Ted Haggard

I don’t know the man, but came across him today when the news broke about his resignation from a powerful evangelical organization. So I spent my morning reading and watching. I watched this.

And then I read this article from Harper’s. Here’s just one of the paragraphs:

“In Pastor Ted’s book Dog Training, Fly Fishing, & Sharing Christ in the 21st Century, he describes the church he thinks good Christians want. “I want my finances in order, my kids trained, and my wife to love life. I want good friends who are a delight and who provide protection for my family and me should life become difficult someday . . . I don’t want surprises, scandals, or secrets . . . I want stability and, at the same time, steady, forward movement. I want the church to help me live life well, not exhaust me with endless ‘worthwhile’ projects.” By “worthwhile projects” Ted means building funds and soup kitchens alike. It’s not that he opposes these; it’s just that he is sick of hearing about them and believes that other Christians are, too. He knows that for Christianity to prosper in the free market, it needs more than “moral values”—it needs customer value.”

I realize that Ted’s words were probably taken out of context, but it shows, to me, how far we’ve come from our humble Savior who had no place to lay His head, whose finances were not in order, who didn’t live a safe-sheltered life, who Himself was a scandal.

Read the article. It’s long. But it shows how the world at large views conservative Christianity. Let it serve as a wake-up call.

I don’t know if Mr. Haggard did the things the news said he did. But I can say I’m uncomfortable with a “Christianity” that has more to do with building empires, reveling in power, seeing consumerism as a mandate (ick), and shunning the marginalized.

Maybe we should ask that cliche question again. What would Jesus do? Would He build a global prayer center? Or would He pray? Would He stoop to offer a drink to one thirsty? Or would He build a fake waterfall with the words “Come and Drink” nearby? Would He bother Himself with a woman dying of AIDS, or would He sup with the President of the United States?

Jesus could’ve had all the power the world had to offer. But He, in submitted authority, chose a humble path of submission–not a very popular theology these days.

I’ve heard it said, “The way up is down.” But we evangelicals have slyly reversed it. “The way down is up,” we smile, happily building into our God-mandated economy.

Am I the only one who shudders at this? Do we really believe the consumption of goods is life-giving to our souls? Do we believe Christians have to “market” the Gospel for it to take off? I hope not. I hope not.