HBO recently aired, The Trials of Ted Haggard. Dozens of Evangelical news agencies have commented on it. Personally, I find that when Evangelicals, particularly those in N. America demand their own “heroes” they tend to turn into personality cult icons, and become cartoonish, all too often a distortion of reality. American Evangelicalism has within the last four decades become seduced by media, pop culture, and by the assumption that one can have greater political influence by courting the media and by engaging in the political process of the machinery of political parties, and government.
The failures of these engagements is found in how little the “religious right” and now with the election of Mr. Obama, the new Evangelical “religious left”, will also find out, that they will also fail to make an impact on American society and culture. In my opinion the USA is worse off due to the compromises made by the good, though false intentions of Evangelicals. The political parties both milked the “Evangelical vote” to gain power, and then ignore the very people who voted for them. This all became nothing more than another form of the failed Post-Millenialism that was around prior to World War One. That war all but destroyed the idea that man could usher in the Kingdom of God. Post World War Two developments also has revealed the same mindset through Pre-Millenialism and its lack of social engagement in the culture, except it is through guilt manipulation to force Christians to get the Gospel out to every nation paradigm that did, and still is still attempting the same result, of ushering in the Kingdom of God. It is as if God is powerless without us, and that we somehow hinder God from being God in fulfilling His Kingdom purposes. It is such an arrogant and presumptive stance to take.
Now, we find HBO and Haggard proclaiming their message of “trial” and adversity. While I have sympathies for people like Haggard and his family, they only go so far. Haggard does say that he lost his “career”(since when is a divine call to serve in ministry, a “career”???) and his prominent place in American Evangelicalism (head of the NAE, which has become more and more political under his watch and since), and how it fed his ego and persona (another issue of lack of self control and discipline). Perhaps this is what is most telling, our perceived need for such people, and the perception that somehow the Kingdom of God operates and looks like American big business and super stars. Nothing could be further from the truth in both instances.
I just find myself shaking my head at the end of it, and wonder if this is what the Kingdom of God has been reduced to, then who in the world would want to have anything to do with it? Why even bother? Did Jesus really die for this? Was He resurrected to give us this kind of “Christianity”? Receive Jesus and you will be successful! Repent and turn to Christ, and you will not hunger or thirst! Let Jesus save you, and the give you a wonderful business plan for your life! I think not! And to make matters worse, Haggard goes on tour, on the Oprah Winfrey show, and then on CNN with Larry King, and for what? To justify and redeem himself? I though Jesus was our advocate. I thought when we are brought down low by our behaviours and lifestyle choices, and humbled, this was a corrective to get us on a path of life and service that God desires for us, and not another platform from which to trumpet and elevate ourselves.
You can watch the interview from CNN here
Embedded video from CNN Video
As for me, I won’t partake and won’t engage in this stuff. I have had my fill of Haggard, and the Evangelical mainstream. They don’t understand the culture and society in which we live. They are out to lunch on a host of issues, and they miss the whole point of what Jesus has already established. They have turned the Kingdom of God into a market place for selling junk, pimping their weird theologies, and in the process present a total distortion of the Gospel and the Kingdom of God. May God have mercy on us all.