God confirmed Smith Wigglesworth’s ministry through powerful signs and wonders, including the creative formation of missing limbs and the disappearance of cancerous growths. His words continue to provide spiritual, financial, emotional, and physical healing as they inspire and build faith.
Graham Jeffs, a solicitor from England who is now an elder at St. James Church in Colorado Springs, attended church less than a half-mile from where Wigglesworth lived and preached. He recently gave me copies of the hand written correspondence between Smith Wigglesworth and the leaders of the Pentecostal Missionary Union (PMU) written after Wigglesworth had been accused of misconduct by two separate women at the peak of his ministry career.
After the situation became known to the leaders of the PMU, they demanded his resignation from the denomination, from ministry, and from public life. In a letter dated October 18, 1920, Wigglesworth repented, asked for mercy, and claimed that God had forgiven him. He also expresses dismay that the leaders failed to stand with him by saying of Cecil Polhill, the leader of the PMU, “I am afraid he is not the strong character I have believed him to be.” What was Polhill’s weak character to which Wigglesworth referred? Perhaps Polhill assumed a position of moral superiority and used his chain-of-command position to supersede a godly response and the respect due Wigglesworth as a fellow brother in Christ.
Two days later on October 20, 1920, Polhill responded to Wigglesworth’s “repentance”. Polhill wrote on behalf of the PMU leadership, “We do not think your statement (of repentance) I received this morning adequate” (underlined by Polhill). He continued, “In a few days I hope to send your draft of one we propose to ask you to sign. . . in any case you ought to send in your resignation to the P.M.U.” He continued, “In the event of your sending in your resignation to P.M.U., we should do our best to avoid any, in our judgment, unnecessary publicity.” Then, he used traditional church methods rather than biblical mandate by writing, “We think also that you should abstain for a prolonged season from participation in the Lord’s public work; and seek to retrieve your position before God and man, by a fairly long period of godly quiet living, so showing works meet for repentance” (underlined by Polhill).
Some speculate that we received the benefit of Smith Wigglesworth’s ministry only because the PMU did not have the ability to command attention in the press or publish their views on the internet to discredit Wigglesworth’s ministry. They certainly did what they could within their own spheres of influence, but Wigglesworth believed in the priesthood of the believer and concluded it unwise to submit to them. This serves as a warning to all of us: God chooses whom He uses, and our self-righteous judgments are typically wrong. Maybe humility, kindness, and helpfulness would be a better approach than the one Polhill took with Wigglesworth. That way, we are advocates for resurrection in the lives of others. It’s the scandal that often makes the man the person he’s always prayed to be. A church scandal seldom excludes the central figure of the scandal from the Kingdom of God. It often strengthens them in their faith walk. Just read the stories of the Bible greats.
Every time someone else sins, our response positions us in their story. We either contribute to their suffering and work with others to hurt them, or courageously stand outside the crowd and help them with their resurrection. I believe there is a time for discipline and justice, but in general, our role as Christians is to lift their burden and help them.
The next day, October 21, 1920, Wigglesworth wrote to Polhill, “The Good Hand of God is upon me & I will live it all down. . . I shall go forward deer [sic] Brother and I ask you be carfull [sic] that the Gospel is not hinderd [sic] thrue [sic] you . . . Do not truble [sic] to send any thing to sign. I signed my letter to you that [is] all” (underlined by Wigglesworth). The documents prepared by the PMU and the character Polhill displayed by his response to the scandal prompted Wigglesworth to send a hand written note dated October 21st to a recipient unknown to us saying, “He (Polhill) rules PMU and everyone else. I think he will have truble [sic] later.”
The PMU demands gave Wigglesworth opportunity to demonstrate his tenacity under fire and his faithfulness to God’s call on his life. Smith Wigglesworth resigned from the PMU, had the strength to keep Polhill from hindering his ministry by disregarding the church’s attempt to discipline and/or restore him, went to the train station to go to his next meeting, and continued doing what God asked him to do. From that time to this day, he is lauded as a pillar of godly strength.
Spoiled goods? Many today would have considered the Wigglesworth scandal, which would not have been kept quiet like it was in the 1920s, disqualifying. And his strong responses to his spiritual authorities would be interpreted as proof of his guilt and lack of repentance in the minds of many leaders in our modern church movement.
The dilemma our religious leaders face in trying to determine who should be used by God and who should not is that God uses problem people. Adam and Eve launched the human race, obeyed the devil and raised a murderer. Noah, the guy who saved all living creatures from wrath, was alone, drunk, and naked in his tent. What in the world was going on in there?! Moses worshipped foreign gods and was a murderer. Abraham often lied, Isaac did too, and Jacob was a deceitful thief. David misused his official position, committed adultery and murder, and raised insubordinate sons. Many of the prophets whose books we read today were hated and rejected by their contemporaries, for good reasons.
To keep from belaboring a well understood point, I’ll just highlight the Apostle Paul for New Testament purposes because he wrote two-thirds of it . . . he was a religious leader who murdered people of faith with whom he disagreed, for the glory of God of course. Long after Paul’s conversion experience and great success in ministry, he had a messenger of Satan tormenting him, frustrating him so greatly that he maintained that sin had an independent life in him that was not reflective of his new life in Christ. We would not accept that explanation from anyone else, but for Paul, we rationalize it. Most evangelical Bible scholars teach that he found relief before he was martyred, but that’s a theological construction, not a sure fact. We all hope it’s true, but it might not be. Regardless, we all accept that a perfect God uses imperfect people. I don’t say this to excuse any of our own sin, but it might explain how we should respond to fellow believers, even fellow leaders, who find themselves trapped in sin. No doubt, we all need to grow in personal holiness, and we will, in fact, be completely perfected when we see Jesus face-to-face. But until then, might our current Christian culture be missing the point? And, is it possible we have apathy about our most deadly sins?
1 John 5:16-17 says, “If you see a Christian brother or sister sinning in a way that does not lead to death, you should pray, and God will give that person life. But there is a sin that leads to death, and I am not saying you should pray for those who commit it. All wicked actions are sin, but not every sin leads to death.”
What is the sin that leads to death? Any sin from which we do not repent. What sin’s might those be? Sins we do not think serious.
Based on the volume of warnings Jesus had for religious leaders, it might be that religious leadership has the most significant potential for undetected sinfulness than any other group. In 2007, I had a global Christian leader visit me. He told me how blessed I was that I had dealt with the type of sin from which people repent. Then he wistfully said that his sins were the type people did not repent of, because they actually strengthened his ministry, increased his income, and increased the respect of others for his ministry. He explained that the more judgmental, loveless, critical, and dogmatic he was, the more Christian people complimented and supported him. He explained how simplistic judgments drew applause, where nuanced explanations cost him support. He said it would be the end of his ministry if he repented of his sins.
The basis of our salvation is that Christ alone is our righteousness. But since sin and self are so deceitful, how can we tell if we are self-righteous? I suggest that it is our response to another’s sin. I’ve learned that to the degree we are impressed with ourselves, we respond to another’s sin punitively. And to the degree that we are dependent upon Christ alone, we respond to another’s sin redemptively. Our responses to another’s sin reveals whether we trust in our righteousness or the righteousness of Christ. God revealed his heart in his response to our sin. We reveal our hearts every time we respond to another’s sin.
Smith Wigglesworth’s life embodies both of these ideas: the way God uses dependent but flawed people, and the way we religious leaders often miss our opportunity to model the Gospel by our response to another’s sin, thinking we are being godly. When we Christian leaders respond to another’s sin, we must choose whether to crucify the sinner or to facilitate their resurrection. It’s our response in this matter that reveals whether or not we are Christlike in our leadership.
106 replies on “Smith Wigglesworth: Disqualified?”
Self righteousness seems to be the order of the day. It is not only destroying the Church but also making the Cross of Christ of no effect. We say we are saved by GRACE and that not of OURSELVES but is a gift of God, but we practice yet another gospel. A gospel of works. I am not condoning sin, but challenging all those who dare to indirectly preach a gospel of works, to stand up and be counted and pick up the first stone. Paul said that he was the greatest of sinners and he was not joking, he really ment it. The more we find fault with other Christians the more we highlight our self righteousness. Need I say more?
