Joel Hunter, pastor of Northland Church, and Rick Warren, pastor of Saddleback Church, both had sons take their own lives. I know of five other wonderful Christian families that also had sons who took their own lives. Some researchers are reporting that the suicide rate among Evangelicals is the same as that of the non-Christian community. How sad.
Back in my days as president of the National Association of Evangelicals, I knew Joel and Rick. They are both sincere, wonderful believers with ministries that are admired. I also knew some of the parents of the kids who took their lives here in Colorado Springs. Good families.
The news about Pastor Isaac Hunter breaks my heart. Great speaker, lover of God, and my guess is he loved the church. But he, like all of us, fell short. In the midst of divorce with accusations swirling, he resigned from the church he founded. He gave it his best shot, and his heart was broken. This makes me sick to my stomach. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not sick that he fell short, that’s a given for everyone except Christ Himself, I’m sick that our message did not do what we all hoped – it did not fix the problem.
In the past we would try to argue that Evangelical leaders who fall were not sincere believers, or were unrepentant, or that they did not really believe their Bibles, or were not adequately submitted. And in the midst of these arguments, we KNOW those ideas are, in some cases, rationalizations. I can offer some guesses from personal experience as well as knowledge of others’ stories that, 1) Matthew Warren repeatedly prayed for God to heal his mind, and 2) Isaac Hunter frequently repented of the things in him that damaged his heart and marriage. I think Jimmy Swaggart, Jim Bakker, and I know Ted Haggard, hated their sins, repented, prayed, fasted, memorized Scripture, and pleaded with God for personal holiness. I think there are very few hypocrites in our pulpits or on church staffs. I believe most people in ministry are sincere followers of Christ. But when God’s holiness is infused into our humanity, that sets us all up for some degree of struggle.
I was so ashamed in 2006 when my scandal broke. The therapeutic team that dug in on me insisted that I did not have a spiritual problem or a problem with cognitive ability, and that I tested in normal ranges on all of my mental health tests (MMPI, etc.). Instead, I had a physiological problem rooted in a childhood trauma, and as a result, needed trauma resolution therapy. I had been traumatized when I was 7 years old, but when Bill Bright led me to the Lord when I was 16, I learned that I had become a new creature, a new person, and that I did not need to be concerned about anything in my past, that it was all covered by the blood. I did become a new creation spiritually, but I have since learned that I needed some simple care that would have spared my family and me a great deal of loss and pain.
Contrary to popular reports, my core issue was not sexual orientation, but trauma. I went through EMDR, a trauma resolution therapy, and received some immediate relief and, as promised, that relief was progressive. When I explain that to most Evangelical leaders, their eyes glaze over. They just don’t have a grid for the complexity of it all. It is much more convenient to believe that every thought, word, and action is a reflection of our character, our spirituality, and our core. They think the Earth is flat. Everyone is either completely good or bad, everything is either white or black, and if people are sincere Christians, then they are good and their behavior should conform.
Not so. There are more grays in life than many of our modern theological positions allow. It would be easy if I were a hypocrite, Bakker was a thief, and Swaggart was a pervert. None of that is true. Because I’ve not communicated with the Warrens or the Hunters since late 2006, I do not know for sure, but my experience would suggest that the Warren’s have received some hurtful communications from other Christians saying their son had a demon that could have been taken care of if they would have simply taken their son to them for deliverance. No doubt Isaac also received some brutal mail from Christians after his resignation from his church. My sin never made me suicidal, but widespread church reaction to me did.
I can only imagine what many Christians must go through trying to reconcile the things we Evangelicals say are true with the realities of their own lives. Do we actually believe that the many pastors who have been characterized as fallen decided to be hateful, immoral, greedy, or deceitful? I think not.
In my case, I was taught that life transformation took place at salvation and the power to overcome was inherent with the baptism in the Holy Spirit. My early Christian training was given by those who did not respect the mental health profession, nor the field of neural science. So I believed the solution to my struggle was exclusively spiritual, which turned out to be counterproductive.
If I prayed and fasted, I was more tempted. If I just worked in ministry, I experienced relief and was not tempted. I thought it was spiritual warfare. It was not. My struggle was easily explained by a competent therapeutic team.
But many in the church-world had to demonize the facts. My accuser failed his lie detector test and refused to take another, and I passed four lie detector tests given by three different polygraphers saying that his accusations were false. This so confused the narrative the church wanted to publicly present, they hid the tests from the public. The lead overseer actually told me, “Brother Ted, we do not believe in this psychological mumbo-jumbo, but we need to send you to therapy for the sake of the public. Then when you get home, we’ll get this demon out of you and your family and sweet Miss Gayle will be just fine.” He then established a “Restoration Team” purely for the church and press to get the impression that there was a restoration plan, which there was not. I learned a great deal about power, money, and how the powers that be can manipulate the press during that process. I thank God for the therapy. It answered 30 years of prayer. I became the man I had always prayed to be because of the process I went through during the crisis. Though I do believe there is a need for deliverance in some situations, for that sincere overseer, the world is way too flat.
Saints, I have a high view of Scripture and am persuaded that the theological underpinnings of Evangelicalism are valid, but I am growing away from the Evangelical culture we have created. I think our movement has abandoned the application of the Gospel, and as a result we spend too much time on image management and damage control. Maybe we should be willing to admit that we are all growing in grace, be willing to be numbered with the transgressors, and stop over-stating and over-promising. Jesus has been faithful to all of us in the midst of our pain, our suffering, and our disappointments. Why don’t we tell that? Every one of us have had sin horribly intrude in our lives after being saved and filled with the Holy Spirit, and God is faithfully healing us or has healed us. Why don’t we tell that? He has never left us or forsaken us when we’ve said and done the wrong thing. Why don’t we tell that? And when our children disappoint and hurt us, or we disappoint and hurt them, God sees us . . . and them. Why don’t we tell that as well?
My heart physically hurts for the Warrens, the Hunters, and the five families that lost their sons. The pain is incredible. I don’t know that it will ever heal this side of Heaven. I also hurt for Pastor Zachery Tims who died alone in a Times Square hotel room trying to get some relief, and for Pastor Cedric Cuthbert who was accused of watching child porn at work, and for Pastor David Loveless who was let go after his affair was revealed. Shall I go on? I do not believe we have a problem because these and so many others are insincere or because we have not adequately emphasized holiness. I think we have a core, fundamental, essential problem with our application of the Gospel. We need to re-read the New Testament and modify some of our interpretations. The Bible is true. God is faithful. But at this point, too many are missing the mark.
I know this is too long, and I would like to stop, but I can’t . . . not until I say one more thing. Everyone I’ve mentioned here has fallen because of obvious sin. But I did not mention the proud, envious, gluttonous, angry, greedy, blamers and scrutinizers in the body of Christ who have equally fallen but their sins are acceptable in our culture so they do not even realize their sin or need for repentance. Why? They are too busy with the sins of others. Often we actually laude these Pharisees and Judaizers because of their stand against sin, not realizing that they are still not teaching us the New Testament solution to mankind’s sin problem. When the New Testament becomes Torah in their hands, that law, too, stimulates sin.
It’s time for us to stop what we’re doing and weep. We need to repent, enter into the prayer closet without cameras, notes, or any announcements that we’re praying and fasting, and repent for what we have created until our hearts are soft again. Our children are dying. Our relationships are broken. Our attitudes are arrogant. And our hearts are left confused.
302 replies on “Suicide, Evangelicalism, and Sorrow”
Well said. God bless you, Gayle and your sweet church!
Powerful and True – I’m sending you something in your FB email.
We continue to shoot our fallen fellow Christians and as long as we do this it will seem right to the world. Under these rules Jesus would no doubt have thrown the woman into the well and grabbed a stone for the woman found in adultery.
I would not like to answer to the Almighty for judgements and actions that further inflict pain and deepen the scars for anyone who falls short of our holiness standard.We border on idolatry of ourselves when we think such judgements are ours to make.
We are called to love our neighbor as ourselves. Some seem to think it’s fine to wait for a neighbor who looks just like us before we give such love.
Love to you and Gayle,
We need more such voices. We need to be completely FOR one another as we make our way through our complicated lives. Thanks Ted.
My husband and I get these words, deeply. Is it not the grace of God that works in every detail from start to finish in this? Seriously, to come out of this knowing you were wounded as a child, you then wounded others, who turned around and wounded you and you are left staring in the face of Jesus-the Healer, the Redeemer, the All-knowing, only Wise One. We are with you in this-every stone, laid down is what we are asking. Not to justify or make excuses but to repent, grieve, and heal the way Jesus has made available.
Isn’t it only the grace of God that brings you out of this having a greater love for the Church? We are all being asked consider what restoration in the Kingdom of God looks like. We are being asked to trust that Jesus has a better way that does not excuse our sin but involves a mercy and grace that empowers us to “go and sin no more.” So thankful for you and Gayle! The fire you have come out of was not in vain. Praying for you!
Thank you Ted. I really see the law and culture replacing Christ in the way will deal with one another. May the Lord recover us back to the living Christ as our Shepherd.
When I read of your fall I was one of those finger pointers,,, until I looked in the mirror and saw my own sins and desires. I learned to accept the sins of other people and my own. We are all sinners, it makes no difference what the sin is, it’s still sin, and we will continue to sin until we all meet at Jesus’ feet. The finger pointers are no different, like you said, they sin but no earthling see or knows about it. I feel fail-ability should be preached by every faith and every denomination.
Thank you for such a loving and sensitive response to an issue not usually addressed.
Wonderfully (and bravely) stated. Thank you, brother Ted..
Pastor Ted, thank you for pennning your thoughts so eloquently and lovingly. Your message speaks to me deeply. God bless you and your precious family. And to all those suffering in private pain – you are not alone.
I would like to thank the Warrens, the Haggards, and all the other families who (whether they chose to or not) have had to walk out their struggles in a public arena. To me the issue is so much bigger than any one fallen minister or family who has had something “taboo” happen in their lives. I’m thankful that the Church is starting to have this discussion and I truly believe God is bringing it about because He wants to change this about His Church. If you are one of those pastors or ministers who are still struggling with “what to do with people like pastor Ted”, then GOOD! The Church in general needs to walk through this and how you answer that question is just the beginning. What camp will you fall into? Yes, God calls us to be holy, but He knows we are going to fall short. Why don’t we seem to know that? Why are we so surprised when it happens? I will tell you this, as you work through this issue, consider how you would handle a fallen pastor if he were your own son. Would you want to see him repentant, forgiven and eventually restored? What’s the difference between your son and pastor Ted? I’ll tell you the difference…. you love your son. “Love covers a multitude of sins.” It’s true. And when you love a person who has fallen, you want the best for them. You want to protect them while they are injured. You want them to get the help they need. And you are as thrilled as the prodigal son’s father when they return. The prodigal son’s father threw the coat of authority back on his son and threw a party. It was the older brother who remained judgmental. Because he had never himself tarnished his father’s name in such a way that the prodigal son did, the brother felt that the son should maybe slip in the back door and be a servant, but never in authority again. Hmmmmm…. that sounds vaguely familiar in the attitudes of the Church. Think about how the world would respond if they were to see Christians love each other and help each other when they fell. They might want a part of that. As it is today however, it is much safer to remain outside of current “Christianity” because if you’re ‘in the club’ it’s easy to get kicked out. Jesus said they will know we are Christians by our love. I’m convinced He is using families like the Haggards, Warrens and others to stir up the pot and remove some of the dross that has been in the Church for too long. Jesus loves His Church. It’s time for us to look more like Him.
Well said, Wendy. Thank you!
thank u Wendy; u r right
I am a brother from England, and admire your brave words and current ministry enormously. Because of your experience, you tell it like it is. Nothing in this area is easy, and healing does not come without a struggle. Jesus knows this, I just wish every part of his church did. Thank you for these thoughts, which are profound and real.
Thanks Pastor Ted for shedding light on a real issue, “Helping the hurting” & “Reflecting Jesus”
I am trying to wrap the right words around what Pastor Ted Haggard shared in this incredible and heartfelt article. Though I didn’t spend much time with Pastor Ted back in the day, the time we did spend impacted me greatly. His loving heart and kindness in those days left a deep mark on my life. Some years had passed and a few months ago, Pastor Ted reached out to me again, this time it was in my brokenness and healing of my family. I was so taken back, and humbled by this man’s heart once again. I realized that meeting him all those years ago wasn’t about those days, but for the days ahead. I am so grateful for Pastor Ted Haggard and his journey. This is one of the most painful and yet encouraging articles I’ve ever read. Painful because Pastor Joel Hunter is one of my overseers in my restoration and one of my dearest friends… Encouraging, because what I could never adequately say because my healing is young, Pastor Ted nailed it. His words carry a lot of weight and are healing for someone like me who totally understands. This is but the tip of the iceberg. If you care about the fallen, or know someone who has given up on the ministry, this is a must read. Please continue to pray for all the families mentioned. You are a big part of the healing. Thank you Pastor Ted for your authenticity way back then and today! We as a family are so grateful for you and your family!
This is a message for this time that needs to get out.
“I thank God for the therapy. It answered 30 years of prayer. I became the man I had always prayed to be because of the process I went through during the crisis.”
It’s very interesting the chain of events that took place and how God used that to answer your prayers to become this man. I believe that like Mandela in prison you too were presented with a choice when you were being persecuted by the church and you chose to allow the healing to take place in the manner in which God had for you. No doubt it taught you several lessons and gave you new perspectives along the way. God had blessed you when He healed you and may He continue to bless you and your family for the ultimate glory of His kingdom.
Very well stated my friend and more importantly, very well lived out by you, Gayle & the family. You truly are Ambassadors of His Grace! Loving you from FL.
Thanks for this blog. The church as a whole has a long way to go in accepting the legitimacy of what neuroscience and psychology have to offer in people attaining a measure of healing. These things are most definitely ‘under the blood’, but more often than not they’re also under our skin. And that requires a skillful physician to resolve it, not just another altar call or deliverance session.
Michael, I agree with your comment. Thanks
Well put, Michael.
Thank you for another important and Love filled blog. For those of us who grew up in the church, sadly, this is a hard shift. God is Love. I am called to be His Love in a touchable way to the people around me. . When Christ came to this earth He was scourged for not being judgmental. Yet he preached the Sermon on the Mount, which pointed out that even our thought life is sin. So His solution was to give His entire living and dying to provide a way and a means to be free from sin. Free from sin is to be Whole and Healed.
I think that I have fundamentally misunderstood what is Love. I am now convinced that Love is wrapped up in how “we live for the good of others” (Ted Haggard’s definition). It is only in Loving Communities, not in judgmental cliques, that we may be healed from our sin that is so destructive. I need less to divorce the sinners around me and be more willing to sacrifice myself in Loving them into Wholeness.
This then satisfies Christ’s call to be Holy. We uphold the truth that sin is the failures that can capture us. I do not say that sin is good. The Good News is that Christ provided and provides the power and the way into Whole Person Holiness. This is through his Biblical Revelation that is entirely consistent with rationality and science. So there is God’s goodness and freedom from Sin in reading the Bible, developing good theology, psychological counseling, physical health, meeting with Believers, and serving other people and more.
Thank you Ted for your reflection.
Sin, just seems to bring out the best in Christians (NOT)! More GRACE less judgment…
Thank you Ted. I am so grateful that you were able to overcome your trauma. I am so sad that so many are not. Thank you for opening your heart and sharing this with us. I pray that the Christian community is able to learn what an important thing that Grace is. Since it is the greatest gift that God has given us, we as Christians must continue to share this gift with
all the world, especially our Christian brothers and sisters!
Good Word, my brother. Please continue to speak this, it is the truth. I have been in the ministry for over 30 years and this very thing you share here is one of the biggest problems. We kill our own. The ministry has more politics in it than politicians in our nation. Many preach grace and away from the pulpit point fingers behind the scenes. Our Lord Jesus said, he that has not sinned cast the first stone. I have friends in the ministry who have committed adultery and I will not judge them as it is by the grace of God we go. I am thankful you bring up the point that what is the difference between sexual sin and other sins. King David planned murder but it seems the church only sees his adultery. Gossip is a sin and I find it just as destructive or more so. What happened to minister’s keeping confidentiality or just keeping their word. The only difference between me and someone who hasn’t received Jesus as their Savior IS that they haven’t received Jesus as their Savior. I am NOT better than anyone, it is ONLY Jesus. I love the Lord with all my heart and He is the answer for us all. Jesus said, He came to bring good news. Gospel means good news and the good news of the Gospel is to liberate us and it surely does. I was once suicidal before I knew Jesus as my Savior. I understand suicidal thinking, the dark depression, the feeling that God doesn’t love you or people don’t love you and you feel rejected and your heart cries out. One day back in March 1979, I wrote a suicidal note saying I didn’t want to live if there wasn’t a God who cared. I just happened to see a book about 10 minutes later and not knowing what this book was, I opened it up and read these words. “When all your friends are gone and you think that no one cares, look to God for He cares”. July 7, 1979, I received Jesus as my Savior and He set me free God bless you, Ted. Keep going for the Lord.
God speaks through you Pastor Ted. It comes at a painful time in my life and I thank you for God’s word. May God continue to bless you and those of us who listen.
Love you, Gwen.
Now I understand what Christ was saying when he said that in the last days even the elect can be deceived. This has been the toughest year of my Christina life. This past year God has brought me to the end of myself.. and to know that apart from Him we do nothing. and that it is Him working in me to do his will. to totally rely on him and the power of his resurrection. the Grace of God means that we just lay aside all pride, self-rightness, what we think are good works and say God don’t let me miss that power that raised Christ from the dead. My heart goes out to Joel and his family . He and all other Ministers, pastors, evangelist, and people out there preaching the gospel are on the front lines in Gods army.. None of us should judge because we have never lived that persons life. I pray that the body (church) will start to come together and realize that if one of us is hurt then it effects all of us. I feel so blessed to know the love and mercy God has lavished over me. He who has been forgiven much loves much…..
I’ve always believed that if the Devil isn’t messing with you, it’s because he doesn’t have to..the enemy’s strategy is to attack the head
Just had Suicide prevention in my training as a prison chaplain. Seeking to navigate the hopelessness of most of these men, who are in the last months of their sentence and are not given much chance to make it in society, with the powerful hope of the cross of Jesus Christ. I want to be genuine as part of the team here who are working together to bring a variety of programs and therapies. Your blog was perfect for me tonight. So glad you are our pastor and we are attending St James Church
Good and important words, thank you from a pastor in Sweden!
Thanks Pastor Ted!
Very very well said, well spoken, real, and heartfelt.
As Evengelicals in America we are often set up for failure and falling, and not only that but the true problem lies in the reaction to those that are often struggling with the same struggles.
Wonderfully written and I will be sharing this. This is the heart of G-d and this needs to be spread.
Pastor Ted could easily have disappeared from public life after his tragedy. Goodness knows that there were enough people who wanted him to do just that. But his message of hope for the hurting, grace for the sinners (read: every single one of us), and restoration for the fallen is so powerful and true, I am thankful he chose to heed the voice of God instead of the voice of the Pharisees. I am so thankful he continues to allow God to make beauty from his ashes, and share his heart with us so that we, too, may know that hope and dignity can be restored through the power of Christ.
Thank you Bro Ted. I want to repost this.
Unfortunately too many in church leadership, and christendom in general, forget that ALL truth is God’s truth. The truths learned from psychology and therapy are just as relevant as the Truth found in God’s Word. He authored them both, and to not recognize that is foolishness.
We must have a ‘both/and’ perspective. Also unfortunate are the is the self-righteous judgment that many believers project, and attack those to whom they disagree with. I wholeheartedly agree, we must re-read, and re-apply the Gospel if we truly want to understand Grace. It is in the application of Grace that we prove it so, and prove God’s reality of love for us.
I so agree with you. And I have a great appreciation that you are able to bring clarity and understanding regarding this difficult and important topic.
We each have struggles with our mind, will, emotions and body that live in a fallen world. We need to get greater clarity, like yours, on how to minister to the whole person without dubbing all our problems as an attack of the enemy or a demon. Thank God that He loved and accepted us before we ever lifted a finger to get better, and still loves and accepts us in our ongoing walk of growth. Thank God that’s He’s never used a perfect person – or none of us would have ever experienced the joy of Him working through us.
Again, Ted, you have a great gift to bring clarity to the confusion. Thank you for the courage to come back and use your gifts again!
Well said! We’ve forgotten GRACE. We don’t get it b/c it doesn’t make sense to our system of a broken rule & a consequence. Sadly, in Isaac’s note, he said he felt like a burden to his friends and family. But the culture of evangelicalism is perhaps to blame for those feelings. When we make people feel that they must carry a scarlet letter around for the rest of their lives & call into question what good they did in the past and the good they do now, are we not setting up a scenario for this kind of action? I hurt for his family and friends. Maybe when we hear of pastors who have stepped down or fired, we need to make a point of contacting them just to say they have a friend.
