Saturday, November 04, 2006

Thoughts on the Evangelical Scandals

The latest news on the scandal of Ted Haggard appear to have the evangelical world on the retreat. The media is having a hey-day publicizing it. I did a search today on Google News and came up with 1851 news references with highlights like: "Ted Haggard Admits Steamy Gay Massage & Meth Purchase", "Root of All Evil", and Scandals etc. Clearly, there seem to be sarcastic criticisms associated with it. Anyone calling themselves 'evangelical' will at some point entertain thoughts of dissociating with anything 'Ted Haggard' or National Association of Evangelicals (NAE). A press release has been made by the NAE here. It shows regret and ask for grace from the public.

Criticisms are fast and furious. Even fellow bloggers has blogged about it. One talked about hypocrisy 101. Another good commentary gives a thoughtful analysis. Not many talked about grace and forgiveness. Not many suspend judgment pending further information. The majority remained silent.

Indeed, we need to be gracious on the one hand, and yet be vigilant against any form of moral laxity. It is tempting to retreat to safe territory when the leader is hurt. It is easy to say "I have no part in that, so leave me alone." We need to take things into perspective. Remember the gospel writers writing about the disciples deserting Jesus when Jesus was arrested. Peter denied Christ 3 times. The disciples flee in all directions. Are we appalled? Are we shocked? Are we crying out hypocrisy? True, Ted Haggard is no Jesus. He is plain human, even though he is a famous leader. Point is, if Jesus can be deserted and scandalized even when he is sinless, why should we be shocked when an imperfect believer is scandalized? At least Ted Haggard did the right thing, to resign and to relinquish all of his influential posts, pending investigation.

Keep our eyes on Jesus, not on any famous leader. Keep our faith in Jesus, not in the integrity of any human institution. Keep our hearts on the cross, to nail our pride, shame and imperfections. The evangelical world may be shaken, but we need to recheck our faith placement whether it is on people or on Christ. Things of the world will almost certainly fail us, including Christian establishments. Our God will never fail us. We do not have all the facts yet. We do not know what is the exact circumstances leading to the events. We should not be too quick to judge anything.

Let him who have no sin, cast the first stone. (John 8:7)


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