talent to help him lead but also equally strong-willed personalities who can hold him to an account, expect train wreck, part II.

    • The people who join Haggard’s church are exactly the people who choose NOT to deal with the issue of accountability.

      Raise your hand if you DIDN’T see this coming.

    • For some reason, the term “free-market religion” makes me twinge. I can’t exactly figure out why. I suppose it’s because I dislike the idea of churches being a in marketplace to attract customers, making religion just one more thing people consume.

    • MrOx: thanks for the link; that was an interesting and helpful read. Makes me wonder what ALL the members of that board felt about the contract, and if, indeed, Mr.Haggard was free to act against it. His friend “Tommy” said so, but I’m wondering if Tommy had the authority to release him , as Haggard implies.

      It’s just plain weird that ALL the members of a board , whose job it was to come up with his restoration plan, all came from OUTSIDE of his local church. What’s up with that ??? I can see outside auditors and consultants, but the restoration team ?? Huh ??

  7. Tom Huguenot says

    Well, Ted Haggard is certainly given more “second chances” that a Joe Nobody would.

    It’s normal in a way: the Church has been corrupted by capitalism and the “too big to fail” principle applies.

    I love the “ministry coordinator” thing. Reminds me of “community organizer”.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      “Community Organizer” as in Party Machine Commissar ordering everybody around or else?

  8. I had some interaction with Mr. Haggard on another blog some time ago, and he was very up front and forthright in dealing with his sins, even to the point if divulging private details of the situation to those of us participating in the dialogue. I was satisfied that he was truly repentant (as though my personal opinion matters) and wished him farewell and godspeed.

    Its disappointing to see him setting up shop in his old neighborhood and playing passive aggressive about his intentions. It bodes ill and will end poorly. It is not the better part of wisdom for anyone to throw their lot in with Haggard and become part of his (non)church. The people whose lives will be wrecked have had plenty of fair warning about this guy.

  9. Turning the offering into a lottery? Isn’t the point of the offering is to give it to those in need, i.e. widows and ophans, rather than someone needing a new jet ski? Maybe the idea is that everyone giving into the offering will be equally needy. Oh well. Drop some coin in the plate and roll the bones.

    • Jonathan Blake says

      Very true. Why don’t Evangelicals get it? Is it because they think American Christianity is a perfected form of the faith and refuse to look into the Church Fathers and the historical, ancient faith to find meaning? Americans treasure Kim Clement and Kenneth Copeland more than St. John Chrysostem or St. Athanasius. Is it because they have no idea who the latter are (because they’re not on t.v.) or because they have no interest to find out who they are?

      • Dan Allison says

        The evangelical rejection of history and the church fathers is puzzling, arrogant, and frightening. The Psalmist is always looking back to what God has done for his chosen people. I wish I had an answer…

        • And u r talking about what church fathers have done for God, not what God has done!

          • Seby, Uh, sorry, From St John Chrysostom, “Even if we have thousands of acts of great virtue to our credit, our confidence in being heard must be based on God’s mercy and His love for men. Even if we stand at the very summit of virtue, it is by mercy that we shall be saved.”
            St Athanasius taught the Incarnation, refuting the heresy of Arianism. Those are just 2
            That is being obedient and submitted to God. I’m just wondering where you think you got your faith from.

      • What? You mean there’s more to church history than the Book of Acts and Azusa Street? Who is St. Atha-what’s-it? Was he one of those Catholic guys or something?

      • Americans treasure Kim Clement and Kenneth Copeland more than St. John Chrysostem or St. Athanasius.

        I don’t think this is a fair thing to say. I have no idea who Clement is; and I barely know the name of Copeland. Most around me would say the same.

        To be fair, I’m not nearly as familiar with the church fathers (or church history) as I’d like to be, but the stack of church history books on my shelf attests to my efforts to remedy that.

        You’re right; the average Christian knows quite little about their own history – and that’s half the problem; we’ve created faith in a vacuum. But I don’t think that ignorance of the past means everyone and their dog is automatically flocking to the crazies (just that it makes it easier). Most people I know are — no, everyone I know — is completely disgusted by million-dollar, cuff-link wearing peddlers of the Word.

      • One can’t hope to look to Chrysostom to justify a “give in order to get” philosophy. This is Copeland’s dogma in spades. This is pay-to-play, i.e. can’t win the lottery unless you buy a ticket. Seed faith, or seed luck? Unfortunately, I think it will sell, or will have imitators in a thousand congregations. If so, the whole accountability question goes out the window: how to you reign in a pastor who is raking in the green and filling the seats with those eager for a spin on the offering wheel?

        I think it’s important to note the pessimism in what they seem to expect from a Christ follower – if that is indeed what they are looking for. It seems that they assume that no one will give out of love but only out of selfishness and self-preservation. Very secular humanistic. This came to mind while re-thinking the “pursuit of happiness” thread from last week. It’s Maslow and Skinner who believed that the base needs and desires are what truly motivate a person. Where’s the higher call, the greater good, praying and longing for the will of God to be done? Where’s the volunteer spirit of sacrifice for ones neighbor? Look how far we have fallen in such a short span of time.