Ok Saints, this is EXACTLY the mindset that keeps so many wonderful Christians in bondage. I remember Gayle and I visiting a home in Louisiana and, after staying a while, learning that they had a dead baby in the freezer because of their belief in healing, their faith that doctors were worldly and bad. It’s important to know that God created the heavens and the Earth, so there is no war between Christian faith and science (learning). When we learn about the creation, we are simply learning about God’s creation. There is no lack of faith in that. As a result, we can use whatever we learn about his creation to help manifest His will for our lives. We know God wants us well. Sometimes he supernaturally heals us, other times we need to take better care of our teeth, use hydrogen peroxide, or maybe put a bandage on our arm to help it heal. That is not worldly or bad. The same is true with learning how our minds work. It’s not worldly to learn how a brain reacts to trauma and to help it heal, or how emotions react to abuse and to heal. These are God’s tools, but guys like the one who wrote this are inconsistent. He takes showers, my guess he uses fluoride toothpaste, has electricity in his home, and drives a vehicle with an internal combustion engine. . . all worldly if you take his logic and think about it. This type of thinking is very dangerous. Beware!
I really struggle with all of this. I have to wonder weather job and Joseph and others in Scripture should have gone through this therapy. Is that really what is necessary? When Paul said that the Word of God is sufficient to make the man of God fully equipped mature, did the Holy Spirit leave a few things out accidentally? This is where I struggle.
No need to struggle. Just know that God wants us well. If you are arguing that everything in us is spiritual, I hope you never go to school (we need not teach one another under the new covenant Jeremiah and the book of Hebrews says), you don’t need to brush your teeth (by His stripes we are healed), and you do not need to lock your doors or your car (don’t resist an evil man!). In the days you specifically reference, we were instructed to stone kids who were disrespectful and many who misbehaved. We don’t do that any more. Do you? If you had a nocturnal emission, you would have to stay away from people for several days. Do you do that? And do you play football? That is an abomination. Pig skin is unclean. Please don’t misunderstand. I am NOT discounting the Word of God, I’m just saying valid interpretive techniques are important to get accuracy. We need not be afraid of learning.
Yes, they did. It was about 14 years after Saul was converted on the Damascus Road that he was healed and mature enough to do much as St. Paul. Barnabas counseled him for several years. Christian Counselors apply the word of God.
A woman who sat next to me at a Women of Faith Conference several years ago (14 years) told me the struggles I have are because of the high calling I have received..and that with that kind of calling, I am a top target by the enemy. “What an honor” she said. Now, you can take it one of three ways..as a defeat, a badge of honor or with humility and thanks..
But with the trauma I had..like you, created a fertile ground for it all. We are bound by three..and not simply one..body, mind and spirit..and that is how we are like Him..three in one.
When I go through temptation..and I sin..and when I fall, and get up..it’s not because of the enemy(he’s involved of course)..it’s because God is calling me to growth and healing..and out of the mire I have so comfortably made a bed for myself in.
Thank you Ted for your courage and boldness to speak of problems we need to overcome in Jesus’ church! It seems to me, “we” in the church think way too much of ourselves! We are ALL sinners saved by grace by a loving God. Why are we surprise when somebody sins? Why don’ we have each other’s back? Walking in love means patiently, lovingly helping each other overcome our personal issues.
Ted, I was a youth Pastor in Sanford Fl and just finished reading Primary Purpose when your story first broke. I remember feeling like this is a big deal to lots of people. But not to The Lord.
I came to Christ as a broken, addicted, lost man. I didn’t understand denominations and frankly still don’t. There is One Lord and One Body. So working together for Jesus is in my blood. The Lord used you and others to speak to that deep place in me in my early days.
During this time I was just grateful that The Lord would love me. I was in the midsts of Seeking healing to the little boy inside me and unwinding years of unresolved personal conflict from my Trauma-ed life.
The weeks prior to this night my pastor and I used some of your points from Prinary Purpose in our teachings. But that night we began a new teaching on Grace. Through tears and the reality of my own flaws in shared.
“Mark my words, The Lord wastes nothing. Pastor Ted has been used and will be used in a mighty way in the Kingdom of God in the days to come” We moved on the John 17 that night. I have spent most of my days hoping for unity in the Body and praying we would receive Him.
Your life is part of the plan! Press on Ted. Lead from the heart The Lord gave you.
Ted, I agree with you on many points you have made. The compassion reflected through your experience and subsequent repentance offers others hope and courage to overcome worldly struggles. Unfortunately, you seem to have discounted spiritual warfare the enemy wages, especially against people of faith and their families. It seems that when believers don’t acknowledge this enemy attack, and deal only with human symptoms and solutions, true Kingdom freedom from sin doesn’t really occur. Christ warned us that we would be faced with struggle, condemnation and persecution for following His path, not only from other humans, but from Satan’s minions. Your solution seems to rely heavily on human effort, discounting the Father’s grace. Jesus faced the demonic directly, and instructed His disciples and followers to do the same. Removing human pride, opinion and judgement, and only allowing the Holy Spirit to direct deliverance seems to be a genuine path to freedom from worldly captivity. Then we can heal the wounding with human and Holy effort.
Spiritual conflict and our participation in it has been more than adequately emphasized over the last 30 years. You have to remember that when I pastored New Life Church, it was the largest deliverance church in the nation. It’s just that if the issue isn’t demonic, you can’t cast it out.
This is so true. There are demonic forces, and there are natural forces. It isn’t either/or: it is both. The devil is not picky about how he destroys people. He will use whatever tools are at his disposal, both natural and supernatural, both human and demonic, both emotional and spiritual.
All healing, regardless of the source, is God’s healing. Healing doesn’t come from the enemy as his purpose is kill, steal and destroy. So, we embrace all healing regardless of whether it comes from prayer or medicine. All Truth is God’s Truth.
You are there many modern day Pharasees and blind guides who are nothing than white washed tombs. Whose teachings are nothings more than betrayal of core Gospel Scripture. My only placement is constantly learning how to walk with the Christ in every moment. Too much humanistic psychology infects the Church. Someof those of higher learning need to reliaze they are the ones guilty of every word of the scripture in Jeremiah. Christ is the teacher. I am his student for eternity. Learning at each step.
True, humanistic psychology isn’t helpful because it’s humanistic. But learning how we work and cooperating with God’s plan works well. Nothing wrong with learning. We do have brains as well as spirits, and God did send and book, not a movie.
Thank you for this powerful message of truth Ted and new awareness to so many. I sat with my mouth open while reading your article – hopeful and grateful because of what I was reading and that you got it! I attended Northland for many many years and live in the area of Orlando where so many pastors that you mentioned have struggled. I experienced so many times being told to get over my pain through well meaning people in the church … but it was not until I was introduced to the ministry of inner healing of wounds just over a year ago that I was truly set free. I was brought back to the traumas from childhood – some that I had no memory of – and through a series of inner healing therapy sessions saw how these traumas affected my mind, and ultimately how I felt about myself at a core level. I was finally set free from the affect that these early childhood traumas had on my mind and thinking and realized my own sin of self protection in response to my early pain as well. Forgiveness for all and laying it all in the hands of Jesus as He asks us to do was the key to my finding freedom and today I am still walking out this journey of discovery to let go and let Jesus in to more and more areas of my life so I can experience His thoughts and become more loving like Him. I am being renewed in my mind and know this side of heaven I will always be walking it out since I am a human being. I am grateful you spoke out because as I share with my brothers and sisters in Christ the freedom I found – I get met more often than not met with a lack of openness to experiencing it in their own lives and yes I have heard that the psychological mumbo jumbo doesn’t belong in the church. Bless you and your family and God bless us all <3
I literally just wrote about my own suicidal thoughts, admission into a psych hospital (during Christmas) and getting the diagnosis of PTSD that had been masking itself as depression for years. A PK, with a writing and speaking career, an ordained minister…suicidal?!
So much EMDR, somatic experiencing, even equine therapy and wow, have those issues resolved!
If you’d find it helpful: http://www.annemariemiller.com/2013/12/12/year-spent-christmas-psych-ward-literally/
[…] He is a man that recognizes that we as followers grow, not that we grow to become followers. Suicide, Evangelicalism, and Sorrow. […]
Pastor Ted, your blog is such an uplifting and inspirational help. I thank you for your honesty and transparency. May the Lord continue to bless you.
Thank you for being vulnerable and honest about an issue no one wants to talk about. I’ve followed Christ since I was in college and frankly I worry about my kids embracing my faith with all of its baggage. I pray that my kids will be more sensitive, loving, caring, compassionate then my own generation has been. Maybe they will get it right.
Thank you. These words resonate with me as well, and I am not an Evangelical. I see these same condemnations and suicide rates in my own community of Christians, among people I go to church with. Thank you for your courage and honesty. Your words have the power to set people free. Shame and despair are killers. Hope and love lead us to get the help we need and allow us to truly look to God and live. Thanks again.
I rolled my eyes when I saw that you had written a blog article. Full of judgement, remembering your fall. Then I actually read it. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and your steps to recovery so openly. I too have sinned in ways I never thought I would have – I was shocked. I grew up in the church where everything was spiritual warfare and counseling and psycho- therapy were shunned. I can’t tell you how much I have benefited from EMDR and counseling.
You also speak so much truth about returning to the gospel and really allowing it to transform your life. Actually reading the words of Jesus!
God bless you and your family
It’s interesting how gullible we all are. It is true that the church and the press said I was “full of judgment,” etc., but strangely, after searching through my 9 published books and 22 years of sermons, they couldn’t find any examples of that judgment that they endlessly discussed. The most hateful thing they could find was me standing at a pulpit saying Christians should consult their Bibles to know what to think about issues in life. Please, in your determination to hate judgmental people, don’t rush to judgment (smile here).
You know, I realized fairly early on in my parenting journey that I parent the worst when my children are embarrassing me.. . . I have bad knee-jerk reactions and consequently make bad knee-jerk decisions. I am starting to realize that we Christians follow Jesus the worst when our Christian brothers or sisters embarrass us. When prominent Christians have failings, the tendency to respond with judgment comes from EMBARRASSMENT. We have been embarrassed in front of our non-Christian society AGAIN and so we have a knee-jerk, fleshly reaction instead of reacting in God’s love and wisdom and grace. It’s pride, really; that’s all it is. Our pride is hurt and we react out of that by lashing out at the one who brought us into disrepute. It’s so wrong. Imagine, here we are, the church, judging and kicking because our pride is hurt that one of our own has failed us publicly; and the one who failed is repenting in humility. Watching is God, who opposes the proud and gives grace to the humble.
Amen. Every parent needs an older parent to counsel them.
Beautifully said. God bless.
Sometimes our theology runs so close to the truth that we don’t even recognize our error. For instance, “God will never give you what you cannot handle.” If that were true, we would not need Jesus because we could handle life on our own. But thank God for Jesus … he is here to help us. Here is my VIDEO response: http://youtu.be/3Ve2OKNY3FE
I can relate to this I was very disappointed being at New Life when the scandal webt down, but my further study in Torah has led me to love greater than I ever had. God is love. The word is God. Torah is God. God is the same yesterday, today and forever. I really wish Ted would understand Torah from a teaching and instruction perspective and not a rabbinical perspective. Torah is Love, God is love. Man has made religion. Man has made Rabbinical Judaism and Man has made Christians religion judgmental. Both are incorrect. We have lost our Trust in God. To become a disciple which is in hebrew a talmidim (student of the Torah). Torah is the same walk Jesus walked. He studied it, he was a master Rabbi. The pharisees tried to quiz him on it and failed, because of their hardened heart to control and manipulate people the way they thought right. God doesn’t control nor manipulate He knows his plans ge has for us. A perfect plan. Let’s not forget Matthew 7:23 God will not know you for you practice lawlessness. See we are all responible to follow the intructions of God. That’s why Gid gave us dominion over the earth and not man! But, we still try to point fingers. Judgement in Hebrew is the concept of delivery, but in a way out of Love which is Torah. Torah is a bad word these days because of anti-semtic retorhic and Rabbinical practice. Matthew 17 gives a perfect picture of Elijah (represents the Holy Spirit) and Moses (represents Torah) and Jesus becoming one. If you don’t have both then you only have halve of the answer. Jesus himself had both and walked as a priest (knew Torah) and a King (love for His Kingdom). I wish all Pastors would re-evaluate the teaching they have received to see that since the 4th Century we have been led astray! Jeremiah 16:19!!
Only God can open your eyes and heart to see this mystery as explained in the New Testament. The Torah is simply case law on how to handle things, how to walk righteously and how to approach God in a Kingdom manner.
The new testament is commentary of the old, plain and simple. If you don’t understand Torah as your righteous walk you again have have the solution. Therefore you will never be given the “keys” to the kingdom. The kingdom in Hebraic mindset is God’s movement on Earth. So essentially all the things the church do cannot stop these things Ted has mentioned. You can’t pray it out!!it is not a demon. It is trauma which in Hebraic Teaching of the Torah through love teaches.
God Bless. I pray you see this and your eyes are open to the Word of the Lord from a different perspective one Jesus and his Disciples tried to teach!
Thank you for this comment, and I do understand where you are coming from. However, I do not believe God is Torah. I am a New Testament believer. I do not believe the Old Covenant worked, thus the New Testament reveals a new and better way. I believe in the New Testament solution to sin because the old was insufficient. Old Testament and New Testament are not equally applicable to the New Testament believer, and the New Testament is not simply a comment on the Old, but a covenant based on a sacrifice that is effective for all who will believe and receive. Again, thank you for writing.
As someone who has walked closely with The Lord my entire life, I have stuffed up in an incredible capacity. This made sense. I too undertook therapy with an amazing Christian counsellor. Years of hurts in my life have been worked through. I feel and know know know forgiveness like never before. shame has lost it’s grip and my walk with Jesus is so much deeper I can’t ever look back. I only pray that everyone else can experience the grace and freedom I now feel and that counselling/therapy is a God given gift. Love you Ps Ted. you’ve always been on my heart and your reaction and action to everything has been true class and grace. I feel like we will be great friends in eternity one day x
Thank you so very much for writing this with such transparency, grace, and truth. As a pastor, chaplain, and a suicide prevention consultant I have said for years that the message of much of our church is killing our kids. Thank you for saying it so eloquently.
As a pastor, chaplain, and suicide prevention consultant in my community, and a guy who recognizes my own fallen nature, thank you Ted for saying what has needed to be said for so long. The gospel we present is not always good news, and at times it maimed and kills. I how many read this and reconsider what you’ve shared so honestly and eloquently.
Pastor Ted; I praise God for all that He is doing in your life and my life and the lives of all that are willing to receive and accept His GRACE and LOVE that was made available to ALL by the Obedience of Christ. His shed blood and established a new covenant for us, let us hold on to it and be drawn into it daily. Our prayer (Isaiah 11:2-5, 12:1-6) it is by His Spirit that we are able to know Him.
From a remnant God will obtain Himself a nation, (those that are faithfully seeking Him, holding fast to the truth that will make us free).
He has instructed us in Joel 2:12-32, 3:1-21. He is faithful to His word.
Grace, Mercy and Peace in Jesus Name
Thank you, thank you, thank you for these beautiful words. This has absolutely been my experience as well.
Thank you Pastor Ted for an honest and forthright blog.
Until 8 years ago for years I was brought up in the Catholic Church which are argued that Suicide is a sin, over time and through long noughts of reactionary depression I argued in the confessional that for someone to be so ill that they are suicidal and to the point of taking their life as the coroners findings are usually given that death occurred due to imbalance of mind how can it be a sin, if your mind is unbalanced.
Unfortunately my experience of medical help when sought is ” oh he is a believer therefore he will not do it. Therefore we do not need to worry or give any support. ” yes I am a believer but that does not mean that you are saved from the feeling of unworthiness. No future or no escape from the Brocken heartedness. The simple wish to end life and escape the pain, to be with Christ.
Unfortunately the medical view about your faith can also be shared by Pastors who do not have a clue how to deal with this, together with the remainder of your brothers and sisters in the church.
Comments about mental illness and the associated professions being a human answer and ungodly really are unhelpful it is time for the world to realise mental health is as much an illness as a heart defect or a broken leg.
We really do need to build church that is once a week worship service when we are all friendly politely ask how are you and just praying the answer is Fine so you can get onto discussing the tv or weather. Not to genuinely care if life is hard or someone really needs help.
I think this is a balanced, compassionate approach to a difficult issue. I applaud you for your stance.
Thank you, Ted. Continually praying for you and your family.
Thank you for this post. As you are well-aware, pastors rarely, if ever, share their own personal experiences with trauma and their personal resources for healing from trauma. We need more pastors and ministers sharing these stories. Because of that, I used portions of your post for an Institute for Congregational Trauma and Growth (www.ictg.org) blog post that you can read here – http://www.ictg.org/ictg-blog.html.
ICTG’s passion centers on the months and years after trauma incidents when emotional, psychological, and spiritual needs are greatest and when informed care ministry can have a profound impact. We network with seminaries and field experts to provide research, education, and networking for ministers leading congregations after trauma.
Thank you, again, for sharing your experience.
Thank you, Pastor. I’m broken by this; and for that, I’m thankful.
Dear Pastor Haggard:
Thank you for a very heartfelt post.
I am a Lutheran. We teach (or, more accurately, Holy Scripture) that the redeemed are saints AND sinners. It’s much more realistic than always putting on a fake smile and saying that you’re keeping God’s commandments!
Getting psychological help is not a weakness. It’s a gift of God. Too many in evangelicaldom
(and I was part of that for almost three decades) denounce psychological wholeness. Problem is, God doesn’t always (and I contend, usually doesn’t) magically remove our psychological weaknesses. Just because you paper over a crummy wall with a fresh coat of paint doesn’t mean the old, falling-apart coat is really gone!
The teaching that we’re “new creatures” is too often interpreted to mean we’re “perfect creatures.” I think that just causes more suffering.
As a fellow pastor, I was disappointed during your public fall from grace. Not because I thought I was better than you or more less prone to sin, but because (whether or accurate or not) I saw you as a the face of modern Evangelicalism in all its guts and glory. I did not relish in your fall, but it seemed all too cliche.
But here, you have shared with such candor and incisiveness, borne no doubt out of depths of pain I cannot pretend to comprehend. Your words are prophetic, ringing with the call of gospel truth. A call to the center from the margins.
I am humbled by your words, as a fellow pastor. I am moved to both anger and compassion. And I am moved to reconsider again, whether I am following the real Jesus or simply the Jesus of our own making.
[…] Read the whole article here: Suicide, Evangelicalism and Sorrow […]
Thank you for speaking truth, this is the way I have felt since I first started hearing about these Pastors killing themselves either by their own hands or drugs. It speaks to the level of pain they were in and we as a body need to open our eyes, ears and heart asking how we can truly help and not hurt by self righteous judgments. Lord have mercy. We need your help.
[…] man who knows something about fallenness and brokenness: Ted Haggard. In a blog post titled, “Suicide, Evangelicalism, and Sorrow,” Haggard […]
I fully agree. Your wife’s book painfully impacted me with her report of how the Church treated both of you. When my husband offended, we were spared what you endured. Her testimony of why she stayed validated my decision to stay. I haven’t regretted it as I’ve seen God form a New man, a godly man in my husband. Blessings to you.
That was beautiful. Thank you.
Thank you for your transparency Ted. My wife and I lived in Colorado Springs from 2004-2007. I attended Bible College there and we attended New Life Church from time to time. You and your family have been a regular part of our thoughts and prayers and I am grateful for your ministry and impact on us through the ministry at New Life. Although it was not ‘our church’ while we lived there, we were certainly impacted by your ministry. Thanks again for sharing with so much tangible insight!
Ted – Excellent article. Its time we spend as much time dealing with our inner life issues as we do reaching the world outside. Most of my ministry focuses on this very issue. Blessings
Ted I understand your point of view but maybe you guys fall so hard because everyone lifts you so high? Do we as believers expect to much from our Pastors? Have we left to much spiritual responsibility in their lap regarding our own walk and belief system? Could it be that’s not a pressure or burden you were appointed to take on? Just some thoughts/questions.
The thought crossed my mind that would would end up as one of these headlines and Thank God you didn’t but one has to wonder how these pastors cope with things that are not that unusual in everyday society. When a suicide hits home with a “spiritual giant” it’s examined and treated as something that was near impossible. That’s the bullshit the world is tired of. You guys are real and hurt but it seems there comes a point when transparency is extremely dangerous and can negatively effect your “ministry”.
I lost my little sister to suicide a while back, the church really didn’t know how to handle the issue in general. She gave up hope on the church because that couldn’t identify with the pain and suffering. That’s what makes me sick to my stomach.
I’m convinced that mental illness is the root of so many issues that have confounded the church today and left it naked and ashamed. The most common response seems to be the development of a new outreach or ministry to treat symptoms.
