After undergoing several weeks of “intensive counseling,” Ted Haggard is supposedly only twelve steps from complete restoration. Released to pursue secular employment, he is being encouraged to continue in “Christian counseling,”1 and to join a sexual-addition program. The tune being played for him to do his twelve-step is piped by his restoration panel which includes H.B. London of Focus on the Family (FOM). London runs the FOM ministry to pastors, and would probably employ similar psychological treatments as relied upon by FOM’s founder, psychologist Dr. James Dobson. This therapy has been so successful that Haggard plans to study for his own master’s degree in psychology.
The 14,000 members of New Life Church, the church Haggard built, might not even notice the heresy in this latest development in what has become their saga. In their restoration process, the disgraced Sheppard of the flock was replaced by the likes of courageous associate pastor Bob Brendle.
While standing face to face with male prostitute Mike Jones, the instrument of Haggard’s downfall, Brendle leveled such decisive doctrinal prose as: “I don’t want to impose my religious beliefs on you.”2 This statement was uttered not in the private confines of Jones’ own castle, or in the neutral environment of his workplace, where he is similarly protected from proselytizing, but it was brazenly delivered in Brendle’s own work place, reputedly to be a house of God.
The concluding revelation to Brendle’s fiery opener was that he believed Jones was actually an instrument “God used to correct us.”3 The only correction Jones seemed to receive, however, was a church response that “was overwhelming warm.”4 If Jones finds no other repository of God’s word during his sojourning here, he will eventually experience a reception where it will be overwhelming hot.
In the aftermath of Haggard’s fall and restoration, all aspects of this truth have apparently been subordinated to truths in psychological therapy. According to FOM’s London, who seems to classify Haggard’s past Christian pastorate and his redirection into the field of psychology as forays into “healing, helping professions,” a key factor in motivating a desire to help other people is “some sort of dysfunction or traumatic event in our lives.”5 This may be why Haggard is being restored to psychology, and eventually to such a high degree; he is receiving therapy for dysfunction, and not offering repentance for sin.
The former remedy stems from a clinical premise which uses jargon that might be used to describe catching a bad cold, and treated by the sterile administration of a hypodermic injection. The later circumstance sounds dirty, vile, and filthy; and requiring the trembling, sobbing, broken and desperate soul to fall prostrate before an Almighty, Holy, and forgiving God. Certainly one is more appealing to the flesh than the other. What a fine trophy Haggard will make in the halls of psychobabblers everywhere. A man at the pinnacle vocation of receiving and dispensing counsel from the creator of the universe, the author of mankind’s redemption, the finisher of his restoration through the plan of faith; a man who sank so low as to only be salvageable through the power of therapies authored by reprobate men.
1 -2. Erick Gorski, “Haggard says he is ‘completely heterosexual‘,” Denver Post.com. Feburary 6, 2007. http://www.denverpost.com/ci_5164921
3 -4. The Christian Post, “Haggard’s Accuser Visits Megachurch,” January 29, 2007.
5. Gorski, “Haggard says he is ‘completely heterosexual'” (emphasis added).