        But perhaps there is also a warning here not to turn “simul justus et peccator” into “once a sinner, always a sinner”. We can’t fall into the errors of past holiness movements, but we can’t use those failures as an excuse to expect Christians to never rise above the weight, impulse, and power of the sinful nature. The season of Pentecost may be a good time to rediscover the power of grace to not only save but to change lives.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says

        Very true. Why don’t Evangelicals get it? Is it because they think American Christianity is a perfected form of the faith and refuse to look into the Church Fathers and the historical, ancient faith to find meaning?

        Because Real True Christians know the Original New Testament Church (which was Just Like Us) went apostate into Romish Popery right after the Book of Acts and all so-called “Christians” were apostate until Our Founder revived the One True New Testament Church under direct guidance of God (at, say, Azusa Street…)

        Question, everybody.

        Just HOW does this differ from the Official Church History/internal origin story of the Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, or a myriad of other splinter groups?

        • Wow.

          Last week, I wrote a really long blog post on this very subject. I compared Joseph Smith’s testimony about how “God” “told” him all churches were wrong with Dr Jean-Henri Merle d’Aubigne’s essay on the conversion of John Calvin. There is a striking similarity in how God also told Calvin that the RCC was wrong (Calvin felt “at peace” once he converted to the evangelicals).

          I am too shy (scared?) to post it…

          But I basically ask the same question as you do, Headless Unicorn Guy: what’s the difference? If prevailing authority either stopped existing (ie, the gates of hell has prevailed…not possible) or never existed in that place (then look elsewhere), then what makes Luther, Calvin, Smith, and Haggard different from one another?

          • Too many people reinventing the wheel….that’s why so many Protestant theologians convert to Eastern Orthodoxy or the Catholic Church. The one and only EARLY CHURCH was LITURGICAL & SACRAMENTAL ….I cringe when I hear certain explanations of how the “true” church was corrupted. I think that’s called “playing the early church card”.

            “To be deep in history is to cease to be Protestant.”
            Blessed Cardinal John Newman Ora Pro Nobis!

          • Liturgical and sacramental and episcopal and hierarchical…


            The early church was also charismatic and expected and employed the gift and functioning of prophecy among the members.

            Priests didn’t stand in for Christ in a mediatorial way.

            The bread and wine didn’t change into the body and blood of Christ, nor were they expected to do so or prayed for to do so.

            The eucharist was a covenant/communion meal, not a sacramental rite.


            If the Protestant churches have gone astray by leaving liturgy and sacraments behind, the RCC and EOC have gone astray by quenching the operation of the Holy Spirit during the service and inventing doctrines and offices and functions related to the Eucharist and the priesthood.

            If Protestants are inventing the wheel, it’s because the RCC and EOC changed a round wheel into a square one somewhere along the way.

            We can give tit-for-tat along these lines all day.

          • ERIC W: thanks for your alternate version of playijng the early church card….I’ve heard a half dozen or so……also called “my historian can whup yo’ historian and make him/her cry MOMMA……..”

          • greg r:

            This new book looks/sounds interesting:


            Apparently it also became/was a 6-hr BBC series that’s available on DVD.

  10. The Guy from Knoxville says

    I’ve only one comment……. and people wonder why nobody wan’t anything to do with church anymore! Sigh…… I’m one of those that’s been at a point of washing my hands of the entire mess of church (SBC here about to be former SBC) and this does nothing to but help me further out the door of the “so called” church. I know Ted’s not SBC but little does he realize how much he’s helping so many right out the door of many churches of all denominations and non-denoms as well. Living in the southeast (Michael knew this well) you can’t imagine how many new churches start every Sunday, every month, every year around here – we’re full of an overflowing with them there in Knoxville – it’s ridiculous beyond words!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    I’ve not given up on God, not given up on Jesus and not given up on the Holy Spirit but the church…. well I’ve just about had it *()^(^&%^%$ with this travesty! Guess all this quailfies as more than one comment…… sigh again.

    The Guy from Knoxville

    • Guy from Knoxville,

      I’ve had the pleasure of meeting a dealing with the folks from Apostles Anglican in Knoxville, I live three hours away from them so I’m not promoting my own “thing” here. Check them out. They are great.

      As a former SBC now at home in Anglicanism- Come on over buddy, you won’t regret it:)

      • The Guy from Knoxville says


        I appreciate the invite – I’ve been to Apostles church and enjoyed it much……. now as to why I don’t go there now…… has nothing at all to do with the church but much to do with were I’m at with regard to my marriage. See, I was raised SBC and my wife COC (church of Christ) and I don’t have to tell you the difficultities involved there but we’ve been married 14 years now and a good part of that she spent with me in two SBC churches – I’m a church musician (organist) and I was assistant at one for 13 years and organist at another for 7 years and we left that church at the end of April last year for a host of reasons and part of it was some of the move towards watered down contemporary worship and things related (MHO on that one) and my wife was trying to deal with being in charge of a growning pre-school dept at that church with little, if any, support from folks. More complaints about _______ (add your own) and it was taking a toll on health and was mentally stressful. Add to that the SBCs slide into the abyss on so many issues……. well you get the idea.

        When we left the church April last year we talked about many possibilities and actually attended a more traditional baptist church on the south side of downtown Knoxville and while we enjoyed it much it was a situation of a church that was/is on it’s way out. A once viberant church of 500-600 weekly now at 60-75 and most of them are 65+ and a good number can hardly get in the building without assitance of a walker and/or younger ones helping them in. In the process of looking at several different church bodies locally I attended Apostles and would have had no issue there – my wife, most likely, would have.