I thought this was great! Keep writing!
I know Smiths great grand daughter, you must remember the era that this occurred in was a puritan era. in those days when a man called on a woman and took her on a date he was expected to marry her. So what happened is he took a lady to dinner and didn’t marry her. That is all. “misconduct”is totally different today of course .. how sad
I respect and admire bro Wigglesworth the Servant of Christ Jesus – May the holy fire of God Almighty that burned in him burn in me 1000fold in Jesus Mighty Name
I dont believe that Smith committed adultery. He was afterall, almost 60 years old at the time. This whole story sounds suspicious to me.
I’ve always respected Wigglesworth and read all I could about him. Wow, what an insight. Thanks for sharing. I appreciate your journey and willingness to share it with world.
We haven’t talked a a long, long time. But let me say, your last two blog writings have been better than excellent. Some of the most insightful writing on restoration I’ve read. I’d love to chat again sometime. Our phone visits, several years ago, remain special to me.
Wigglesworth’s only video back in the late 40’s. Life goes on after scandal. He remained faithful to God, His Word and His calling, regardless of what others thought. http://youtu.be/wSCmJ2YEDtk
know Smiths great grand daughter, you must remember the era that this occurred in was a puritan era. in those days when a man called on a woman and took her on a date he was expected to marry her. So what happened is he took a lady to dinner and didn’t marry her. That is all. “misconduct” is totally different today of course .. how sad
Wow, this was really well said. I so appreciate your thoughtful insights on this. It gives us all much to ponder. If only we could simply be known as those who fervently love. The Christian life is a love story…. or at least it should be. It’s never been about how much we sin – it is all about how much God loves. His grace truly is enough…. more than enough!
know Smiths great grand daughter, you must remember the era that this occurred in was a puritan era. in those days when a man called on a woman and took her on a date he was expected to marry her. So what happened is he took a lady to dinner and didn’t marry her. That is all. “misconduct”is totally different today of course .. how sad
ABSOLUTELY EXCELLENT LOGIC AND TRUE FAITH! Thank you pastor Ted.
I am not surprised that Wigglesworth had a slip. He was a human. Since when was perfection a requirement to serve God? I know that for many years I thought I had to be perfect just to break even. That is totally inauthentic. Most leaders operate in that thinking and keep people in shame, guilt and powerlessness. I applaud all people who get back in the saddle after a slip.
What Wigglesworth did was to deny his leadership Lordship over him. Church members are too willing to submit to every edict and word from leadership, abdicating their own path and purpose with God. They prefer to believe that the leader is God’s word instead of learning to hear God’s Voice for themselves. Too often when people stand up to their leadership they are branded as rebellious, having a spirit of Jezebel or simply mocking God, when the truth is, they are actually obeying God.
People confuse church authority to be equal with God’s authority. God is perfect and always will be. Man is fallible and always will be.
Wigglesworth understood this. I am so glad that he continued in his purpose as we have such a beautiful illustration of his life because he was clear on who his Lord was.
The blood that Jesus shed on the cross was for the forgiveness of our sins. The message of the cross is forgiveness. Unforgiveness is a sin. The New Testament mentions many times that if we do not forgive others for their tresspasses against us that our Heavenly Father will not forgive us (Matthew 6:15, Matthew 18:35 and Mark 11:26. The Lords Prayer says, “And forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” From what I can tell if we do not forgive others then our Heavenly Father won’t forgive us. Do you have to be forgiven to be in Heaven? I believe that a deadly sin is unforgiveness. It is a sin that we may not think serious or that we justify according to the worlds standards.
I’ve heard a lot about how awesome Smith Wigglesworth was but did not hear anything of this scandal.
What EXACTLY did he do with these two women. In what context was their relationship. Was he and or them married at the time.
Normally, this would be none of my business.
But, if we are to evaluate your exegesis of this matter, these questions are ALL relevant and pertinent.
I’m very sorry to hear that Smith fell into sin like that. Sexual sin is WORSE than other sin. That’s what the scripture teaches.
Furthermore, the examples you gave are not relevant to Smith Wigglesworth.
NONE of them happened to Born Again Christians.
In short you still seem VERY touchy and QUITE defensive about a matter that most of us have put away a LONG time ago. That doesn’t feel right.
Depending on the circumstances of Smith’s sexual impropriety which he apparently admitted, it might have ABSOLUTELY been in the best interests of everyone that he step down from public ministry.
What if he was engaging in sex with the teen daughters of people he was supposed to be ministering to.
Didn’t unsuspecting Christians (and the world was a lot more innocent back then) have
a right to know who they’re dealing with?
There is NOTHING “self-righteous” about wanting to know the details so as to protect
If the guy was skimming from the offering plate, is it self-righteous to warn people in the next town what he was caught (and repented of) doing?
As is the case with finances, the Bible lays out with GREAT specificity a TREMENDOUS amount of regulations with regard to the expression of our sexuality.
It is a million times more restrained than what is considered the norm in modern society.
Yet, even in our almost anything goes modern secular society, there is a Sexual Offenders List to forewarn people of potential child predators in the neighborhood. No one deems that ‘self-righteous.’
Well maybe people ON that list do.
I think you make some good points, but as you know, many of your questions we do not have the answers to. I do think there are various roles we all have. As for civil authorities, their role is to enforce the laws of our nation, states, counties, cities, etc. For civil authorities to do what they do is required and expected. Same with journalists, who have the role of informing the public about issues, and district attorneys who have a responsibility to hold people accountable. This list goes on and on, but if frames our role in the church. The church has a unique role in these issues that is nuanced and needs to be thoughtfully considered. You argue that there is a difference in behavior between those who are born-again, by modern definition, and those who are not. Research does not demonstrate that difference, with minor exceptions. But all of us do have the ability to decide what our role will be. For example, we know Satan’s role is accuser of the brethren. I don’t want that role, etc. So, in response to your note, I only have the letters between Wigglesworth and some of the leaders of his denomination. As for whether we would all be better off if Wigglesworth would have submitted like I did in 2006, we can all speculate. My experience demonstrates that church leaders publicly pretend to want restoration, but do not, in fact, have that goal in mind. I think my point in the blog, though, that we should be restorative is accurate, and my guess is that everyone involved in the Wigglesworth scandal would agree.
Yes, the task of the Church should be primarily restorative. Such a mindset could only be born out of absolute and unquestioning HUMILITY, considering OTHERS BETTER THAN OURSELVES. Why don’t we take matters off our usually judgmental hands and have the MIND OF CHRIST?
Ted, the only issue I have with your wonderful post is the emphasis you place on the word “Change Your Mind”. It seems the only spiritual way for a person to do that is with deep remorse. I know you didn’t say these things specifically, but I would ask you to consider how many times a day you change your mind and whether, biblically, those qualify as repentance?
Go to scripture for your support and forget the almighty wigglesworth or Branham or Khulman. If a leader is in long term, willful and hidden sin they need to go through a recovery period before especially being a pastor because pastor lead and counsel families and marriages. If it continues happening then people are just stupid for following a man who is out of control and has no business leading. We can’t love a leader so much that we stop protecting the followers who are being damaged! Look at bishop Earl Paulk who ended up in prison, but only after nearly a dozen innocent children were molested. What do you say, love him by letting him continue destroying lives? That is the biggest bunch of crap I have ever heard!
know Smiths great grand daughter, you must remember the era that this occurred in was a puritan era. in those days when a man called on a woman and took her on a date he was expected to marry her. So what happened is he took a lady to dinner and didn’t marry her. That is all. “misconduct”is totally different today of course .. how sad
It is clear that your own deep, heart-felt prayer and the experiences you have been through are at the core of what you are writing here – inspirational, true Gospel sharing, beautifully written. Please write more.