I’m sorry if I don’t sound very supportive and use all kinds of Bible talk but I have been in the church and heard sermon after sermon on how we have the victory and Jesus is the answer, well maybe we just don’t really understand the question yet?
Enough for me on this, press on Bro and I appreciate that you didn’t crawl in cave never to show your face again.
Feedback is welcome 🙂
I am deeply moved by your candor and am inspired by the growth demonstrated – that it were true for many more! But I have to say something that I think should be included for consideration: You say … “It would be easy if I were a hypocrite, Bakker was a thief, and Swaggart was a pervert. But none of that is true.” Do realize that the behavior of you, Bakker and Swaggart did, indeed, hold a good part of the truth and deserved to be thus named hypocrite, thief and pervert. I think Evangelicals too often move from being discovered in their error to prayers for forgiveness from God, and pleas for mercy and understanding from people, which seems like merely a call to the loyalists in order to manage the dirty, ministry tarnishing laundry. Full confession of the error as it would be named out here in the real world – where the ordinary people are – is invaluable as a basis for the reflection of the powerfully restorative grace that follows such an upheaval in the Christian community. Stand up and be fully known as a human hypocrite, be fully a human thief, be a fully a human perverted liar and then allow the faithful to learn from your transformation as a human in communion with God and receiving help. That is what Jesus did – although he was without sin, he was human, fully, and was transformed by his fully human suffering. In sending us his Son as our example, God knew that was as good as it would ever get for we weak-willed beings – humans – that we only learn by suffering and, if we are honest about its genesis, personal or corporate, we are transformed into a higher state of existence.
I don’t believe these men are “fully” hypocrites, thieves, or perverts. These are actions they chose to take at one point in their lives. I don’t believe it should brand them for their entire lives and color their futures to be forever linked to the wonderful things they continue to do. It is only PART of the story, not the whole thing.
It seems that what you would suggest would brand Peter a denier of Christ and fully denier of Christ. That this betrayal should have become his identity. These labels are not the identity of these men but rather identify their momentary folly.
What a broken world this would be if we were all only identified by the worst things we ever did. You are not “fully” your sin either. Christ came to redeem us all so we can wash those labels white as snow. They are part of the story…not the end….but only if one has the courage to keep writing.
And yet, Peter as betrayer did become his identity … Peter is first and foremost known as the one who denied Christ, which makes his story so compelling in that he had to fully own his doubts and fears about being a follower of Christ, and his resulting denial, and then was transformed from that most-significant point in his life. If Peter had never denied Christ, we wouldn’t be talking about Peter today. It is ‘owning’ our sin, and being fully known for it, that enables Christ to shine more clearly through us. It is what makes the rest of our story more meaningful to others who are also seeking to understand the quality of their salvation.
– “Some researchers are reporting that the suicide rate among Evangelicals is the same as that of the non-Christian community. How sad.” What a terrible comment! Suicide is sad regardless of religious affiliation. It’s not “more sad” when it’s a Christian who takes their own life. If I were to say “Suicide rates among whites is the same as non-whites; how sad”, perhaps you can more clearly see the inappropriate implication of of those words.
Ok, let’s think a little more broadly and read a little more closely. The point is not that one is more sad than the other, it’s that we Evangelicals claim to have the solutions to the darker, more hurtful portions of life (contrary to the Scriptures, I might add) but the evidence (like the suicide rates) are the same for Evangelicals and non-evangelicals. What is sad in addition to the fact that any human being is do discouraged with their lives that they take them, is that the ideas in Evangelicalism do not produce the results we claim. THAT is what is sad.
Thank you for giving me the opportunity to clarify. Maybe I could have worded that with more clarity. I’ll look at it and see if I need to edit it.
And thank you for loving people the way you do. I appreciate the note.
King David said: “It was good for me that I was afflicted so that I might learn your decrees.”
It is good that you suffered the things you did Pastor Ted, so that you might learn the things you did and now you are in a position to “Strengthen the Brethren.”
Jesus said to Peter: “Simon, Simon, Satan desires to sift you as wheat, But I have prayed for you that your faith will not fail; and when you are converted, strengthen your brethren.”
Many people including me prayed along with Jesus that your faith would not fail and I am glad it did not. Now that you are “Converted” strengthen the Brethren.
I have come to believe that experiencing a “fall” in your Christian life is a good thing…I call them the Secret Blessings of the Christian life. You learn that God truly loves you and obviously is not finished with you yet. You learn who your true friends are or should I say your “true” Christians friends are because you are extended a hand of grace and forgiveness and not the shunning or embarrassment. And finally when you break thru your sorrow and grief you too will more readily extend that loving hand to others.
Very true and something the world needs to understand, especially the Christian world. Thanks for sharing this and giving us all something to think about.
Ted, from 1998-2008 we were members at New Life and loved you then as we love you now. As soon as we received news about Isaac, I thanked the Lord that through all of the trauma and confusion of the New Life situation you did survive. We were members at Northland Community Church from 1990-1991 and got to know Joel and Becky at that time. Isaac was in our Sunday School classes. Just so heartbroken. Blessings to you all.
Thank you for your candid article! I am sad that there are some, as I have been, that insist on being the priest that, out of fear of what others think, “walked on the other side”. Jesus made it clear that the one who pleased Him was the one who showed compassion, The Good Samaritan). We all fall short in some way, and all are in need of 2 Corinthians 5:17, and 1 John 1:9, and, Philippians 3:12:
Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 13 Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead,14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
Adam and Eve fell in the beginning,
Isaiah said that none were righteous. Revelation said that none could be found to open the seal, except for the Lamb, so why do we feel the need to think that our leaders are absolutely perfect?
We believers need to pray for our leadership more! This is one thing that should be made evident from this article and from recent events. Should we be able to trust our leadership and see a measure of stability in their Christian walk, yes, I think so. But we need to keep the pedestals for Jesus Christ and pray for our leaders, a LOT! Also, just as we shouldn’t expect our churches to be the only Bible and spiritual life teachers in the lives of our children, we should not expect our leadership to do all of the spiritual warfare that needs to be done in a church. We need to be praying for our OWN families, our own spiritual needs. When we do this, we can begin moving forward as the Body of Christ and we will take a bit of the pressure off of our leadership!
My husband and I direct the Center for Biblical Healing Counseling Center & School of Ministry @ St. James Church, where Ted pastors. As a former teacher @ CFNI, Dallas, and having restored numerous fallen leaders since 1986; I may have a unique perspective here.
The majority of Christian leaders with even minimal notoriety who experience a moral failure will also suffer from mild to severe PTSD. The reasons for this extreme mental and emotional trauma are not due to their (simply) having sinned. It is the result of harsh public judgments, rejection and betrayal by those who have positions to protect; media feeding on untrue suppositions, accusations and…the bizarre methods of “restoration” they endured at the hands of those attempting to expel them from grace, relationship and every last ounce of dignity.
It’s alot like open heart surgery. The reason it’s so dangerous, with so many complications and takes at least a year to recover from, is not that the heart itself endured surgery. It is the invasive and explosive breaking open of the ribs and chest cavity, turning over the heart and lungs to machines, stopping of all body and brain systems for hours, (etc.) in order to do what is often, a quite simple repair. Surgeons in Europe are now performing laparoscopic heart procedures between the ribs–and the recovery time? Weeks.
And so it is with what we try to label “restoration” in Christendom. It is not the sin of the leader that is the cause of the greatest pain and trauma—but the residual harsh, invasive and hideous methods we employ to “fix the problem”.
Ted bravely allows us a painful glimpse here–of what it feels like to deeply repent and cry out for reconciliation, only to be expelled by those who are often using the only methods they were taught—but inflicting far deeper wounds in the process. Is this is what Jesus would do…?
May we allow the Lord to better equip us in grace, truth and wisdom–to actually HEAL the brokenhearted, bring liberty to those who are captive and finally–be the ones who set the prisoners…free.
I agree with you. Bless you. We don’t need to be accused. Ministry takes a lot of Sacrifice and what these pastors need is prayers from us. I am shocked at Christians today not believing God can complete the work He begun. Our prayer and support will benefit more than our criticism. Grace and Peace
I tend to agree also, there is such a fine line between no accountability and distroying someone. Too far in either direction is deadly. The enemy certainly does go around like a roaring lion!!!
Thank you so much for this post. This is definitely a subject that needs to be brought before Body of Christ. I myself have gone through an ordeal in the past. I fell in sin and was so wounded by people who called themselves Christians that it took me almost a decade to recover and get healed by the Lord. I didn’t go into it wanting my life, the life of my children, my marriage and others to get hurt. In secret for years, i wept before the Lord, i repented many times and knew in my heart that i did, but because of deep wounds from my past, i continued to fall back. I knew in my heart that i Loved the LORD and that he loved me. His presence still was there when no one else was. The Church tossed me out like i had the plague instead of trying to do something to bring healing. Im not justifying my wrong but if the church would have dealt with it instead of trying to hide and cover it up, a lot of pain could have been spared. I thank God that He is always with us even when we fall. And because of Him i have been fully healed and restored and Pastor Ted you have opened a door to the church that definitely needs to be stay opened and persued. Thank You for posting this, it gives me courage to want to step out also.
I agree whith what you say , I followed your story, I read your wife’s book. I had started a project to invite you. I’m a pastor in Montreal. But where I disagree is : you should not give a strong opinion the day after the passing of pastor Hunter. Even if your opinion is true and valid. I lost my son , by suicide 3 months ago . I would find it offensive if I would be a memeber of that family , it would reenforce my guilt which is so terrible the first days after the event….that’s just me..
I love u and respect u and honor your recovery…you are a model for us all
I certainly hope I’ve not been offensive. When we went through our great sorrow, we did not read e-mails, answer the phone or the door, and certainly could not read blogs because the presuppositions were so wrong, the blogs were incredibly off base. I hope and pray I have not done that here, but since I only had news accounts to work from, I am confident some of my presuppositions were wrong. You are right, I might have jumped too quickly.
I was on the front page of every English-speaking newspaper in the world, so people recognized me and told me the spin that had been constructed, which has now become the public perception of truth, but I could not, and can not, take it. I never Google myself. It convinces me that the ideas of the free press, etc. are absurd because of the misinformation out there. When I talk with a journalist that presents themselves as a professional, I laugh on the inside, think they are actually just vultures looking for one more dead or wounded soul to feed themselves off of. But my hope and prayer is that this blog helps public discussion of very public situations, but is not hurtful to those public figures that are in the lead. You may be right about this. I might have lost some good friends here. I certainly hope not.
Just a word to Jacalyn to offer my condolences for the loss of your husband….I know the pain
I lost my son 3 months ago by suicide and in my case it’s not because of the the legalism of the church although I agree with pastor Ted, that situation is a “cancer” in the church ….it is 10 different reasons….
Pastor Ted, you are an inspiration for me , and I sincerely admire you….but it would have been nice you say “I’m sorry for your son ,”
Ted, I applaud your candor and humility in the way you’ve dealt with such a difficult issue. I’m patently aware that, as humans, and especially as Christians, our world view is influenced largely by geography, culture, personal experience, as well as our theological constructs. There will always be those who will judge your motives as well as your actions. You can’t focus on this fact. You have a very finite amount of time in which to leave a legacy. So keep working while it’s daylight. Your story is changing lives for the better, and I’m not just speaking about the savory parts. As you well know, my family and I love and treasure you and your family.
Thank you Joseph. You have always been a blessing to me and my family. You decided that in our story you would promote the healing of the Gospel instead of add to our burden by accusing us. We love and appreciate you. Let me make that a little more personal. Not only does that Haggard family love and appreciate you as a family, but I personally love and appreciate you, and highly respect you as one who puts into practice the teachings of the New Testament instead of using them against people. You are a blessing. Thank you for writing today.
It is I who should thank you for being willing to stand on the front lines, and have your private life dissected in public spaces by people who don’t begin to know the first thing about you besides the publicly revealed issues regarding your moral failure. But I guess that’s the nature of fallible humanity, even when we profess a faith in Christ.
I’m mystified yet saddened by the turn many of the comments on your blog have taken. The focus for many has shifted from the larger issues that have resulted in the untimely deaths of many valuable Christian people (and the heart wrenching burdens their surviving families are left to deal with), to whether or not counseling is the answer. Really?! Isn’t it obvious? I’m the guy who believes in deliverance and spiritual warfare, and have even written a book on the subject, yet I recognize that it’s a two fold journey.
Without emotional healing (counseling) the trauma to the soul is never fully healed. If a person almost drowns and is taken to the hospital, revived, and medically taken care of, how does that fix the trauma to their soul of almost drowning? Do we think that simply saying, “Jesus loves you and died for you,” takes away their fear of water and drowning? I’m not trying to over simplify this issue, but am actually speaking about someone personally connected to me. Any way, I learned many years ago (from a wise man who used to be my senior pastor) that I don’t have to have an opinion about everything! I love and treasure you my friend.
Church leaders are good at bringing people into the fold, but when faced with suicide they haven’t a clue how to deal with the emotional trauma that the family is going through. I am a believer and loved my church family, and still hold them in my heart, but because of my husbands suicide, and my emotional situation following his death, I no longer feel like I belong there at all. It is like you are on a totally different path, I needed antidepressants, and intense counselling, in order to navigate this new path. I feel so sad for these families that have lost their loved ones, as they already feel such quilt and emptiness. I pray for healing and understanding from their church families.
I am happy to see in your post that you knew what you needed when faced with your husbands suicide. Did you express those needs to anyone in the church so they could help you obtain them? May times I wonder if too much is placed upon “the church” and not enough is placed upon the relationships with in it’s walls. Much like “the government,” the church is only relationships sealed together with common faith in Jesus Christ. I feel most inside a church would rush to aid others if they only knew what was needed. I don’t know a single member of mine who would turn away a friend in need if they had the means to help them. Perhaps it’s time to realize we all have each other.
Death of a loved one is one thing, the suicide of a loved one is a whole different ball game, and unless you have dealt with it yourself, people just don’t get it. This is not their fault it is just so hard to understand the emotional roller coast that this does to everyone involved. At first people are there for you but life for everyone else goes on. So you feel alone and lost, I am so grateful for my counsellor.
My dear brother,
Two years ago our only child, Michael, who had just turned 18 died of brain cancer. My wife and I have grieved and mourned our loss of our wonderful son. We have been comforted through our journey by our church family and many other believers who knew of Michael’s valiant battle. I am moved again to tears by your eloquent perspective on these recent events. As Christians too often we think we are invulnerable to sin. To sickness. To suffering. But as you have said, this is not the scripture I read. I read that we WILL have tribulation. That we will make poor choices. That we will get sick. That we will struggle sometimes with mental illness. How can the church not see this. Another post mentioned the prophetic nature of your post. I agree. I also agree that in the quietness of our own hearts we need to constantly repent and cry, with tears, over our own sin. When we have dealt with that log, then maybe God will help us to truly love our brothers and sisters. May God continue to be with you on your journey. In Him, Michael Vile
Have you ever considered that maybe Christianity doesn’t work? Maybe Christianity doesn’t deliver what it promises. I hear that therapy helped you, but there is no evidence that Christianity and it’s culture helped you at all. I too, used to be a committed believer and I did everything I was told to do including reading the Bible and praying. I too, found freedom through some great therapy. I learned to commit myself to rigorous honesty and from that core I discovered the real history of Christianity and it has become plain to me that it is a complete fabrication of human minds. So much of mainstream Christianity is based in fear and a willful ignorance of actual ideas and processes that work in the real world. I have come to see that Christianity creates a lot of mental anguish through fear and manipulation. I can understand how difficult it is to really look at something critically one has been told is the absolute truth and if you don’t believe it you will die. I am glad you have found relief and a new sense of freedom, but I will never see Christianity as a good thing again.
Yes, I have considered all that you suggest. In my darkest hours, I wanted to be 100% honest, as I do now. As a result, I seriously contemplated me, God, and humanity. I read Dawson and so many others trying to separate faith from superstition, etc. But it was the Spirit of God within that kept me going every day, and to this day, God’s prophetic nudge gives me faith, hope, life, and strength. The Bible instructed me throughout. Without the realities of Scripture, I would not have made it. Which is why St. James Church is such a powerful church. We are not the fellowship of the self-righteous, but the gratefully redeemed. I am very satisfied in my biblical faith.
I clearly experienced an awakening when I went through my process, but I had no sense at all there was a Jesus or God sustaining me. I experienced the love and compassion of those who reached out toward me and I awakened to a new sense of empathy and compassion for other people, but it was clearly me. I found the idea that I was a fallen imperfect being needing salvation to be counter productive because this kept me in judgement of myself and others. It also produced a need for a false humbleness. Humility is not a virtue to me, but a survival mechanism. Humility is not thinking low of myself, it’s not thinking of myself at all. There is so much shaming language in the Bible and it’s world view that I consider it toxic to my ongoing wellness. I appreciate your expressions of your awakening, but the definition of biblical faith and what you call God’s prophetic nudge are so vague as to be useless to me. My commitment to honesty and to my own path requires me to no longer accept things as true without evidence. I was fooled once by those in church authority and by those who raised me. The plain truth was it didn’t work. With Christianity there is always one more hoop to jump through, and one more thing that must be wrong with me. It’s like if I made a robot with the following rules. If that robot does good things then I get credit. If it does bad things then it’s the robot’s fault. With this type of standard Christianity can do no wrong. If Christianity isn’t falsifiable, then it has no accountability. And without accountability there is no truth.
I to was a committed Christian but my thoughts on this have totally changed. I believe the church has always been about mind control and controlling the masses. Just so not what it should be.
Thank you for expressing how I feel too.
I am an ordained pastor, a military chaplain, and a licensed therapist. I have spent significant time in conservative Evangelical circles, to include my undergraduate education and part of my seminary training. I began my move toward a mainline, liturgical denomination while studying at a well-known Evangelical seminary when I realized how black & white the Evangelical hermeneutic is. There is little to no room for gray. Theology is allowed to inform life, but life is not allowed to inform theology. As you so eloquently stated, the Evangelical world is very flat. Law is packaged as Gospel, and judging others and self-righteousness are somehow seen as good news. There is an answer for everything in life, including the theodicy of pain and suffering. Mysteries of faith are not recognized. God exists largely to do our bidding. To use a metaphor I once heard used by Tony Campolo, God is a cosmic vending machine.
As I mentioned, I am also a therapist. I am proficient in a few therapeutic modalities, including EMDR (I am not surprised to hear of positive outcomes with this amazing therapy). As Naaman once approached Elisha, people come to me in search of healing. I trust that God is present and active in these encounters and I apply my training. I metaphorically wave my hands and prescribe homework if necessary, but most importantly, I engage them as a sojourner and wounded healer…not as an expert or a judge. Far more than anything else, it is this engagement that is the catalyst for healing. And then they leave, having encountered the healing power of God, often with spoken or unspoken faith proclamations. This is possible because I view neuro and social sciences as a gift from God rather than as a threat to a “flat worldview.” I am dumbfounded that people will surf the internet, fly through the air in pressurized tubes of thin aluminum, and rely on a constellation of GPS satellites to guide them to their destinations–all of which are deeply rooted in science–yet they view psychotherapies and meds as being anti-Christian.
Ironically, it is my experience that the largely unscientific, Nouthetic Counseling approach used by many Evangelical pastors and Christian counselors is in contention with faith, for I have had to undo the damage it has caused in many clients and marriages. This is because it is another instance of the Law being packaged as Gospel (in fact, the term “nouthetic” comes from “admonish”), and faith being undergirded by fear rather than by love. This fear-based faith easily leads to guilt, polarization, demonization, and undue control. In other words, it is a form of bondage.
I am thrilled to hear of your journey. Not that it has been so bumpy, but that God has been able bring good out of the bumpy experiences. Clearly you have been set free from what bound you, and you are standing at the foot of the cross with an even deeper knowledge of God’s grace. Peace be with you!
respect man of God. So true. Fear is disturbing lot’s of people
As a pastor, I am challenged with similar questions to the above incidents which are truly sad indeed. As someone who read John Bevere’s books i had learned about you through him. I remember when the incident happened with you, and I knew to do was to pray for your restoration, to God, family and ministry. Do many out there are still in the same and much worse circumstances as for many things just have not yet been revealed. David committed adultery, murder and lied yet was restored to the throne. He did repent and cared more about His relationship with God, than what the people thought about him. We need to drop the stones, and circle our wounded with a hedge of love, protection and support. the world has enough executioners that the church does not need to participate. I enjoyed your article and how you shared your story and I am convinced it will help many others.
Blessings to you and to the work He has for your in ministry.
Such an amazing blog; thank you. Each point is piercing and true. And, maybe this is one article that needs to be under the headline “Why Millennial’s Are Leaving the Church” because what the Millennials crave is this type of authenticity and application of the Gospel and in evangelical circles, it is a rarity. There is so much more gray than most church leaders will ever admit; yet, if one reads the scripture honestly, one sees it. The wonderful news is, all our brokenness points us toward Jesus–and good therapists.
What an amazing article. Thank you so much for such beautiful insight to the human mind.