        Bottom line on this is that we currently attend the COC that my wife was at when we met 14 years ago and this COC has changed much and, for the most part, is considered amongst other COCs to be a liberal church – what COC calls liberal we would call conservative and this means that this particular COC teaches salvation by grace through faith in Christ alone, emphasizes grace, faith, does not hammer the baptism issue like the hard line legealist fundamental COCs do. They are very open on communion, very open to the consideration of instrumental music even though they have not quite yet got to the point of using them in service yet but, this particular COC would probably be one of the first to use instruments if that became a norm in COCs in this area. Most COCs around here are the legalist/fundi type that usually end up ruining people rather than helping them. The one we attend and, perhaps, a couple or three others around the area are the exceptions.

        All that said to say this – I just didn’t want my wife and I attending separate churches – I know some couples do and it works out fine but I just have never really been that comfortable with that idea and the COC we attend I can deal with – who knows what happens in the future but for now we’re OK but as a church musician I do miss the instruments and the more formal aspect of the Anglican liturgy and even that of the very traditional baptist church that we attended during the transition time last year. I still fill in for churches and I’m a part-time rep for a pipe organ company so I still get some of that and it keeps things balanced out for me in that respect.

        Well, didn’t mean to write a book but that’s the story in a rather large nutshell!

        • Guy,

          I think you write with great wisdom. I am not a believer in a couple attending seperate church’s. Lot’s of reasons to not go into here. I’ve never been inside Apostle’s but the leadership there has been helpful in walking me thru ordination.

          Your church of Christ sounds like one we have here in town. I jokingly kid the folks I work with who go there that they have went soft because they have stained glass windows. 🙂

          They know I’m kidding, but any of you familiar with hard line coc know it is only part in jest.

    • At the risk of announcing my own ignorance: What does SBC have to do with this?

  11. The Guy from Knoxville says

    Sorry… typing to fast….. should have been – “and people wonder why nobody wants anything to do with the church anymore!”

  12. If someone like Ted Haggard starts their own church, then how will there be congregational accountability? It seems the model here is more like a propreitorship. Free market religion indeed.

    I’m curious about how the worship service will be formatted. Will it be modeled after a television show? Will it be a TV show impersonating a worship service? Maybe I’m just stuck in the old mode and lack imagination.

  13. IMO, there are worse things afoot than Mr. Haggard. This Rev. Matt Ford from Australia says there is a New Reformation underway and he and his comrades-in-holy-ghost-whacked-out-drunkenness are going to come to America in August to spread the message and the joy:

    Yes, he’s for real. His church is here:

    (copy it into the search/address bar of your browser)

    and if you click on the links on his Website, you’ll see that there are others like him.

    This cavorting around is Rodney Howard-Browne (“Joel’s Bartender”) multiplied a thousandfold.

    • OTOH, Ted Haggard and New Life Church were part of Peter Wagner’s New Apostolic Reformation and his Apostolic Council of Prophetic Elders, so maybe Haggard & Co. will be dispensing the same stuff as Rev. Ford in Ted’s new church, since “New Reformation” was part of the vocabulary.

    • EricW, I could only stand to listen to 30 seconds of that guy in the video. Any you say he is for rea?! Oh my.

      • It gets better… er, worse. It’s hard to believe, but there are other YouTube videos of him preaching that make this one look tame.

        Lord, Have Mercy!

        • Peggy in Shenandoah Valley says

          Eric W and Joanie,
          I lasted for almost 3 minutes, but only because, as a former mental health worker, I was fascinated with trying to diagnose the speaker (preacher?)- he seems to have Tourette’s syndrome. He needs medicine, not more air time. IMHO

          • Peggy and JoanieD:

            That short clip was a warm-up – a test, if you will. When you’re ready for a 9-minute dose/sermon (mercifully edited – though I wonder what parts they cut out), you can watch him here:


            Jesus healed 10 leprechauns, he says (0:22). I did not know that. I didn’t think Jesus went to Ireland until after His resurrection.

            Actually, at a church we attended a few years ago, the worship leader would do some similar things when he was zapped by the Spirit – the body bends, the grunting/blowing/whooshing thing. I didn’t realize at the time that this was becoming acceptable/expected behavior.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says

            What is next? Can You Top This?

            Is the next step for Legba to open de way and de Loa to mount and ride their horses?

      • As his bio says:

        Matt has a really simple style of ministry. He gets whacked (drunk… filled with Holy Spirit) and ministers from the glory realm. He spends hours a day drinking in the presence of Heaven so that he can unleash the torrent of the Fathers love every time he preaches. We have a staffing structure in place which enables Matthew to carry out his call and be filled with the “too much” anointing… continually.

        • I could only take about 2 minutes worth of “the glory realm”……just too much glory for this old body to take in….. I’m not getting “the Father’s love” bit at all, it just looks like kookiness to me.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says

        EricW, I could only stand to listen to 30 seconds of that guy in the video. And you say he is for real?

        We live in an age of extremes and “Can You Top This?”

        In such an age of extremes, as over-the-top crazy as you can imagine as a joke, somewhere there will be a True Believer even more over-the-top, even crazier, and Dead Serious.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      Tom Crowder and his Jehovah-juana (“YOING! YOING! YOING!”) now have some serious competition.