As a former “fallen” pastor, now restored (I know, even the term “fallen pastor” drives many of us/you in this camp nuts), who we surround ourselves with after a moral fall is crucial. For me, I had a Restoration Team (composed of four men from different churches) who believed in total restoration. They wanted to see me helped, healed and back on my feet for ministry or whatever the Lord had for me in the future. From what I’ve read and heard, some well-meaning believers in restoration do not believe in “accountability groups” …but I do if they have a biblical vision and heart for true, biblical restoration. A minister exposed in a “scandal” obviously does not need more “spiritual men” to heap more guilt, shame, judgment and condemnation as he knows he’s slipped up. Yes, yes, yes, we are all human and vulnerable to sin and yes, the Church for too long has not known how to restore a minister who has morally fallen (usually, sexual sin). Laying aside the possible “self-righteousness” of certain Christian people in these situations, there needs to be repentance which, in many situations, can be verifiable. My accountability group consisted of “advocates” and not “accusers.” I loved that they were “accountable FOR” me which caused me to trust being “accountable TO” them. Yes, I knew I was ultimately accountable to God. My problem?…as a minister of 21 years, I was broken, wounded (by my own doings), caught in guilt and shame, lost my credibility and integrity and needed TIME to re-evaluate my life: first, spiritually, then maritally, emotionally, mentally, and vocationally. My thinking was cloudy because of the trauma at the time – I needed wise, godly, loving, spiritual men to help me pick up the pieces of my broken life. “Sin and self are deceitful” and while in recovery, I needed “mature” advocates to help me through areas of brokenness that had blinded me. And yes, I am against the Church demanding a pound of flesh for the minister who has transgressed – and sometimes, even after a pound or more of flesh has been given, it is NOT ENOUGH for some believers/leaders. Moral scandals within pastoral leadership are still a very sensitive area and truly needs to be handled with love, grace, mercy, forgiveness and “sound minds.” What needs to be defined in another article is the one phrase mentioned: “I believe there is a time for discipline and justice…” When is that? Who administers this? What actions would cause this discipline? Who says when it is “time” and what qualifies them? How does anyone know if the “discipline” is adequate or biblical? So many “fallen” pastor in our nation that need restoration and recovery leading to resurrection; so few Churches and Christians willing to be an advocate.
Very well put Tom. Excellent, as usual.
Thomas- Thank you for sharing! Each person’s journey is unique in these very painful but more than redeemable situations. I truly believe that when our heart is submitted to seeking the Spirit’s direction, He will tailor-make our restoration. I say throw out the books and get on our faces and pray. There is no way I could have survived the aftermath of my failure without hearing His spirit speak to me above the accusations, judgments and the noise of my own guilt and shame. Looking back, God used every single detail of man’s response to lead me to His feet where He graciously caused me to stand back up and see myself the way He sees me.
I am thankful you had a team of men who surrounded you. And I am finding that’s more common for men. This reality is more difficult for women who have been immoral. Very few women can handle a publicly exposed immoral woman. Let’s face it, only Jesus was left with the woman who was caught in adultery. And in the end, Jesus is enough. If He is the only one covering us, we will come forth transformed.
It’s my prayer that more mature women will begin to pursue sexually broken women. I’m doing it by the sweet mercy and grace Jesus and I can tell you these women longed to be healed, restored and to walk in the dignity that Jesus died to give them.
Thanks for your insight, Kandace. I disagree however with one sentence you shared: “I say throw out the books…” Why?…some of these “restoration” books are people who have been through the fire and are merely sharing experiences and tools that helped them or didn’t help them. I agree that there is not much material for women. The PRINCIPLES of biblical restoration would apply either to men or women. There are 12-step groups and biblical accountability groups (only female) for “sexually broken women.” There is some material available so you don’t have to re-create the wheel. Broken women are being healed…the truth is out there (yes, I’m an ex-X-files fan). Be hopeful…be blessed.
You are so right Thomas and I was being a little sarcastic when I said throw out the books. I do know there are some great resources out there and I used some of them. I have written one that is being edited. What would have been better to say is, books are great but nothing compares to seeking a team of people surrounding you, praying for you and seeking God in the details of your situation.
Excellent reply. I don’t see how people could look at the Cross and be regimentally judgmental. It is certainly the task of those who are SPIRITUAL to restore such a person, for which again, the MIND of CHRIST is indispensable.
My mind constantly refers to Jesus – and who will cast the first stone?
I never had heard this part of Smith Wigglesworth’s testimony. It encourages me because God did use him so mightily. He’s not done with any of us.
It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the church when one has been judged to have fallen. I always loved David because he was so human in his weaknesses, and he went to God not to man in his restoration process, just as Wigglesworth appears to have done. He had a wise prophet to guide him instead of some self-righteous prigs who purport to lead the churches/religious establishments of the day. Thanks for such insightful sharing.
Throughout the ages, members of the church body have deemed it necessary to demonstrate their spiritual gift of “judgement”. Apparently condemnation is a perceived form of aid and love that should bring about healing and restoration. Is it the task of the church to determine the heart of the sinner? Your enlightening blog helps us to answer this age old question.
I certainly agree that a repentant person should be welcomed and even encouraged to come back into fellowship at the local church. A couple of common sense exceptions: someone who took advantage of children or defrauded people should also be welcomed back but should be watched a little closer for the protection of the weak. But, the Bible also has a higher standard for elders and teachers: 1 Timothy chapter 3 and Titus reflect that such leaders need to be blameless. Not sure what that means. But it does seem that those leaders guilty of a sexual sin should step down from leadership for a time?
Can we categorise or comparmentalize sin into various categories? Jesus asked Mathew to follow him – not after getting someone to watch him for some time. He then went out and called two fisherman and then another two. Here again, they were not observed for some time. The list goes on and on. I think the greatest problem in the Church of today is that she does not or refuses to have the mind of Christ as seen in Phil. 2:5″
Of course we can’t compartmentalize sin. Sin is sin. But, the bible is very clear that elders and teachers have certain qualifications. Do you ignore those biblical qualifications for elders and teachers? I think there is a restoration process even for elders and teachers. And I am not sure the Bible gives a clear direction for that process. To be blunt, there appears to be a clear process for church members: (1) go quietly one on one to brother who sins, (2)if that doesn’t work take several(3) if that doesn’t work then entire church confronts. (4) if that doesn’t work then expel them from the church. But if at any point they repent they should be welcomed back into the church. But, none of this process overrides the qualifications for teachers and elders. That is different verses and a different issue. I don’t know the answer but would like to see a scriptural response to what the process should be to restoring a teacher or elder who failed to live up to the clear biblical qualifications.
I agree,with you that such a person should be restored back to fellowship, but request is made to those who are spiritual and not to those who are judgmental. The unfortunatemthingmhowevermis that there would be so much slander gossip and distortion in the real,story that such a person might never want to talk to some of our present day religious hypocrites. Does anyone have any information how this was practiced in the NT church. Yes, the Biblical approach is to go to that person etc…..but on the other hand how was t his practiced if at all in the NT Church. Oh may more and more Christians experience the liberating force of love.
This truly opened my eyes to what I have been denying for quite some time: Great men and women of God fail! To me, Wigglesworth was untouchable. I have read all his books and books written about him, and never knew that this “scandal” existed. I have seen so many great men and women of God fall lately, as well as the church as a whole behave ugly, and quite frankly, this has really discouraged me. I know the Word, we all fall short of the glory of God because of our sin. Restoration was and is important, when done properly. In the case of Ted Haggard, I disagree with how it was handled, and what he and his family were forced to endure from “the church” was not in any way Christlike. That is my humble opinion. Our problem as Christians is that we see these men and women of God on television, or on a large platform and place them on a pedestal that they should not be on! They are regular people too who struggle with the same temptations any of us struggle with. Some give in to those temptations, others don’t. However, when the “sin” is made public for all to scrutinize and judge rather than handled in a biblical manner, opinions and prejudices seem justified. What happened to Haggard, Wigglesworth and any other man or women of God is simple, it’s called being human. We are not God and we cannot expect perfection from anyone other than Him. Again, the problem is we do expect perfection and when failure comes forgiveness seems so distant—as if there are many steps involved in order to be restored? When Christ forgave, it was because of the heart of the person turning from sin in order to go a different direction. He told the woman at the well to go and sin no more, not go and get some serious counseling, don’t ever talk to your friends again-cause I said so, move out of town, you’re done-God can’t use you anymore! No, not the Jesus I serve. Do we really think Wigglesworth did not know right from wrong, did not know that sin was sin?? Of course he knew, and when he genuinely repented, restoration should be inevitable, not determined by a board of people who will see what type of punishment should be endured. That has been paid at the Cross, my how quickly we forget.
