Yesterday Ted Haggard, a charismatic Christian leader who was, until recently, the president of the National Association of Evangelicals and pastor of one of the largest Evangelical churches in the United States, put an end to speculation by confessing that he had been involved in sexual immorality and drug use.
Haggard’s confession was read by one of the board members that fired him during the worship services for the New Life Church in Colorado Springs where he preached. Part of the confession read, “I am a deceiver and a liar. There’s a part of my life that is so repulsive and dark that I have been warring against it for all of my adult life.”
Frank Lockwood brings up a good question: Why do so many of the big-name Pentecostal preachers end their tenures by bringing shame on themselves and on the churches they lead? Ted Haggard calls himself a Southern Baptist, but like so many of the Baptist megachurches today, the New Life Church mixed Baptist traditions with charismatic practices like speaking in tongues and faith-healing. Lockwood builds a list of Haggard’s predecessors in shame, including Jim Bakker, Jimmy Swaggart, and Benny Hinn. He never answers his own question, but I have an idea.
Could it be that the Pentecostal movement as a whole is built on deception? Biblically, it has no footing. Paul predicted the end of the miraculous age in 1 Corinthians 13:8-10, culminating with the completion of the New Testament near the end of the first century. Moreover, the biblical miracles in the New Testament look nothing like a typical Pentecostal church service. Step into one of these on any given Sunday, and you will find raucous music, women leading in worship, nonsensical jibberish that is supposed to pass for “tongues,” and a general state of chaos. These are some of the very things condemned by Paul in his regulations for spiritual gifts in 1 Corinthians 14.
If it looks like deceit and sounds like deceit, maybe it is deceit.