After having been a cast member on Lifetime’s Preachers Daughters, I found that bening honest and forthcoming with difficult sinful situations was condemned the most by Christians! As we walked through our daughter’s teen pregnancy with love, mercy and forgiveness on the show (and REAL life) the people who were haters were evangelicals…ouch!!!
Thank you for this article…I want to be more Christlike in my heart and actions toward people who have sinned so publicly!!! We prayed for you and cried for you and now thank you for fighting for health in our attitudes and actions toward fellow believers!!!
Dear Pastor Ted
I am not an elegant writer or one who likes to debate things.
After reading this article 4 times my heart is broken and my eyes are still full of tears.
Please God give us ears to hear, eyes to see and hearts that are soft.
I was excommunicated very publicly and nationally in the 1990s, then my business was boycotted as part of “church discipline” and I lost it. It supported my family of 11. In 2010, my 26 year old daughter committed suicide. I remain shunned and excommunicated to this day, though I have moved on and have rebuilt my life. The darkness of this grief to those who experience it is incomprehensible. Thank you for this beautiful and merciful post.
Thanks, my sins are not covered, my sins are cleansed, big difference in a law covenant and a new covenant of His blood. Love wins, not condemnation, thanks for helping us all re think and re evaluate how we help the fallen.
RichardofBethany posted “Once someone has tasted the heavenly fruit, a true follower of the real Jesus should never turn back on purpose. I believe You have been mislead by a false modern prosperity message. Jesus challenges, corrects, and tests those he loves.
The real King loves you enough to give his all for you, and he expects you to return in your all to him. Please dont reject his love for you!” The problem with this is there is always one more thing wrong with me. I gave half my life to Christianity and it clearly didn’t work. In fact it made my life miserable. Results speak louder than claims. With the ideas you outline here it is always the fault of the person and Christianity has no accountability. That is a sure fire way to sustain an oppressive cult.
Every failure of society is ultimately a failure of men to be men. I see a man who failed to lean on the men around him and thus failed his wife, his children and others. I see a man who believd the lie – “You have to be strong, do not be a burden to others.” I see a man struck down simply because he didn’t believe that those around him were fighting for him.
“Hoot”: When I go home people’ll ask me, “Hey Hoot, why do you do it man? What, you some kinda war junkie?” You know what I’ll say? I won’t say a goddamn word. Why? They won’t understand. They won’t understand why we do it. They won’t understand that it’s about the men next to you, and that’s it. That’s all it is.” – Black Hawk Down
Sorry, but this ‘analysis’ is prime evidence of WHY suicide is so prevalent in the evangelical community: it’s because the entire premise o evangelicalism is based on LIES. As a former evangelical pastor, I had my own crisis of faith when I admitted to myself that we were not teaching Christianity..we were teaching Gnostic dualism.The notion that pastors fell due to ‘;sin’ (the concluding paragraph) is a continuation of the problem: it;s about time you started understanding NORMAL NATURAL HUMAN BEHAVIOR instead of condemning it. Evangelicalism makes me nauseous to this day…..you are nothing more than modern-day manichaeists….WAKE UP!
I knew you when I was a cadet at USAFA and a regular attender at New Life around 1998-2000. I am young in the pastoral ministry, but let me offer some thoughts that I believe are Scriptural.
First off, according to our sinful natures, which we as reborn Christians are still contending with, we are all hypocrites, thieves and perverts. The Christian life is a continual struggle against the “old man.” (Romans 6:5-12, cf. Romans 7:7-25) Full victory is accomplished on the cross, but it is not realized until we die, unless Jesus returns first. There may well be psychological factors which make us susceptible to certain sins, but let us remember that sin is the root of the problems in the lives of all human beings, including Christians.
To give a psychological explanation in a case like yours may come across, though certainly this is not what you intend, as self-exoneration. Let’s not fail to admit that we are still sinners in need of the good news of God’s mercy in Christ daily in our struggle against the sinful flesh. Romans 8:13 was written for Christians.
Thank you for sharing this. I am a Catholic charismatic Christian and ordained permanent deacon. I first heard you teach in Toronto many years ago and you spoke with some candor there about encountering the Holy Spirit after a very dry time – your sharing was straight from the heart. This post also is very honest and from the heart and a tribute to the reality of the Lord who is close to the broken hearted. Much of what you share reminds me of the late author Henri Nouwen who wrote well of redemption in brokenness and has helped me in that place as well. I personally have trouble trusting anyone without a limp. An old timer now with the Lord named Ern Baxter was chastised by some for chasing after the Holy Spirit this place and that to which he admitted and made no apologies. I try to follow that rule and although raised Catholic I’ve gleaned some good things from evangelicals, Vineyard churches, the Toronto Airport Fellowship etc. and through one visit to Toronto had the opportunity to hear you teach. You spoke of how fresh encounters with the Holy Spirit result in a hunger for God’s voice springing from Scripture and that teaching to this day has enhanced my appetite for Scripture. I never left my Catholic roots, finding this is where God has me, and there is no shortage of the pounding waves of judgement of Catholics and by Catholics as well. I’ve done my share of judging others with limited facts – it’s too easy to fall into. Please know I have been keeping you and Gayle and your family in prayer from time to time. You have both held on to the Lord through it all. My own story includes sobriety through AA which some Christians judge as they would therapy – again those without a limp. Your blog post above has helped me because through it I see the familiar eyes of Jesus and his strong but tender mercy. I am blessed to be your brother.
Thank you for posting this much needed truth…….thank you thank you thank you!!!
Pastor Ted – I attend Northland Church, am a Christian, a Licensed Mental Health therapist, Certified in Sexual Addictions (CSAT) , and certified in EMDR.
I experience healing with my clients through EMDR therapy each day.
I am so thankful for you and this article.
I am happy for you that you found an EMDR therapist and have been able to resolve the traumas from childhood.
God Bless You,
Reblogged this on The Journey Home and commented:
Having survived 3 significant suicide attempts of my own, this message really hit home! My last two attempts were as a spirit-filled believer, who shunned medicine, secular counseling, and anything outside of radical/supercharged/charismatic church. While I continue to lean more towards pentacostalism, maintaining balance and healthy bodies, minds, emotions, relationships, finances, etc should not be neglected in order to be super spiritual beings.
Thank you, Ted, for addressing this issue directly and compassionately. Scripture says that all have sinned and fall short of God’s Glory (Romans 6:23). I thank God for the wonderful forgiveness, cleansing and regeneration that I have found in Jesus. God did not ask us to convict people of sin, righteous, and judgement. He said that this was the role of the Holy Spirit, because only the Spirit can gracefully bring life in the midst of conviction. We screw in up every time we try to be The Holy Spirit. Jesus said that our job is to love and serve people. Period. Maybe we should not be talking so much, but instead be acting out our love and forgiveness for others, Christian or non-Christian. Do they sense or smell the scent of Grace and Love when we show up or something cold and prickly like judgement, condemnation, or lack of empathy.
It was an awakening for me to feel judged and misunderstood by some of my closest evangelical friends when my first wife left our marriage because she wanted to be single again. Somehow, these “friends” put the blame and responsibility on me when I did not divorce my wife, she divorced me. There was no unfaithfulness on my part and I do not believe that there was any on her part. After spending 21 years, loving my first wife as Christ loved the Church and gave Himself for her, I found myself judged by some of my brothers for not being good enough.
If this self righteous judgement is prevalent in the matter of divorce, how can these “blind guides” actually love people with complicated behavior problems and compulsive sin.
Unfortunately, their public response is that they want to keep from compromising with sin. Grace does not compromise with sin. Grace deals with sin and robs the law of its power. After 43 years of passionately following Jesus, I find that the more I press on to know The Lord, the less that I want to be separated from Him and the more repulsive sin has become to me. I believe that this is the hope that we have to share with others. God forgave our sin through The Lamb Of God’s death on a cross!
Again, thank you for your caring response to these complicated issues.
Yet again, the Christian Post is wrong, and yet again, ‘old angry white christians’ are showing why they are the fastest growing hate group…
This problem of the self-righteous with their condemnation is not only prevalent in the Christian church leadership of pastors & elders, but also among so called “christian” counselors & therapists. Though the reality is that all truth is Gods truth; He is the author of both secular truth & Biblical Truth. Frankly, I have seen more true GRACE by those in secular counseling, therapy, and recovery settings … which is a sad testament to those who try to “save” others.
The foundation’s of ministry, & the gospel is about restoration, grace, mercy, forgiveness, & love, etc. These same fundamental tenants undergird the counseling, psychology, & therapy professional communities. Mainly, that all people are capable of change, (even IF their nature is inherently ‘bad’ or ‘good’), all people worthy of love and belonging, and no situation beyond the hope of restoration. Just ask the marriage saved from the brink of divorce, or the addict successful in recovery…
However, Christian leaders, counselors, & therapists too often contradict these fundamental tenants of their profession & their beliefs, when by their own discomfort they choose to project a rationalization, blame, or diagnosis that makes them “justified” to remain in their judgmental condemnation. These people show up on your worst day with words of judgment, shame, and condemnation; instead of running towards (like the prodigal’s father did…) they run away. Instead of Living Wholehearted they are nothing more than self righteous Pharisee’s, hiding behind their position, title, or credentials.
Dear Christian leader, pastor, counselor or therapist: you cannot make your living espousing hope, grace, love, forgiveness, etc … and then also refuse to apply those same principles in relationship because you are triggered in your own discomfort. You then are a Pharisee & a hypocrite when you cover your judgment in nothing more than image management, & self protection, rationalizing the blame you shift to another with false theological or psychological justifications. In your misguided view, either the person who has “fallen” and betrayed your sensibilities is either, “a so called brother” and not really a believer (see 1 Cor. 5:11) if you’re using incorrect theology to hold your fellow christian in condemnation. Or if you’re using your misapplied psychological & counseling knowledge you label the fallen as “oppositional,” “conflictual,” or better yet “they must have a personality disorder.”
We tend to vilify what we do not understand. However more so, in these situations, those who project the worst are doing so to cover their own backside out of fear that their sins will be discovered as well. The very same christian pastors and counselors who confessed their sins of pornography use, beating their wives, alcohol addictions, etc, were the quickest to condemn and distance themselves on my worst day. You talk out of both sides of your mouth when you state you “love” or are “for” your friend and then malign, slander, gossip, judge them and their family.
The grace of God will always violate mans sense of justice. You will know who your friends are, by who shows up on your worst day and validates that you are still loved and worth more than the mis-steps and negative choices you have made. Only those that have truly experienced brokenness, are equipped to dispense real grace, and help other walk in Wholeness.
Sorry, you lost me at “old angry white Christians” are the fastest growing hate group. Didn’t bother to even finish the read….
Yeah, when you start grouping people together based on their race, age, or religion, you’ve pretty much renounced your moral authority to talk about grace.
I think these are all very fine points, but then at the end you regrettably use language or metaphors that, while common with older Evangelicals, are understandably seen as a bit anti-semitic. It’s not helpful to your point (or anything) suggest that Judaism is a religion of hypocritical rules without concern for love, grace, and forgiveness.
(response to GZ)
These are not metaphors. I regularly refer to 21st Century Pharisees as those who use the Scriptures to judge others instead of themselves. I use it as a proper noun. And the Judaizers, who influenced the church in Galatia so much Paul wrote the book of Galatians to negate their influence, are thought by many to have been believers from the Jerusalem Church, trained by James (who I happen to be a fan of), who thought there needed to be higher standards and better behavior in the Galatian church. As a result, the book of Galatians gives us the best contrasts in the New Testament between the Old Testament attempt to effectively deal with mankind’s sin problem, which failed (book of Hebrews), and the New Testament solution to the sin problem. My argument is that the Torah did not work, which is why the New Testament reveals a new and better way. My implication is that we do have the ability to turn the life-giving New Testament into a book of laws, with which we can kill ourselves and others. For you to presume what you have is to say every copy of the New Testament is anti-semitic. The New Testament is not anti-semitic, it is a New Testament, and I am a New Testament Christian.
Forgive me for pasting a comment from my blog. This was a recent post I did while in NYC- as a pastor who struggled with alocholism for many years- this post came as a result of my AA experience- thought it fit.
PROMISE KEEPERS [or a New Way]
Yesterday I spent the day in ‘historic’ Hackensack.
I put historic in quotes- because as a kid growing up- all you remember are the bad days.
I used to think ‘Hackensack’ and yeah- bad days.
But- to my surprise- when you walk around- sober [or not high] yeah- the town is really a special place.
I visited an old friend- Frank.
I used to be good friends with his brother Fred many years ago- and I became a Facebook friend with Frank last year.
So- I made the promise that when I came up- I would take him to a spot to eat- and talk about the old days [Chicago- Old days- Oldies- good times I remember].
So- as I reach the 2 month mark back in Jersey- I wanted to make sure I kept the ‘vow’.
The other promise I made- was to see another old buddy in Newark.
I did that last week [I found the spot- a halfway house- but it already closed down].
So- I really enjoyed the day in Hackensack.
We went to a church service for homeless/street guys.
It was held in the historic church- that is known for George Washington attending.
We walked thru an old grave yard in the back of the church- it had the names of famous generals from the Revolutionary war era.
The church was started in 1662 [I think- I picked up the pamphlet- but left it at the buffet!].
So- the church was a true historic spot.
I walked all the spots where the street guys would walk- and the area- though nice- is not ‘nice’ for street guys.
Yeah- the cops keep an eye on you- and let you know.
The actual denomination of the church [Church on the Green] is Reformed.
I have studied- and taught lots about this church in the past.
They were indeed the original Protestants that came out of the 16th century.
They are a good denomination- and for Protestants- one of the most ‘intellectual’.
They focus much on the sovereignty of God [God in charge].
And Grace [they are strong on the doctrine of Predestination- that God chooses us- not us him].
Now- that’s actually what I wanted to post about this week.
I wanted to share the New Testament concept of Grace versus Works.
In a nutshell- Christianity approaches the subject of Change [how to overcome things- whether drugs- drinking-etc.]
From the standpoint of grace.
Don’t all recovery groups do this?
In the world of ‘recovery’ you do have many good treatment concepts- often based on biblical principles.
Most of these try and implement the idea that if you follow a program [some have different programs to follow] that you can maintain sobriety.
Do these work?
Some of the times they do- but that’s where Grace comes in.
In Christianity- the ultimate authority for change comes from God.
Okay- don’t most programs believe in God?
But here’s the catch.
I have seen/experienced- that without the concept of Grace- when someone fails- relapses- there is a legalistic approach that many find very difficult to implement.
Grace teaches that freedom from sin [addictions] comes as a free gift of God- based on the death and resurrection of Christ.
In a nutshell- that means if a person is clean for a number of years- if they fall- stumble- and ask God for forgiveness- he forgives- and restores- as in if they never had the fall.
This is not just a minor point.
In Christian theology- this is the basis of the grace of God [and sovereignty- which means he does this because HE chooses to].
The bible says when people who struggle with sin [all of us- to different degrees] come to God- that God MUST forgive- because he ‘made this promise to his Son’.
God covenanted [made a deal] with Christ- that if He would die for the world- that God would be JUST to keep his part of the promise- and forgive man because Jesus kept his part of the deal.
Do you now see?
In Christianity- like most recovery programs- God does give us disciplines to keep [that means- there are indeed acts we need to do- restitution- making things right- etc.]
But- if somewhere along the way- we mess up- we don’t see our ‘hope’ as ‘now I need to work extra hard to get back to where I was’.
No- that’s the Old Covenant idea of Law [the legalistic way].
But in Grace- God is actually the one enacting our ‘recovery’ [new birth] and his forgiveness- and the ability to pick up again- all are a work of Grace.
I could quote lots of bible verses on this- but this is indeed the main basis of God’s grace as revealed to us thru the New Testament [this term itself- New Testament- is talking about this NEW concept of CHANGE coming as a free gift of God- not as a result of us working a program- or the Old Covenant of Law].
Ok- this short post can’t get into all the deep theological issues [there are many].
But I wanted to lay the groundwork this week- to share the primary idea that Grace means our recovery- our NEW LIFE is simply the fruit of what Christ did for us when he himself kept the Law [Gods first recovery program].
That the bible teaches that men- in and of themselves- were never able to actually achieve change [recovery] by keeping ANY PROGRAM.
That idea is based on law.
No- God does use various recovery programs- but if a person’s recovery is not based on the actual reality of the Grace of God- the New Covenant that I just explained.
Then in the end- we all ‘relapse’.
NOTE- I want to emphasize the difference between Law and Grace.
The giving of the 10 commandments [called The Law] was a good thing- yet- in the New Testament [especially the letters of Paul] we read that man had no ability in and of himself [in his own power] to keep them.
So- few a couple of thousand years [until the time of Christ] man’s attempt at trying to keep the law [which you can apply to any well-meaning program- or modern ‘law’ system] was simply a sort of probationary period- a test- that man kept failing- time after time.
Then why even give us the law?
That’s the main debate in the New Testament- the Law was given to reveal to man that he was a sinner- an addict- a person with problems.
Then- after trying to keep the law- [the program] he kept on failing.
He comes to the end of his rope- and sees the reality of the New Program [the New Covenant] and by a free act of Grace- he is now forgiven- and also freed from his sin.
In this New Way [New Testament] if he falls [relapses] he asks for forgiveness- and God doesn’t just forgive him- and say ‘okay- now you start from day 1 all over again’ [which in itself is a Law mentality].
But God says ‘ok- because my Son kept the law- the program- perfectly- I not only let you ‘start over’ but it’s like you never relapsed at all’.
What I simply explained in this post is the difference between trying to achieve change by your own power- and receiving a New Life [New Birth] as a free gift from God.
Now- there are many verses I can give you ‘for by grace are you saved- thru faith- and that not of yourselves- it is the gift of God’.
But I want you to see the age old dilemma- that no effort by man- no matter how good the program is- can change man.
In Christianity- God does give us principles to live by- tools of self-discipline.
Yes- that’s actually one of the Fruits of the Spirit- self-control.
But the New Covenant- grace- based on the fact that JESUS KEPT THE LAW perfectly- is a program where God does not put the burden of change on us.
No- this program works because Jesus fulfilled his end of the Covenant- died for us and rose again.
And we have eternal life [not just a life that never ends- but a new quality of life] that comes as a free gift from God.
Read the gospel of John chapter 3- focus on the verses that talk about this free gift- given to all that believe.
Meditate on verses like ‘I am crucified with Christ- never the less I live- yet not I- but Christ lives in me. And the life that I now live I live by the faith of the Son of God- who loved me and gave himself for me’.
WE’RE ALL GONNA DIE [or- Rock n Roll fantasy]
This week I wanted to do a second post on the same subject as last week.
But instead let’s cover how this ‘trip’ is going.
But first- I want to ask you guys to read the gospel of John this week- or this next month [not long, can read it in a day if you wanted].
But as you read- underline- highlight all the times where Jesus [or John] mention things like ‘he who believes has eternal life’.
This theme is in keeping with my last post- and it’s important that we all get that basic truth down.
Many good people say ‘John- sure- we believe in God’ and miss the main point that the Law [last post- law= trying to achieve salvation thru works] also had a belief in God.
James said ‘do not the devils believe in God’.
We need to grasp the idea that God himself GIVES us faith- as a Divine gift- and when he puts
after reading all this, and knowing it says 5 times in the new testament that homosexuality is wrong. Sorry, Jesus did not write the bible and when you realize that love is love…you will learn to heal the sins of all humanity.
Dear Ted and Gayle,
I was first introduced to your ministry when I was pastor of small groups at a church in K.C., through a small groups seminar hosted by NLC in 2003. I was so impressed by the intense presence of the Holy Spirit, as well as your graciousness, Ted, especially in the way you gently affirmed and interviewed Mel Gibson (another broken man who needs Jesus’ healing).
Fast forward to today: Having been broken by years of spiritual, emotional and verbal abuse in both my marriage and my paid church ministry positions, I am now in recovery with my husband and children in Montana.
Our current church’s pastor was restored several years ago (before we came here) from an affair and like you, Gayle, his wife and kids stood by him. The church completely restored him to ministry after 2 years, and the church has been growing and healing others as you two are. He preaches with the same wisdom and grace and discernment I see in your interviews and blogs.
One other thing. At the 2003 conference, you described your deep, huge spiritual warfare in dealing with your own flesh. I could tell you were agonizing about something then, but I didn’t know what or why. Your words now about how complex our personalities really are and how no pat answers are the right ones are really needed in the wider church and culture today.
You and Gayle together have such deep wisdom for the body of Christ. In my experience, the church does not know how to deal with the effects of abuse, trauma, PTSD, the addictive personality, etc. I hope you two will one day write a book together addressing these. May he greatly increase your ministry together.
