Contending Earnestly…

“Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints. For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality…” (Jude 3-4, ESV)

There’s no doubt that many are shaken by what has surfaced this weekend regarding Ted Haggard. Not only has this [former] mega-church pastor man committed adultery, among other things, but upon the exposure of his sin, he blatantly lied to a national audience regarding the accusations. Now, I’m not here to throw rocks at Haggard, for the Lord will ultimately be his judge (and may the Lord show mercy on him). However, I would like to briefly point out a frightening trend in modern-day evangelicalism, and why we here at SBF place such an importance on providing a response to public statements that do not coincide with scripture.

In his recent sermon on Calvinism at First Baptist Woodstock, Jerry Vines was very adamant about ‘not attacking individuals’ during his critique. With this statement, Dr. Vines is repeating a mantra that many Southern Baptist leaders have echoed since the explosion of the blogsphere. Apparently, naming names and going point by point, word by word through a sermon preached by someone widely respected has now become a personal ‘attack’ on the individual rather than a critique of his theology. Johnny Hunt, the pastor of FBCW, has also been an example of sorts regarding this idea of ‘attacking individuals’. One cannot forget last February and the Founders post that caused such a bloodbath when the Caners came to Johnny’s defense. To disagree with Hunt on Calvinism was not viewed as a difference in theology, but rather as an unjust personal attack that bordered on sin. Undoubtedly, Vines, Hunt, and others are not completely without merit in voicing their opinion that some bloggers are ‘mean-spirited’ and ‘attacking’ in their extreme zeal to defend the scriptures. But unfortunately, these attitudes are clearly the exception rather than the rule. Instead of what would normally be considered ‘attacking’, many SBC leaders (and leaders of other denominations) have thrown around the ‘attack’ terminology at even the slightest critical analysis of their public sermons. Regardless if they are right or wrong in their theology, there is a movement going on right now to overlook these ‘small’ matters based on a leader’s personality, track record, or his desire for soul-winning. God help us.

Last year, I voiced some concerns on Ted Haggard, and so did my colleague, Timmy Brister. I’m not sure about Timmy, but I received a good bit of feedback from those at New Life who thought I was nit-picking and overly-critical of Haggard, among other things. Needless to say, there were some who were appalled that I would dare question this man and his ministry. It didn’t matter that Haggard said things like, “the emphasis in our church isn’t how to get your sins removed because that’s pretty easy to do.”, and ‘without believing in Jesus there is no guarantee of heaven’. No, they said, let’s not nit-pick about those things, for he is a good man! He has built a ministry that is most certainly being used by God! He is reaching millions with the message of Jesus! He is, he is…living a double life, committing adultery and sexual immorality, all while lying and continuing to lie when his deeds were exposed.

Crept in among us? I can think of no better assessment of the Haggard situation. But where were the signs? Why wasn’t this noticed sooner? Could it have been prevented? I would say that it most certainly could have. But we face an uphill climb if every time we want to compare a popular preacher’s message with scripture we are met with strong opposition of ‘attacks’, ‘character alignment’, and ‘being judgmental’. The problem with Haggard was not ultimately grounded in his secret life, although that did play a major role in things. No, the magnitude of this scandal could have been prevented if Haggard would have simply been called to account for his words and his theology –for the red flags concerning his theology were all over the place. But nobody dared to question God’s anointed, right?

What happens when a popular pastor is no longer accountable for his words from the pulpit? What happens when you build a mega-church from the ground up, receive public adoration and praise at a level unprecedented by any generation in church history, and do not surround yourselves with men who are your equals in every respect? What happens when we have a Christian community so infatuated with personalities, pragmatism, numbers, and ‘feel-good’ theology, that to call these men to an account is like touching ‘God’s anointed’? What happens when any disagreement on any minor point of the gospel is shunned as insensitive, mean-spirited, judgmental and unchristian? Well, this week we saw an example of what can potentially happen in these situations, and it should serve as a wakeup call to the ever-growing trend of the Pastor/CEO position.