Yes and I am in smiths great grandsons church and I was punished in a similar fashion, for what I still do not know. Persecution is promised so we must learn to deal with it even if its in the church.
Brilliant and most CLEAR… Thank you for sharing this great story. I have never heard about it, although I heard a lot about Wigglesworth. I have little to gain in rehashing the past actions I was subjected to by my brothers when I committed adultery but I do wonder, every once in a while, what would have happened if instead of erasing me from their books they would have all come together and owned my fall and recovery…
This was very encouraging because I know I am not perfect, and knowing that God still works with me regardless of my shortcomings encourages me to seek His grace all the more.
Not advocating sin, Christ died our sins, but what this thought does is to encourage me to not wallow in defeat but to more boldly seek the grace that builds me up and in doing so leads me away from sin.
We all have fallen short of the Glory of God
This was a very interesting letter. I’m not sure I understood it the way you did Pastor Ted, but I am not aware of all the pieces to this puzzle as well. Wigglesworth’s response appeared to me at least in some respects as rebellious! Perhaps not rebellious to the Lord but to the system under which he was serving. Obviously, the Lord used this man awesomely despite his error.
We all mess up at times…never the less, we should not allow our failings to define us, but rather to help us see the error of our ways where we repent, get back up and move on stronger than we ever were before! Obviously, I am not advocating screwing up in a HUGE way just so we can come back stronger! But, if we do God will often turn that error around for His glory by what we learn and the compassion/mercy we are shown is multiplied to others because it was shown to us.
I’m glad that you took the time you needed to be restored and now you are better than ever before! It is interesting how we, at times, when we go through some difficult times how the Lord restores our faith and compassion for others…It seems we often learn how to respond to difficult situations with others by going through them in our own lives!.
Where mercy is shown to us…we then in turn give mercy to others! That is what I am seeing in your life & ministry. Some would love to disqualify you & your ministry! NOT me…I think God has restored you to something better and more powerful than ever before!
For some reason people are overlooking a responsibility that is frequently mentioned in scripture. The idea of leaders being held to a higher standard does not exist just with regard to the one who has fallen, it is also to be applied by the leadership surrounding that individual in need of restoration!
The idea is to restore gently so the individal does not fall into such sorrow that they give up. Sexual sin is not the worst sin and the Bible does not make reference to it being so. Sexual sin is a sin against the body. Our bodies are engineered to remember experiences so when we involve ourselves in sin involving our body (sex, drugs, alcohol, over eating, any addictions including anger depression etc), our bodies remember this and it is more difficult to overcome. (but not impossible). As some would say, “God will forgive you but biology wont.”. Again, not to say it is impossible, but our loving Father wants to protect us from having to go through any type of bodily sin because it can be so challenging to overcome.
So having said that, our leaders do have a huge responsibilty as the Bible points out because we rely on them to properly manage these difficult situations. If they fail to act like leaders and restore then they failed to uphold the very standard they are bound to. Leaders like any other person will fail, that is why we should expect those leaders who have not fallen to exercise the Biblical requirements through the restoration model outlined in Scripture.
We have these principles in place for a reason. God saw that everyone would continue to fall including the leaders (don’t forget we can’t apply the OT priesthood rules where if a priest sinned he couldn’t enter the temple), but rather through the atonement of Christ, sin has already been forgiven and for all of us who fall, we have in place a plan, though healthy people (including leaders) who hopefully understand the standard they are held to, and will “gently restore us.” So we can continue to serve the Lord and show the world that to be a Christian is to be RESTORED to God and His plan for you. Otherwise we are known as one of many judgmental social groups that believes there are limits to serving God and limits to how it’s members will celebrate your victories or celebrate your fall.
This was a curious story about Wigglesworth. My response is my opinion and should not be taken as personal judgment. I am not a believer in the Pentecostal doctrine so I pretty much dismiss some of the outlandish claims that are written about Wigglesworth’s life and ministry theatrics that are still embellished today for profit.
This blog is another typical one about scandals in ministry of which there are many. Blogging about soap opera scandals is an easy thing to do because it plays on emotions.
Speaking of soap, I will get off my soap box and go back to the issue at hand. There is not much written about the Wigglesworth scandal, therefore, it presents us with a dilemma. That quandary dictates that the Wigglesworth sexual scandal is not objective enough to present as an argument for or against the outcome of the life of one who is accused of improper conduct.
As eluded to in the blog, we hear about many preachers and ministers today who have been accused of committing fraud, sexual misconduct, deceit, and worse. This is because we live in an information age. Since the mid 1800’s ministers and preachers in America have always been accused and have committed these acts. The answer for this will never be found in blogging about these things. The answer for the questions being raised in these types of blogs can only be found at the root of why people commit these actions. By actions, I mean both misconduct by a person in a prominent role and false accusations against a person in an influential role. These activities are not limited to ministers and preachers but to the whole human race.
I believe a person must be responsible for their actions and endure the fallout from them. This is a spiritual law in the physical world. I also think that trying to justify allegations only makes a person seem guiltier.
American Christianity in today’s world is a sick institution. Within that institution, people compete and fight over doctrine as if it were the end all. Fear is used and weak doctrines like the rapture and tribulation are used to reinforce those fears. Within Christianity, we find preachers who get rich by committing fraud. We see faith healers (maybe like Wigglesworth) using scam techniques to make it appear they have healed people. It is estimated faith healers indirectly cause the death of over 100,000 people annually because of a false sense of healing. We see evangelists and preachers who lie. We have Christian organizations who do not publically account for their funds (Ted you post yours, which speaks well of you). We find preachers who teach doctrines that are not universally true. We find those who preach about wealth while robbing their followers of millions of dollars. The International Bulletin of Missionary Research estimates church leaders commit over 40 BILLION in financial fraud each year. We have preachers, ministers and church leaders who have both a “for-profit” corporation and a “non-profit” ministry corporation that is used to peddle books, CD’s, and other cheap imitations of ministry so the person can receive royalties on the merchandise. In other words, the non-profit buys these goods in the name of the ministry and gives them away when a person donates money to the ministry but a high percentage of that donation goes to pay the royalties to the fraudulent ministry. Sexual scandal is mild compared to financial fraud. Getting away with fraud that actually breaks the law, deceives one into thinking they can get away with anything, including sexual misconduct. It is funny how the serious fraud is never an issue and it is the sexual misconduct that gets them. At the root of Christian scandal lies greed, power and psychological pathology of denial leading to self-justification.
With this in mind, it is no wonder people falsely accuse those in authority of misconduct. Simply put American people do not trust people in high positions. A good majority of those people have not earned trust as seen in their actions. On the other hand, a good majority of Americans follow anybody who claims to be a preacher thus allowing the fraud to continue and the misconduct to go unnoticed for the most part.
The issue that is being addressed in this blog has nothing to do with sin and resurrection or restoration. It has to do with deceit both from the ministry and the people who are out to bring down all ministries because of a sick institution we have embraced as the church. In the case of ministers that are frauds (this includes hidden sexual activities, as well as financial fraud or preaching on thing and living another) they should be exposed and stopped. Society did not let Bernie Madoff get away with it. Why? Simple because Bernie destroyed the lives of the people. Minister, preachers and people in authority also have the capability to destroy lives. However, everybody is afraid to question anyone who claims to be a minister and teaches about God. Those ministers who have adopted this type of lifestyle have no other means of income so they fight and cover up to protect their profession (not calling) out of a sense of self-preservation. Therefore, the banter about fallen ministers and restoration will go on until it burns itself or people get sick of hearing it.
