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What is spiritual restoration?

posted by Patton Dodd

Slate asked for an essay on Ted Haggard’s spiritual restoration. I’m okay with what I came up with for now, but the more I think about it, the more I think we need better thinking on what restoration looks like for very public, outspoken, influential men and women like Haggard:

Most people who fail need only redeem themselves with their most immediate friends and family. They can ask forgiveness of every person they’ve wounded. How could Haggard ask forgiveness of 30 million–or even the 14,000 members of his former church? Sitting across from Oprah is no substitute for sitting across from those you’ve hurt. But he can go away quietly, do the work of atonement, and let tales of his renewed life spring up naturally, Profumo-style.


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Peter E

posted January 29, 2009 at 11:19 am


Have you done any reading by or about Jonathan Aitken? His failure was on a less egregious level (if one can rank these things), but his work toward restoration seems like a possible case study.



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Chris M.

posted January 29, 2009 at 10:12 pm


What you suggest in the article in terms of pursuing a quiet atonement is fruitful. And it’s a good point that there wasn’t a whole lot of good examples for him to follow. There’s also Jimmy Swaggart, but he’s basically doing the same type of ministry that he did post sex-scandal, only on a much smaller scale. And Bakker or Swaggart never came close to the type of political power that Haggard had.
Also, this may be an obvious point to make, but shouldn’t part of an ideal restoration process be preventative as well? How might churches with highly visible, influential pastors avoid the tendency toward uncritical admiration that has dogged evangelicalism? What kind of check-and-balance system might those churches implement to hold their pastors accountable in terms of power and personal consistency?



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Your Name

posted January 30, 2009 at 10:33 am


Thank you Patton. There is no question in my heart about forgiveness for Ted Haggard. I heard him speak at Religion News Association just weeks before his ‘fall’. But I couldn’t agree with you more about where he is going right now………he is looking for a platform again and this bothers me a lot. His family has stood with him and he is blessed beyond words. But please Ted….step out of the lime light and let God continue to heal you and your family.
This whole publicity thing is NOT honoring our faith or our God.



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