Saturday, November 04, 2006

Catching the fallen

We had a very interesting discussion in class last week about the increased presence of religious content and theme in the media, particularly over the last two years (buoyed in large part by Mel Gibson's The Passion of The Christ and the death of Pope John Paul II). Part of our discussion centered around the prevalence of religious "content" in many programs that paint a slanted portrait of people of faith. One of our instructors remarked that several recent episodes of CSI have featured priests (one as the victim in a homicide, one as an adulterer entwined in the murder of his pregnant lover), and we asked whether these representations are good because the provide some foundation for discussion and clarification with those who don't believe, or whether they are bad because they add to the negative picture of Christianity and faith already entrenched in our culture.

Then this past Friday, details of Ted Haggard's resignation/removal from his church due to moral failing surfaced. The spin around this was flying, what with the American midterm election campaigning at full throttle, and I heard several pundits refer to Haggard merely as an "influential right-wing evangelical."

Coming from the secular media, I understand their label, because to them he's a political figure first, seeking to influence election outcomes. Still, I found it unnerving to see a man reduced to a political factor- there is so much more at stake in the outcome of this for Haggard and the church than how it affects a "rightist" turnout in the midterms.

As difficult as this news was for Christians and the Church, I feel that it offers us the opportunity to show the world how Christ mandated we should deal with the fallen and turn what could be a black mark into a testimony of grace at work and demonstrate that the church operates differently than the world does.

I found myself reflecting back to a time where my favourite worship leader, Kevin Prosch, told the world about moral failing that required him to step away from public ministry. Now Prosch never has exerted an influence as significant as Haggard's, but the reaction to the news fell divided.

One one hand, some believed that Prosch was totally done in ministry- that his failing (and the resulting failure of his marriage) disqualified him from ever holding any position in the church again.

This was really out of touch with how God asks us to deal with those who have fallen:
1 Live creatively, friends. If someone falls into sin, forgivingly restore him, saving your critical comments for yourself. You might be needing forgiveness before the day's out. 2 Stoop down and reach out to those who are oppressed. Share their burdens, and so complete Christ's law. 3 If you think you are too good for that, you are badly deceived. 4 Make a careful exploration of who you are and the work you have been given, and then sink yourself into that. Don't be impressed with yourself. Don't compare yourself with others. (Galatians 6:1-4, The Message)
Thankfully, some gathered around Prosch and prayed for his restoration and provided a place of safety in which to deal with his failing, re-establish credibility and allow healing and development of personal character to help ensure there was no repeat.

The first group was far, far louder than the second. Thankfully, the second group was far more persistent and effective.

In 2002, Kevin made a return to the world of worship with his CD Palanquin, and to a place of ministry in the church.

I was glad to see Kevin back. Whenever I hear scripture about how all believers make up one body, and that we all have a meaningful place of belonging and purpose, I think of how much I missed Kevin Prosch in worship. He is a uniquely gifted songsmith, and some of his songs have become life-anthems of sorts for me, so when he was restored to ministry it was like a part that was missing was found.

One thing I do note though, is that even with restoration, there will always be a need for people who love Kevin to surround him and love him enough to help him guard against the temptation to which he fell before. Being restored doesn't mean that no one remembers or is required to forget the fall altogether- it means that despite the fall, grace and mercy are applied and a place is made for the fallen to come back to the table, and that one must be ever vigilant, with the help of community, to walk in a way that seeks to cut off opportunity to fall again.

That's my prayer for Ted Haggard. He's a real guy with a real family- he's not just a factor in an election. I pray that he will find people ready to love him, pray and walk with him and restore him, and a place in the body where he can still fulfill the destiny that God intended for him. I'm in no position to throw stones at him, and I pray for the body of Christ that we will remember that Jesus saved us from sins no less grievous than his before we speak in anything but love.

Mercy, grace and love to you Ted. May you fall into the hands of Christ and the arms of loving brothers and sisters to rise again and find your place in the body.


  1. Encouraging word, thanks for the post. You're right, the way I see it, scripture spells out a correction process for the purpose of redemption. Anything other than that is merely condeming.

  2. Kevin's restoration??? Kevin never repented. Here are the simple facts: Kevin was caught cheating on his wife with multiple women, one of whom was Mike Bickle's sister (his current wife!). After being exposed, he said he was sorry, but continued on in his adulterous relationship with Mike's sister and even married her! So if you are going to say that he is "restored," you must be able to answer the question, at what point did he repent and turn from his sin? He never did.

    Repentance involves turning from your sin, not continuing on in it. He never repented. Imagine being his wife: finding out your husband is cheating on you, divorcing, and then watching him marry the very person he cheated on you with (all within 3 years by the way) and the whole while he just says "I'm sorry" and the church eventually says "he's restored." ?? And please tell me at what point that suductress repented? (And as an additional side note, please tell me how he is free to even remarry when Mark 10 clearly says otherwise) Hello church! Wake up!!! It is really sad that so many will turn a blind eye to what he is doing so they can buy his next CD. How can anyone say he is restored???? Will somebody love Kevin enough to tell him to turn from his adultery? I don't care what kind of "healing" program he went through in Texas, you aren't restored unless you repent. Repentance involves turning from sin, not saying "I'm sorry" and continuing on in it.

    A good example of restoration would be Bob Jones. Bob was also exposed for his sin, then REPENTED openly, declaring his actions as wrong and putting an end to them, and then was restored.