I heard this morning while watching the news that brother Haggard of the National Evangelical Association has entered into some serious challenges. There is a small personal connection here. A couple of months ago I had the chance to have a candid conversation with a niece of his about the emerging church and the postmodern cultural shift. It was a lively discussion. I was impressed by her deep regard for brother Haggard. This morning as I watched the news coverage my heart went out to him and his family. My good friend Will Samson offers some good wisdom on how to process this:
Please pray for Ted Haggard and his family – Even if you do not agree with all of his politics, he is in the middle of a private hell that most of us cannot relate to. This is true whether the allegations are confirmed or not.
Don’t rejoice with either outcome – I find too many people, even some in the Church, hoping for one outcome or the other. Sadly, even my first reaction was to take sides. But love does not delight in evil. Period. If these allegations turn out to be true, how sad. If they are false, how sad. I pray we have the conviction to think this way.
Pray for Haggard’s successor at the NAE – While Ted Haggard is stepping aside from his church temporarily, it appears that he has resigned permanently from the National Association of Evangelicals. And, while I was not a fan of all his politics, Haggard was nonetheless a champion for the environment and human rights, and expressed openness on the issue of domestic partnership benefits for homosexuals. I fear a conservative backlash within the NAE to this incident, whatever the outcome.
Of course the next thought comes to mind as a possible response to some of us responding to this: why care? Well…firstly because this is a brother in Christ in need of burden-bearing. Secondly, he is a leader in the broader evangelical community to which I align myself with. Thirdly, I know what it feels like to be caught in something shameful. Admittedly, I have no idea how he feels. I don’t have a quintillionth of the platform and visibility of this brother. So the embarrassment and sense of shame probably feels like Mt Kilimanjaro on his and his family’s back. I write this response because I felt a special burden to stand in the gap for him, his family, and the larger evangelical (‘c’atholic) community that recognizes his leadership in the Body.