Scott on November 7, 2006 at 12:21 am
Why Isn’t It Just SIN?
I wasn’t really going to post anything on the whole Ted Haggard thing. I think that my blogging partner John put up an excellent post on this whole sad situation. To be honest, I didn’t want to be seen as an apologist for Haggard in any way nor did I want to sound like I was condoning the pack of giddy, rabid blog-dogs who have gathered around the over-beaten carcass of this story and are chewing at it with ravenous abandon.
But the more I read about how certain factions have reacted to this whole situation, the more disgusted I have become. Veiled and not so veiled WE TOLD YOU SO’s are echoing throughout the blogosophere along with hearty congratulations among the “Christian” prognosticators who are spending half their time referring their readers to each other’s posts and articles in which they condemn modern Evangelicalism and predict the coming judgment of the house of God.
BUT why isn’t what happened with Ted Haggard just SIN? Why is his SIN somehow bigger and/or badder and/or more important? Why is it that in the minds of these people HIS sin is greater than THEIR sin? Now I know that they will fold their hands and piously drone on about the “higher calling and standards” applied to leaders in the church, but they are missing out on the fact that the Bible NEVER says that the sin of any man or woman is greater than the sin of another, or deserving of greater attention or greater condemnation or greater judgment.
Why is it that rather than speaking out about the sin of this man (and rightfully so), many find the temptation too great to pass up to promote their own causes and their own pet-windmills. While they are busy quoting 1st Timothy 3 and Titus 1 about leadership within the Church, they are ignoring other passages and stories from the Bible that would seem to diminish their bombastic bluster. Though they will deny with their mouths that it is so, their words and the attitudes evident there belie a spiritual pride and a pharisaical tendency to judge in order to self-promote and self-congratulate.
After all, what about how Romans makes it clear that we are ALL guilty of SIN, and our sin brings all of us to the brink of the abyss and makes us stare into the face of Judgment.
Romans 3:10-26 (portions excerpted for space)
There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one. Their throats are open graves; their tongues practice deceit. The poison of vipers is on their lips. Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness. Their feet are swift to shed blood; ruin and misery mark their ways, and the way of peace they do not know. There is no fear of God before their eyes.
Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be silenced and the whole world held accountable to God. Therefore no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin. But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.
WOW, what a concept we have ALL SINNED and have fallen short of the glory of God! That would mean that Haggard’s sin is no different than mine or John’s or Ingrid’s or Ken’s! But if that were true, then nobody would get to play their “I was right and you were wrong” trump card! Where’s the fun in that?
And what about Psalm 51, written by King David after committing adultery with Bathsheba AND having her husband killed:
Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me. Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you are proved right when you speak and justified when you judge. Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones you have crushed rejoice. Hide your face from my sins and blot out all my iniquity. Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me. Save me from bloodguilt, O God, the God who saves me, and my tongue will sing of your righteousness.
So King David, the King that God chose to lead Israel, sinned and sinned in a MAJOR way. But his sin didn’t seem to preclude him from God’s mercy and grace. The Scripture certainly makes clear that what he did was sinful and wrong and that he was PUNISHED for it (rightly so). But we’re never shown that David’s sin was evidence of a wrong set of beliefs or teachings. We are shown that David’s sin was a result of his sinful nature, of the desires he harbored in his heart that ran against what God wanted for him.
Again, where’s the fun in that? I mean, if we can’t claim that Ted Haggard’s sin is an indictment of a whole organization or movement, then the only thing left to do is to look to the sin in our own house (so to speak). And again, where’s the fun in that?
Though they will claim that there is no joy in Muddville over this sad, unseemly story, I can’t help but notice an undercurrent of pride and an attempt at masking some small amount of excitement at seeing their narrow-minded-tunnel-visioned-pharisaical views somehow possibly validated by the fall of this pastor.
It isn’t just the fact that over the last few days I have heard/read things that I don’t agree with. It’s what ISN’T being said at these sites that is almost bothering me more.