To all those ministers and people in authority who have been wrongfully destroyed and have gone on, I rejoice with you. To all those ministers and people in authority who are living a lie I have no problem saying you should step down.
Great answer much of which I totally agree with. Regarding healing, there are cases of genuine verified healing, but these are absolutely rare and far between.
I would agree with the cases of verified healing. I do not deny that happens, Thanks for the reply.
This is a very good blog and I would add only one thing: I hate the word “condone”. I wish it was entirely removed from the dictionary. As soon as anyone takes upon him/herself to restore someone trapped in sin, he/she will inevitably be accused of “condoning” that sin. This, of course, assumes that by my actions of either healing a falling person or accusing the sinner, I have the right to judge the sin. Only God has this right! We are ALL sinners and fall short of God’s glory. Jesus did not “condone” adultery when he was confronted with a women caught in it. He made it a point that He wanted to restore a sense of worth and dignity to that woman. We would do well to do the same.
You are right Edward, it is a very good blog, and I am grateful to Ted for kick starting the subject. I am learning so much from this sequence.
There is a very fine line that keep assumption and judgement apart – all too often it is crossed and the consequences are dire. I go back to an earlier response, let he who is without sin cast the first stone.
Jesus’ Mother teaches us a great lesson about ‘pondering’ what is said and what is heard, ( not always the same thing ), to reflect with care before jumping to conclusions and then to judgement, right or wrong.
If only we Christians were to do more listening and reflecting, ( with out mouths shut ), I feel the Church as whole and the rest of the World would be in a much better place.
Thanks for some amazing Spirit driven reflections here.
Sorry, that should have read, ‘our’ mouths shut. A slip of the typing.
Ted’s been kick starting the subject for some time now. It is time to move on. This topic is getting old and stagnate. I agree with the rest of your points.
Walt, you said: “Ted’s been kick starting the subject for some time now. It is time to move on. This topic is getting old and stagnate.” I wrote a workbook called “The Restoration Manual” about 15 years ago – and unfortunately, it is still selling quite well. Meaning, “this topic” is not “old and stagnate” but very fresh on the hearts of many congregations in this land and is STILL uncharted territory for the majority of church and denominational leaders. If this subject at hand is becoming “old and stagnate” then why are so many Christians in authority still scratching their heads as to what to do and how to proceed with a “fallen religious leader?” After 20 years of working with “fallen pastors” and church or denominational leaders, I can attest to the fact that most of them (I’d like to say “all” but some may interpret that as an exaggeration) do not understand biblical restoration nor do some of them want to apply the heart of Christ to the repentant minister. It’s very possible that Pastor Ted wants to repeat and reiterate this message until it sinks into the heart of the Church. No more Ash Heap mentality!…let’s reclaim what the devil has stolen from the Body of Believers!
Thomas, I think your responses are perfectly correct. I am not sure why Walt makes a distinction between leaders and congregations – both are the Church. It is very clear in the Gospels that Jesus was opposed to such distinctions – all are one.
Thomas I appreciate you reply and the points you made. I also see from a former post of yours you have experienced what is being talked about. You have more experience than I do on both sides of the fence. I was an engineer turned theologian and psychologist for a while after earning my PhD’s in both and dealt with many pastors who were caught up in “the preach one way live another way life-style.” This ranged from financial fraud to sexual misconduct. Most was of a sexual nature. I have a different opinion than you but I am not saying I am right and you are wrong.
Yes all the ministers I dealt with were hurt when caught and exposed. Yes all did not want the public and their families to know. Yes all had no other form of training for employment. Yes all wanted the church to let them keep going. All of them were addicted in one form or another to their behavior.
Biblical restoration of ministers is subjective and I would say without looking at the problem from a high level psychological approach 100% who are involved in restoration do not understand it or what makes a person want to share God on one hand and live a different life on the other. Biblical restoration of ministers is vague and like most doctrines the church comes out with, this topic can be manipulated to match an outcome. Thus, I think it is old and stale. Personal restoration by a “fallen” pastor (your words) and God is always legitimate.
Where we disagree is that I believe the message Ted is putting out should be geared at ministers, pastors and church leaders and not the church itself. And, that the devil has not stolen anything. That thinking is also old and stale and the devil is used as an excuse. We need to be, as you said listening and saying, pastors, ministers, take you job seriously and make the right choices. Get professional church independent psychological help before you damage and victimize the church congregation. The church congregation is the victim in these issues, not the cause and the devil did not make a person act on an impulse or out of self chosen addiction.
I do think, however, that Ted has done a great job dealing with the issue he had to face. I respect him for that. And, I agree with his message of acceptance.
I had a Restoration Team composed only of four ministers from other churches and one layman with the Navigators. I had gone to several good Christian counselors, psychologists, and even a psychiatrist (for depression medication), and I am sorry to say that I gained nothing from thousands of dollars spent with these “professionals.” I profited the most from my peers, who understood sexual temptation and failure and had a heart to see me restored and rebuilt. As a result of my two-year “Free” sessions and time (usually 1 1/2 hours) with these spiritually mature and self-sacrificing men, I compiled a workbook of all my experiences and the content we accomplished in these sessions. Look it up on Amazon.com – it’s called “The Restoration Manual: A Workbook for Restoring Fallen Ministers and Religious Leaders.” The counseling/psychological aspect of restoration is only one small slice of the rebuilding pie. I’m not sure I understood you correctly but it sounded like you were saying that the professional counseling was the most vital and needed in the process. Instead of analyzing my poor potty training as a kid or parental abandonment feelings, my Restoration Team cried with me, shared similar struggles and temptations, helped me financially (when I was out of work), and my host Restoration Church permitted/encouraged me to be on the Worship Team. Yes, the congregation is hurt – the issue for me is that LEADERS in the church don’t know how, to this day, how to handle a pastor who has fallen. Old and stagnant?…do most Elders (or Deacons) know what to do should a scandal develop? Do the Associate Pastors know what to do? Do most denominational leaders in their Ivory Tower know what to do? (From experience…no. For over 15 years I’ve talked to heads of denominations, mega-churches, small churches and their Elder Board and they are totally in the dark.) Psychological insight and therapy brought me some intellectual insight didn’t bring me spiritual healing – the love of godly men and the love and reception of a godly congregation and the love/forgiveness of my wife and family helped bring healing and RESTORATION!
@graywills This issue at hand has nothing to do with the Bible. It has everything to do with the morality we expect in this country and the civil laws we have in place. The betrayal of people in a position in power against those who blindly look up to them is a crime. There is a major difference. It is sad to see God being used as an excuse to justify those betrayals of abuse.
Walt, I am not sure how one can leave the Bible out of a Christian discussion.
@Thomas Pedigo I want you to know I loved your reply. It has a sincere note to it. I am not arguing with you at all. Nor, do I place any judgment on anybody for God knows that in some areas of my life, I am guilty like all humanity. In fact I can only assume what you went through but can never know your struggle. I also agree with you that most Christian leaders in their ivory towers neither know nor care about the real issues of life that you endured. That is partially why you had to deal with your choices. With that thought I will reply, hopefully in a loving spirit to you. I do enjoy the interaction without judgment.
When I was a pastor I was tempted as well. I was in an abusive relationship (yes wives can be mentally abusive). I did not give in so the only thing I can relate to you about is the temptation.
Frankly, I feel a lot of Christian belief is based on emotion and not fact. Once a belief becomes proven it is no longer a belief. It is now knowledge. I was warned both in the Psychology program and the Theological program that people like to control people in power. And, that giving into that was a crime and an abuse of power.
I took that seriously. I have researched that thesis for the last 20 years. It is indeed a fact. Even now that I am a officer in a leading engineering consulting firm I find that to be true. People like to control people with power. People in power like the attention and that can influence their decisions. That is called “the fulfilling of the fantasizing that humans are inclined to do.” Jesus was a great humanitarian who understood the struggles of life. There should be no sin or embarrassment in the fact that our mind brings up these things. That is the way were are wired and has nothing to do with good and evil. Our behaviors based on this fact is what we need to and through grace have the power to control.
