Reflections on the contemporary church, culture, Christian philosophy and doctrine.
The mind-boggling thing to me is that he's naming it "St. James Church". I rather wonder if Haggard has read all of the book, or merely skimmed the first few verses. I suspect he's taking the name from chapter 1:2Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. 4Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.Of course, this is referring to trials that come from being a Christian and the persecutions that come from that, not from the consequences of our own sins.I think Haggard has neglected a number of other passages that James gives us, like the end of chapter 1:26If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless. 27Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.Calling a press conference to announce your new church is hardly keeping a tight rein on one's tongue, and his actions have yet to prove he has kept himself from being polluted by the world.A related passage comes from chapter 3:1Not many of you should presume to be teachers, my brothers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly. 2We all stumble in many ways. If anyone is never at fault in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to keep his whole body in check. Ted continues to presume to be a teacher and thus holds himself up to a much higher standard than the one that comes with merely being a believer struggling with his own sin and temptation.Continuing from chapter 3:13Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show it by his good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom. 14But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. 15Such "wisdom" does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, of the devil. 16For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice. I have always wondered about Haggard's apparent self-aggrandisement, and the manner of announcing his new church seems to indicate no change in this. Selfish ambition is earthly wisdom, not heavenly, and it only leads to disorder.The book of James has so much to tell us about our daily walk and how to interact with the world, and I really hope Ted Haggard takes James' words to heart. Every time I read them I feel convicted about the pettiness that I harbor in my life. Unfortunately, it looks like Mr. Haggard still has much to learn from his church's eponymous book.
His strengths have never included the whole "biblical" side of the pastorate. He is a charismatic leader and he certainly knows how to make a spash.
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