God’s richest blessings,
We like to state our conviction that the Word of God is “sufficient.” I believe that it is, but I also believe that the Word has been made flesh in the person of Jesus Christ. Does the Bible not tell us that we believers acting under the Lordship of Christ are His physical presence in the world today? Does grace for healing come only through the written Word? Is it no less God’s doing when the conduit used to bring healing grace is one sinner extending acceptance and love to another sinner who has become entangled in sin? What is more helpful to the one caught in a sin, reading Galatians 6:1-2 to them or living it out with them? Somehow, secular psychologists sometimes seem to understand this process better than Christian leaders.
Hello, Pastor Ted. You don’t know me at all, we went to New Life from the late 1990s up until you left New Life church. During all of the terrible things that the church and many ‘Christian’ people did to you, I decided I no longer wanted to attend any churches ever again. I couldn’t stand the hypocrisy, just couldn’t deal with it anymore! It’s bad enough that we often have to live our lives under scrutiny and people who think they’re better than us, but it’s even worse when it occurs in a place where you are ‘supposed to’ feel loved and accepted. It’s human nature, I’m well aware of that.
My now empty-nester husband and I still have not found a church that we comfortable attending, I’m a little reluctant to do so! But I wanted to let you know that you have been an inspiration to me! I have followed everything that happened to you in the aftermath of 2006, and it changed my thinking about so many things! Watching you struggle and then become successful again despite the obstacles has taught me a lot about human behavior, God’s love for all of us and the path that He wants us to follow! Watching what you’ve been through has taught me to be a more loving Christian and a much less judgmental human being! It’s been a privilege learning about God’s love working through you!
Bless you and your family and Merry Christmas!
Lori you should check out Saint James Church where Ted and Gayle are now. I too couldn’t go back after everything that had happened but have been to Saint James and you would be welcomed and loved and feel the Holy Spirit leading this fine group of people. 🙂
this is the message that needs to grow and spread around the body of christ. thank you. i sat under you as an intern at RTN and i am so happy to hear this message now out of this whole situation. it has taught me so much as a christian and i know is revamping the way many christians look at the sin/grace model that we have construed in evangelical circles. “While we were still sinners, Christ died for us…” i pray every day that God will give me the compassion and understanding to see even the most obvious sinners and my own self through the eyes of Jesus.
YOUR SUN WILL SHINE (even brighter) AGAIN!!!!!
Beautiful post. Thank you.
The stuff he says about trauma. Wow. . It sure gets messy in these matters & sometimes I wonder which way is up but I think you’re right. There is more gray than we are aware of or comfortable admitting. Maybe the evang church will start to wake up on these matters. .on my hopeful days, I believe that.
I just had a conversation with a retired pastor about this very thing yesterday, and
it spurs me on to ask, is the Blood enough, is Jesus enough, or do we need counseling. I
do not know what counseling you are referring to, I wish you’d go deeper, but I would
like to know one thing: When the woman caught in adultery was first saved from the
consequence of her sin, according to Jewish law, she was then told by Jesus to “Go
and sin no more…” was that enough, or did she need counseling?
I ask in sincere because I have children, I feel for the dads who have lost their kids,
especially those who have taken their own lives. Obviously something is missing. I know,
as you said, it isn’t by woks, like fasting, prayer; you didn’t mention praise, but all
these help greatly, but works will never save us, or redeem us in any way. But Jesus
does. I don’t understand how we can add to that, as if He was not enough.
My sister committed suicide because she lost hope, dispair had set in. My friend hanged
himself because the enemy lied to him and he too felt no hope.
When we say we are filled by The Spirit, and we are His, do “These signs
follow.” I don’t see too many Christians actually filled with the Spirit whose lives
actually show it. Not by outward manifestations, but by their very lives, counsels,
actions, what they read, watch…their very lives.
What if the problem lies in us and our inability to stay at His feet. Not work, like
Martha in the kitchen, but adoration like Mary at His feet.
You know all this, help me out, what is missing?
Sincerely in love,
Great questions Tim! Love your heart and attitude. I too was thinking I would love to know fully what was meant by all the counseling mentioned in this post. For myself I don’t have any problem with counseling because if we take your argument to its furthest conclusion than we won’t go to a medical doctor for help. We would just believe God will heal us. God uses man to help man. So for myself I don’t have a problem with Jesus or His word being enough. I believe God would have us understand issues and come alongside each other and mentor/disciple our way to Him. I have a biblical counseling degree and for me most people, ( not everyone!!!!), need help getting over or through things. Love or kindness or patience or gentleness, peace or hope ever get old. Oh wait that is the fruit of the Spirit…hmmm something we need to grasp and take Galatians 5’s argument to its furthest degree and let it have its full affect on our lives and see what counseling would do in the hands of Spirit led people. Now that’s the kind of power we all are looking for. Just my two cents Tim. Please forgive me if I have over simplified your words in any way. Just wrote what came to mind. I don’t have canonicity in my writings lol. Blessings to you always on your journey toward God and biblical truth.
Thanks for writing this Ted. I can totally relate to the overspiritualization of everything. I grew up in the Charismatic church and the answer to almost everything was to pray more, fast more, get accountability and even go to inner healing. I agree these are all important in their proper place. I dealt with a reoccurring sexual issue that was dealt with after 1 hour of counseling. The counseling was about how child-hood trauma rewired my brain to think, respond and act a certain way and how the brain can be rewired to respond in a healthy way. There is an undeniable connection between our soul, spirit and body that we can’t ignore. I death with soul and spirit but my body literally needed to be healed so that my brain would send proper messages. Don’t know if that makes sense. I think the study of neuroscience is is a revelation of how God made our brains…what we learn from that doesn’t replace the need for grace/salvation…it assists it in helping us be completely whole so we follow through. I don’t therapy is a replacement for the need to repent, and to get saved…The neuroscience therapy deals with the body not our spirit. But the one assists the other.
Ted, my heart really went out to you and your family when your scandal broke. I don’t know if you remember me, but we met years ago and I subsequently went through some similar stuff. I was recently sent this link to your blog by someone who thought I would probably appreciate your comments.
I hope all is well in your life. I am really happy you are back to doing what you care about. I thought your wife showed extraordinary grace and poise when she was in the spotlight. Screw those who didn’t love and support you through the tough times. Now you know who your friends really are. I remember you before the scandal. I never found you judgmental. I thought it was extremely unfair that you were portrayed as some anti homosexual hypocrite.
Anyway, just wanted to let you know how happy I am that you are doing well.
Suicide, although not explicitly mentioned in the Bible, is an act based on prolonged time of contemplation. Some of us deal with suicidal thoughts by applying hope to venues previously not considered. Others deal with suicide by dismissing the presence of the hope variable altogether, because it bears little meaning in relation to the cause of one’s own fatalism. It isn’t so much about personal values, God, or one’s spiritual integrity as it is about journey. Suicide can be defined in so many ways; in fact, the death on the cross is in more ways than one a suicide at its very core of meaning. Jesus sacrificed himself amidst abysmal state of human consciousness in order to eliminate sin, pain, death and so on. In essence, Jesus committed suicide whether we like to admit that or not. Whereas evangelicalism does not hold psychiatry/psychology to be a valid science, my point will not be taken with much appreciation because we are too tied to the fallacy of Christian niceties and pleasant semantics. Nevertheless, it is important to note that whether one loses his/her life in war, on streets, on the Cross, or by own ‘hand’, it is still a known ‘intention’ and ‘possibility’ that must account for. Jews did not kill Jesus; sin did not crucify Jesus. Jesus killed Jesus because that was the only way to send a message about dismal state of human existence to the humanity. I guarantee you that Jesus would have rather had a different preference if he had a choice. Let’s not dismiss his humanity. We often do.
We DO NOT know the will of God for the billions of people who inhabit the Earth. We can kid ourselves that the Biblical canon speaks inerrantly and directly for God because we opt to believe in literal interpretation of the Biblical accounts. After having studied countless sources of the first four centuries Christian texts, and researching sequence of canonical elaboration throughout the first 10 centuries of the New Era, my belief in literal, inerrant Bible is not there mainly due to many biases, influences, and wrongful advantages of the first churches and eventually Catholic transmutations. It does not matter whether Bible contains or is the word of God as much as it matters what we do with it. Most evangelical Christians I knew who committed suicide experienced no different a pain than the person who is of another religion. They looked for the answer in the Bible. They did not find it. The malady of Christian insistence today is that the answer is in the context of the Biblical teachings and Biblical God. Since the death of Christ, God’s dealings with humanity has evolved, as they had evolved over the centuries prior to that. Although he is immutable, his ability to meet the humanity at their juncture of growth and development has always been tied to mobility. Are we allowing God to be mobile in our time? Or are we silencing God like he was silenced between Malachi and the birth of Christ? The way that he dealt with people of the first Church is completely different from how he deals with them now in the 21st Century. We can’t know what his will is today as we silence God with/by our selfish need to overrule love and compassion with materialistic inculcation and judgment.
Suicide, unaddressed in the New Testament, is a state of human condition when a person becomes too weary to carry mundane life as it is. It is not a sign of weakness but a sign that states one’s conscious ability to end the suffering. We dare place ourselves in God’s place when determining when and where a person must pass on. We audaciously displace God with our own doctrines and interpretations of what His will is because all of us have to live a replicated, uniformed, cookie-cutter lives. Why? Because the doctrine of ‘prosperity’ (monetary, physical, and psycho-social) mandates that we do. If this was the case at the time of Christ, we would have NEVER allowed Christ to sacrifice his life in order to end suffering of countless human beings. Was it God’s will for Christ to die on the cross…to sacrifice….end his own life? Yes. However, had the tables been turned, the history as we know it would have been different. Why? Because people of his time lacked compassion and love…just like we do today!
The question that should be asked is not about suicide but about what to do with personal destitution. This destitution of the human soul comes with the confines we set upon our fellow wo-men in order to create a tessellated society where only one norm exists-religious compliance. I spent my teen and adult life in Church of God denomination. I spent 6 years earning degrees at Lee University, one of the main evangelical universities in the country. Sermon after sermon, lecture after lecture, life after life, experience after experience was fashioned to FIT the minds of the dedicants into the doctrinal parentheses of the Church. Whereas I expected to see servanthood and individual ministry, I saw carefully pragmatic planning to target audiences to FIT the empty seats and fill the collection plates. In result, lives were lost…and not only spiritual but physical lives as well. If the church insists that God is ‘defined’ by the biblical axioms, which he is NOT, we are then lowering the omnipotence of God in the eyes of a destitute soul looking for a drop of hope in the darkest nights of their life. Condemnation, fear, and absolutism NEVER worked in favor of humanity or God. Suicide is a condition directly tied to spiritual and psycho-social health of all of us. Some of that ‘health’ is compromised by church dogma. We oftentimes fail to remember that reality does not only happen in deeds but in thoughts; therefore, suicide happens many, many times in one’s mind before it actually happens in the material context. We do not act adequately to address the state of mental health in ecclesiastical and secular environments. The Love for the Other we are commanded to have falls short at the gate of our ‘prosperity’ message on Sunday morning. Capital gains, membership expansion, building larger churches, allotting more money for pastoral expenses and the like take precedence to flocks’ dire needs. This is not only the case within the evangelical circles, but within circles of many other religions.
Suicide rates would be lower if we applied and practiced compassion and love. This is a universal task given to humanity. Our compassion today stops at the collection plate, limits of our patience, or ridiculous doctrinal values. Suicides happen because suffering abounds and few of us care to address it. We don’t dare to think of the alternative to the death on the Cross because we are so indoctrinated that God is fatalistic and deterministic. God is not the bloody God of the Old Testament he usd to be. He too evolved in his dealings with the humanity. In our view, God is Fate. He knows what was, is, and what will be. But, God also gave free will to all. The world would have been completely different had people of Jesus’ time received him. But, they did not. Therefore, a plan of action had to incorporated, which Jesus paid himself. Many people see themselves in the same position. They work hard, they sacrifice their time and energy, and they may even show flaws in their human/mundane bodies. Their pain is so great, yet NO ONE hears it. No one sees it. No one cares to deal or acknowledge it. The condemnation we place upon ‘humanity’ is irreparable. We don’t spread love; we spread passive hate by evoking biblical sources that have nothing to do with person’s journey.
Evangelicals, Catholics, Hindu, Wiccans, or Muslims need to focus on utilizing compassion, a Golden Rule of love and doing to your fellow man as to yourself, instead of condemning and judging. They ALL have the same golden rule in their own foundations of faith. Is it there fore decoration or application? I often wonder.
Thank you. Just thank you
A physical analogy: Healing a person from trauma or a mental illness is a lot like changing the course of a high speed train. A high speed train cannot make an immediate 180 degree turn. It must be turned gently, deliberately and with forethought to avoid derailment. The speed of that turning process and the processes involved will depend upon several factors such as the weight of train, the speed it’s travelling at, how much it can be slowed before turning and other factors I’m sure that I am not aware of since I am no train expert. The approach of a prayer or two or a bible verse or two and you are good as new is not only short sighted but oftentimes can be very damaging to the person to whom it is applied. To then damn the person as a failure as a Christian only adds to the hurt. I have experienced this personally. Thank you, Ted, for writing this.
So what are the expectations regarding faith, love and balancing one’s checkbook? Does “religion” adequately address all spheres of one’s life and psyche? Is it really a contradiction to be a learned and powerful orator of a message and to lose control and act on ones “personal demons”? Mr. Haggard’s blog raises very important and interesting issues that I believe are paradigmatic to fundamentalism in religion.
In some ways it is analogical to traditional East Asian martial arts. How far can, or should, one go to recognize the strengths and weaknesses of a “traditional” self-development program, and supplement accordingly? Traditional Karate is great for achieving many of the goals of training (character building, health, poise, power, self-confidence, self-defense and self-discipline, etc.) . The “purist” of East Asia say, follow the path, stay the course and all the secrets and truth of the way will reveal itself in time …. If you’ll only show enough devotion to practice. But in fact, when put to the test of reality, not everyone has the same potential for realizing the “truth” of the practice. And the system itself is not the best when considered as a broad brush of practice. Traditional Karate – for instance – does not involve much grappling on the floor. It claims to be a complete and fully effective self-defense system. But most any street fighter or policeman will tell you that 1:1 combat in the street usually results in a take-down to the ground and the fight doesn’t end there. So wouldn’t a full system or a fully responsible adherent think I should take the best from various training systems and supplement my practice (and faith) around the core program?
Okay, it’s analogical and it is not meant to minimize or reduce any particular religious faith. But the point is, why would anyone believe that a knowledge of the bible and the lessons, morals and beliefs it shares, would be complete enough – and most effective – for all spheres of optimizing one’s total well-being? Why would “god” or faith be enough to cure unconscious motivation borne of past trauma that has left psychological scares, buried in physiology? Wouldn’t psychotherapy be a good supplement to religious faith, just as jujitsu is a necessary supplement to Karate? If one had an arthritic knee, wouldn’t wearing a knee brace be more beneficial than just letting nature and practice take its course?
I once heard a lecture from a Buddhist master. In essence (and I try to paraphrase), what he was saying is that the problem with achieving Nirvana is that once you reach the highest plateau of spirituality, it’s very difficult to stay there. It’s not really a plateau at all, but rather a very small, rocky, unstable point at the top of the mountain and it’s quite easy to lose one’s balance and footing, fall down the mountain side, and then have to crawl your way back up again. Mind is like that: we elevate to spiritual highs and fall back to our mundane and lower urges and the goal of practice is to get back on the right path and continue to crawl up. In fact, it’s the goal of practice to be able to scale up and down one’s psyche so that all spheres of one’s life are addressed with the right frame of mind and with the correct intent … to be effective and do no violence. All states of mind are not equal for achieving the necessities of a balanced life. Does anyone (who takes time to think about it) really believe the state of spiritual ecstasy and rapture is the right one for balancing one’s checkbook? For learning to communicate better with one’s spouse or co-workers? Are there really perfect beings or is there really only perfect ideals?
Mr. Haggard’s blog is a poignant expose on myths, models and paradigms. The leading cause of religious failure is not screwing up, it is giving up.
Ted, I understand your points and I do believe the evangelical culture is flawed, specifically in regards to their treatment of the mental health profession.
That said, I am really disturbed at the timing and direction of your words. As a member of the church Isaac Hunter founded, I can tell you that I have been healed myself as a direct result of the counseling ministry that is run there entitled regroup (http://www.summitconnect.org/pages/regroup) that seeks to “recognize what has been lost, and join with Christ as He transforms and restores us.” This ministry operates on principles that fit neatly into the “psychological mumbo-jumbo” that your peers detested. Beyond that, Isaac was constantly pursued by members of the church after his “moral failing” and the vast majority of the members hoped for his eventual return to the pulpit.
So to make the assumption that Isaac was cast aside from his congregation while being discouraged from seeking mental health treatment and that he “frequently repented” is not only ignorant, it has the potential to be divisive in the midst of a community that is already hurting enough.
Again, I agree with you that evangelicals don’t really know how to handle sin, but just because your community handled it poorly, doesn’t mean that all communities will or do. I strongly encourage you to remove or amend your words to either:
1. Stop leveraging the tragic deaths of men you didn’t know to make a point OR
2. Make even more clear that you ultimately have no idea what goes on at Summit Church, how Isaac has been ministered to over the past year and/or the status of his personal state of repentance.
My main point is this: Your words, spoken in ignorance (personal experience does NOT equate to actual knowledge), have the potential to be hurtful to an already-greiving body of believers. Please issue a retraction or be more considerate in the future.
(In response to TDIKUN)
I do not think nor have I ever believed that he was treated badly by your church, but I assure you he did receive some negative communications from Christians. But as many others have noted, suicide in the body of Christ, especially among pastors, is painfully high. I am so sorry you felt as though I was leveraging, but typically when someone presumes to know the motivations of another, it is at best a guess. Because in the body of Christ are connected, you have to understand that this does impact more people than just your immediate church body. His parents could not have been more gracious to me and my wife during our time of great sorrow, so we do have a great deal of love for their family and ministry. Next time I speak with his Dad I’ll show him your letter and ask what he thinks of your comments. It might be that you are speaking out of your pain, which is ok. I understand. But based on the other mail I’ve received from both staff and members of both churches, my comments were taken as understanding and comforting, with prolific “thank you” being expressed toward me for writing. So again, things like this are tough, your pastor was a public figure, and as I’ve learned, when anything happens with a public figure, the public works with the issues involved to try to make sense of it and learn lessons from it. I am pleased with my blog, and at this point, I have no reason to contemplate a retraction unless asked for by someone in in senior authority in the church. I am a submitted man, but not to random people. Bounce it off the authorities of the church and I’ll be responsive, I assure you. And know that we do love and appreciate both your personal process and the process the church is going through and will go through. Blessings, and thank you for writing.
Ted, thank you for your response. It was uncalled for me to ask you to retract or remove your article, I was (and am) very upset with much of its content but you have every right to say it. Furthermore, I am sorry I was not clear: I was not trying to make any sort of statement towards your motivations in writing. I have no doubt that you mean the best and want to see change in the areas of the evangelical culture that have hurt you most. I also do not doubt that your post has been helpful to many, I found it myself after seeing many of my fellow congregants post it on various social media accounts praising it.
What I am saying, is that by relating your story to Isaac’s without having a clear knowledge of the situation could have unintended harmful repercussions. By saying that “he gave it his best shot” and then telling an anecdote about your lead overseer being concerned only with their public profile, you are creating a false comparison that paints the leadership of Summit Church in a terrible light. The situation with Warrens’ son is different, he didn’t have his own church.
We are a community that has a long, tough road ahead of us, and though many of us already felt abandoned by Isaac’s resignation, we are now left without hope after his suicide. We must be united under our new leadership, or else a local expression of the body could be marred with discontent that could allow more opportunities for evil to work its way into the bonds that form our relationships and keep us a worshipping body.
Your comments are wonderful towards the end of illuminating the need for betting mental health services and a fuller understanding of sin and the Gospel in the church, but again–it has the potential to be divisive. I am simply encouraging you to be more considerate in the future. Thanks again for your response.
Beautifully written. Thank The Lord we serve a God of Grace.
[…] neo-gnosticism has repeatedly proven woefully inadequate – if not dangerous and deadly. (Even Ted Haggard agrees). What does Incarnation have to say to these things? Is it possible that in our desire to pursue […]
[…] Haggard, who made national headlines for a sex scandal involving a male prostitute in 2006, writes on his blog, days after Hunter, founder and former pastor of Summit Church in Orlando, Fla., died of an […]
Ted, your core issue was trauma? It was claimed by Hilary that Bill Clinton’s core issue was not fidelity, but an unhealthy relationship with his grandmother. I think over-simplification can go in both directions – both over emphasizing responsibility and under-emphasizing. To be sure there’s tension, but it’s a tension that we must keep. We have a tendency to both escape responsibility and to judge. I doubt whether these kinds of issues are either/or.