      • I knew you’d fall in love with this guy, HUG. 😀

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says

          With Tokin-the-Ghost Crowder, Tatted Todd (and his pet angel Emma), and the Holy Ghost Enema Lady, there is already too much competition at the top of the Crazy Preacher Olympics.

  14. I think it is tacky for Haggard to establish a church in such close proximity to his former congregation, but this is nothing really new is it? How many split congregations actually move out of the city they are in to establish a new church? I do take exception to the incremental game of words he’s playing.

    Ted Haggard’s sins were very public, and in the eyes of many somehow worse because homosexuality was involved, and as a result he gets special attention from both inside and outside of the Church.

    At the risk of setting off a series of “yeah but” responses, I would suggest we are better served to avoid judgment as to his “healing” process. I’m reminded of Jesus restoring Peter. Yes, Peter did not DO what Haggard has admitted to doing, but who knows what good could ultimately come from this?

    • No “yea but.” Just one simple statement.

      Peter was accountable to the other 10. Who will Haggard be accountable to? His wife? Yeah, right!

      As noted in the OP, we have no indication that Haggard has been accountable to ANYONE during his supposed healing and restoration process. And now he’s essentially declaring himself ready to return to ministry, even if he is using some serious double-speak to evade the question of who will actually be the pastor of this new church. Again, yeah, right!

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says

        Peter was accountable to the other 10. Who will Haggard be accountable to? His wife? Yeah, right!

        Wife as in “What is Thy WIll, My Lord Husband? How might I better Submit?”

        As noted in the OP, we have no indication that Haggard has been accountable to ANYONE during his supposed healing and restoration process. And now he’s essentially declaring himself ready to return to ministry, even if he is using some serious double-speak to evade the question of who will actually be the pastor of this new church. Again, yeah, right!

        Probably claiming “Under the Blood”, “Judge Not Lest Ye Be Judged”, etc.

        After all it’s just between Ted & Jeesus — Personal Salvation/Walk with God and ONLY Personal Salvation…

  15. cermak_rd says

    I don’t know how many sheep Rev Haggard is going to steal. It sounds as though his new endeavor is sufficiently different from his old church that there would not be a lot of crossover except among those who went to worship services just to hear Rev. Haggard speak. Those would seem to be his sheep anyway if one wants to put a proprietorship on individual people.

    If he truly is going to create a church space for everyone, not just the “good” people that the average church wants to have attend, then I say good on him. Not everyone in this nation is conservative. Not everyone has a “perfect” family life. Not everyone wants to judge others or be forced to judge others. I guess I’d wish him good luck. Even imperfect contrition has its uses.

    • If his position wan’t the head (or whatever bizarre tern he likes to use) of a local congregation, I could sign on to what you’ve written; I”m all about restoration, but the lack of Ted following some kind of authority approved process makes me wonder how “restored” he is, time will tell, I guess. I can’t help but get the feeling that the Ted Haggards of the world are just LOST if they aren’t in front of a microphone, selling a book, on TV, in the public eye…..and usually teaching in some way. I think this is sad. I think he could use a large dose of obscurity to put his godview and worldview right.

    • I’m with you Cermak. I can’t find anywhere in me the compulsion to judge him. So he doesn’t live up to the dogmatic intents of most organized religions. I recall Jesus saying where two or more are gathered in My name, there I will be in their midst. God bless Mr. Haggard.

      • If he wasn’t setting himself up as a law unto himself I might agree with you. But this guy’s hot-doggin’ it, playing Lone Ranger. Chances are it won’t be too far down the line before we learn that he has again fallen into sin.

        The purpose of church discipline is restoration, not punishment. And I have seen no indications that this man has been restored in a manner that will allow him to minister, especially unsupervised, without falling again.

  16. Louis Winthrop says

    You know, the Catholics have LOTS of accountability, and look what happened.

    On the gambling thing, this made me think of the (fictional) Fosterite Church of the New Revelation, from Robert Heinlein’s “Stranger in a Strange Land.” Imagine a new Joseph Smith carving out his own little Deseret, but aiming more at Las Vegas than at Salt Lake City, and there you have it.

    You know, there must be LAWS regulating this stuff. (Gambling and lotteries and such.) I guess he must have thought of that, though…

    • Actually, the Catholic church sex scandal is what happens when you have appearance of accountability.

      • Amen

      • I just finished reading William Lobdell’s LOSING MY RELIGION:

        He and Rod Dreher, as reporters/journalists, left the Catholic Church over the sex scandal, as it shattered their faith, or at least their faith in the Church as being what it claimed to be. Rod was a Catholic; Lobdell was finishing his RCIA classes and ready to enter the Church at Easter when he decided to put his entry on hold, and then eventually left, and his Catholic wife joined him in leaving the Church, too, because of it. Rod became Eastern Orthodox. Lobdell became basically atheistic or maybe agnostic.

        • The appearance of accountability is typically all most churches have. If you are not accountable to the congregation you serve, which has at least the potential to really know you, who cares if you are plugged into a organizational facade.

  17. Additionally, Haggard states that “everybody is welcome: Democrat, Republican, independent, gays, straight, bi, tall, short, addicts and recovering addicts.”

    Well, then, it will be interesting to see who and what Haggard preaches against. Has he done a Carlton Pearson?

