Ted Haggard, Restoration of Fallen Ministers, and Deciding to Forget
Going to Hell with Ted Haggard, struck close to the heart and went viral last week. It poses a haunting question: What should be our posture towards ministers who have fallen from grace? By and large, the church doesn't handle these situations very gracefully. I've seldom seen this done well.
There is great wisdom, of course, in not short-circuiting the restoration process, but I wonder if there is a better, more compassionate path to wholeness.
Several years ago, a dear friend experienced experienced moral failure, and was removed from his congregation. They put him through a punitive process of discipline which he honestly tried to embrace for a while, but like Ted Haggard, stepped away from it before the disciplinarians thought he was ready.
He ended up starting a non-denominational church in the same city -- and, quite frankly, for the last decade, has done a splendid job serving the Lord, extending His compassion and grace to those broken by sin.
The Haggard article also reminded me of the time I spent an evening with the great prayer warrior, Wesley Duewel. He invited me to join in his prayer time, and I was impressed with the multitude of Christian leaders on his intercession list. He prayed for them all out loud -- by name.
Dr. Duewel came to Leith Anderson and stopped to talk with me about him.
"That good man carries such an enormous load as he leads the National Association of Evangelicals."
"Yeah," I responded, "especially after what happened with his predecessor."
He looked puzzled.
"You know. . . Haggard"
He still looked puzzled.
"Surely you remember. . . the big scandal?"
Then Dr. Duewel smiled and said, "Oh yes. . . I had put that completely out of my memory."
And at that moment, I wished I had done the same.