Posted by David Warkentin on Thursday, December 06, 2012
You can read it here: Michael Cheshire, "Going to Hell with Ted Haggard"
Here’s my initial response (which I posted in a comment over at Jesus Creed):
I appreciate the engagement and love reflected in this story.
One phrase, however, has troubled me: “Of course, I understand that if a person doesn’t repent there is not a whole lot you can offer.”
Really? I understand and value accountability within Christian community, as well has having a certain moral standard for leadership. But I see a resignation in this phrase that dismisses the complex journey of sin and repentance as the Holy Spirit convicts. Can one still meet Ted Haggard for lunch if he hadn’t repented? I’d hope so.
I’m glad Michael Cheshire pushes us evangelicals with this story. I just think he could have pushed us further.
And here a few more thoughts for consideration:
We can and should graciously love those on the outside (“Love your neighbor” - Mt. 22:39)
We can and should graciously love those on the inside of Christian community, as this story illustrates. (i.e. “Love one another” - 1 Jn. 4).
Where Christians struggle, however, is how to graciously love those who were on the inside, but now find themselves on the outside.
I don’t think there is simple solution, for as I’ve already mentioned, sin and repentance is a complex journey. And in the context of Christian community, especially those we empower in leadership, complex can be an understatement to describe how to process situations such as Ted Haggard’s.
But that’s not what troubles me with Cheshire’s story. I think ministry leadership is conditional, sure. But leadership role and friendship are different. And I don’t think friendship is necessarily conditional. Sometimes friendship is the most and best we can offer to someone not seeing the err of their ways, whatever the situation. Abandonment isn’t biblical accountability.
So my question I’m pondering is this: what type of people are we friends with? Insiders? Outsiders? Or everybody?
Or more simply, who would you have lunch with?