    All being “welcome” isn’t necessarily the same as “you can stay as you are.” It will be interesting to hear what Ted’s Gospel message is. What is the “Good News” and how are people to respond? What can they keep and what must they repent of and jettison?

    Stay tuned….

    • cermak_rd says

      How is an organization supposed to be welcoming and still expect people to change? How is expecting a Democrat (let’s just say) to change to an Independent (again, just an example) really being welcoming to that or any other Democrat? That’s not welcoming, that’s an invitation to folks to assimilate.

      • Really? Aren’t you missing Jesus’s main point? He didn’t dine with sinners to endorse their sin. He calls us to repentance, not affirmation. We are ALL supposed to change there.

        • cermak_rd says

          I don’t know whether I’m missing the point or not (I’m not a Christian anymore) but if ALL Christians are supposed to change, it would seem that most churches are doing a dreadful job at their mission from looking at the stats.

          • cermak: hope you find this (this thread is about done, I think)

            YES, the churches ARE doing a terrible job of it, as you’ve noted. We’ve exchanged the call to conversion AND discipleship (same call made to ALL believers, no gnosticism here…..) to conversion only and then …..well, we’ll see….. this is what Dallas Willard calls “The Great Omission”. Jesus DOES accept people just as they are (hence the song…..) but NEVER leaves them that way, because we are called to Christlikeness, to share the glory of the Father through the Son, This is NOT on ‘hold’ until heaven, it’s to begin now…..this message is largely lost in many churches (again, not gnosticism…’s plainly writ in the scriptures,not hard to find at all)

            hope this helps
            and I apologize in advance for all the hypocrites you’ve ever known that have made this difficult to understand, IF that’s happened

            Greg R

    • excellent questions…..they are mine also, I guess we’ll find out soon enough his ‘brand” of good news

      Greg R

    • Why must he preach against anyone? This may be because I’m coming from an outside perspective, but I wasn’t aware that to be a preacher you had to condemn people.

  18. I really wish he would have just gone on “The Celebrity Apprentice” & got all his ego out of his system. Coundn’t he have some dignity & stay away from all the Church members he hurt?? But sadly I don’t really think it just him, but it’s the way the Church make idols out of their pastors. Nothing disturbs me more than when I ask some one why they go to a certian Church, & the only answer I get back is “I like the Pastor”. Church is about the congregation & God. A good Pastor tries to stay away from the cult-of personality. his only concern is to help the congregation focus on God, not on himself. But that’s easier said than done. This situation does but “independent” or “Non-denomination” churches in a bad light.

  19. right on the money, pardon the pun,

  20. im not sure wot to think.

  21. “It’s an element of free-market religion. If you’re gonna have freedom of religion, the people have to be responsible for who they support. Just like freedom of the press … if you want government or religious hierarchy to make those choices, that would be a very sad day for freedom of thought, freedom of faith and freedom of expression. ” – Ted Haggard.

    The above quote sets up a definite red flag for me that something is wrong here. It seems Haggards idea of freedom is everyone do what they want, think what they want, believe what they want. Is The Truth not THE TRUTH and not the truths….???

    For example: if 2 plus 2 equals 4, and this is proven true and universally understood to Be true then, if someone chose to come along and teach that 2 plus 2 equals five how could others come to believe “his” thoughts and beliefs based on his explanation regardless how eloquent and convincing it might be. Truth cannot be both true and false at the same time.

    I understand well there are many gray areas in the practicality of life and that in pastoral theology one needs to accept life is not all black and white. But, I am always puzzled how so many Christians can be so comfortable with their own “truth” or their pastors “truth” or their denominations “truth” when based on mere human interpretation, based on how many different versions of the scriptures(again based on personal interpretation of mere human beings however learned they may say they are and how many schools and degrees they have). Their mindset and beliefs will lean towards the training and schooling they had based on what school they attended. And they all claim to teach the truth…yet how many differences there are!! Don’t they ever wonder how this can be??? Do they ever consider they might be wrong in their thinking???

    The One Holy Spirit of the Only Triune God of the One Savior, Jesus, Who said He Was THE TRUTH and Said He would send The Spirit to teach us All Things: well, do we really think this Same Spirit would teach more than one truth about the very same topic to different people/groups?

    I’m not sure I’m explaining myself well. The past years I have been painfully working to unravel many wrong ways of thinking and believing about God and the spiritual journey and inner life, beliefs that were deeply embedded within me over the course of my life, in a way ‘engraved’ in my mind, heart and soul. Through this I have been exposed to all different ways of seeing how God works, what He wants of us, what we are to believe etc etc.. And this haunting question will often come to me… Christians ever come before God and question if the church they are part of embodies The Truth?? And, if they do, would The Holy Spirit reveal so many different variations of what is suppose to be Truth? There can’t be both light and dark in God nor right and wrong…only Light and Truth….

  22. Jim Bakker, whatever you may think of him, has demonstrated his humility by staying back in the shadows serving His Lord since he left prison. I think him more repentant than Mr. Haggard demonstrates by his “in your face” comeback. Mr. Haggard’s circus will attract the curious and the who knows what for a while before he is caught again.

