Responses to some comments on "The Haggard Episode and the Case for
By Robert A. J. Gagnon, Ph.D.
Associate Professor, Pittsburgh
Nov. 14, 2006
I greatly appreciate your article on
Ted Haggard. Thank you for your concise and helpful commentary. I would
like to counter, however, your belief that he should be restored to his
position of minister someday. While full forgiveness is good and right,
and while he may certainly restored to a place of useful Christian
service, he ought never to be restored to the role of pastor because
trust has been breached and will never be fully restored. Those to whom
he ministers will always—consciously or not—remain braced for another
failure. The memory of Haggard’s secret life will linger like a summer
evening shadow. The church’s decision to bar him forever is the right
one; they are taking into account the greater good of that church body,
not just the good of Haggard.
Thank you for your
thoughtful response. My own take is that a willingness to consider
restoring Haggard in the future (I didn’t specify time—it could be a
year or many years) is as much for the greater good of the church body
as it is for Haggard. If even Mrs. Haggard is able to retain Mr.
Haggard as her husband, and ultimately to work toward the restoration
of trust, why should the church be any different? I don’t agree with
the philosophy that “once trust is breached it can never be fully
restored.” I believe that Jesus commends/commands a certain “holy
gullibility” with respect to accepting the genuineness of a confession
of repentance. A refusal to trust is a refusal to accept the
genuineness of a confession of repentance. Peter denied the Lord and
he was restored—indeed, he was restored to leadership of the mission
to the Jews.
I hope this helps to
explain my views.
Robert A. J. Gagnon, Ph.D., is a
professor at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and author of The Bible
and Homosexual Practice: Texts and Hermeneutics. He can be reached at