As far as your use of the word fallen, I would not ever consider you or anyone fallen. That is far too harsh and far too common. As far as a restoration team, my background tells me there is nobody really qualified to serve in that role, except for God. The one thing I know about people is that we all have secrets that we do not share. That is human nature and God’s grace is the answer. I would bet that some on your restoration team was hiding something but acting like they were full of grace and righteousness.
Forgive me for saying this. My experience tells me that professing Christians are too afraid to admit to being human. Counseling sessions only work when one is willing to see themselves as human without the influence of Christian belief.
I would never trust a restoration team. It seems to have worked for you. But, my training and experience tells me (forgive me for being blunt) that you still have not forgiven yourself. You are correct in assuming I meant that professional counseling was the most vital and needed in the process. Emotions and even tears do not heal nor do they tell the truth all the time. That is the problem with Christianity. It is based on belief that has its foundation in emotion and not proven truth. Professional (not Christian) counseling tells someone the truth about their responsibility and betrayals. Christianity deals with emotions. Emotions are not always true.
To that point I will close with my story. I stayed in an abusive mentally abusive relationship from the age of 20 to the age of 50. My wife insisted on her own bedroom. Our sex life did not exist. She yelled at me and accused me of many things that were not true. I stayed in the marriage because of the misguided teachings of the church on family. In the ministry, I had dozens of opportunities to escape from this hell and have sexual relationships with beautiful and strong women. This was not because of my looks but because of my position.
As much as that seemed right and fair to me, I refused because I made a commitment to the people I served, let alone God. I finally realized that living this kind of a life was a lie. I was unhappy, unsatisfied, and unfulfilled. Instead of “falling” I confronted these issues head on. That decision came from “professional” counseling and training (really the science of human nature) and not the emotion of religion. If I relied on Christian teachings I would have failed for religious teaching are founded in belief and not proven truth.
I asked my wife to go to counseling with me. I had 4 years of counseling to figure out my feelings and the counseling was not about “analyzing my poor potty training as a kid or parental abandonment feelings.” That is a myth the Christian church preaches about professional counseling and it is a stale argument from a closed minded community.
She refused. My situation was to stay and suffer or face the truth and get out. I decided to follow the truth. I got out and kept my integrity. When Christian teachings interferes with integrity, it becomes an idol that is worshiped.
My point is simply I restored myself by staying true to the truth and not acting on emotional escape but rather acting on the truth despite the teachings of a flawed church.
Not everyone gets this because they are too afraid to question the church and its teachings. I am now very happy, married to a wonderful woman and no longer face the temptations I did when I was living a lie. I place no value in the forgiveness of people including wives and family. Value is only found in facing the truth and acting on it thus allowing God’s grace to heal from the past hurts and voids.
In that sense, I cannot understand what you went through as You consider your self “fallen.” I do rejoice with you that you at least fell good about where you are. I, however, refuse to use grace as an excuse to give in. I see grace as the power to face the truth about life.
I wish you peace and happiness.
Thank you for being vulnerable, transparent and sharing your story. However, here is my biblical quandary with some of your sentiments about “restoration teams” or “professing Christians” and not trusting them: the Body of Christ. Much of the New Testament is based on the fellowship and interaction of believers ministering to and encouraging one another. “Just seeking after God” or going-it-alone is a form of isolation, at least to me. The Lone Ranger mentality is…well, lonely and I believe unbiblical. We need one another! I think that’s what Ted’s article was all about: true, biblical, Spirit-filled, mature believers lifting one another up with Christ’s heart of love and restoration. The Body of Christ – Jesus is coming for His Bride that will be without spot or wrinkle. May you find those “unwrinkled saints.”
@graywills I understand where that response came from. I certainly see why you asked it. The Bible is subjective in interpretation. Life is objective. By that I mean, the Bible is unproven, the actions and nature of human life has been studied and observed making it a known factor. I make the Bible say what I want it to say. I can use it to justify my belief, my actions, my faults, and my betrayals. The science of observing human behavior cannot be manipulated. Christianity is not about the Bible so much as the universal truth of human nature. The Bible is full of flaws and was subject to human intervention in its canonization. We have know proof that what it contains is total correct to humanity. It is but a poorly written map that leads us into a relationship with a living God. To claim it as absolute truth is to engage in idolatry. Each person’s relationship with God is unique. For this topic, the Bible is silent and does not present answers outside personal opinion and interpretation. The science of human behavior tells us more truth. All truth is God’s truth and the truth did not stop with the Bible. It evolved by grace. I have no problem speaking on this subject with or without the Bible. I could justify murder with the words of the Bible. The Bible does not make something “Christian” that is the mistake of fundamentalist and evangelical believers. That is what is killing the name of God in today’s world. People trust the Bible over a relationship with God. The Golden Calf is still being built and worshiped. All idols, including the Bible pervert truth.
Thomas, I value you words from your latest response. I do not disagree with your statements on the body of Christ. I do think we have different personalities and experiences, however. There is no question that I need people. I find God in most all people that I encounter as well as my family and friends. Some of these people do not even know that they have a God quality about them. Sometimes I tell them and they looked confused. A lot of my friends do not even consider God or Christianity. Some don’t believe. I have a very hard time with believers and church goers and find that when I am with them I feel isolated from the world in which I have been called to live, work and witness in. As you probably know, after reading my posts, my theology is a little different than most and takes into account the science of human nature and not just spiritual things. I believe all life is precious. I do have two good minister friends who provide me with conversations and the love of Jesus when I need it from time to time though they are miles away. I really do not go it alone. I just trust my understanding and my relationship with God and am at piece with that. Frankly, I find the body too judgmental. On that point I will stop after saying, I think I am saying the same thing as you and Ted, only in a different way and from a different point of view.
Walt: The prophets, the patriarchs and matriarchs of the OT, their theology was a lot different from the run of the mill of the day. You are not alone!
You need to find a better church or bunch of believers. In fact, you need a “no stones thrown” congregation and a “non-judgmental” church like Pastor Ted pastors at Saint James in Colorado Springs. Perhaps then you’d have a better report and testimony as to how the true “Body of Christ” should live and operate.
Or, get to work on the ‘bunch’ you worship with. No matter how harsh they are, they are your brothers and sisters in Christ. Though I guess too, ‘a prophet is not welcome in his own territory’.
Huh?…I’m not sure I understand your response, Gray. Pastor Haggard’s frustration has been with Christians who do not understand or are unable to apply biblical restoration. However, he is presently pastoring a 3-year-old-plus church plant called Saint James. These are a “bunch” of people (several hundred plus) who believe in and practice: love, grace, mercy, restoration, nonjudgmentalism, forgiveness and second chances. You need a good dose of New Testament believers embracing you and loving on you.
Sorry Thomas, I thought I was responding well to Walt’s dilemma. As for the good dosage you prescribe – thank you, already taking the medicine, every day, and pretty well versed, I hope. God speed friend.
First I would like to say thank you for all the replies to my post. Though I disagree with some, I feel love from all of them. It has been a long time since I have felt that.
Second, I want to say I feel Ted Haggard despite all the scandal he has been through is a safe person to be transparent with. Ted has been through the mill and has learned a lot. Thank you Ted. Ted you know that God’s love is the ultimate in restoration. Nothing else from anybody matters.
Third I will be honest. As uch as I have grown to love the comments and communications from Graywills and Thomas and as much as I feel you two are honest, love God and have extended love to me; I have my own opinions. Graywills, your comment on how about being different really gave me strength and hope. These responses have given me new perspective on people who love God and are in the Body of Christ. Though I disagree with some of your opinions (not all) I have felt loved for the first time in a long time by the Body of Jesus the Christ. Thomas I really felt challenged by your responses. Even though we differ in believe we Have thing in common, The love of God and that applies to Graywells as well.
