The elders of New Life Christian Church in Colorado Springs have recommended that Ted Haggard take up secular work. Although the NY Times put this in their very last sentence in their latest article about Ted, I found this to be the most important aspect of this whole story so far. How many churches are so quick to take back a pastor who had engaged in very serious sin, often without ever repenting in the first place? How serious are we taking God's Word as He clearly lays out the requirements for being an elder? It sounds so simple: if you don't meet the requirements for being an elder, find another line of work.
I can't help but think of the four Reformed elders that were defrocked barely a year ago, but then were voted back in as elders almost immediately, although there was no true repentance forthcoming and although they clearly no longer meet the biblical requirements for being elders. I can understand how emotionally attached Christians can be to their elders, but that is why God gave us clear requirements in His Word, for the times when we are too fervently involved to think straight.
The elders at New Life Christian Church must have been extremely emotionally attached to Ted Haggard as well, but they sought the Lord instead, and did the right thing, the hard thing. And in the end, that church will be blessed and will grow spiritually.
It still floors me that a charismatic mega-church is doing all the right things in this scandal with Ted Haggard, and not only that, but Ted Haggard seems to be responding in an attitude of repentance so far as well.
Having just finished three weeks of intensive counseling, Ted Haggard said, “I have spent so much time in repentance, brokenness, hurt and sorrow for the things I’ve done and the negative impact my actions have had on others ... Jesus is starting to put me back together.” Oh, that all sinners expressed this kind of attitude!
Ted and his wife are taking online courses together to get master's degrees in psychology. Since Ted no longer meets the biblical requirements for being an elder, the other elders at New Life have encouraged him to seek employment outside the church. I'm not a big fan of pop psychology, but I will say that I see that this would only be a natural area of interest for a former pastor, and I pray that the Lord brings healing to both him and his wife as they study this subject together.
What a great example for the rest of the Christian world. Christians, let each of us have such hearts that are quick to repent when we sin and be willing to bear the consequences for our own actions. To God be the glory.