A remarkable letter of apology, signed by the chairman of the board of directors of the Christian & Missionary Alliance, was printed in the February 2009 issue of Alliance Life, the denomination’s official magazine. The board acknowledged “its deepest regrets for the significant trauma” experienced by vulnerable children of missionaries, and apologized contritely for decades of failure by Alliance leadership to recognize, acknowledge and stop abuse at the Alliance’s mandatory boarding schools for missionary children. After decades of damage control, and attempts to sweep the scandal under the rug, the new board has courageously (and biblically) come clean.
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The scandalous Ted Haggard, recently ousted president of the National Association of Evangelicals, has resurfaced. You’ll remember him, no doubt, as the Colorado mega-church pastor whose secret meth-addled trysts with a homosexual prostitute finally came to light a couple of years ago. His devastated church removed him from office, but gave him a full year of severance pay, and asked him to cooperate with a “restoration” process that involved being accountable to some national-level religious leaders like (for awhile, anyway) James Dobson of Focus on the Family. Evidently the process did not go very well, and finally unraveled.
This is a sad day for the evangelical movement. The National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) just tossed Richard Cizik overboard. A more apt metaphor might be that some biggies in the NAE, who had been stalking him for a while, finally nailed their target. Charles Colson responded to the news of Cizik’s departure with this: “I’m not surprised. I’m sorry for him, but I’m not disappointed for the evangelical movement.” I’m not surprised either, but I’m sorrier for evangelicals than I am for Cizik. Richard can hold his head high; I’m not sure we can.
According to ESPN and local sports pundits Trevor Hoffman, the future baseball Hall of Famer and closer for the San Diego Padres since the early 1990s, has been treated shabbily. Despite all he’s done for that organization, the Padres offered him a paltry $4 million for next season. After he pondered this unacceptable proposal for weeks, the organization withdrew it altogether and negotiations ended. Hoffman had dreams of becoming a local hero in perpetuity, like Tony Gwynn. Not anymore, I guess. He’ll finish his career wearing a funny ball cap in someplace like Pittsburgh or Cleveland. This is our latest local soap opera. But wait a minute. Did someone mention four million dollars? Yes, and if you are among those who feel outraged by the cheapness of the Padres’ offer, maybe you need to get a grip.
When the fish die you know there’s something wrong with the water. When the bees disappear, it means the ecosystem is in trouble. When it’s the height of the election season, and there are hardly any signs on neighborhood lawns, you begin to suspect that something may be amiss this time around. The truth is that there aren’t many lawn signs or bumper stickers. My theory is that American citizens no longer feel safe about taking a public stand one way or the other. That’s because we’re witnessing the rise of the politics of intimidation.
It was the first night of our seminary course in Christian social ethics, and the classroom was packed. At our school we have three required courses in theology, but just one in ethics. I don’t want to read too much into this uneven weighting of our core curriculum, but most would agree that it is classically evangelical. I began that evening with a question that seemed to throw a few of the students: “Why should we be good?” There was general agreement that we ought to be, but a good deal of confusion about why we need to be. For centuries, Protestants, and evangelical Protestants in particular, have struggled to answer this clearly and well, and the seminarians that night were no exception. Our great fear, I guess, is that we might compromise the Gospel of grace by making it conditional on moral performance.
Traditional marriage—you know, one man-one woman, life-long lovers and best friends, faithful and true until death do them part—still looks good, in a wistful, nostalgic kind of way, but it’s under threat in America today. The fiftieth wedding anniversary may go the way of the dinosaur, ocean-caught salmon and the SUV. But the greatest challenge to marriage today is neither feminism nor gay rights. It’s us.
The California Supreme Court has decided that gay couples should be allowed to wed. The decision went into effect last month (June 2008). Not surprisingly many of my fellow evangelicals are up in arms. Does gay marriage threaten the proclamation of the Gospel? Some are claiming that it does. I doubt it.
Looking ahead is good; but looking back is important too. This Memorial Day I think again of my great-uncle, a young soldier who died from an enemy bullet that lodged in his heart. I bear his name, and his monogrammed gold cuff-links (with our shared initials) sit in a small box at my bedside. It deepens my desire to live well whenever I remember that my freedom was bought with a price, and did not come cheap. The discipline of remembering keeps all of us grateful.
But remembering also brings wisdom. This Memorial Day my thoughts also drift across the Pacific to a rocky fortress at the mouth of
The word “repentance” has an antique ring to it. To many it belongs with top hats, sailing ships, and snuff boxes. To others it sounds as psychologically unhealthy as self-flagellation, hair shirts and the shaming of children. But most people will agree that even today, if someone’s done something really bad, they should admit it and express sorrow for it. Repentance is essential because it increases the chances that a behavior won’t be repeated, and it helps the healing and reconciliation process for everyone involved.
But do only individuals repent, or can whole nations? Suppose Americans reach a consensus that the invasion and occupation of
Glen G. Scorgie, PhD
Scorgie is professor emeritus of theology at Bethel Seminary of Bethel University. He taught at Bethel Seminary San Diego from 1996-2022. He is involved in the Chinese Bible Church of San Diego and teaches at Pacific Theological Seminary. He has frequently lectured in Asia.
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