Brothers, this Haggard scandal should frighten us, and it should reaffirm in our minds the need to contend earnestly for the faith. There is no doubt in my mind that dozens of scandals like this are just sitting around waiting to happen. For this could happen to anyone without accountability, yes, even within our own denomination. Must we nit pick at every flawed presentation of the gospel? Most certainly we should if they are clearly in error -obviously in a spirit of love. Should we dare to speak up against men who draw in thousands upon thousands in the name of Jesus? Well, if we believe Jude’s exhortation concerning how false teachers creep in among us, we most certainly will –out of wisdom of Satan’s schemes and love for the truth.

Let us not be discouraged by those who place personalities and numbers above theology and sound preaching. For there is a time to write concerning our common salvation, but there is also a time to contend earnestly for faith ‘once for all delivered to the saints’ –the Holy Scriptures. May we continue to set the scriptures up as the supreme authority that trumps both personality and ministerial success, and may we contend to lovingly point out even the smallest of errors concerning the gospel –even among men whom we highly, highly respect.

SDG

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9 Comments on “Contending Earnestly…”

  1. David Hewitt Says:

    Wow…. Nathan, this was quite a post, and one with which I agree completely. Honestly, I felt that way in a recent conversation with a church leader, that I wasn’t allowed to “touch God’s annointed” in a way, especially when he wouldn’t discuss Scripture with me about his position versus mine.

    This indeed is a reminder to pray for him and his church. Thank you for posting this.

    SDG,
    DBH

  2. Douglas Says:

    Imagine the flak Sandy Simpson of “Deception in the Church” has copped in his exposure of Ted Haggard’s teachings on his website over the years:

    Ted Haggard “>

    (1) Deception In The Church (Hogan Not A Hero) by Brian Karjala
    In September of 1997 at (Ted Haggard’s) New Life Church in Colorado Springs, CO, I attended a Sunday night service at the urging of a family member who had heard great things about a traveling evangelist who was scheduled to visit. The evangelist’s name was David Hogan.

    (2) An Open Letter to the National Association of Evangelicals – Re: The Election of Ted Haggard as President of the NAE by Sandy Simpson & Mike Oppenheimer, ACT & Let Us Reason Ministries, 3/27/03
    This open letter details facts that the NAE membership may have overlooked in their election of Haggard. The letter shows Ted Haggard’s promotion of ecumenical unity between orthodox Pentecostals, charismatics, the UPC cult, the Third Wave, and the Word-Faith movement. It shows a false prophesy he just made. It highlights his evangelistic methodology and unbiblical spiritual warfare techniques. Most importantly, it shows how this election fits in perfectly with the plans of the International Coalition of Apostles under C. Peter Wagner to take over leadership in Christendom.

    (3) Speaking Of Transformation – “Apostle” Ted Haggard Elected New NAE President by Orrel Steincamp, The Plumbline, Volume 8, No. 2, April-May 2003
    Renee Rodriguez spent a number of years in Haggard’s New Life church and describes one of the ways the New Lifers have implemented the Apostolic vision. She describes how they filled 5-gallon spray cans with anointing oil and attempted to spray the whole city. At best, such tactics are bizarre!

    (4) An Answer To Ted Haggard – Response To Ted Haggard’s Email Rebuttal To Our Open Letter To The NAE by Sandy Simpson & Mike Oppenheimer, ACT & Let Us Reason Ministries, 4/23/03
    This article is a response to an email we received from Ted Haggard on April 7, 2003. Haggard was responding to our Open Letter To The NAE. Keep in mind that Ted Haggard did not want us to use the word “official response” but graciously gave us permission to use his comments. The reason we asked if his email to us was an official response to our open letter was because we wanted to find out if he stood behind what he claimed in his emails to us. We did this so that we would be able to give a thoughtful response and not expect him to take some other position after the fact. This letter is not meant to be disrespectful. Our intent is to be honest in our position and response.