From the Reformed Gadfly:
I’m sick and tired of being associated with a “Christianity” that does not seem to care one whit about holiness or obedience to God’s Word. Let me say this as perfectly clear as I can: I believe that “Christianity” in America is nearly totally apostate. Why? We have abandoned the vision of the Holiness and Fear of God Stuff like this can only happen because contemporary Christianity is rotten to the core.
So Tim Brown (the gadfly himself) has decided that the millions of people who would identify themselves as Evangelical Christians don’t “care one whit about holiness or obedience to God’s Word,” and all because of Ted Haggard’s sin? I wonder if this guy hangs out with the “Reverend” Ken Silva, ’cause they certainly seem to paint things (and people) with the same REALLY, REALLY broad brush.
By the way, thanks for judging my Christianity which, by its very nature is contemporary because I am a Christian living my faith in the present (or contemporary) culture. Perhaps you aren’t aware of it, but Luther’s faith was contemporary, too, as was Calvin’s.
Please catch a clue. Thanks!
The back-story here includes just about everything wrong with 21st-century “evangelicalism.” This was the top leader of the largest organization representing America’s old-guard evangelical core. The movement (not everyone associated with it, of course, but the drift of the movement as a whole) long ago sold out eternal values for more pragmatic and temporal concerns: political power, contemporary fashions, public opinion, and a lopsided moral agenda.
It’s time for evangelicals to rethink their priorities, reexamine the evil fruits of pragmatic and market-driven “spirituality,” and retool their own movement. Better yet, Christians with a concern for the glory of God and the authority of Scripture should renounce the latitudinarian-style movement contemporary “evangelicalism” has morphed into. It is a hopelessly mixed and muddled multitude. The fashionable brand of NAE/Christianity Today-style “evangelicalism” actually abandoned historic evangelical principles long ago, and hasn’t taken a firm stand for biblical and evangelical doctrine for some time. The current scandal is only a symptom of that much deeper problem.
Like Tim Brown before him, Phil Johnson (the Pyromaniac) has gone to the extreme in making sweeping statements of the broadest kind. EVERYTHING in 21st Century Evangelicalism is wrong and the Ted Haggard story proves it. This whole thing is proof of the “evil fruits” of everything that isn’t easily identifiable as “Reformed.”
Golly, I wish I were as sure of myself spiritually as this guy or perhaps he is spiritually full of himself. I’m not sure which, but either way it makes me uncomfortable.
From Slice of Laodicea:
But I also believe that the world has now been used to judge the church because Christians wouldn’t do the job themselves. Either we take care of in-house sin, or CNN will. Far more than Ted Haggard’s soul and family is at stake here. By this public scandal, he has shattered the reputations of millions of undeserving faithful Christians and he has robbed us of our moral authority in witnessing to others.
Of course, Ingrid over at Slice has to jump into the mix. In this case, she has determined that Ted Haggard has “shattered the reputations of millions of undeserving faithful Christians.” I think that Ingrid, at this point, is playing for the cameras (so to speak) because “shattered” is a pretty heavy word to use. I know that it serves her purpose because by claiming the whole “shattered” thing, she can point to how right she has been in her long fight against all of the evil in the church and how Haggard’s sin is evidence of the damage that can happen when people don’t listen to her and people like her.
I would say that Ted Haggard’s very public and unfortunate sin has damaged the credibility of the Church of Jesus Christ, as happens whenever any of us sin (either visibly or secretly) and fall short of God’s glory. Haggard has caused no more damage nor grieved the Lord more than have I when I have acted inappropriately, or when the Reverend Fred Phelps shows up at a funeral with his few supporters with their hate-filled signs, or when a prominent Christian leader declares that things like a hurricane or an earthquake are evidence of God’s wrath against the U.S. or against lukewarm Christians in the states, or when brothers and sisters spend so much time attacking others within the church that their last concern is for those in the watching world who are looking in.
Maybe we need to remember that it is ALL SIN. Nobody gets to make pronouncements about what God says except God. Nobody gets to make predictions about what God will do except God. Nobody gets to sin privately and then act pious in public. Nobody gets to rejoice in the misfortune and sin of others.
Henry (Rick), a brother in Christ, has a fantastic write-up related to this. It’s worth reading.
It’s all sin, people. It’s all sin.
Category: Religion & Faith |