Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Is there such a thing as too much grace?

I haven't blasted a public Christian figure since Pat Robertson's stupid comments on Haiti. I think it's time to remedy that.

I recently heard on Twitter, Facebook, and other social media that Ted Haggard was starting a church in Colorado Springs. He's a pastor that came into the limelight in 2006 when a male prostitute made it public that Haggard had been paying him for sex and drugs for three years. Haggard (wisely) stepped down from leadership in his megachurch and kinda disappeared for a while.

Well, he's back. What started off as prayer meetings in his house turned into St. James Church (even though he assured us in April that he would not be starting a church). At St. James, "Everyone is welcome: Democrat, Republican, gay, straight, bi, addicts, tall, short."

I read a blog by someone who actually knows Haggard. Mike, from People of the Second Chance, stated that "at the end of the day I believe in radical grace. And I will forever be a champion of second chances, seemingly lost causes, and the prodigals that no one believes in."

When you put it like that, it seems unchristian to disagree. We are all broken people that God chooses to use despite of, not because of, ourselves. Why should I deny Haggard the grace that I so often need and get?

The simple answer is I shouldn't. And I don't. I definitely don't think that Haggard should be denied grace. That would be playing God, something which I don't want to do and frankly am not good at. I just have to ask, how far do we carry this grace? Jason Boyett, a blogger and author who I read though I more often than not disagree with him, had deep trouble with Haggard's dishonesty with the whole thing. He also asked if 3 years was enough time to recover. I agree, and want to go a step further. I think a role in church leadership should be completely out of the question. Extending grace does not mean making just anyone clergy. God set up some rules for who should be considered an overseer of the local church. I don't see Haggard in that. Maybe he's learned self-control since leaving New Life Church. Maybe he's quit drugs and is sober-minded. Maybe he's learned how to handle his household (although I read that instead of trying to find a job he was asking for donations so he could support his family and take classes online). Verse 7, however is the real kicker, which says that the overseer should have good standing with those outside the church. I don't see that one happening. His sin was too public and hypocritical to be ignored. Furthermore, I would like to see what would happen if he joined another church and tried to join their pastoral staff. If this were to happen, and he got accepted instead of laughed at (if I were on that pastoral hiring committee, there would be much laughter), I would eat my right shoe.

I think we as Christians and recipients of such amazing grace should show grace to others who need it. But not so much grace that we are ignoring God's laws and ultimately causing harm to others. I think then we are showing a bit too much grace.