Nate, when dealing with core issues, we are not talking about responsibility at all. We are responsible for what we say and do. So when we say something is a core issue, we are not saying it as an excuse, but as an explanation. Your insight is correct if, in fact, we used understanding to avoid responsibility as some might do, but not me. I am a Christian, a Republican, and a human being — not an animal. Which is why I have taken responsibility, repented, submitted, resigned, and have done all I can to take personal responsibility for healing and do everything I can for the public. But I never want the understanding I have gained to be read as anything but an explanation. Hope this helps.
My life has been filled with judgment from gang banging on the streets of Albuquerque, NM for what I thought was right to worshipping in the church with everything in me! After having an encounter with God in 2004 even though no one had ever preached to me, I knew God Himself! Jesus is the king of love and sits on the throne of your heart if you allow him to rain unconditionally. Those of us who are blessed to feel the love of a mother or father unconditionally understand this concept to a certain extent. But God is way more serious about his unconditional love then we can ever be he doesn’t make it complicated for you to understand though. The law is written on your heart when you do something good you feel good when you do something bad you feel ashamed or you say “and what”, absolute proof that we all understand right and wrong “are you willing to do the right thing when someone does something wrong”? That’s the question you need to ask yourself if your real with yourself… If a man’s eyes are filled with evil than that man is evil but if a man’s eyes are filled with good then that man is good no matter how much you struggle if you get up everyday and put one foot in front of the other going the direction you know you’re supposed to you are living out God’s plan in the midst of life struggles! Keep grinding Soldier…
Hi Ted – I’ve shared your article multiple times and I’ve read it over and over. Your treatment of this very difficult subject was both eloquent and harsh at the same time. It was eloquent because you said with careful words what so many of us wished we could put into words. It was harsh because because there were “barbs” that caught in our soul as we read this.
Three and a half years ago my wife and i left a church that we planted because of my sin. We had been married 17 years and I hid my unfaithfulness from early in our marriage. We were struggling with the intense battle it was to lead a new and vibrant ministry. It was my failures with money and honesty that first took us to counseling. It was during that time of therapy that my conviction became certain that I needed to come clean with my wife even if it meant we would lose our ministry. As you stated, many rationalized that I was never sincere in my faith because I kept this secret for so many years. Yet today, because of counseling, I know that it was my inability to face my fears of exposure and my intense need to be pleasing in the sight of man that kept me in hiding. Without professional counseling I would not have uncovered this about myself.
As we left the church and fought for our marriage, there were many that said we only needed to press into Jesus to save our marriage. And while this was partially true, we would not be together today with our her counselor, my counselor and our counselor. In addition, I spent 6 months in group therapy going through an incredible program called “Mending the Soul.” Through these therapeutic outlets, I was able to unlock mysteries in my soul and seek God as I never had before. I would say that those who oppose such methods need to have the open mind and personal strength to try it before they dismiss it.
More over – the religious in our lives abandoned us in our time of need. Were it not for the professional resources we allowed in our lives, we would have done this alone. We don’t believe God ever meant for us to do this alone. We hope to bring light to the need for therapy in the church. We also hope to help believers learn to walk the hurting and broken through their time of need.
Again – thank you for this insightful post! I will read it again and again. I need the reminder!
Sincerely – R. Scott Helsel,
The Bible teaches progressive growth and healing. It does not teach instant healing and growth.
As I’ve gotten a chance to read thru this blog tonight, more and more I see the comments of many different people the struggles of coping with culture, humanity, Christianity; good and bad. I truly believe what Paul says about salvation; that we work it out fearfully and with great care.
One thought that I’d like to add to yours, is that part of the Evangelical conundrum is the fact that a lot of people who would probably consider themselves panning a little toward the NAE slant of the thought/spiritual process buy into a theology that by and large simply doesn’t work. Many have at their core theological “prime directive” so to speak, a gospel/theology that seeks to answer all the questions to life, knowledge, power and eternity when the very belief in that idiom is at the very least scripturally suspect. Christ over and over again speaks the language that should have and should always teach and affirm to us that His ways are higher than our ways; our highest goal and greatest quest should be simply to know Him more and to make Him known. The only person we should try to one-up on a daily basis is the person we were yesterday. There is no way we will find all the answers on this earth and as a man who lived the vast portion of my life believing that, I can tell you for a fact we won’t. To a certain extent modern Evangelicals, if their not really careful, will find themselves on the slippery slope of theology that looks at life this way, and to a certain extent I think many are victims of that theology as well as our own ignorance in interpreting it.
God is simply good. We are completely depraved (pardon the Calvin language!) but in Christ we are fully redeemed. We all struggle with something. And, each of those struggles has the potential to take us further from our place in grace.
I am a man in whom God’s immeasurable grace finds it’s measurability. And even in that place of sin we all stand side by side at the cross in need of Him, no matter what race, denomination, culture or theological persuasion!
Blessings to you and your family!
Love this, Scott! I agree with these thoughts and live more at rest in not knowing what I once had all “figured out.” He is good, kind and just. He is faithful, forgiving and all wise! Looking to Him!
Thank you. As far as knowing or NOT knowing whats going on, I try and remember this; What ever just happened to you, it didn’t take God by surprise. He’s not sitting bitting His nails worrying, “What in the world are we going to do about Scott!?” He saw it coming long before we did and He has the peace and calm that will guide us thru it. Now…will someone be sure and remind me of that when I need it? LOL
[…] Haggard’s piece on suicide, evangelicalism and sorrow. This is a VERY important article to read, especially if you have dealt with depression or pressure […]
[…] Haggard has an interesting, insider take on the weakness of evangelicalism. From my much more limited perspective, I can […]
Hi Pastor Ted,
I hope you are doing well. I am the pastor of a startup charismatic
church. Although my wife and I knew that we were called to the pulpit ministry years ago, we did not step out into full-time ministry until September 1st of this year after an apostle came
back into our lives. In January 2014 will celebrate our 23rd wedding anniversary. We have four children ages 20 (girl), 17 (girl), 14 (boy), and 12 (boy). We have been involved in voluntary ministry serving in some capacity whether in youth ministry, kids ministry, choir, etc. for most of our lives.
Although I was born again and baptized at the age of 11, I have struggled with unwanted SSA for as long as I can remember. I believed for years that the SSA would one day magically go away when I trusted God and prayed enough. At the age of 15, I hated myself so much that I wanted to die because of it. At the age of 20, I mistakenly thought that marriage would stop the SSA. After discovering and going through Reparative Therapy starting in 2012 and ending in August 2013, I learned that my unwanted SSA was due to rape trauma from my 35 year old uncle that I experienced when I was five years old. Furthermore, I also grew up with a lack of fatherly love, approval, acceptance, and affirmation. All of my pain came to a head earlier this year, and I almost lost my family because of it. God brought healing to us this year, and we have experienced so much peace and joy since all of my secrets were disclosed to my wife, kids, and close friends. We are honored that God has chosen us for this work of the ministry and we are surprised that He did it now–in the most difficult year of our lives. Yet we joyously march forward and believe that God has BIG things for us and our city.
I was very encouraged when someone posted your blog on Facebook this past Saturday night, and I learned that you were back in ministry and had planted Saint James Church. You were indeed an inspiration to me while I was a student. I devoured your book called “The Life-Giving Church”. I still believe that the church in general would be so much better off today, if we applied the principles you set forth in that book.
I commented on your blog because I really appreciate the grace and love that God has obviously shown in your life, and He has restored you. You are indeed a pastor of pastors (leader of leaders).I respect and honor you for having valiantly walked the road of pain and trauma leading to acting out in search of the man that God had already made you to be, and yet when all hell broke loose in a HUGE crisis in your life you submitted yourself to God’s plan of action and spiritual (His Truth) and earthly tools (therapy) that set you on a course that is FAR MORE powerful and freeing to yourself and others today than the place where you were before the end of 2006.
I thank you for standing through the storms that you had to face. You are indeed an example of a stalwart, masculine man–a complete man, a husband, a father, a warrior, a family man, and a man of God.
May the love and peace of Father, Jesus Christ, and Holy Spirit surround you now and take you into the coming year and beyond to a place that is greater than any place you have ever been in your life!
[…] speaker, lover of God, and my guess is he loved the church. But he, like all of us, fell short,” Haggard wrote. “In the midst of divorce with accusations swirling, he resigned from the church he founded. He […]
Maybe the greatest problem in the church today is its response to those who are suffering. The challenge is how does the church deal with the suffering from one who sinned versus those who are suffering because of another’s sin or those who are suffering for not any good reason at all. The person suffering must absolutely see the undeniable love and power of God in there lives, and the church should led them there. I think we can agree on this, but the question looming from your article I have is this. Have you truly forgiven those who hurt you? And have you truly repented to those you need to repent to. I know only a little about your story, but I know I from my experience it is not easy to forgive those who hurt others, but when they do there is joy. I am not saying my experience is like yours, but I have seen some things causing me great pain and almost despair, and I had to go through a process of repentance and forgiveness myself. There is joy and peace on the other side of this.
I have a few other thoughts, on your otherwise very well written piece. First, let’s not throw gluttony into the mix anymore, without at least some specifics. Plenty of people deal with the personal shame and identity of it, and too often those trapped in public sexual sin are the ones to throw this particular sin out there, which only gets overweight people feeling shame. There is enough cruelty in our society, especially with children, we just don’t need to call it out without direct context and specifics. Every time someone says gluttony from the pulpit, every obese person squirms. It’s like wearing a big sign around you all the time anyway, and we don’t need more heaped on these folks. We have to address it, but I’m saying let’s be specific. Love and support is a better place to start. And using it to justify another sin is just hogwash. No sin stands against the holiness of God.
This year, as I experienced the dread and agony of a broken relationship, I spent time in some of the spiritual disciplines you have mentioned. During this time period, the Lord granted me peace and focus and I saw His love more clearly than I had before. I had been encouraged by a brother to fast, and I followed his lead and I am truly grateful for what the Lord did in me. I think we should encourage the positives of fasting and understand not everyone will experience the same trials and temptations while fasting. I am grateful I was led there and the Lord showed me many truth’s during this time.
Back to holiness – I’m a wreck. No doubt I am a wreck, but there is hope in repentance and grace. I don’t think we need to attempt to justify or alleviate sin, and I think this article assumes too little of power of God in our lives and the freedom we have found in Jesus. Yes, my therapist is amazing and I don’t know where I’d be without her, but I also can tell you it is God who is healing me. God, not any psychiatrist (I’ve seen one this year) or psychologist (I’ve seen two) or intense psychiatric study (did that in April) is the one who breathes freedom and joy and love into my soul. Jesus pulls no punches in the sermon on the mount and in throughout the gospels, and we should continue to flee from sin and expect the Lord to protect us and to heal us. He has not failed me. Not once.
The church is a tough thing for everybody, but there is also much good there, and I imagine there is good among the older, conservative churches so many bloggers feel the need to heap coals on today. I think we need to look within ourselves and God’s word and find out how we can come along side those who operate and worship different than us, rather than to continue the growing thread of modern churches only talking about what needs to be fixed. We have so much to learn from those who came before us, and our society is not always respectful of the past. We tend to try to elevate the wrongs and expose the flaws, but do we ever try to grab the old school conservative church and expose their strength in biblical teaching or their passion for the truth?
Let me be clear – the love and grace you speak of and about eighty percent of this article is dead on. You put it out there, and I don’t mean to get to personal, but the healing and forgiveness and repentance thing seems to flow through this and it seems tough still for you. I know I still have my challenges with it, too, but I am trusting God there more each day. And there is such grace and beauty and peace in this forgiveness, and I’m so grateful for what the Lord has done. I’d also say, I totally love your passion for Jesus and His words and His love for others.
[…] lover of God, and my guess is he loved the church. But he, like all of us, fell short,” Haggard wrote. “In the midst of divorce with accusations swirling, he resigned from the church he founded. […]
[…] read Haggard’s article, “Suicide, Evangelicalism, and Sorrow” with interest. It is really quite a confession as well as an indictment. His honestly and […]
[…] speaker, lover of God, and my guess is he loved the church. But he, like all of us, fell short,” Haggard wrote. “In the midst of divorce with accusations swirling, he resigned from the church he founded. He […]
His grace is sufficient for all. For all those who truly believe, the power of the blood has wiped away all sin. NOTING can separate us from the Love of God. As we grow in faith and trust in Lord Jesus, we do start to think before we act more, But we will never be perfect. From Adam to us, we try and pretend we can do things on our own. Only God can save us.
We all fall for the lies of Satan, but soon the day is at hand when “all” we will know is the truth of God. If we have been given to the Son, noting will keep us from his kingdom. Work every single minute of every single day to become that new creation in Christ, and if you fail? Repent and get up and try again, once God forgives a sin, he remembers it no more and will not hold you accountable for it.
Grace can never be earned, it is given freely.
Brother Ted, thanks for having the guts to write and then post this blog. Well said! The church needs to be turned on its ear regarding the intense Phariseeism which is so strong in many, if not, most congregations.
Good article Ted- even though I have never really folowed your ministry over the years- I of course new about your situation. Hope you get a chance to visit my blog- I love you and your wonderful wife as brothers and sisters in Christ. God bless.
It seems that a huge contributor is that in this day, sin is so prevalent and the opportunities are easily accessed, numerous, and glorified by our culture. And then some of the effects of these sins carry on to future generations.
I do think that leaders need to be held to a higher standard, and yet I am so encouraged when pastors share about their own struggles. Somehow though I think that there’s a dividing line somewhere.
Perhaps the standard should be this: if a leader has sins he or she is unwilling to talk about, that he or she wants to hide, then this disqualified them from leadership. Does that still keep in lines with our ideas of grace and redemption?
Mari, the fact that leaders ARE held to a higher standard is a fact, it is not an exhortation in Scripture to make sure WE hold them to a higher standard. Many people will get drunk in bars, visit prostitutes, and cheat on real estate contracts today, but if the mayor of your city did any of that, he (or she) would be on the front page of the newspaper soon . . . being held to a high standard. The New Testament Church’s call is to minister and model the Gospel and it’s application. As a result, our RESPONSE to another person’s sin is to be different than the world. Though there is no escaping the fact that leaders are held to a higher standard, we have to realize that in the midst of this fact, we have a unique role of applying the Gospel in order to demonstrate to all observers Jesus is the answer to everyone’s sin problem. Should we take on the role of making sure leaders are held to a higher standard, then we are just another journalist, prosecuting attorney, or gossip at work. Our calling is higher than that.
Thank you for your transparency and honesty. I too have been guilty of passing judgement on the “holiness” of those who have fallen. I was a pharisee pointing my fingers at the sins of others and by God;s grace, I am learning to repent of this. After my own fall and personal disaster I now can relate to many of the things you have addressed in this post.
I have had the pleasure of meeting you just after you started up St James in your garage and I have to say that I was impressed by your heart to help those who are struggling in their own lives. Again, thank you for writing this, it most likely will be dismissed by the very evangelicals who need to hear it most, but God will use your words to help many of us who have fallen in our journey of healing. God bless you, your family, and your continuing work here in Colorado.
[…] lover of God, and my guess is he loved the church. But he, like all of us, fell short,” Haggard wrote. “In the midst of divorce with accusations swirling, he resigned from the church he founded. […]
Very complicated issues dealt with in this article. Though I commend mr haggard for adressing those issues I am very concerned with his answer. It is ultimately stating the problem with man will not be solved by the power of the gospel but by the power of therapy. That the reason these things happend to good pastors kids is because christians were too naive in looking to Christ for solutions and that they should have spent more time persuing Psychotherapists and neuro-surgeons.
Though I can simpethize with Ted’s desire to find answers in the aftermath of these tragedies his solution is in actuality naive and no matter how many times in his article he tries to assure us that he has a high view of scripture his conclusions deny the power of God in favor of the deceptive philosophies of this world, treating what God calls sin as sickness and denying the power of the gospel for transformation and sending people down a path that ends in greater heart ache and empty promises offered by mental health industry.
I don’t know why those people made the decisions they made, but those experiences do nos undermine the sure truth we find in the word of God, sadly there will always be people like mr. Haggard who will adapt there theology in response to these kinds of situations.
Nathan, I do not believe the power of therapy replaces the power of the Gospel, any more than I would say the need of an electrician proves that Jesus is not the light of the world. I believe the power of the Gospel is the hope of the world and the solution to our sin problem, and I believe in it so much that I do not believe we need to over-state or over-promise. We just need to tell the truth and utilize all the resources God has given us to improve our lives. Thus, now that we know about electricity, it’s ok (note Amish) and now that we’re learning about treating trauma, that too is ok.
Amen, brother Ted! The reason Evangelical culture us so screwed up is because the Gospel has been replaced with a therapeutic moral deism. Christianity and the Gospel are for sinners who sin! And who trust in Christ’s righteousness alone! Who do not claim access to the Holy of Holies because of their own works, their own morality, or their own performance. That is why Romans 7, and our every present struggle with sin, comes right before Romans 8, there is no therefore NO condemnation for those who are in Christ.
Does anyone who throws stones at Christian leaders realize that King David was an adulterous murderer! Yet was a man after God’s own heart? And his was the lineage of the Messiah, and that Jesus sits on David’s throne! Modern Evangelicals have turned Christianity into moralism and it is literally killing people.
[…] http://tedhaggardblog.com/2013/12/12/suicide-evangelicalism-and-sorrow/ […]
Ted, thank you for sharing. I often marvel at our daily dilemma as pursuers of Christ of what it means to be a believer. In Mark 9 we see a very real picture of our dilemma: Mark 9:17-18 “Then one of the crowd answered and said, “ Teacher, I brought You my son, who has a mute spirit. 18 And wherever it seizes him, it throws him down; he foams at the mouth, gnashes his teeth, and becomes rigid. So I spoke to Your disciples, that they should cast it out, but they could not.” Mark 9:23-24 (NKJVS)Jesus said to him, “ If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes.” 24 Immediately the father of the child cried out and said with tears, “ Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!”
Jesus ended up healing the boy (which we as mankind would consider the best way for God to get the glory), yet his unbelieving believing disciples were powerless in confronting the demon. I realize that many teach that these guys just needed more faith and more consecrated fasting times, yet Jesus tells us that “mustard seed” faith can move mountains! I am confronted daily with my unbelief as a believer and follower of Jesus….I believe the key is continuing to pursue Christ who is Grace and Truth and is full of grace and truth. We must keep working on not mixing up or mingling grace and law. Once we mingle them we move back into attempting to achieve righteousness by “works of righteousness” and our trying harder only leads to greater frustration and oppression. I remember reading once, “the gospel is for Christians too!” As believers we must keep seeking the Gospel of the kingdom.
Just so you know where I’m coming from: my wife and I had two miscarriages; my dear friend who helped me plant our church that I pastor committed suicide; I have prayed for thousands of people over the years…some have gotten marvelously healed others have died,; I sometimes have the faith to pray for people with horrific diseases and have seen them healed, yet I can’t seem to have enough faith to defeat my child’s common cold; I have struggled horribly with suicidal thoughts since being a pursuer of Christ and a pastor; I wake up some days feeling totally blessed…like a son and other days feeling like a miserable failure…an orphan without a dad…this called attempting to believe.
I believe but help my unbelief. I have learned to keep pressing on towards the upward call by struggling to learn what it means to forget what lies behind…I have learned to be ok that I am a living paradox…when I am weak, I am strong. I have learned that sometimes what I perceive are my greatest strengths are actually horrible weaknesses and disgusting to God when I try to use them to get my own way, and that my greatest real and perceived weaknesses can actually be assets to my dear friend Jesus! Some of my fondest memories are when my kids were learning to walk….I found myself rejoicing even when they fell down. I actually cheered for them even attempting to do something that was seemingly impossible to them just days before…come on children of God, even the gifts you use to bring Him glory, He gave them to you. I love when my kids buy me gifts with the money I gave them! Your Dad in heaven has a marvelous ability to overlook your weakness and offenses and an unbelievable ability to deal with you in an understanding way. See He has a picture of who you really are…let’s spend more time pursuing Him, instead of trying to fix ourselves up. You are not a “project” to the Father. The kingdom is not a protocol to be followed it is a pursuit to be enjoyed!
Ted, I am sorry for being long winded…I appreciate your revelation!
Amen a thousand times over!!!!!!!!!
This article made me think over and over of the preacher who totally changed my view of the churches that had hurt me through the years: the church is like a hospital; it’s for the spiritually sick. So when you enter the church, you’re going to be surrounded by people who are sick–getting better, but still coughing and in need of their IVs. We’re all taking care of each other in here. And we’re all of us, all of us, ill. So let’s just admit it and offer the church as a place to get better, not as a place for those who already are healed: that’s what heaven will be.
Thank you. Thank you thank you thank you. The church, made up of individuals who need God’s grace daily, will always be flawed, but you have done something in writing this that will help to purify us all. May our Lord bless you and protect you.
