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Ted Haggard & Progressive Christianity


North
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Here is a link to Ted's letter to his congregation. http://www.newlifechurch.org/TedHaggardStatement.pdf

Very open about his failure and taking responsibility for it. Affirmed the Board's decison to permanently remove him and so on. He notes that he has struggled with a particular area of his life since childhood and sometimes comes close to overcoming it and then falls back. He calls it a dark and repulsive area of his life. Assuming that he means "homosexual desire" it brings up an interesting point.

 

In progressive CHristian circles it is not an issue. The adultery may well be but the homsexual orientation is not. That would seem to cause a whole lot less anxiety and self loathing on the part of homosexual christians who are part of Progressive Christian groups. I can imagine how Ted got to this point, growing up and knowing it was considered evil it had to be repressed but that was unsuccessful and so the desire cropped up from time to time and leads to more self loathing and deceit. One wonders about the future in that he will not be able to come to terms with it as an acceptable part of his life. Since Christian Clinical Psychologist James Dobson is one of the men who is guiding his resoration and healing, does this mean reparative therapy (used on gays to make them ex gays). The homosexual community is critical of the alleged success of this. Does this mean more failure for him down the road? Very sad. Sad for his wife and children and for someone who was obviously gifted.

 

There have been homosexual Christians such as Peter Gomes and one of the greatest spiritual writers Henri Nouwen (whom evangelicals Yancey and Campolo speak very highly of with full knowledge that he was a celibate homosexual). Yes, I know Campolo and his wife are rather liberal evangelicals. One wonders if the grace present in Progressive Christian denominations facilitates a happier existence in which you can honestly come to terms with yourself and serve God to the fullest. I am reminded of the prominent African American preacher who lost his church when he began preaching that Christian were not the only ones going to heaven. He needed a place to worship with the remenat of his once large congregation. An Episcopal Church opened its doors. The Priest had no problem and said basically he saw nothing wrong with the idea and why would anyone think only Christians were going to heaven.

 

Of course the counter is that homosexuality is a sin and you can no more give in and come to terms with that than the desire to hram others, us drugs, steal and so on. From this point of view it can be overcome and the person live a victorious life in Christ.

 

North

 

Note: In case someone does not know, Ted Haggard (recently in the news) was NOT a tele evangelist. He was a pastor of a 14,000 member mega church and head of the National Association of Evangelicals. NAE is an umbrella group representing 30 million evangelicals (bigger than the UCC, the Lutheran denominations, Episcopal Church combined and multiplied several times. He was listed as one of the most influential Christian leaders by Time (?) and had weekly calls with the Whitehouse.

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I spent many years doing counseling of one type or another and was always amazed at the correlation of "projection" and homophobia. I would have not believed it, if I hadn't witnessed it over and over. If i had a client that expressed a lot of hateful anti gay ideas, BOOM, it never failed, there were some repressed homosexual issues and self hate issues to be dealt with.

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I spent many years doing counseling of one type or another and was always amazed at the correlation of "projection" and homophobia. I would have not believed it, if I hadn't witnessed it over and over. If i had a client that expressed a lot of hateful anti gay ideas, BOOM, it never failed, there were some repressed homosexual issues and self hate issues to be dealt with.

 

Very good point Jim and my observation. We need only think back to Swaggart calling Jim Baker a "cancer on the ministry". Of course as it later turns out Swaggarts heavy moralizing his his own issues with pornography, etc.

 

There are some who have been very pastoral with Haggard by both holding him accountable but not with heavy judgement. Then there are others in the Christian community who are very heavy in the angry judgement and it is those who I get suspicious of. WHat is there hidden sin (internet porn, what kind of lusts do they have).

 

It is interesting that within the context of Progressive Christianity these issues become less problematic in that many accept genetic presidpsoition to homosexuality and do not condemn it as "dark and repulsive". Seems that might be a better home to grow up in than a fundamentalist home void of grace.