    • from Wiki:

      “In January 2003, Bakker began broadcasting the daily Jim Bakker Show at Studio City Cafe in Branson, Missouri, with his second wife, Lori Bakker… In January 2008, Bakker’s ministry moved into a new television studio near Branson. The studio is housed within a 600-acre development that resembles Bakker’s former location, Heritage USA…The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that Bakker is still in debt to the IRS for about $6 million…”

    • If you saw the Sundance series, “One Punk Under God,” about Jamie “Jay” Bakker and his Revolution church and ministry and his relationship with his parents, you’d know from what the series showed and from what Jay and Tammy Faye said about Jim that Jim Bakker has some personal emotional issues and needs such that probably the last thing he needs to be doing, for himself and for his audience, is hosting a Christian TV show.

  23. In the Early Church there were certain sins which, if they were committed by a pastor, would entail a lifetime ban from ministry.

    Many try to use Saint Peter’s denial of Christ as an example that anything can be forgiven and anyone can be restored. I would argue that this is not a fully accurate interpretation. [Look up the Novatian controversy, it had to do with people renouncing Christ under extreme pressure. They were accepted back.]

    But, when there was no controversy, the Church was quite definitive in their statement that there were some sins that, for the sake of the Church and of the believers in her, banned a bishop, priest, or deacon permanently from the ministry. Please note that there was no claim that they would go to Hell. Rather, the disciplined clergyman who submitted was willing to be disciplines was actually well on his way to Heaven!

    • David Cornwell says

      That’s an approach that makes a lot of sense and would solve lots of problems. But there first needs to be an authority to answer to other than oneself. When one can decide everything all alone and still get followers, that’s a lot of power. And laying the groundwork for more big trouble.

      I personally think there are sins that disqualify one from further leadership.

      • Isaac Rehberg (the poster formerly known as Obed) says

        “For the good of the Church.” That’s a really good concept. What ministers do should be fore the good of the Church. I don’t see how what Haggard is doing will be better for anyone than if he decided to quit ministry for good. The only person it’s good for is Haggard!

        I’m reminded of something I heard on EWTN (I think) a few days or weeks ago. They were talking about the old practice of sending someone who had caused a scandal due to major sin to a monastery or nunnery. Rather than being punitive, it was a measure of grace. The idea being that the person who had sinned in that manner would be removed from the temptations that caused that sin and instead spend their time in prayer so that they could come back to God.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says

          And also where he couldn’t do any more damage in the interim.

  24. It is no surprise to me that the secular press would lump all kinds of things together under the headings “fundamentalist” and “evangelical”; it is disappointing to me that those who traditionally bore the latter label have colluded with the secular press by electing the likes of Mr Haggard to office in the NAE.

    In my view neither Haggard nor Osteen nor the entire Health/Wealth crowd are evangelicals.

    The large and loud churches get all the attention but there are still numerous smaller congregations which should not get tarred with the same brush.

    On the issues Laura raised wrt the Reformers: I suppose “looking for authority elsewhere” means the Eastern Church. That reflects a very American view. In their home lands the Eastern Churches had developed many of the same problems as Rome, most significantly too close ties of the hierarchy to the political establishment of their respective home lands. This compromised their authority as much as various abuses compromised that of the papacy in the West. Today the national churches of the East come across as hotbeds of various nationalisms and offer no real home for people of differen nationality or those not sharing the nationalism, ideologically or politically. This situation seems different in the US and that is cause for rejoicing but the reformers were faced with a completely different situation.

    • Actually, I was referring to Luther’s dialogues with Patriarch Jeremias II:


      This paper chronicles an interesting exchange between the Reformer and the Patriarch whereby the Patriarch couldn’t quite wrap his head around the fact that Luther wasn’t Roman Catholic since “everyone” in the West was Roman Catholic!; thereby creating what some might interpret as a “missed opportunity”. Is this an American view in and of itself? Perhaps. The author of the paper is American and I, as an American Orthodox, am reading it and gleaning from it some interesting thoughts. Of course, any reading of history entails something similar for whomever reads any history. Does this invalidate the reading of history? I don’t think so…obviously.

      But the interesting thing I have experienced in Orthodoxy (and the theology is in the experience, not in the intellectual) is what I, as a Child, experienced in pre-Vatican II Catholicism: universality. The Greeks, the Antiochians, the Russians, the Serbs et alia all have the same Liturgy (that written by St John Chrysostom), the same theology (as embodied by the seven ecumenical councils), the same creed (Nicaea), the same fasting periods (despite differing calendars) even as they have differing languages and local customs.

      But as a Calvinist, I couldn’t even drive across town and participate in worship at two churches within the same denomination (OPC and PCA) without following my bulletin; things are that diverse. And their theologies of worship, evangelism, the diaconate, federal headship, the “New Paul”, etc etc etc may be across the spectrum from one another…even as exceptions to their Standards of Faith are allowed and accepted. Same-same…but different, as they say in Thailand.