[…] lover of God, and my guess is he loved the church. But he, like all of us, fell short,” Haggard wrote. “In the midst of divorce with accusations swirling, he resigned from the church he founded. […]
I enjoyed reading your blog on the “culture” problems in evangelical Christianity. It has also been my experience that leaders who fall are treated like pariahs, rather than be loved and lifted up by the Body. I have stood with several pastors who struggled with different sins. But I did NOT uncover those sins to others- the pattern of Noah’s sons should be our model, not the public whipping that occurs now. They stepped down voluntarily, got help, and are now completely restored.
As Scripture puts it, “those who have suffered in the flesh have ceased from sin.” They are now serving Him with purpose and hope, with no fear of having their past destroy them. Love covers a multitude of sins, or it is supposed to.
We may never learn. We have opinions and thoughts that are rooted in foolishness rather than truth. God bless and keep you, Brother Ted.
So beautifully articulated. I hope that many many other believers somehow get to read this blog and think about it…
Thank you for sending me your blog again, “Suicide, Evangelism and Sorrow.”
You hit the nail on the head but, it is too bad that it is the nails used by the church to crucify their leaders.
[…] read Haggard’s article, “Suicide, Evangelicalism, and Sorrow” with interest. It is really quite a confession as well as an indictment. His honesty and […]
Yay! ! ! I’m so grateful you addressed the emotional healing you needed. I’ve been born again for over 50 years, but EMDR w/ a Christian. Spirit-filled therapist, helped bring healing to my soul. I hear you, brother. I resonate w/ you. Bless you! Also, look up Restoring the Foundations ministry which leads us to deal w/ the total man. Generational curses, soul/spirit hurts, lies and ungodly belief systems, as well as the demonic. We can’t ignore our emotional wounds. I’ve been there.
I was young when I would watch you, previous 2006, judging others. How different it is after your own experience. The same with those that suffer from mental issues and self-proclaimed Christians denounce. Those claiming to be born gay are also denounced to have been born that way. No one takes into account what Jesus actually did on earth: love and care for those that were shunned by society.
Why does it take a personal experience to change ones”Christian’s view”?
Valentina, no doubt, our culture, our own experience, and our awareness all impact how we see the world around us and one another. Saints, after “Valentina” wrote this, I was curious about when she had watched me since I have never had a tv show. She had watched a spoof documentary years ago and confused it with the real thing. She thought my playing with the camera man was my serious work (she ignored the crowd roaring with laughter in the background). As a result I wrote her that if she believed that video, she might consult Nacho Libre to get important insight into the Catholic Churches fund raising techniques, and that the National Enquirer was as dependable as the Wall Street Journal, and that the “news” segment on Saturday Night Live is as dependable as the NBC Evening News. Interestingly. she said her name was Valentina, but her e-mail address indicates Trish, and her e-mail correspondence indicates a third name. Ugh! One law I would be supportive of would be that everyone one the web has to use their real names and identification information. People rail about responsibility and accountability, but they do it with pseudo-names. Not good.
I have just read an article you wrote “Suicide, Evangelicalism and Sorrow” Thank you so much for your article,
I am a Worship Leader and because of terrible childhood of sexual abuse I have had a terrible life (in some ways) but because of a wonderful wife of 33 yrs and some great therapy, I am finally seeing God in a new light. Thanks again
Thank you for your perspective on this subject. I agree that as a Christian we miss the mark every time we judge another. Myself included. I always say when we judge another, we simply become the flip side of the same coin. If we could only comprehend the love and forgiveness of God with each other, the world would shift on a dime. Our judgment as well as our inability to forgive is what is separating us from God. He is just waiting for us to figure it out. Too bad we cant offer each other the same.
Oh. My. Goodness. You had me going there, until that very anti-Semitic comment toward the end. Pharisees and JUDAIZERS??? Really? It wasn’t enough to “dejudiaze” the faith in the 300s, in the Crusades, and in the Holocaust – there is still a need to kick “Them” out?? As a Messianic JEWISH person, I am totally flabbergasted. Yeshua and Sha’ul and Shimon Cefa ARE/WERE all Jewish people as well. Meeting at the Temple “daily.” Celebrating the Feasts. Wearriling tallits, tzit-tzits. Etc. Wow. ::smh::
Kelsey, you can relax a little. The entire book of Galatians is written in response to the work of the Judaizers. It is an exhortation to the church to return to the Gospel. We have our own laws and have to return to the Gospel ourselves. Unless you want to throw the New Testament out as anti-semitic, you need to understand that the Bible doesn’t work if it can only be interpreted and commented upon in a post WWII context. You are safe.
I agree it was very poor terminology. Galatians was a polemic against circumcision as being a means to salvation, not Judiazers. Also disparaging Torah when previously you complained people were bearing a false witness. Which way is it? The NT does not abandon the Torah entirely, it says it is not a means to salvation. Certainly the moral ethics are still in play, the 10 commandments. Then there is the Torah of the NT and plenty of it.
Kelsey, as a Messianic Jew you should know what those terms mean. There is nothing anti-Semitic about them. The NT over and over says that the Gospel message was to be proclaimed first to the Jew and then to the Gentile. I know that this is an oversimplification but I’ll do it anyway; the Judaizers were Jewish Christians who were attempting to synthesize the Gospel and the Mosaic covenant. They not only wanted to remain culturally Jewish (which is not a problem) but they demanded that everyone else do the same as well (which is a big problem!). The first Jerusalem council, which by the way was entirely a Jewish Christian event, decide that one did NOT need to become a Jew in order to be a “real” Christian. Jesus fulfilled the old covenant and slavishly returning to it is to actually deny the Gospel!
Christian counseling, when done correctly, utilizes scripture and the Holy Spirits prompting and allows for modern medicine to heal. We are told throughout scripture to listen to wise counsel. Why would we not do that in EVERY instance?
If someone’s past has made act a certain way or refrain from things they should be doing, we should help them heal that past so they can move on, begin life anew.
An addict uses, no matter what the addiction, to comfort or console. Often times, they do not even know why, or what, they are consoling. Addictions are just symptoms of a greater problem. An addict can be sober for years, but, without healing the greater problem, they will often either go back to their addiction, or pick up a new, possibly more social acceptable one.
At the same time, often, our sexual identity is the result of our past experiences, as well. If things were put in place that made us identify with a female or more feminine stuff, or if we were abused, these can and often will cause us to identify with homosexuality, or bestiality, or even violent and painful sexual experiences. It also includes any other sexual identity apart from the original design.
That said, I wish all that felt Christian counseling was wrong would back it up with Scripture, in context. That is the only argument you can give that would even be considered valid.
I asked The Lord several years ago when I was entering the ministry why Brother Swaggart ended up in the mess that eventually ruined a wonderful ministry and the Lords’ reply has stayed with me all these years. He said and I quote: what you pursue in life consumes you. Food for thought!
Ron, I think what the Lord spoke to you is true, but I do not think it applies to Swaggart. You might enjoy reading some of his material. Also, my e-mail is email@example.com. Write me and tell me exactly what his sin was. It will take one sentence. If you get this right, I’ll be very pleased. If you know what the sin actually was, it’s rather startling that years later most in the body still hate him and, years ago, had no hesitation dismissing him. Amazingly, he had larger crowds than Billy Graham, which gave all of us an opportunity to model the Gospel in response to him. However, we missed that opportunity which left all of us with greater loss.
I’ve walked with the Lord for 20 years now. Here is some of what the Lord has taught me. In 10 years of deliverance ministry. 1. Problems start when we are young. 2. People need experiences with Jesus. 3. Mature Christians give hurting people experiences with Jesus. 4. Alter personalities are created through trauma (dissociative disorder) 5. Jesus can make a person whole again, if they truly want to be ( need a mature Christian for this). 6. Demons don’t automatically leave at conversion. This is a lie in the church from the top down. 7. Need a mature Christian for this. 8. Christians, notice I did not say Mature Christians, are afraid of our enemy and believe many false things about them. 9. The church today is about being a big business, profit, look at my numbers kind of thing and doesn’t have Authority enough to pull my hat off!!! Call me what you will, I don’t care. It doesn’t matter. What matters is on that Great and Terribly day I (and you) will see him face to face. What does He know about me?? That’s what matters. The church to today is very immature, always learning junk from books, not reading the Real Book, We are full of emotional, warm and fuzzies, can’t self examine ourselves for fear of seeing the truth about us. There is where we are at..
Correction to point 6 the lie in the church from the top down is “Demons leave automatically at conversion.” Sorry should have proof read better..
Ralph, I agree with your point 100%, but I did write exactly what I meant. I was not in the AG and Calvary Chapel group that thinks people are automatically delivered at salvation. I did not believe that, and I do not believe that. I do believe in deliverance for Christians, if there is, in fact, a demonic problem. The issue I wanted to address in my blog was that because of other beliefs, some think that if something is going badly for a strong Christian, it is surely a demon. Well, not true. The group you are referencing often thinks that they can’t honestly be committed Christians. Also, not always true. Good point you make. Thank you for your comment.
Yes, Ted you are right. I hope you you don’t think I was coming after you. That was not my intention. I’m glad your doing better and have gained more understanding..
The problem with claiming that Christianity delivers people is there is no way to determine if it’s the therapies, the person, or Christianity. Anything I have overcome seems to come from me through a new understanding and perspective given to me by therapists and friends who have been in community with me. My internal experience clearly indicates that the only entities involved has been me and other people. This would indicate that Christianity is an imaginary participant. This is also confirmed by observing that non-believers over come character faults as well.
I understand your observation. I am assuming you are not born again. Please forgive me if I am wrong. I would like to have a discussion with you, if you are up to it. My first question is, Are you a Good Person? If your answer is yes, what is the standard you use to get to this conclusion?
I don’t really spend time trying to determine if I’m a good person. To me that seems rather self centered. My values are based on my desire to do no harm and to bring as much joy and beauty as I can to life.
You are on target. I’ve been through similar therapies and have changed my life. I consider therapies an answer to my prayers. I reject simplistic thinking…the world doesn’t fit into the American evangelical box.
I relate to this on so many levels and some of the articulation of what Ted has said are things I have struggled to say to my fellow Christians that I refuse to fellowship with because of the pain they induce into my heart…Not one of them were there in the basement or bedroom when I was being perpetrated…Yet they seem to be the expert on my journey and think that healing happens instantly or that victim blaming occurs with statements like; well what were you wearing???? Really u think a 10 year old is seductive…in T-shirt and jeans. :0( No More Trauma Drama was a statement from one pastor toward me, he is lucky to be alive today… too much victim blaming and stupidity for me to deal with and so I have had to let go of a lot of hurt and pain one day at a time.
Thank you for your heartfelt fallen and redeemed heart Ted…I am glad my mistakes and coping mechanisms are not public…
Karen, I just read your note. I am heartbroken for you to hear the comments made to you by pastors. I am glad though you are finding some people on here who care and that are listening.
When we suffer we are broken and lay on and at the mercy of God. This posture of mercy is what opens us up for an even deeper relationship or more intimate connection to the Fathers love. Jonah 2… a beautiful prayer and a beautiful response from our Father who is the same yesterday today and forever. In that story we tend to focus on what seems to be a punishment but really it is a prayer of Grace and Gods mercy. Thank you for sharing your story. Thank you for taking the the over spiritualization out of the deeper work of the heart. Its easy to simply say it’s a deliverance issue alone. The real work is found in the heart and how much God is in love with us. The gospel.
Reblogged this on Mily and commented:
wow… so good.
Well said Ted!
God Bless you & your precious family!
This is refreshing. Western Christianity expects that once we are in Christ we are all fixed. So core issues go unaddressed, not receiving the light of Christ, but being shut in the dark. The brokenness of this world shapes the lies that we form our identity around. Christ wants to redeem and restore that identity, but it is a process.
good points-so true
Refreshing read. Thank you. http://choosetotrust.com/2013/11/all-fixed
I have already posted this five times on my Facebook. This is the best thing I have ever heard TH. say. This teaching is needed throughout the church world. I grew up in the Pentecostal/Charismatic/Evangelical movement. I left long ago but of course always kept abreast of what was happening even though I moved to another realm of spirituality. I have ALWAYS had deep compassion oft the Haggards, Timms, Swaggerts, you name them because I knew these men were not evil, just troubled and with no one to really speak with. I knew something was missing in our little CHURCH OF GOD IN CHRIST taht saw a demon in everything and if you just fasted for two weeks and plead the blood of Jesus all would forever be well. 20 years of struggle for me which led me to Science of Mind. Yeah, say what you want but I knew there was more to the MIND so of course I would be attracted to it and its principles which ENCOURAGE counseling and therapy and the like has made my life grand for twenty years now. I thank God for TED H whom I have followed every since the fall. This lesson is truly golden.
I wish we could put you material on face books. Important that people begin what Gods Grace means to all Christians.
Ted, I know in my heart of hearts that Jesus loves you exactly, exactly, exactly as you are. You are beloved. You are sought after. The scope of God’s love goes so far beyond anything human beings can imagine, far beyond the boundaries of any manmade doctrine. God’s love is not contingent on our being “good” (as if any of us can be–the best we can do is fake it, and we all pretty much stink at even faking perfection). People put conditions on his love. He has no conditions. He will never leave you or forsake you. Nothing can separate you from the love of God. Nothing. My brother, who is a pastor, posted your blog on his wall this morning. I looked you up on the internet and watched The Trials of Ted Haggard. I was so touched by the sweetness of your spirit. I was broken hearted by the way the people who claimed to love you treated you and your family when you needed them most. It is a tragedy that you have internalized the belief that you are evil. You don’t need to be fixed. You are precious. One look at your smile, and I knew that to be true. I don’t know why I’m writing this. I’m sure you’ve heard it a million times, and I never do things like this. I felt compelled to do it though. Love and blessings on you and yours. You have more than your fill of cruelty. May you find perfect joy and peace.
Catholics have a saying:
The Church is a Hospital for Sinners, not a Resort for Saints.
Maybe that’s why we have the confessional and also the scandal of therapy for abusing priests.
Reblogged this on Katie from Michigan!!.
This article, Haggard’s testimony after a fall from ministry, is eye opening for sure. I thought the essay was strong up until the end. Haggard’s deliverance came from unorthodox vessels and methods, like muddy spit in the eye, whodathunk!
It seems Ted was also the target of a false witness, the forgotten 9th commandment of the Decalogue. I feel his pain. It is rampant in the church, even leadership being very reckless here.
However, I found the 2nd to last paragraph troubling. Is Mr. Haggard suggesting a moral equivalency between child porn, adultery and the like with eating too many Twinkies? Uggg! Major justification going on here. Then there is Ted’s definition of sin.
“But I did not mention the proud, envious, gluttonous, angry, greedy, blamers and scrutinizers in the body of Christ who have equally fallen but their sins are acceptable in our culture”
Excuse me but blamers and scrutinizers . . . . err, ummm, seems Paul was both in 1st Corinthians. Paul had a major problem with this fellowship because they failed to blame and scrutinize. Anger, really? Anger without a cause yes, but show me a Christian who never gets angry and I’ll show you a Christian lacking principals, courage, agape love. Ted sounds like a passive aggressive, angry behind a veil of compassion. Maybe I also failed to mention that I am greedy for God’s blessings. I’m greedy enough that I’m learning to turn the TV off. Defining sin without Torah becomes a cliché and intellectually is a bridge to nowhere.
Now about the Torah grievance Ted articulates, Ted complains of his adversaries obstructing the truth and bearing a false witness regarding his trials. Ted then trashes the Torah in that 2nd to last revealing paragraph. Which one is it, yes or no on ethics, truth, Torah? Is Ted and advocate for high or low standards? I guess it all depends on who the prosecution and who the defense is.
The stipulations for elders is a very high bar, folks need to have their lives squared away. However there has been an eroding, a lowering of the bar, allowing compromised candidates to put themselves in authority and in harm’s way. I have also seen this mediocrity in church leadership weed out solid, non- compromising candidates. In lukewarm churches, the unpardonable sin is having standards or passion higher than the eldership. It is the kiss of death.
Maybe Ted and the cited list of fallen clergy were promoted too quickly. Maybe ministry came too easy, especially when papa greases the skids. Maybe “yes men” conviction-less novices rather than serious accountability partners we recruited, maybe that one wife thang, ruling family well thang, (even the shhh . . . alcohol thang) were in fact . . . critical to sustainable, quality ministry. Or maybe I am a Pharisee.
I read with great interest your blog posting “Suicide, Evangelicalism and Sorrow.” I found your criticism of the evangelical obsession with image to be truthful and profound. I am a pastor in a Canadian Evangelical denomination with a history of judgmentalism and exclusivism, I have come to detest and reject the term “Evangelical” and as a follower of Jesus Christ, I’m not sure I can even accept the polluted term “Christian” any more.
My heart breaks for the way that you and your family have been “dragged through the mud” as scapegoats, put on parade as unworthy by people filled with the fear of the consequences of loving and supporting you in your struggles – this is not the love of Jesus. As difficult as the past several years have been for you, you are of much greater use to the true believers than ever before. Your insight and recommendations for the church to remember it’s founder, and the principles of forgiveness and reconciliation are of far lasting value than adding more ‘bums in seats,’ winning people over to a pastor or a particular congregation so that we can gain esteem among church “leaders.”
Keep up the good and Godly work.
Hi Ted – Christine found this and forwarded it to Donna and I. After leaving NLC, joining ourselves to the small church on the west side, we saw our dear brother, B.C. if you remember him, lose it all. His health, his ministry, his church, and then even his family. And I stood right next to him and didn’t see it coming. So much for my spiritual discernment. I have no place to put it. And when he passed two years ago I still have no place to put it. But he is standing seeing Jesus, and I’m still here on this trying side. I confess it’s hard for me to put up with people – most people it seems – but especially the ‘churchy’ ones. We hurt when we heard of the way you were treated; and then I felt real anger, knowing at least one of the “overseers”. Living in Arizona for the last 8 years, Christine graduated college, married, and yes I’m still working; it seems to me that, as Chris Hodges said one time, “I don’t know nothin’ about nothin’ when it comes to what the Holy Spirit is doing.” After 30 years of being born again, and continuing in the process to live born again; that little reminder of humility is still the truth. The Word is wonderful, encouraging, God’s revealed truth, adding such depth to my life – but to think I have it figured out for me – let alone someone else? Stop….
I saw the documentary, and wondered at myself, too. What could I have done? What should I have done – to encourage you or help you? But we were so out of touch, and I had my own struggles going – mostly business, kind of typical for me. So, I ask you to forgive me for not trying. I prayed, sure; but where was the Gospel in my actions? You ARE a dear brother. I love you and thank the Lord for you and all that you have meant to me and my family. We have not forgotten. Thanks for sharing so openly. If I don’t see you here sometime, see you…THERE!
And now to all of the folks on here who really don’t know what they’re talking about. I say, keep it to yourself. Do you really believe that you are wiser, smarter, deeper, holier? Please….
Fran Lockhart Just finished reading all of this information, I was raised in the Pentecostal church, and for years I had struggled with a lot of issues in my life, things that happened when I was a child. and until recently finally figured out that the things I endured then caused me to make all the stupid decisions I made all my life. I finally realized that even on my worst day Jesus still loved even ME.I had to let go of all the things I had been taught and take the Word of GOD for what it says, I for give ME and I forgive THEM…When we learn to see people thru GODS eyes we may not be so judgemental I applaud you TED and all who have been thru this , God Bless you all .
Ted, thank you so much for reminding me of your blog. I saw the email the other day and was going to go back and read it but got busy and forgot. I just finished reading it and am so glad I did. I hope I never throw stones and I repent of the ones I’ve thrown in ignorance in the past (I can honestly say I never judged you because I felt I knew your heart). You have always brought the scriptures alive for me and although I don’t really get to St. James that often, I do feel very close to God and His Son and know the Holy Spirit is working in me. Pastors (and their families) have so much pressure on them that I’m sure they feel guilty when they are not perfect (which none of us are). I hurt for these families because not only have they lost someone they dearly loved but they also in many cases have the undeserved guilt of feeling somehow it was their fault. I have fallen short in praying for God’s ministers but can definitely remedy that as of now.
God bless you,
Ted I posted this comment on another site, but I should have posted it here.
I totally agree that we need to look at the psychological and physiological issues that exist when we enter into a relationship with Jesus because often they just don’t go away. I am shocked that many congregants at our churches completely dismiss these issues while at the same time seeking treatment for heart disease, or diabetes. What makes them think that failures of organs like the heart and the pancreas cannot happen to the brain? And if so, why wouldn’t we turn to a professional to treat these issues?
However, I also firmly believe that Christian celebritism plays a huge role in the downfall of many of our Christian leaders. I would love for you, Ted, to speak into how his fame fueled his fall. I cannot believe that being the pastor of a mega-church, or any church for that matter, with all the “fans” that come along with it cannot warp our leaders to an elevated sense of self. Pride has obviously been a stumbling block for many of the Church’s leaders throughout the centuries or Paul would not have admonished us to not think of ourselves more highly than we should. It is hard to think of yourself with sober judgement while at the same time being adored by the masses.
