Scot McKnight of Jesus Creed has written a thoughtful post suggesting that Ted Haggard’s fall is evidence of a systemic problem in Evangelical churches generally. I think he’s right, and I’m going to quote an extended passage for you to chew on. Read Scot’s full post here.
But, what I find here is what I want to call the evangelical environment. In evangelicalism, and the charismatic stream in which Ted Haggard swims, sin is bad and sin by leaders is real bad. This leads to a complex of features that creates a serious problem:
1. Christians, and not just pastors, do not feel free to disclose sins to anyone;
2. Christians, including pastors, sin and sin all the time;
3. Christians, including pastors, in evangelicalism do not have a mechanism of confession;
4. Christians and pastors, because of the environment of condemnation of sin and the absence of a mechanism of confession, bottle up their sins, hide their sins, and create around themselves an apparent purity and a reality of unconfessed/unadmitted sin.
5. When Christians do confess, and it is often only after getting caught, they are eaten alive by fellow evangelicals — thus leading some to deeper levels of secrecy and deceit.
What we saw with Haggard is not just about leaders; it is about all of us.
Thus, a proposal, … evangelicals need to work hard at creating an environment of honesty. It is dishonest to the human condition to pretend that Christians don’t sin; but as long as we are afraid to confess to one another we will continue to create an unrealistic and hypocritical environment.
What do you think? Agree or disagree? And if you agree with Scot’s premise, how do we go about “creating an environment of honesty” about sin in the church?