    (5) Ted Haggard Quickly Uses His New Presidency In The NAE – To Advance Policies For Evanglelicals On Islam by Sandy Simpson, 5/10/03
    We warned the Church about the effect that the International Coalition of Apostles will have on Christendom recently in our An Open Letter to the National Association of Evangelicals – Re: The Election of Ted Haggard as President of the NAE by Sandy Simpson & Mike Oppenheimer, ACT & Let Us Reason Ministries, 3/27/03 and An Answer To Ted Haggard – Response To Ted Haggard’s Email Rebuttal To Our Open Letter To The NAE by Sandy Simpson & Mike Oppenheimer, ACT & Let Us Reason Ministries, 4/23/03. We believe that the seriousness of doctrinal issues regarding the International Coalition Of Apostles (ICA) and the assertions of Ted Haggard with regard to his involvement present a threat to the integrity of the truths of the written Word of God and to the Gospel message.

    (6) Ted Haggard Invites Robert Schuller As NAE Speaker reported by The Calvary Contender, Jerry Huffman-Editor, April 2004
    SCHULLER AN N.A.E. SPEAKER-Robert Schuller spoke at the National Association of Evangelicals’ annual meeting last month (2/04 BB). He received a standing ovation.

    (7) ADDENDUM to “An Answer To Ted Haggard” by Sandy Simpson, 9/19/05
    I do not want to belabor this issue, but in the pursuit of truth I must update you on a few current developments in this story. Please refer to the original articles here: An Open Letter to the National Association of Evangelicals – Re: The Election of Ted Haggard as President of the NAE by Sandy Simpson & Mike Oppenheimer, ACT & Let Us Reason Ministries, 3/27/03. An Answer To Ted Haggard – Response To Ted Haggard’s Email Rebuttal To Our Open Letter To The NAE by Sandy Simpson & Mike Oppenheimer, ACT & Let Us Reason Ministries, 4/23/03. Ted Haggard is apparently still telling people he has no formal association with the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR) and it’s International Coalition Of Apostles (ICA). He recently reiterated this assertion on a radio program called “Issues, Etc.” on 9/13/05. You can watch the Windows Media version of this interview here or access the MP3 audio here. The “Issues, Etc.” site is located here.

    (8) Ted Haggard’s “Easy Christianity” by Paul Tautges, 6/1/06
    The shallow, entertainment-driven, megachurch movement builds human empires at the expense of teaching the depth of biblical truth and, therefore, violates the principle of the above passage. And that principle is this: God’s glory is obscured by the glory of man.

    (9) Leader of evangelical group resigns amid allegations
    by Paul Asay and DeeDee Correll, Kansas City Herald, Thu, Nov. 02, 2006
    COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – The Rev. Ted Haggard, senior pastor at New Life Church, resigned Thursday as president of the 30-million-member National Association of Evangelicals, following allegations he paid a Denver man for sex over the last three years. (DITC Note: We warned many of the organizations involved with NAE years ago about Ted Haggard hiding the truth. They chose to ignore it. Now the NAE and the disgrace this situation has caused will have consequences that could have been avoided. See what we warned the NAE about here.)

    (10) Haggard’s Voice Mail on Slice Of Laodicea, 11/04/06
    Here is one of Haggard’s voice mails to gay prostitute Mike Jones. Having heard Mr. Haggard many, many times, this is unmistakeably his voice. Note that he said, “get any more”.

    (11) The New Apostolic Reformation – What is it and where is it going? – 6-DVD Series
    Get this NAR DVD series to see people like Ted Haggard and where they have been leading most of Christendom astray with their cultic methods, false apostles, false doctrines and false prophecies. Many, many clips of Ted Haggard on this DVD series!

    Who listens to Sandy Simpson?

    It is absolutely sickening what is going on all around us. True? Where does one really find sound doctrinal teaching these days, where in the world are the churches that teach and preach sound doctrine? Where is it safe for us as Christians to attend church? Which ones, which denominations? Is it best to just chuck it all in and fellowship in the safety of our own homes instead of being constantly ripped off? Like the Purpose Driven Life movement does? What a rip off that is. True?

