Ted Haggard is back in the news. This time, it’s because he has returned to the pulpit. For many evangelicals, this is re-opening a wound that began in 2006 when Haggard was involved in a mess of sexual and drug accusations while being the pastor of a mega-church in Colorado Springs but also the president of the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE). People are divided on whether he should be back in the pulpit or if he should be back in the public eye. Some feel as if he has not been “restored”.
But I must say, I smiled when I found out that Ted was back in the pulpit. It reminded me that grace can still be found in the church. That the second (and third etc.,) chances that God has afforded us, we are now extending to others. By no means am I downplaying what Mr. Haggard did. I am saying that we have all fallen, that we all need to be restored, that reconciliation is not just for those superstar pastors humiliated in the national eye, but for each and every one of us. None of us deserve a second chance. The gospel is not based on fairness, but rather on the excess or prejudice of love. So even if Mr. Haggard may not be perfect, we don’t need him to be. It’s not like he is preaching to perfect people. The church is composed of sinners . . . who better to be the pastor than one who has fallen short, than one who has missed the mark? Morton Kelsey once said or wrote that the church is not a museum for saints but a hospital for sinners. The church is the place where Ted Haggard should be. So I’m glad Ted Haggard is back. And it makes me even happier to know that grace still exists in practice in churches, and not just in their well-crafted theologies.