      BTW…in my reading of the Epistles of Paul, I would hazard to say that the Church of Corinth, the Church of Rome, the Church of Thessoloniki and the Church of Ephesus were hotbeds of ethnicity with differing political and cultural emPHAses. But I could also be reading into this my own biases…

  25. I’m a resident of Colorado Springs. I listened to parts of a Ted Haggard interview on “The Richard Randall” show on our local news station, KVOR ( I have looked quickly for pod casts, of the show in order to provide links here, but did not find them .KVOR does have a “member login” (I’m not a member), so they may be available there if anyone want to find them.
    I do believe that a pastor could be restored after any sin, and really believe that Chaplin Mike has made some excellent points about the nature of a pastor starting a new church. I do believe that restoration is possible from any sin. I also think that someone should stand up and say that the church tries to make a homosexual offense greater than another pastor who engaged in adultery, but I believe in the eyes of God, the difference is not so great.
    Ted is saying some things that people want to hear. They want to hear them because the church is supposed to be a place of grace. Ted’s words contain truth that needs to be spoken. And, as Ted often does, he says them well. Ted is saying a lot of very good things, but the point is he is the wrong person to be saying these things (at least at this time and in this context). Sometimes people cannot hear what we are saying because something in our life is screaming too loudly. People cannot hear the truth that is in Ted’s words because they can only hear the inconsistencies that continue in the life of Ted. Some of these were well pointed out by Chaplain Mike in this post.
    I content that Ted is really having trouble with the truth of his life and his sin. When asked (on the radio show referenced above – sorry, I rambled) about his “cure” from being gay (from a caller with a clear agenda), Ted (who is very, slick and smooth), adeptly changed the course of the conversation and defiantly stuck to his pat answer, “I am not gay; I’ve never been gay.” He seemed to imply that the time he was caught was the only time he was involved. (Note, this was not specifically said, but listening and driving, I came away with that strong impression). I don’t believe that the time he was caught was the only time he engaged in this behavior. Ted also seems to be sticking with the “I purchased the meth, but I threw it away” story. I clearly think that Ted is admitting to what he was caught doing, but does not wish to elaborate about his secrets any more than he has to.
    When and if Ted comes clean about his sins and stops trying to minimize the extent of his involvement, then people can hear what he has to say about the nature of grace and restoration. This presents at least two dilemmas: (1) I don’t want to hear the details, and probably wouldn’t listen. (2) I don’t want to begin to set forth a sinner/hero situation where the greater sinner can talk of the greater grace of God (“…what, shall we sin even more that grace may abound?” Paul answers, “may it never be!”). Nevertheless, I think that as long as Ted is still hiding the extent of his sin, the words he has to say cannot be heard and they sound empty and self-serving.

    • Like you, I’m not sure I want to know the details. But I certainly want to know who does know those details, and who oversaw the process of repentance and restoration. I want to know who he was/will be accountable to, both during the restoration process and as he begins his ministry. Cuz if there’s nobody of substance on that list, nobody that Ted is truly accountable to, I think we all have a pretty good idea how far this “ministry,” this “church,” is gonna go.

  26. I’m going to say how I really feel even if it reveals that I’m just an impious jerk.
    I don’t think any sane pastor in Co Springs has anything to worry about with Ted Haggard “stealing sheep”. If I was pastoring a church there and someone left to go to Haggard’s, I would consider it a blessing. Real sheep aren’t so easily led astray.

    Ok, with the sheep analogy, we all like the animal are easily distracted from faithfulness to our Savior, but still, this is not even at the level of a sin issue; it COMMON SENSE. At the risk of sounding elitist, if somebody is living out of an abiding relationship with Christ and prayerfully seeking the guidance of the Holy Spirit in all they do, I simply cannot imagine any way possible that they would end up at this “St. James” church. I’m all for second chances. This is not that, and we all know it. Ted Haggard might actually be doing ministers in Colorado Springs a favor by removing from their fold those who desperately need to feel good and have absolutely no intention of seeking true repentance. It’s the people who follow this guy that we ought to pity: False teachers, like sin, is it’s own punishment. And in the end, there’s not much worse it can get.

  27. dkmonroe says

    It’s hard to know how to respond to this without seeming like a complete pharisee, because one of my personal convictions is that we really cannot know what other people’s hearts hold, no matter how tempting it is to believe that we do. However, I will indulge my inner pharisee and say that just once, I would like to see one of these disgraced pastors stop trying to restart their mega-church careers and make an honest living instead.

    Actually, I have to stop myself and say that I do remember at least one situation in which a prominent pastor chose to resign from his position, not because of an exposed scandal, but because his conscience was troubled by a relationship he had that he thought might become improper if he didn’t both end the relationship and step down. Unfortunately I can’t remember his name right now, but I do remember that his issues weren’t nearly so great as Haggard’s. And alternatively I can probably name about a dozen pastors who have publicly disgraced themselves, sexually or otherwise, who just moved across the street or jumped towns and started new churches.

    However, without equivocation, I will say that this approach of turning the offering into a lottery is hideous and disgusting and in some ways seems worse than the sex scandals that brought him down in the first place. Of course, doing something like completely inverting the whole concept of the offering has never and would never bring any pastor down. After all, it’s only the offering. It’s not like it’s anything important.

    • I was spending a few months in Georgia building a church building with some friends from VT and the one guy among us who was not a professing Christian mentioned that “there sure is a lot of money in the God racket”.

      Ted Haggard was making a bus load of money before the scandal and so were all of the other high profile cases like his.

      Like dkmonroe I’d love to see more of these guys willing to do something really small (and with little in the way of financial gain) for God. It seems like being a pastor is just like any other career choice, not primarily an opportunity to serve the church.