    We are having the false teacher Joyce Meyer from America coming to New Zealand in January 2007 to rip off folks here with her word of faith/properity gospel, it never seems to end. She will be deceiving thousands here. God help us!

  3. Mark Says:

    I have just finished praying after listening to Dr. John MacArthurs Nov 2 sermon at Southern Seminary. The sermon was about how America is under God’s judgement and how He has abandoned us. Prior to the sermon I was skeptical at best. But after listening to the 45 minutes sermon, all I could do was repent and pray.

    For I am a minister of the gospel. I, along with all pastors, are accountable to the direction America has gone. In general we do not preach on sin or hell or anything that may discomfort the members. We do not speak out against the haggards, meyers and host of wolfs in sheeps clothing running amok in the church. At times the church is more sinful than the culture at large.

    I have found I am meeting to death with fellow pastors, men’s groups etc. We talk alot, but there is little action. Guess I am going to start “stirring the pudding” at church, with my fellow pastors and christians.

    My priorities are now in order.

    Douglas,

    re j meyers. Be the John Knox of New Zealand and her your Queen Mary.
    God has placed this burden upon your heart. Now “play the man”. Do what God has commanded. It will not be easy, for your worst enemies will be those who call themselves the bride of Christ (the church)

    Mark

  4. FSUChris Says:

    I was reading the comments over at Justin Taylor’s post about the Haggard thing and came across this great quote that the commenter attributed to Robert Murray McCheyne:

    “The best of men, are men at best”.

  5. Nathan White Says:

    David,

    Thanks for the encouragement, brother, and for the reminder that we should be in prayer for him and his church.

    Let me stress again that I have a deep sorrow in my heart for Haggard and all who are involved, and that I’m not trying to kick him while he is down. I am just also saddened by the fact that he was in a leadership position, and that personalities and pragmatism is keeping many from holding leaders accountable.

    SDG


  6. I share your concerns. Here in Jacksonville, long time pastor, missionary and creator of an independent megachurch and Christian college and school was arrested for molesting children. It turns out the current pastor, Tom Messer, knew of the allegations for several years. Dr. Jerry Vines recently preached at a conference at Messor’s church. Are these men covering for others, such as Ted Haggard, until the media exposes them? Check out my blog at jaxbaptist.blogspot.com for more details. I see a greater problem within this “megachurch” environment, that allows for pedophiles and adulterers and homosexuals to thrive.

  7. Roger D. Lee Says:

    It is a sad state of affairs when a gay male prostitute has more integrity (telling the truth) than a repected pastor (who denied the allegations) of an “evangelical church.” We do need to get our house in order. It seems there are more important agenda items we pastors need to be concerned about than to save a particular denomination (SBC).


  8. When will James White get back on his response to the Jerry Vines’ lecture against Calvinism? I have enjoyed listening to his responses.

  9. Scott Says:

    One of the things that we have been discussing around my home is the fact that the wrong question is being asked. Everyone seems to be asking “Can Haggard be restored to the ministry?” Biblically, the question that needs to be asked is “Is this man in the faith?” This is not hateful or judgmental, but rather loving. It is the same question we would need to ask ourselves were we in his shoes. It is a question that the New Testament commands us over and over to ask ourselves. Another thing that is bothering me is that Haggard’s sin (with a male prostitute) is being called simply “adultery”. This is true, but when we are talking about a secret homosexual lifestyle that includes male prostitutes, this goes beyond adultery. This is especially deviant, like that of what we read about in Romans 1. You hit the nail on the head with pointing out Haggard’s theology. As I see people who are saying we shouldn’t judge, etc, I can’t help but wonder what Paul would have said in this situation? It seems this is a similar situation that we see in 1 Cor. 5 when the church refused to “judge” the man who had his father’s wife.


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