Truth is Truth

"You, O LORD, will not withhold Your compassion from me; Your lovingkindness and Your truth will continually preserve me." - Psalm 40:11 This is a sometimes monthly column concerning the truth of Christ Jesus and the issues that face our world as published in various newspapers and journals by Pastor Dave Seaford. You can return to the home page of the church by going to:

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Location: Redway, California, United States

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

So Here We Go Again…?

No doubt, by now most of you have heard the rumblings out of Colorado Springs that were emitted by the largest evangelical earthquake since those back in the 1980’s. Once again Christians in general have been equated with the moral and spiritual failures of a man who had come to be recognized as THE Christian Evangelical leader in America. My fear when these sorts of things happen is that some people in the church and many, if not most, outside the church will see this as a vindication of their private doubts and not so private criticisms of the Christian faith. Of course this would be like holding the land and all the people of Iraq in the same contempt as Saddam Husain and assuming every person in the Country to have the same diabolical evil nature as their once powerful leader.
Ted Haggard was president of the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE), an organization that my mentor and beloved teacher Dr. Norman Geisler founded some years ago. Sadly Dr. Geisler and others of us several years ago felt it necessary to resign our memberships. We held that the NAE was no longer genuinely evangelical and that they had lost the very essence of their name. Heretical doctrines had come to be accepted by those brought to power in the NAE over the past several years. It seems that they thought it politically pragmatic to accept those beliefs, as this theologically broad road built membership and influence. As is always the case when the politics in organizations of faith are elevated above what is strictly Biblical, we inevitably end up in some very sad situations and with very embarrassing public problems to try to explain. Those who do not follow the intricacies of such things and have come to think that the latest Christian leader’s hypocritical failure is a proper reflection of the Church, find themselves without any reason to receive the testimony of those of us who know better, and thus also find themselves significantly further from the one who is the Truth, Christ Himself. In all of the failures of Christian leaders of the last three decades, this alienation of the hurting and lost is the most devastating consequence. The most hurtful reality, which has caused the previously mentioned consequence, is that Christ’s Name has been blackened to most on the fringes and in the wings.
I am genuinely saddened by the failure of any Christian leader and I pray for the fallen as well as those that allow themselves to be deterred from the Truth by the failure of a few very visible fallible men. Ted Haggard’s gross sin is inexcusable for any Christian leader and he has certainly disqualified himself as a pastor of any size church, but I would remind all of us that even what he did is not unforgivable by Christ with regard to his salvation. That is the good news for those that think that the deceit, drug use and sexual sin which Haggard engaged in somehow outweighed the price that Christ paid for him on the cross. It also should be good news to those that might be dealing with the same sins and thinking that, if this man of God could not break free that they have no hope. There is hope and it comes in the One who has no sin and knows all too well the frailties of the flesh, because He walked among us, suffered, wept, and was tempted like all of us, in every way.

To be perfectly clear, I am in no way trying to diminish the perverted and gross nature of Ted Haggard’s sin. Nor am I excusing his huge breach of moral leadership and ethical responsibilities demanded by his positions. Nor am I suggesting that he can ever be a Christian pastor again. I am personally sickened by the vile and nasty nature of what he has done, the harm he has caused, the hurt he has propagated and the venom he has sued into the veins of those fragile souls on the fringes of the faith who never heard of him before this month.
Again, we must all keep our heads clear. What Haggard did was not Christian and can not be tolerated in any Christian leader. His sin does however show the problem and fallen nature of every human being and the immense need that EVERY man has for a Savior. Further it shows the very poignant problem of deviant doctrine which carries people away from the pure teachings of the faith and either brings about doctrinal legalism or liberalism. Christ is not found and the Bible does not teach either of these polar extremes. They are the works and inventions of men who pride themselves in either pharisaical, stoic or epicurean teachings, which may help men “feel” better, but bring no one closer to Christ.
Ted Haggard is just one man raised to power by circumstance and good politics, and I believe that God has specifically allowed, if not directly brought the revelations to light that caused his fall. I pray that there will be a bleeding off of some of the impurities that have crept into and come to be accepted as “standards” of the Christian faith. I pray that we as Christians will wake up and begin to examine what we believe and why we believe it. This is the reason I feel so strongly about Christian apologetics. I pray that we will not have to be driven by another event like this one to go back to our roots, look at where we have gone so wrong and where we have come to let men of evil intent “tickle our ears” selling us what we want to hear while rejecting what we need to hear. In many cases the purity of the faith has been sacrificed on the alter of marketability and at other times on the alter of social tolerance. In either case it is a “sell out” and in no way reflects the teachings of Christ nor the purity of the faith.
Lastly, the thing that Haggard and others yielding to such perversion seem to have lost sight of is that Christianity is not a rule book of religiosity which covers up a multitude of sin. Christianity is rather a relationship with the only One whose blood covers a multitude of sin… and bled willingly for us. I fear that we evangelicals have lost the full meaning of “relationship,” and what it means to have that with the person of Jesus Christ. We teach the concept, we preach it often, it sounds so good from the pulpit and has become a “mantra” of our evangelicalism, but is it real? In true relationship we are not a duality of personalities leading double lives but are genuinely “new creatures in Christ” (2 Corinthians 5:17) who’s sinful nature is overwhelmed by the love and graciousness of the one true Savior, Creator of the universe, and Sacrifice for our sins. When that relationship is real and not just a manufactured facade, there is nothing better in life or death. When that same relationship is a fake, I can personally testify, you know it and are more miserable than any creature on earth. This Christian leadership responsibility is not a “fake it till you make it” calling. Without this awesome relationship, which is nothing less than a Divine romance, one need not step up to the plate of leadership. If you do, look to be exposed.
I believe God is clearing the decks, cleansing His house, turning over the tables of the money changers once again and making ready His return. I believe that He wants the choice for the people of the world to be clearer than it seems to be today. The beliefs of the Church are blurred and the lines between the world and the church seem nearly non-existence. If I am correct those lines will become more distinct in the years to come and the choices more definitive. The cults who today profess to be Christian, will eventually emerge to the public as distinctly non-Christian and the genuine faith will be even more publicly persecuted than it is today, as things wax worse and worse. But the Christian life will be more confident, joyful and powerful because of that day to day relationship that transcends the temporal fog that continues to hold captive both the world and the Christian pretenders. I believe it is time to make a REAL choice.