This discussion has been great and has given me even more assurance of “God in me:” as well as you both though we all have different beliefs. We all need grace and mercy. Grace and mercy is different for each person. That is the highest compliment and worship I can give to a living God. Though we each have different paths, those paths all lead to the same place. How great does that make God? I think it makes God personal.
Love you all,
Walt, yes we may have our differences, (my Father’s house has many mansions), but if we are true brothers and sisters – children of God – then we love each other, unreservedly. Isn’t that the nub of the Gospel message, and Jesus’ command? I appreciate all you have written. Go well brother – know that you are loved.
Great reply. Yes only God has the right to judge as we do not really know the circumstances or psychology involved. Also when someone is caught in a fault ( not just accused of a fault) it is the duty of those that are SPIRITUAL and not those who are JUDGMENTAL, to GENTLY restore such a person. Only the person who has the MIND of CHRIST as seen in Phil 2:5 could do this or the person could be torn into shreds by judgmental vultures, who are waiting to throw not one stone, but many. Oh that the present day Church will seek the MIND of CHRIST.
The key to accepting anyone into fellowship is Repentance. The word tells us that a broken and contrite spirit God will not turn away.
Repentance confronts the sin as it is, while Gods love forgives the offense.
The problem I see in the body and in the replies is a false love. A love without truth. Truth without love is tragic, but Love without the truth is, compassion wrapped around a lie.
How about holding one accountable with the unity of the Spirit and the Love of Christ.
Even Jesus called Peter, Satan, when Peter was in that spirit.
Acceptance in the Christian sense is unconditional. Acceptance is something that leads to repentance and not a requirement of for being accepted. Repentance is too vague to consider it as a condition for acceptance. Only God knows the heart.
know Smiths great grand daughter, you must remember the era that this occurred in was a puritan era. in those days when a man called on a woman and took her on a date he was expected to marry her. So what happened is he took a lady to dinner and didn’t marry her. That is all. “misconduct”is totally different today of course .. how sad
Prayers, blessings and love to you and the family!
Thank you for your blog and insight. Salvation is a gift from God! We did (and do) nothing to deserve Salvation. In John 6, the people asked Jesus what they could do to do the works of God. Jesus responded that they must believe on the One who God sent into the world. Paul echos this when he writes to Titus (Chp 3:5), “He saved us, not because of works that we have done, but in virtue of His Own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal in the Holy Spirit.” John says (Chp 1:11-12), “He came to his own people, but they did not reveive Him. But to everyone who received Him, He gave the right to become Children of God, even those who believe in His Name.”
Again, John says in his first letter (Chp 1:9), “If we confess our sins to Him, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sin and cleanse us from all sin.”
John tells us the story of the woman caught in adultery (Chp 8). Whereas the religious people of the day wanted to stone her, Jesus forgave her and thus freed her from her sin. (I often wonder why these religious people did not bring the man who was caught w her to Jesus?) Jesus came to forgive sin (Jn 3:17), not to condemn us in our sin. He came to break the chains of sin and death (Isa 61), and free us by His Spirit into a New Life . James says in his letter (James 6) that if someone is caught in a sin, it is the elder’s (and our) responsibilty to restore such a person in a spirit of gentleness. I hope we as a church can do better by listening to Jesus rather than how religious people want to treat sinners. The only people that Jesus got mad at were the self-righteous. As a new believer, 44 years ago, I found a great way to get deliever from habitual sin: Keep bring it to Jesus! I kept confessing my lust and trusting Jesus to save and deliver me! One day I must have confessed my sin of lust 20 times to Jesus. As I kept drawing near to God; He kept drawing near to me. In His Presence, I found joy and life and over weeks I began to find freedom from my habitual sin. No, I have not reached perfection, but I know who has saved me and I daily access the Grace that He gives allowing me to walk a Christ-Centered life.
Ted, I know that you repented of your public sin in November of 2006. I am glad that you did what you could to follow the leadership of the elders who you were under during your season of restorstion in Arizona. It was hard, but God saw fit to call you back to Colorado Springs in ministry in 2008, as Gayle recounts in her book (Why I Stayed p.272-273). God told you 3 times that He called you to ministry in Colorado Springs and neither sin, man’s authority, or even you do not have the authority to remove that call from your life.
I am glad that you obeyed God and began to put yourself in a posture of obedience to the Word of the Lord. I know it has taken faith to walk out what God spoke to you. I am grateful that you obeyed The Lord. These last 4 years attending St. James Church have been a blessing in my life and ministry in missions.
Blessings, your friend, David
Well put David. A man is surely fortunate to have a friend such as you. We all too often feel we are in charge of this life. We forget, if something is right, God, He will do it.
Good word Brother Ted!!
I don’t print many things these days, but this one I am. What is the sin that leads to death question is a good one to ponder. There are many schools of thought on this. God chooses whom he uses is another statement worth rethinking when it comes to sin issues. Thank you for this post!
Yes. If anything we should put even more faith in those servants of our lord who have fallen to sin. it shows their humanity, and i would be more trusting of a “sinner” than a person claiming to have never sinned. How many times a person sins or the severity of the sin is not the question, why our lord is choosing these people to lead us is.
“why our lord is choosing these people to lead us is” Just how often do we ask this? So many times I hear people rant and rave about their church leaders, ( usually the same people who do absolutely nothing to support them ), but they never ask, ‘why has X or Y been given, by God, the opportunity to exercise their ministry amongst us? There is, whether their ministry is good or bad, always a reason they are there. Love and support your pastor, your minister, your priest – no matter what.
When Pastor Ted H was put in a difficult place it was interesting to read about those who approached him with love – the Love – and to read also the almost unbelievable stuff, ( I nearly used much stronger language ), that others said.
If there is one aspect of all the above comments that, for me, matters most it is this, love your pastor.
Thank you, Ted, for your statement of ‘forgiveness’. Who do men think they are that they should even try to ‘judge’ another man’s repentance? I thank God that He is not like man, and that His love is perfect, and Everlasting.
I agree with your blog on wigglesworth mans idea of God. it is like being back in day Jesus walked the earth , and the religious leaders were constantly looking for Him to make a mistake because they didn’t have eyes to see nor ears to hear.
my daughter said the other day and we’re driving. Do you see that Hawk up there there was about three little birds pecking at him in the sky. She said see each small bird taking turns pecking at the hawk. That must be what it’s like for you mom. she is right the majority of the people around me right now that’s all they do. Doesn’t matter how nice you are humble you are repentance you are. Nothing is ever enough. at times like this I can really appreciate God’s mercy even on them. we all should take heed of being careful of self-righteousness wise her own eyes. because it’ll hurt a lot of people along the way a lot of people! Teri 🙁
Ted! Good work my friend. Keep it up!
“The dilemma our religious leaders face in trying to determine who should be used by God and who should not is that God uses problem people.”
Personally I would say their dilemma is that it’s God’s choice who He uses, not church leaders!
” When we Christian leaders respond to another’s sin, we must choose whether to crucify the sinner or to facilitate their resurrection. It’s our response in this matter that reveals whether or not we are Christlike in our leadership.”
Again we don’t choose to “crucify” (church leaders don’t either), Providing we truly find sinful actions our first choice is always to facilitate “resurrection”. If and when one refuses to turn from their sinful ways we need to continue loving them even if we ask them to leave our church and should continue to pray for their understanding, change and return, not crucifixion….If and when they do come back, changed, we should welcome them back as a shepherd would a lost lamb!
This the second to last paragraph is well worth the read and deserves to be dwelled on!
“The basis of our salvation is that Christ alone is our righteousness. But since sin and self are so deceitful, how can we tell if we are self-righteous? I suggest that it is our response to another’s sin. I’ve learned that to the degree we are impressed with ourselves, we respond to another’s sin punitively. And to the degree that we are dependent upon Christ alone, we respond to another’s sin redemptively. Our responses to another’s sin reveals whether we trust in our righteousness or the righteousness of Christ. God revealed his heart in his response to our sin. We reveal our hearts every time we respond to another’s sin.”