 

It was interesting for me when I discovered that two Evangelicals (Yancey & Campolo) had very progressive veiws and were not judgemental. Campolo is rather a left of center evangelical in some ways. One of them in speaking of Henri Nouwen said that whoever would call his homosexual inclination "sick & perverted" was actually the one who was "sick & perverted" given Nouwen's loving and giving life.

 

I just think it is a shame in some senses that the conservative churches are growing and the progressive churches seem more stagnant. Certainly there are things they could do (beef up the music with more modern songs) and as Kushner noted a girl told him once...I wish you liberal religious beleived what you did as much as the conservatives do (paraphrase). Maybe instead of the fundamentalists being the faithful remenant...the progressives are?

 

The question is how do you get the messgae out. To often progressives are seen as part of the 60's movement and that they are largely irrelevant. One article I read commented on the group going to see Spong as being populated by a bunch of white haired aging boomers whose rhetoric did not match their practice (ie neither loving nor tolerant).

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Isn't it interesting that Ted Haggard was fired for "sexual immorality" and not for drug possesion, which is actually a crime(maybe a felony) . If police had caught him, he would have been arrested for possesion of a controlled substance, whether he "used it" or not. And why of all things methamphetamines; he could have just gotten drunk or smoked weed .

 

MOW

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I have also noticed that sexual "sins" are somehow worse in Right wing eyes.

I think it is basically fear. You know we all have feelings inside us that are both

homosexual and heterosexual, even if we wouldn't act on them. The very strong

love that exists between girlfriends is perhaps an example. It may not even

really be at all sexual but it can transcend the typical friendship kind of relationship.

I think many of us are aware fo this and it doesn't bother us.

 

I think some people are phobic about such things and they tend to be the

same people that wouldn't talk about it with others, as it shames them. I have,

otoh, had many discussions about this.

 

Last night Bill Maher talked about this on Larry King Live. He suggested there

were gays in the top levels of the Bush administration. He refused (rightly, I think)

to name names, but when King asked him why a gay would work against his

interests to such an extent, Bill said, "Hatred of self is the best love of all."

In his flip sort of way, I think he expressed a great truth. I wouldn't be surprised

if many of the most ardent anti-gay people in the right wing of the church were

latently homosexual. Spong has suggested that St. Paul was a latent homosexual--

expressing himself in the most extremely anti-homosexual language in the Bible

outside fo Deuteronomy.

 

 

--des

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Isn't it interesting that Ted Haggard was fired for "sexual immorality" and not for drug possesion, which is actually a crime(maybe a felony) . If police had caught him, he would have been arrested for possesion of a controlled substance, whether he "used it" or not. And why of all things methamphetamines; he could have just gotten drunk or smoked weed .

 

MOW

 

Apparently, Dr. James Dobson (Clinical Psychologist and founder of Focus on the Family) who initially was in denial that his friend could have committed adultery with a man (understandably), then agreed to be on the team to work on Haggard's personal and spiritual restoration. Latest news is that he has withdrawn from the team (consisted of him, Jack Hayford and Tommy Barnett). I am curious about why he agreed to do it in the first place and then suddenly discovered he was too busy. Maybe after the egg on his face over Paulk (ex gay who was head of Focus' ex gay ministry & who said he got curious again and was discovered in a gay bar) he does not want to personally deal with any responsibility for "restoring" Haggard if he ends up failging and remaining gay. I suppose it could to lead to accusations that reorientation does not work and that even he could not make it work. It does somewhat smack though of abandoning Haggard.

 

North

Edited by North
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My guess is that at least initially he will have a big "conversion experience" and say he

is now happy and straight. I think the probability of an initial "healing" is almost

assured. He will be surrounded by "healthy influences" and lots of structure.

Some of these "ex-gays" end up marrying. I also don't know to what extent

some of them are bis and not really gays, so who knows.

 

The problem is more in the long term. I think the long term effect of this is pretty

dubious, and there is absolutely no proof it works.

 

--des

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