Moriel’s Jacob Prasch in his usual forthright manner has breached a hot topic affecting the Church in the United States. Not only are highly visible leaders in the Church falling from grace to grass, in their desperate attempts to stage dubious come-backs, they are putting ministry and self ahead of holiness and the Gospel. The result is that Christianity is being further derided among unbelievers, while many unstable Christians are embracing the new watered- down standards of their idols. Titled “What do Ted Haggard, Todd Bentley, and Roberts Liardon all have in common?”, Prasch listed three facts which should provide food for thought for the Church:
* All either compromised with false doctrine or preached it even before their public falls from grace.
*All have an exposed history of homosexuality while claiming to oppose homosexuality.
* All have constructed bogus doctrinal justifications for returning to the ministry. [http://moriel.org/MorielArchive/index.php/discernment/church-issues/false-prophets/haggard-bentley-liardon-and-company]
It was in 2002 that Roberts Liardon, pastor of Embassy Christian Center in Irvine, California, and influential Pentecostal author (including of the book God’s Generals), confessed to a long-term homosexual relationship with his associate youth pastor. Not only was he back in the ministry within weeks of the confession, he has more recently been announced by Colin Dye as the new head of Kessington Temple’s International Bible Institute of London. His mandate is to “train a new generation of leaders”.
Todd Bentley’s story was featured extensively on the pages of Church Arise! beginning from the height of his so-called “revival” which we felt could easily spill over to the Church in Nigeria – especially among the youths. (Vol 11 Nos 3&4, 2008). However, even while the so- called ‘revival’ was still on-going,
Todd abandoned his wife and three children, and ran off with a ministry staff who he has since married! Despite such warped theology, clear demon-inspired ministry, and unsurprising serious character flaw and immorality; after a brief suspension, Todd Bentley is back in ministry - together with the woman he ran off with, courtesy of strong backings from Rick Joyner. [A case of birds of the same feather flocking together, no doubt!] Meanwhile, as pointed out by Prasch, “Bentley's three children languish at home in Canada with his biblically rightful wife while Joyner shamefully applauds the spectacle.”
Ted Haggard’s case was a big-time disaster for evangelical Christianity in the United States (see Vol 9 No 6, and Vol 11 No 6). Prasch summarises the situation: “The former President of the National Association of Evangelicals, who was already consorting with doctrinally off-base figures, was involved with paying male prostitutes for unnatural sex and taking dangerous intoxicating drugs recreationally. And then lied through his teeth about it to his church. All of a sudden, he is supposedly "restored".”
Several other unfortunate cases that could be cited include Paul Crouch of Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN). Although Crouch vociferously denied the charges of homosexual affairs with an employee, he in 1998, agreed to pay $425,000 in an out-of-court legal settlement to this man. The payment required the recipient remain silent about charges of the deviant sexual behavior. http://www.politicalbyline.com/2009/04/08/the-reading-room-recent-pentecostal-scandals/
Now, the issue is not that Christians who backslide should not be restored, but rather on what conditions and in what time frame, especially when restoration is being sought into leadership roles? One authority Collin Dye has used to justify his restoration of Liardon to leadership role, is the narrative of the Old Testament where God forgave David for his sin with Bathsheeba. Aside of several problems with this analogy, a key factor is the godly sorrow and genuine repentance exhibited by David. These ingredients have not been obvious in the contemporary situations under discussion. As a matter of fact, Ted Haggard, (probably attempting to model Bill and Hillary Clinton), has encouraged his wife to write a book on the whole saga, which is being used to generate sympathy from non-spiritual folks. 'I love a good redemption story,' a supporter was quoted. However, a critical commentator, The Phoenix Preacher [http://phoenixpreacher.com/] wrote on his blog: “Would it not be more prudent to go into obscurity and work on their marriage?“
Haggard’s former church affirms that he spurned the restoration process by quitting the stipulated counseling sessions in early 2008. Not only does this suggest a hardening of the heart, Haggard’s choosing to set up his new church only a few miles of the old Church has been described by other leaders as “insensitive and premature” According to Larry Eskridge, associate director of the Institute for the Study of American Evangelicals at Wheaton College in Illinois: "The larger question is the inability [of Haggard] to put himself under someone else's authority and whether it shows true repentance."
In his article, Jacob Prasch wrote: “No one suggests that a fallen brother or sister who truly repents cannot be forgiven and restored to fellowship, but once they no longer can have a good name otion with those outside of the church, 1 Timothy teaches clearly that they can no longer be restored to ministry or leadership. …… If someone in such an unfortunate situation truly repented, they would accept the ramifications of their misdeeds, do all they could to make amends, and abide by the teachings of Scripture that prohibits them from being in further ministry or leadership.
“We are forced to conclude” Prasch further wrote, “ either that their repentance is therefore disingenuous and malmotivated or else they are so fundamentally ignorant of God's Word that they should never have been in the ministry at all to begin with.”