“To err is human, to forgive is divine.” The well-known quote by Alexander Pope rings in my mind again as I read the Wall Street Journal’s article on the return of Ted Haggard, “Humbled Haggard Climbs Back in Pulpit“. Ted Haggard, former leader of the National Association of Evangelicals, was a prominent face of American Christianity before 2006. In November 2006, it was publicly revealed that he allegedly had sexual relations with a male masseuse by the name of Mike Jones and purchased the drug methamphetamine. Now, as the WSJ reports, he is back at the pulpit with a new church. It is almost amazing how Haggard endures the messiness of media to make a very controversial return. As a closet idealist, forgiveness and acceptance seems to be on the side of victory, and as a lover of second chances, it seems a fairytale ending to a shocking scandal is on the horizon. Christianity does preach of vulnerability, accountability and forgiveness but it is also true that Christianity is not merely about black and white rules but rather about messiness, the messiness of humanity. Part of realizing that messiness is acknowledging that comebacks, second chances, are never the same as our initial opportunity. Forgiveness does not mean that history is erased. So with a bit more sympathy than my former professor illustrates in his comment, “Return of the King“, I ponder the value of Haggard’s return. Upon some musing, the issue is not that he has returned from a scandal nor that he has successfully been acceptanced back into the pulpit. Beneath the superficial issues the media likes to aggrandize, it is the lack of concern for the mission of the Church that warrants Trueman’s sarcastic criticism. The Lebron ego bug must be catching on and Ted must have missed the most important session of therapy. The one that shows him that “church” is not about him.
Return Impossible?26 07 2010