Ted Haggard, former pastor of the 14,000-member New Life Church who was fired due to his “tour de force” with a male prostitute, has shocked the world once more by announcing his intent to return to ministry. This time, Haggard wants to start a non-denominational church at his home. He is reported as saying, “This is my resurrection day.” Quite a bold declaration for a man whose image receives heavy airtime on the internet within the confines of articles mocking his sexual exploits.
Even with his wife by his side during his announcement on Wednesday, Haggard still could not bring forth the pomp and splendor that is associated with what a Christian would call a “resurrection.” What will become of this endeavor? Only time will tell. What I do find disturbing concerning Haggard’s announcement, based on the reporting of it, is that he only mentions God in reference to how a marriage should be, but not as the one who called him back to ministry, or the one who helped him get his life together (Associated Press). In fairness, this analysis may be incorrect due to the fact that the media does not always report all that is said.
Haggard’s return to ministry is not the end of the world. Nor is the very idea of it occurring with success, an impossibility. After all, the Christian Bible is replete with tales of sordid actions pose by men of God who were able to move in the right direction after those events–i.e. Abraham, Samson, and David. The history of a man is best understood after the fact. Unless there are recent incriminating statements or actions by Haggard, commentaries criticizing his intent and likelihood of success are premature. I have never been a supporter of Haggard’s eisegetical use of the Bible, but I’m willing to see what he does this time around. It is better to be judge for what one does then for what one might do.
Faith commentators will be quick to note Haggard’s failure, allegedly, to integrate Christ in his news conference. Anyone who seeks to re-enter the Christian faith world after a devastating scandal needs to acknowledge complete reliance on the God of the faith. I have yet to see this from Haggard and my skepticism concerning his preparedness is especially based on this.
That being said, Haggard should be conscious of the fact that his actions tarnished his image to the point where he is not recognized as one capable of being a spiritual leader. Measures must be taken to prevent even the similitude of back tracking to his former ways. The fact that his new church will be open to all–even homosexuals, with an emphasis on “broken people,” creates a paradoxical environment. However, in an ecclesiastical institution, that is and must be, the norm.
*The image of Ted Haggard on the front page and above this article is taken from here.