”We are idiots. We are hypocrites,” said the prodigal pastor who rose to the heights of Christian stardom before scandal led to his banishment.
Ted Haggard’s recent comments describe his view of today’s church in America. I interviewed him for an upcoming episode on temptation. He revealed some fascinating stories from his firsthand experience with that subject. But the former mega-church pastor and head of the National Association of Evangelicals also shared some pointed perspectives on the institution that he exemplified for 30 years.
After Haggard acknowledged his rendezvous with a gay prostitute in 2006, his Colorado Springs church fired him and sent him away. Now he’s back in Colorado, starting a new church, and questioning how the church handles its wounded. With little left to lose, he minces no words.
On churches that boast that they offer a healing place for broken people, but quickly banish their own broken leaders: “Even though we teach total depravity and we teach that all sin and fall short of the glory of God, if that shows up in our youth pastor or secretary or pastor, we have them gone in a day. With no explanation. And we start an effort to make sure that people don’t communicate with them. It’s the opposite of being a body. We say we’re a body but we don’t act like it when a difficulty comes up.
“We’re just a religious corporation. Our primary functions are image management and damage control. The church only believes in forgiveness and restoration of insignificant people, because we can market it. If it’s significant people (leaders), it’s an embarrassment to us and we don’t want to have anything to do with them. It’s the epitome of hypocrisy.”
Some might say Haggard is haggard—and bitter. But his perspectives (on the church, homosexuality, temptation and restoration) after years of shame, therapy, time to ponder, and separation from the spotlight of super-churches, caught me off guard. And caused me to ponder.
Who are we—as the Body of Christ?
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