I agree entirely Rick, and more so – like the Prodigal Son’s father, we should run down the road to meet, greet, and welcome back the Lost Lamb, not wait until he or she slinks head bowed into the back row of pews, hoping not to be seen.
Sanctification comes from vigorous fellowship as well as lavish grace and mercy.
Why doesn’t anyone know what it was that Brother Wigglesworth did? It wasn’t fornicating or adultery because I have digital copies of those same letters and he remarks that they were treating him like he’d committed adultery. Just curious if someone else had an old letter stating what the offense was.I can’t help to belive that what it was would have been winked at in the so called Pentecostal church of today.
You guys along with so many others seem to think that Smith committed adultery or fornication, I too have digital copies of all those letters and Smith himself said, you act as though I committed adultery… indicating that the “sin” wasn’t nearly as bad as PMU was acting. He does admit to some wrong doing however it troubles me when I here you so called Christians picking thus story up and trying to justify putting some adulterous, fornicating, lying sinner back in the ministry under the the assumption that ” we all sin”. Sure we all sin and stumble but those heater sins disqualify you from ministry and the Bible says so. I personally believe in my heart that had Smith fallen as bad as some of you think he would have stopped and stayed at home because that’s how much he loved the Lord.
As Gary Smith said, the blog leaves a very fuzzy picture about the “Imprriety” committed. As a Christian Therapist called upon to minister to many Christian leaders over the past 30 years I know from personal discussions of the great difference between a slip and a life of fraud. Secondly, it is always good for a leader to submit to other wise, spiritually mature leaders. Galatians 6 says it like this. “if anyone is found in a rebellious sin, let a wise, mature person bring them back. However, be careful lest you are also tempted. Temped in two ways, I have found. 1. Tempted to judge harshly and 2. Tempted to avoid the need for truth in love. A fear of hearing the facts and not helping the brother dig out the root of the fruit.
[…] There is no better conclusion to this article than a quote from an article by Ted Haggard (you remember Ted?) on Smith Wigglesworth; […]
This article is so good! Thank you for sharing! Cindi
Being in a church of the grandson of Smith this is very interesting, I think Smith believed Cecil to be weak in faith and that is the character he refers to. There is no other sacrifice the price has been paid. There remains no more sacrifice for sin it is finished.
Smiths misconduct could have been anything really with relation to these two women. I have several books of his and one about his life and I have read something similar but I would add that misconduct especially in say the 1920s or there about could cover many things and not necessarily actual sexual sin. He could have been drawn to these women and flirtatious etc.when I read this it did not imply actual sexual sin (to my knowledge) and especially back then much was expected of men and women of God that is the clergy. Especially a man like Smith who was so greatly used by God re healing etc. The devil in particular would have been out to discredit his ministry.
I agree, IN fact I spoke to a grandchild and yes he took the lady out on a date, but back in the day it implied marriage, so he didnt marry her, that was the misconduct, in any event yes I can relate to all the nonsense he faced, I have been amazed at the stuff that has happened to me in my life so I guess I must also be on the enemies hitlist
Sin disqualifies (1Co 9:27). Like a jelly bean counting contest, the closest to the correct number, without going over, wins. Sin is going over. Doesn’t matter whether you think you are closer in absolute value. If Paul was on the scene he would have rebuked the sinning leader publicly (1Ti 5:20), even if the press wasn’t interested. Miracles isn’t the difference between Jesus and the counterfeits, but holiness is (Mat 7:23). Holiness, not miracles, is the proof that it is a good tree. A bad tree cannot counterfeit holiness, but it may be able to counterfeit miracles. But holiness is what God is after. You are not a witness of the Gospel if your fruit is not good. Something is wrong with the tree that requires the sinner to “make” it good (Mat 12:33). It is humility to give your back to the smiters (Isa 50:6; Psa 141:5). The Bible promises that “in due time” God Himself shall “lift you up” if you so humble yourself (Jas 4:10). Proving repentance is arduous (2Co 7:11), but necessary. And it takes time to prove repentance. The article says Wigglesworth admitted sin, but refused the discipline. He did not “clear” himself in the matter. Follow Wigglesworth as he followed Christ, but in this particular thing don’t follow him, because he did not follow.
Yeah so We can receive abuse from the world but in my view taking abuse from brothers is foolish as it does not glorify God to accept false witness over our lives
This isn’t even what happened. Such falsehood should never be posted. Smith Wigglesworth never admitted to having an affair or messing around with women. Because of this article people like you believe that Smith had an immortal streak in his life. Here is what Smith said when writing that letter to Mundell. He says, “The two women in question had joined together to RUIN my work and I thought Bro. Pohill would have settled the matter but not so…I have not sinned but repent of the foolishness and ask for mercy. I truly am sorry that Mr. Pohill should stand with the women against me. I am afraid he is not the strong character I have believed him to be. God bless you. Pray much before you say much.”
So, there is the truth and as you can see it’s nothing like Ted’s article. It sickens me that people have been led to believe that Smith did something immoral when in fact he was standing his ground against the attacks of Hell.
Thankful for you Pastor! Your story is on that will inspire those who NEED to hear it! THANK YOU FOR YOUR FAITHFULNESS!
Thank you, Ted. I try to keep in mind that all God has to work with is broken people, of which I am one. God bless you!
What is stated in this article isn’t what happened. It seems like many who had read this article has come to the conclusion that Smith had an affair with women when that is the furthest thing from the truth. Wigglesworth expressed his views regarding this matter in a letter to Mundell. He said, “The two women in question had joined together to RUIN my work and I thought Bro. Polhill would have settled the matter but not so…I have written him a letter that I expect him to read to you. I HAVE NOT SINNED but repent of the foolishness and ask for mercy. God has forgiven me and for months has been witnessing to this. I truly am sorry that Mr. Polhill should stand with the women against me. I am afraid he is not the strong character I have believed him to be. God bless you. Pray much before you say much for I do trust you my dear bother.”
As you can see this article isn’t even close to what Smith actually said. He said that he didn’t sin but repented of the foolishness. This “foolishness” could have just been his engagement and correspondence with the people who were trying to bring him down.
I honestly don’t know why this article was written and find it sickening that people have come to a false truth about such a great man because of someone not doing their research in this matter.
I worked off of copies of the original correspondence provided to me by am Elder from the church in England involved, of course, years ago. If you would provide me documentation of what you say, I’ll adjust the blog accordingly.
I believe your post / article as it stands gives an utterly wrong impression concerning Smith Wigglesworth and I am sure no one would want to blacken his name, reputation, or character, or raise a false accusation against him that is not true. In fact this article raises a stronger accusation against him than Cecil Polhill or anyone else during his lifetime did. In the same letters that you sifted this information from is other vital information that sheds a very different light on Wigglesworth and the accusations made against him. I have researched Pentecostal history thoroughly, as well as the life of Wigglesworth, and especially these letters between Polhill, Wigglesworth, and other members of the PMU, and I would like to give the fuller accurate version of the whole situation here so that wrong assumptions are not jumped to, which has already actually happened above.
I know Smiths great grand daughter, you must remember the era that this occurred in was a puritan era. in those days when a man called on a woman and took her on a date he was expected to marry her. So what happened is he took a lady to dinner and didn’t marry her. That is all. Sexual misconduct is totally different today of course
you should have a look at the customs of the day, and the post should be removed. Dating was the precursor to marriage and Smith did not tow the line in this respect that is all.
I think of many of the things I have struggled with in the course of twenty three years. I was in ministry where I met and married my wife of twenty three years this August. Before that I struggled with unforgiveness which led me down a horrible path to list and pornography. I ended up leaving the ministry months after I was married. At first I blamed her for not being the perfect ” pastor’s wife” ,( as if there was such a person) Gpd has been shaking me over these issues. Since reading this, I realize there is hope to be completely free.
For anyone wanting to know more about the situation with Wigglesworth, you can read the letters yourself at http://digitallibrary.usc.edu/cdm/ref/collection/p15799coll14/id/135369 .