I am the wife of one of the pastors you cite here in your blog. Sam Hinn ( another Orlando pastor who comments here ) is a long cherished friend. Joel Hunter & my husband have been friends for years & Isaac Hunter spent many hours with my husband in the last several months as they grieved their sin & losses, stared down their shame & sought to support one another in ways only those who have experienced a very public airing of their dirty laundry can. The news of Isaac’s death left my husband wailing, inconsolable for hours. Throughout Isaac’s funeral I literally had to hold him up as he buckled under the weight of what we feel may have been an avoidable tragedy had some percentage of those attending this funeral communicated their on- going love & support & belief in the man of God he truly was while not denying a part of him had failed. ( I, too, have had to learn we are not all bad when we fall or all good when we shine but we are both at once all the time)
Honestly, I don’t think everyone is sitting in judgement in these situations- most – as we’ve discovered- have no idea what to say or don’t want to bother us at such a difficult time . Oh friends- please bother us -// with God’s Grace!
Isaac’s dear bewildered family & closest friends did surround him assuring him of their love & commitment but his PERCEPTION seemed to be that the vast majority had judged, condemned & shunned him irrevocably. No one but Jesus was with him in his final minutes so we can’t know all his internal motivations but he did speak of the devastation of isolation, abandonment & exile. He also spoke often of the love he had for his children. For a young leader who knew only soaring success, to have the tide of public opinion turn so vicious must have been catastropic. ( * another time we can debate the dangers of metoric ministry success AND what AND whom we might say is driving this. )
We know Isaac made changes in the months following his resignation that many were not aware of & given more time to learn what was really troubling him with the help of professionals, plus the power of God & a supportive community of fellow leaders he very well might have stayed the course & eventually returned to ministry someday stronger, healthier & more fully convinced than ever that the grace of God he preached was also available for him who ” must incur higher / stricter judgement.” ( isnt God to be our only judge?) Our hearts ache for his parents Joel & Becky, his brothers, children & wife who must now not only process his death but agonize if it could have possibly been avoided had the majority viewed him through the eyes of the All-Forgiving Father instead of the seething ” older brother?”
For our story I am thankful to report the calls, cards, texts, emails & random stops in public have shown us that there IS indeed a Christian community out there that does get that grace is not just available for the wicked heathen but also for the seasoned brethren. Though we have been barred from ever pastoring our church of 29 years again, with the exception of a few -those we’ve heard from have been as loving, forgiving & grace- filled as hurt, disappointed Jesus people can be. It has truly sustained us & given us hope to rise for another day. Thanks be to God!
But there should be no difference between Isaacs story & the response we report! Our ” degree of repentance ” ( note the measurement) never kept the Father from sending Jesus to the cross on our behalf -he didn’t wait until he saw evidence we were sorry enough, or sat out long emough, or worked hard enough at our recovery. As we know but fail to understand -He longed for us & embraced us ” even while we were yet sinners …”
I believe your blog pushed us a little further down the field toward a Revolution of Grace– Ted. I pray we wake up before the clock runs out & too many more bright lights are lost. Thank God Isaac is now forever free.
And on what evidence do you substantiate your claim that that percentage “is very very high”? One can at best make such a claim anecdotally, but either way I am sure it is a “vast” overstatement.
Charles- can see how you might have misunderstood my meaning in the statement refering to Isaac as a ” bright light” – you said it smacked of hero worship. As a Christ follower & pastors wife of almost 40 yrs I have no problem recognizing & worshipping Who is indeed the Light of the World & the Head of the Church. But since He has called us to be His lights in this world shining for all to see ( like stars in the heavens) I stand by the statement that Isaac was for the vast majority of his ministry the bright light / city on a hill Jesus called him to be. On a personal level my husband David regularly spoke to our congregation / bore witness ( still does) of his personal weaknesses, trials & everyday failures. He refused to let people put him on a pedestal! In fact if he has been known for anything it is for being real. In our case it was not hero worship of the kind you mention that contributed to an inflated ego- but internal messages he believed that often drove him to expect only amazing things from himself. While there certainly can be issues of hero worship in the church, from my personal experience it takes far more than that to bring down men as commited to Christ’s kingdom as Isaac & David.
I’m not easily shocked, Charles. Especially because the church is full of saved sinners but sinners nonetheless.
Really? That’s what you inferred from what I said? What I would have inferred is that since we are all sinners how dare we think we are supperior to someone else, pastor or not, who has taken a significant fall. This doesn’t mean there won’t be consequences; just ask King David. But we ought to love everyone with a 1 Cor. 13 kind of love.
All very interesting. Learning a lit from questions and answers and your blogs Ted. Thank you very much for this. I am so glad to learn what happened and of your plight. I am also very happy you are in the ministry again. So much happens in the church. People that can accuse someone of something that may or may not be true but they can’t even look in their own backyard. I pray I will remember this the next time I ready to accuse someone of a wrong and go back and look and read what Christ would have done. Thank you so much and I will continue to pray for you and your family. Sister in The Lord Lindy.
Thanks for this hard and beautiful article – regardless of how long:). It is a salve in a very hard time for those who do not understand trauma and instead do not even realize that they inflict it upon those who have no resources to stand. Many, many blessings as you continue to speak truth.
Thank you for this hard and beautiful article. I am grateful for the healing you have received and the difficult work you have done, from one survivor to another. This is one of those – Father, forgive them – moments for those who have no room to entertain the trauma that they inflict by refusing to hear others. May you be blessed as you continue to speak and live truth.
I’ve know Pastor Ted for ten years. I witnessed first hand the events in 2006. I was sad the way things were handled back then but everyone did the best they could at the time. I never understood why some religious leaders were so hateful towards him when he started St. James. People said, “He’s disqualified from ministry” or “He needs to just move away somewhere and never be heard from again.”
If every pastor confessed their sins publicly, they would all be “disqualified from ministry.”
Here’s what I know about Pastor Ted. He’s supported me in everything I’ve done. He’s endorsed me and career for years. He encouraged me through my divorce and had the courage to speak truth to me. He’s offered to step in and help out when I needed his help. He’s never spoken anything negative about me even when he had every right to.
I would say Pastor Ted is very qualified for the ministry since his actions have proven so. He’s also qualified to speak truth into our culture.
We have an epidemic of pastors and spiritual leaders that are on the brink of a nervous breakdown because of the expectations that have been put on them. Christ was all about loving people. The second greatest commandment is Love Your Neighbor. Not judge your neighbor. Not talk to your neighbor only if they go to a certain church or have the same skin color as you.
Christ was about changing people’s hearts from the inside out. That’s where authentic change occurs. That’s when people start living an authentic life full of love and grace.
Pastor Ted is challenging people to do this. To look at the scriptures and see how if we truly follow what they say, the church will become stronger.
I have to confess that I struggle with your article. It seems to me that you are using the horrible tragedies as a result to downplay your own scandal. I do not wish to believe that this is true, because that would be awful in the highest extreme, but I am not understanding why you even need to bring up your scandal in the context of these men. Are you relating to them? If so, doesn’t that defeat one of your points: that we don’t know really what they went through? Is this a hit piece against “nasty fundamentalists” and “flat Earthers”? If so, that seems really cheap and mean-spirited.
Sir, I urge you to rethink some of your words here. God bless.
Charlie, no reason for me to downplay my scandal, it was the most publicized religious scandal in history. So I don’t downplay it, I use it to learn and teach. As for provoking the Pharisees, I learned that from Jesus.
I, too, grieve at the losses that have occurred this year, and unfortunately every year. I’ve personally known four Christians who have committed suicide, one definitely battling legitimate mental health issues. What I think is important to note is that we often don’t question the foundation of the religious system we have created in the institutional Church. Much of our battle spiritually is actually not with sin but against the religious spirit, Pharisaicalism. If we recall, Jesus spoke out against this quite blatantly, reserving His harshest words for those who were religious.
Why do we assume that the Pharisees only lived during Jesus’ time? Could it be possible that what the gospels speak about in regards to the Pharisees is for all time; that people will be religious throughout history? If that’s the case, then we need to be on the lookout for something that Jesus spoke most strongly against.
I’ve learned a lot from the authors of a book called “The Life Model.” They are five Christians psychologists and therapists who have worked with people for over 25 years. They identify traumas that almost none of us would acknowledge as traumas. And for the healing of these traumas, they recommend not just therapy but true relationships in Christian community. A direct quote from them states, “Therapy can help identify Type A traumas, but it takes loving relationships for recovery. Therapy helps with the traumatizing effects of the absence of things that were needed, and loving relationships provide the essence of those things so that healing can take place (pp. 72-73).”
This is how healing took place in my heart. Actually, I didn’t really go to therapy. I was in relationship with men who knew how to love well – actually just what Jesus said. We are to prioritize love over everything else and I believe the institutional Church minimizes it and doesn’t give value to how the love of God, and one another, can bring much healing in people’s lives – legitimate healing of the emotions. We need to re-examine the foundations of our faith. If believers are killing themselves, and many more are feeling lonely and unloved, why are we not questioning the very foundation of how we do things? Would we not bring much more redemption and healing to people’s souls if we actually lived out Jesus’ call to make disciples rather than have lots of church services? I think it’s clear that church services bring little healing but true relationship brings much healing in people’s lives. It has in mine and the hundreds of people I have worked with for the past 20 years. I back my statements up with actual experience, not statistics. We CAN bring about a healthier church if we would be willing to weed out the religious spirit and live out the call of true discipleship.
Well said Brad Grammer!
Thanks, Ted. My wife has d.i.d. and as I’ve helped her heal these last 6 years, it’s changed my understanding of Christianity too…if I’m still a Christian. But I certainly understand your complaint about the church in general and it’s understanding of the gospel. I like the person I’ve had to become to help my wife heal even though I know others would judge me for doing “whatever it takes” to stay with her during the healing process.
Sam, it’s people like you that keep my faith alive. Thank you for being a true example of sacrificial love in your care for your wife. The old legalistic model of Christianity is too small and narrow for someone like you! May you find peace with God in a new and deeper way, a way that honors your soul.
Having ptsd church people laugh.just give it to God they say… diagnosed with bipolar. an evangelist spoke at my church about Mantic depression claiming there’s no such thing stop all meds he had the congregation laughing about mental illness. needless to say I quit going to church. depression and suicidal thoughts are no laughing manner. I just wonder what he would do if some of his family was diagnosed with mental illness having suicidal tendencies. the church today claims its demon possessed. God’s judgment begins with the church first. no wonder their houses are not filled. They have scattered their sheeps. then complain about church finances.
Ted Hagard’s blog post reminds me why I spent some time in an evangelical church, but ultimately moved on to seek my spiritual home elsewhere. I went to church for guidance, comfort, and strength, but each Sunday I left church feeling worse than when I went in. Instead of love, compassion, and understanding, I was met with judgment, guilt, and shame. No thanks. That’s not the Good News of Grace from the Jesus that I know. Evangelical Christian churches aren’t for me.
Wow, sorry you had such a bad experience with a church that didn’t reflect the goodness and grace of God. I experienced something very similar at a church and left only to find the most amazing group of believers who met together in a house. We weren’t perfect but there was love…the heart of the gospel. It was so refreshing and life giving and really healed my heart. Then not long after God led me back into a typical Evangelical church and taught me how to love his people wherever and whoever they were. I realized the very thing I accused them of–judgment, guilt, etc…was the thing I had in my heart towards them. When I got my own heart right I ended up having an incredible few years at this church. I would encourage you to not write off the entire Evangelical movement because of a bad experience. Not all of the churches are judgmental and controlling. The real thing exists. Blessings
[…] Ted Haggard wrote a recent blog that has gained some attention. In it he rightly calls the Church to take mental health seriously. […]
[…] Naked Pastor has a moving and perceptive piece on another moving and perceptive piece by Ted Haggard. Both are worth […]
[…] Posted: January 9, 2014 in Uncategorized 0 Travis Waits says: December 14, 2013 at 2:52 pm […]
Thank you for your honesty and sincerity…
May God Bless you and Keep you brother and may His peace fill your heart..
Ted, yes it is confirmed. You may not know it – it’s switch on / off so subtly. Anybody that has trauma, has Dissociated Identity Disorder. I can confirm with you that only Jesus Christ could heal that part of you to merge into the main person (adult self). Those few others also had traumas, I believe. Let me know if help is needed.
I loved what the Evangelical position on new creation but new creation only starts when we accepted Christ. Regeneration kicks off when we allow God but traumas prior to becoming a Christian still has DID to deals with, part by part. DID is God’s mechanism to help us to deal with pain – meant for short term measures.
[…] found an article last night written by Ted Haggard, and it was very interesting. As is usual, I found things to […]
Pastor Ted, once again you nailed this one; that was right on the mark. I appreciate you being so vulnerable, without just making excuses. I saved the email so that I can read this again. And, my wife is a Christian therapist who has seen amazing results with EMDR for trauma issues, and I quit thinking it was mumbo-jumbo after watching quite a few adults and children receive rapid help. Again, I appreciate you; wish I lived near you in the Springs again.
[…] December 14, 2013 at 2:52 pm […]
[…] [originally posted as a comment on my friend Ted Haggard's blog…] […]
[…] neo-gnosticism has repeatedly proven woefully inadequate – if not dangerous and deadly. (Even Ted Haggard agrees). What does Incarnation have to say to these things? Is it possible that in our desire to pursue […]
The Gospel is perfect. We have misrepresented it and because of that when people fail their shame drives them to absolute despair, even to the point these precious people acted out. I lay the fault at the feet of those who grasp eating from the Tree of the knowledge of Good and Evil. We have been told that produces death. When our foundation is about the war of good verses evil, our struggle is propelled by that knowledge. 2 Thess. 2:7 ‘The Mystery of Iniquity does already work.’ It’s a mystery but mysteries are not hidden from us, they are hidden for us. Rom. 9:21 states that GOD makes a vessel of honor and GOD makes a vessel of dishonor out of the same lump of clay. It’s done for His purpose. Psalm 90:3, ‘You turn men to destruction, then say return.’ The steps of a man are ordered of God. All preachers have done is preach against sin but never made an investment in understanding it. There is only one sin and that is – all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. My sin is falling short of His glory. All the other sins I do are a result of not knowing my true identity. If I fail in one, I’ve failed in all – that’s actually in the Bible.
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[…] is in a different place now. He is far humbler, and I believe wiser as well. He wrote a blog post last year that I clipped and saved because it was so instructive for me. It highlights how the […]
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I find it interesting that your always “reading my journal” of sorts. The confirmation from a voice, whether close or far, is that anointed Spirit of God in you, speaking to me and all of us where it hits home. These are subjects we are unable to face or unwilling to reach out for help due to the same responses we have also encountered in the Christian Arena. Many, many Christian leaders or pastors are unwilling to venture into topics such as this, many christian counselors will not acknowledge and it is earth shaking.
We are physical, emotional and spiritual beings, made in God’s likeness, as three in one..an one cannot be sick without effecting the other two parts. It takes full circle to find wholeness and healing.
Your experience has made you more insightful, more intuitive and more brave. That is so inspiring.
Thank you for being His Voice.
As a counselor studying to be a pastor I find often people of childhood sexual trauma turn to drugs latter in life. Also such trauma tends to affect sexual orientation. And yes brother Haggard it is not a problem that is automatically healed when a person is saved. If fact nothing (except receiving the Holy Spirit) is automatically made better. Anyone who teaches such a things is false teaching. I compare traumas to dirt you sweep under a rug. You can’t see it but it is there. It affects everything in your life as long as it is under the rug and it will stay under the rug until you pull it out and deal with it. It is this reason I chose to become a counselor in addition to being a pastor.
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that you need to publish more about this issue, it might not be a taboo subject
but typically folks don’t talk about such topics. To the next!
Write more, thats all I have to say. Literally,
it seems as though you relied on the video
to make your point. You obviously know what youre talking about, why throw away your intelligence on just posting videos to your blog when you could be giving
us something informative to read?
It’s all grace all the time or we’re all sunk!
Maybe it’s time for the priests to turn back to the Word of God. And not just half of it.
My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge. Because you have rejected knowledge, I also will reject you from being priest for Me; Because you have forgotten the law of your God, I also will forget your children. (Hosea 4:6 NKJV)
The law of God. Is not dead.
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[…] [originally posted as a comment on my good friend Ted Haggard’s blog…] […]
Thanks for sharing your heart brother Ted. My wife and I came across your ‘real’ story on the book written by your wife, “Why I Stayed”. It cleared a lot of the misconceptions I had about your ‘scandal’. May God use you to be a ‘rekindled’ fire to shine evermore for His glory!
ahhh brother Ted. The truth no matter how hard is always such a relief to the soul. Thanks
Pastor Ted I’ve struggled with these very thoughts for quite some time. What have we done to the message/mission of the One who loves us so much he died for us KNOWING we would fail and stumble and sin? WE, Believers have become so hard hearted that we refuse to accept or help the very people Jesus came for! It tears at my heart that believers who are battling suicidal ideas don’t feel safe or free to seek help among their own! Why don’t we have a ministry in every city that deals wit spirit, soul and body? Why aren’t pastors joining forces with counselors and physicians and providing a safe place for Believers to find help? I’m just thinking out loud here. May God forgive us and help us!
Dear Ted. I’m pretty sure your restoration team HAD a counselor – Dr. James Dobson has given his life to therapy and psychological health.
Once again, the ignorant speak with authority as if they know. Robert, Dr. Dobson was never on the bogus “Restoration Team” that was established only for public consumption to give the impression there was a restoration process, which there was not. But Dr. Dobson was not on that group anyway. When the Overseers released us from their contract, it was HBO and TLC that restored us, not any Christian leaders.There was never any intent, on the part of New Life Church or the Overseers that Gayle and I, or any of our children, would ever be allowed to be in ministry again. They were trapped once they made such a spectacle on the news that I was such a bad guy when my accuser failed his lie detector test, no one else claimed any physical contact with me, and I passed four lie detector tests proving the accusations were wrong. When that happened they all went into the mode of shutting us up and insuring the press would present them as Christian restorers and me as a bad guy. Typical $60,000,000 Christian scam. Robert, you bought the lie.
Thank you Ted. Words of wisdom I needed to hear.
Reblogged this on The Father's Blessing and commented:
this is powerful! thank you for writing this!
Thank you. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate that. Everything that you can do to help get the word out of the biblical message is a blessing. Thank you for being a faithful friend.
Love this Blog! So well said! Thank God for my Faith, and Thank God for you, Pastor Ted!
So much to ponder, help us Lord.
Truth! I love it! The Truth sets us free….not religion. Never did I believe I’d be a victim to a suicide or could I understand it until I went into a trance like state as I was praying for my suffering loved one and felt a huge chemical surge rush across my brain and immediately felt the worst torture, torment, hopelessness, helplessness, and despair imaginable. The whole tormenting time I was rebuking the torture and trying to get the battle under control and my mind sane again. As fast as the revelation came, it lifted, and I found myself horrified and confused. Stunned, I lovingly looked at my precious husband as he peacefully slept next to me and asked God if that was one one hundredth of what my soulmate was experiencing. I finally fell asleep only to wake up to an empty bed. He left 5 hours before his doctor’s appointment.
For 4 and a half years we sought answers through 9 practitioners and went to prayer lines and deliverance ministers to help settle the unrest my husband experienced. I’d watch him rub his head in pain as he ran down the street quoting scriptures and crying out to God for relief. Never could I understand his human suffering until I fully felt it through the revelation God gave me before my husband quietly slipped away.
Because we had been going to your church, Pastor Ted, I never felt judged by the body of believers there. Nothing but love, encouragement, compassion, and support flowed from the compassionate hearts of the believers. You and your church have been a continual source of love and strength to me as I navigate through my muddy waters of pain and sorrow. Surprisingly, I feel I have come through this painful loss stronger and more grateful than ever. I have seen God through the believers you pastor and have found much beauty in my valley. His mercies are new everyday.
I’ve learned to no longer try to control or judge the human condition, but do my best to monitor and correct my own extending much grace and forgiveness to not only myself but to others. Life is so much sweeter when we quit trying to be everyone’s Holy Spirit and just allow Him to minister to each one of us and enjoy this journey called life as we walk in God’s goodness and grace.
Thank you for being so transparent and for walking with God. I see Him much more clearly and lovingly through your perspective.
Thank you pastor haggard. I couldn’t agree with you more. Having been on the receiving end of “godly” discipline without ever being asked about the accusations against me I wholeheartedly agree. Like you, God saw us thru it all and sent us to a ministry that believes in inner healing and the affect that lies imbeded in us by the enemy very often following trauma have on us. We have come out of it with a determination to help those “shot and left to die by the church”. The way we were treated was very akin to the practice of shunning by the Amish. All in the name of Christ. We were privileged to spend two years in a body that functions like a new testament body of Christ and saw and experienced what love and restoration can do rather than “godly discipline” I believe God is raising up as army of lovers to bring the church back to HIS standards of holiness.