Saturday, July 24, 2010

Haggard Commits Stereotype

Ted Haggard is back. In the pulpit. In Colorado Springs.

Plan A was for Haggard to continue therapy, relocate, and take an honest job. Forever. Plan B abandons all of Plan A.

Now, Haggard says, it was all a misunderstanding. Per WSJ:

He portrays his encounter with the prostitute as a massage that went awry and said he doesn't have same-sex attractions. He dismisses as a "witch hunt" the findings of his former church that he engaged in a pattern of misconduct, including sordid talk and inappropriate relationships. (He said his only fault was cracking a few crude jokes.) But his assurances have raised some eyebrows.

We're glad at least that some eyebrows are raised.

At the very least, Haggard is going back on a promise not to do what ministers who are disciplined out of their pulpits classically do: start another church nearby. At most, he's resorted to his old way of dealing with his life, which is denying that he has issues while medicating himself with the accolades of those who would crawl across broken glass to be co-dependently pastored by him.

Now for the SWNIDish sermon:

Ministry attracts people with narcissistic personality disorders. Which is not to say that all ministers have them, only to warn that some do. Church leaders will do well to be mindful of such and to tell people who aspire to or serve in ministry that the difference between spiritual giftedness and a deep need to get people's attention and approval is the difference between night and day, which is to say darkness and light.

As an aging practitioner of ministry and educator of ministers, we think we have not just the right but the duty to say this clearly. The gospel's power doesn't depend on spellbinding Elmer Gantrys. Quite the opposite.

If you don't want to be treated as a stereotype, don't act like the stereotype.

9 comments:

JB in CA said...

Seems I saw Jim Bakker doing his thing recently as I flipped through the channels. I suppose it's some comfort that he's now in Missouri, rather than South Carolina.

Hensel said...

Why does he continually seek to down play the significance, extent and depth of his sin? I would actually respect Ted Haggard if he admitted the depth of his sin and repented, as we Christians are commanded to do. Instead I loathe him for the same reasons SWNID warns.

Syllogistic note:
All true pastors are worthy of respect but being respected does not make you worthy of being a pastor.

steve-o said...

Ministry attracts people with narcissistic personality disorders.

I long for the day when this phrase adorns the doorway to the Worship/Ministry building on campus.

Or, I suppose, we could settle for writing it on a piece of cardboard, taping it under the nameplate by my office.

carlsweatman said...

There is a reason Paul said what he did in 1 Cor 1.18-2.1-5.

Anonymous said...

JB, you might check out Jim Bakker a little more closely. He is not the same Jim Bakker he was before. Just because "Ministry attracts people with narcissistic personality disorders" that doesn't mean that they are exempt from ministry forever.

Martin said...

I've never met a man yet caught in a same sex "misunderstanding." Anyone who "misunderstood" what was going on with Mr. Haggard is deep in denial.

Jon A. Alfred E. Michael J. Wile E. SWNID said...

Anon, there are ways to express the lifelong repentance that we style "recovery," and there are ways not to express it. A recovering alcoholic doesn't need to prove he's in recovery by working as a bartender.

There's ministry that doesn't involve television, indeed that doesn't involve an "audience" in the normal sense. In fact, there's more of that kind of ministry than the other kind, and more of it that needs to be done.

@Marty, Haggard's "misunderstanding" assertion is tied for most ridiculous statement ever made.

Anonymous said...

How should we understand Philippians 1:17-18 in this scenario?


Matt

Jon A. Alfred E. Michael J. Wile E. SWNID said...

Anon, we take that as a sincere question deserving a reasonable answer.

The text you mention is no exhortation to indifference about a preacher's integrity but a part of Paul's larger discussion of his outlook toward his present circumstances as a model of Christlike humility for the Philippians. The entire message of Philippians is tied to Paul's statement that the gospel matters most and that the gospel teaches us to regard others are more important than ourselves.

So, Paul says, my imprisonment is no tragedy for me because through it the gospel is being preached--as I preach to the guards and as others preach, even if they do so for bad motives.

As you read the entirety of Philippians, you'll find that the message of 2:1-4, based on the "little gospel" of 2:5-11, is really developed throughout the entire letter, without exception.

Turning to the Pastoral Letters or 2 Peter and Jude, one sees a very important counter point to Paul's statement in Phil 1:17-18. The NT is not sanguine about hypocrisy or tepid about the faithfulness of leaders.