  28. dk…was that ‘sarcasm font’ used at the end of your post…..I can’t tell

    I don’t know how the Haggard thing will turn out (my prophet juices need more coffee , maybe) but my mind does a quick compare and cotrast to Gordon MacDonald, who

    1. confessed quickly and completely (as near as we can tell)
    2.put himself under real authority and accountability: THEY told HIM how his restoration plan was going to shake out.
    3. stayed with the restoration plan, according to what was given to him
    4. was restored to a teaching post (not sure if that is something more than that now or not)

    the dissimilarities are striking, we’ll see about the results.

    • dkmonroe says

      Yep, that was sarcasm.

    • I like 2) very much and think that is extremely important. Back in the 400s, the Byzantine emperor Theodosius was excommunicated by the archbishop Ambrose and when Theodosius sought restoration, he submitted to a very long and very public penance (because of the high position he was in and the public nature of his sin, a similarly high level of public penance seemed warranted to set an example). I like the fact that Theodosius submitted himself to someone else’s decision as to what the “restoration plan” was and when it was considered complete. Are modern evangelists who fall greater than Theodosius?

      • most of our modern leaders don’t have a history book that goes back that far…..was this “Theo” guy in “Spartacus” or something ???? Your post and point are well taken, though, LORD help us remember what’s useful in our history….all of it.

  29. The only real authority the church ever has is the word of God. That’s it. Schisms are nothing new. But if a person does not listen to the word of God, there isn’t anything more the church, any church can do for them.
    These are not new problems in the history of the church, they actually go much further back than the reformation. And anyone in the Eastern Orthodox church should know that.

  30. I think that the church can and must do more for them, Bror. I read a good analogy once. We have a code of law that says that speeding is wrong. But the law code can’t arrest or warn a speeder. Only people acting according to the code can. The Bible could be called a law code, but it too can’t “arrest” or forgive an offender. Only the Body of Christ can. The Church without the Bible is lost; the Bible without the Church is incomplete.

    The above is a useful analogy, but I don’t like comparing the Bible to a law code. It’s so much more than that: it’s the bearer of the words of life. I’d rather compare it to someone carrying a cup of cool water in the desert than to a sheaf of tickets in a policeman’s hand.

    • Damarius,
      I don’t exactly know what you are saying that is in opposition to what I said. We have the word of God, this is that which we use to reprove, rebuke and exhort those who call themselves Christians, it is also what we use to encourage and comfort them. Beyond that we have nothing.
      Now many Christians see denominational affiliations as being helpful for correcting a free for all attitude in the market. I would not go and put up a new Lutheran congregation next to another one that is struggling.
      But when the world has rejected denominations for the nondenominational mindset, and goes there own way, what do you have left to do. Ted Haggard is Ted Haggard, and this is just one of his problems.

      • I agree, he is now in no-man’s-land. It is hard to know what to do given that.

  31. Headless Unicorn Guy says

    Another curious matter involves how Ted Haggard seems to be having trouble specifying exactly what his role will be in this new church.

    Cult Leader?

  32. Brian in BC says

    As the wise sage Obi-Wan Kenobi once said: “Who’s the bigger fool, the fool or the fool who follows him?”

    It would warm my heart if not a single person showed-up to Haggard’s little “Church Chat”…but unfortunately we are all well to aware of the starry-eyed followers of the famous and the infamous who will clamour to be close to anyone “famous” regardless of how far they have fallen and what garbage they speak or do. Where is the discernment in our society today?

    This man has disqualified himself from leadership…not buy his sin, but by his ongoing actions and responses. The entire arc of his “restoration” smacks of a man who continues to be driven by self-centered arrogance and a complete inability to take any sort of accountability seriously. The very fact that he’s playing “fast and loose” with his descriptions of what his “position/roll” is in this new endevour clearly demonstrates that at a core level he recognizes that the optics are really bad…as Christian’s we are called to live in the LIGHT…this is still scrambling around in the shadows.

    • Brian in BC says

      dang…I see typos…sorry 🙂

      • If the icon you use here is typical of your typing situation, I can see why!

    • “The entire arc of his “restoration” smacks of a man who continues to be driven by self-centered arrogance and a complete inability to take any sort of accountability seriously…this is still scrambling around in the shadows.”

      I think you’re on to something. I keep thinking that Haggard has more in common with the balloon-boy dad than he does with Jimmy Swaggart. He can’t take a bow after his 15 minutes of fame and quietly walk off the stage; instead, he needs a new trick to make lightning strike twice, with no regard for those who may be hurt in the process. The other stuff seems like symptoms of something else driving him in a bad way.

      God have mercy on us all. Sin really sucks. You think you have the upper hand on it, and it rises up again in a new ugly way. When you repent of what you think is the “worse” sin, a much worse one was hidden underneath it. Gordon MacDonald wrote about sin being like stones in a garden, which the winter frost continually pushes to the surface.

  33. I seem to recall Jesus getting pretty upset at the money changers and the dove sellers in the temple. Hmmm, I wonder what He’d say about a lottery.

    • Maybe we won’t need to find out. Seems to me civil authority first has to grant a gaming license.

  34. Lots of unanswered quetsions. Lots of potential for personal financial and material gain all around. Zero oversight or accountability structure. I’ve seen this recipe before. Regardless of how pure the motives, it never turns out well…..

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      “Oh, the more it changes,
      The more it stays the same;
      And the Hand just rearranges
      The players in the game…”
      — Al Stewart, “Nostradamus”, 1973