Should Ted Haggard Have Been Forgiven Earlier?

Ted Haggard

By now you’ve probably seen the Oprah interview with Ted Haggard and his wife Em. If you haven’t seen it yet you can catch the entire 45-minute interview on YouTube.

Think what you will about this one-time pretty boy of the evangelical church world, the matter of the church forgiving him is now out in the open for all in the mainstream culture to see and judge. The matter at hand now is not so much Haggard but the Church’s handling of his situation.

How did we do with this hot potato triad scandal of drugs, sex, and deceit? The question of whether or not the church ultimately forgives Haggard is beyond the grasp of his local congregation in Colorado Springs. It is now on the national arena for all to judge as to whether a decent job was done or did we push down the already depressed.

The question comes up pretty quickly: What we do with haggard Haggards who are certainly more common than church leadership would like to admit? He’s apparently been recently welcomed back by his congregation in Colorado Springs – a move that was quite slow in coming down for whatever reason. We don’t know exactly what the underpinnings were of the welcoming back gesture.

Appropriate Repentance

It seemed as though the leadership was convinced that appropriate repentance had taken place (at least there was appropriate clarification that it occurred in the relationship between Ted Haggard and the congregational leadership). This team moved a long way from telling him he could no longer operate in the state of Colorado to now allowing him to be in the same city.

(By the way, how would you like to be the pastor of this congregation now on a given Sunday when Ted Haggard is sitting among the people? That would make for an interesting preaching milieu if nothing else…)

Haggard’s treatment was an interesting test case for the Church in the United States. The congregation in Colorado Springs treated him like he was a local person only but he was so much more of a national figure by the time all of the stories broke.

Regardless of the marks, the Church receives on this grading period in regard to Haggard, let’s hope we learn a lesson or two on this one. Let’s prayerfully walk this one out to its end in hopes we can learn our lessons well. To replay life in the same vein with no lessons learned would be tragic and uncalled for.

Steve has spoken, mentored and modeled to churches and leaders around the world with the simple message that anyone – regardless of their gifting or experience – can be involved in bringing God’s loving kindness to others. His first book, Conspiracy of Kindness has been translated into several languages with more in the works. His first book has sold over 300,000 copies. Altogether his books have sold over 500,000 copies.


  1. Steve,
    I appreciate your thoughts, however, I think you are missing a number of key pieces of information and confusing the concept of forgiveness. I genuinely forgave Ted Haggard just like many other christians. The issue is not forgiveness it’s restoration.

    Many people believe that they should be restored as an act of forgiveness, but just because I genuinely forgive you doesn’t mean that you remain qualified to be my pastor. Jack Hayford said it well a couple of years ago, he said “When a person has been disqualified from ministry they need to be requalified” – that is a powerful statement. None of us would continue to allow a child molester to babysit our children, it would be the height of irresponsibility and negligence, and open up their kids to potential harm.

    I believe that there are still moral and ethical qualifications for ministers, and even though none of us are perfect there are certain boundaries that still need to maintained for someone to be my pastor or example. Even the Apostle Paul said to follow him as he follows Christ. Being an example means dealing with your stuff before it becomes public. Ted, by his own admission, had many opportunities to deal with his stuff just like all other fallen ministers have, but he either had no one around him to help him or he blew off their help in pride and arrogance.

    Either way he has been forgiven, but he should not be restored to the pulpit until someone credible can requalify him, like a Jack Hayford, and say that he stands with him and will do all he can do to keep him on the straight and narrow way.

    I am praying for Ted to be restored, I believe God could absolutely use him again in the pulpit in a very powerful way, but he must be accountable and requalifed, otherwise we will have another mess. And the body of Christ does not need that.

  2. Steve – Your title implies that “we” have not forgiven Ted. Why do you assume that? Who is the “we”?

    Instead of asking this blame question – why not warn people about the danger of isolation?

    Bigger picture – how about examining our “need” to equate restoration with being a professional speaker again? This speaks to our (dangerous) culturally-influenced tendency to think that unless Ted is behind a pulpit, he is out of God’s will.

    (The issue of money comes in here)


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