I was reading an article at Yahoo! about the Bishop Long scandal and, not surprisingly, I came across a reference to the Ted Haggard scandal. This was an interesting comment:
The Rev. Ted Haggard, who resigned in 2006 from the Colorado Springs, Colo., megachurch he founded after a Denver man accused him of paying for sex, said it’s better in the long run for Long and his church that the three accusers have filed lawsuits.
Haggard said courts are better than internal church bodies at establishing whether such accusations are truthful.
“At least there will be an orderly process and due process, which is a gift,” said Haggard, who has recently started a new church. “Churches struggle with due process. They have for 2,000 years.”
Respectfully, I disagree with Haggard (I think the Apostle Paul did, too). What is needed is a form of church government and due process in the church that is transparent and reliable. It is not surprising at all to me that those in a congregational polity would complain about the lack of due process; in my opinion, the so-called ‘elder rule’ congregationalism is especially liable to complaints about due process.
Of course, the church and its government is never infallible, but I am grateful to be part of a denomination that has a Book of Church Order and a clearly outlined and publicly available explanation of how disciplinary matters are to be handled. Without such transparency, objectivity, and accountability what is there to keep church officers from slipping into a ‘good ole boys’ mentality or something even more unjust when problems arise in a church?
But Haggard was right about one thing. Due process in disciplinary matters, truly, is a gift. It is one of the gifts that the ascended Christ has given to his church for her upbuilding and purity throughout the ages.