There Is No Plan

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Ted Haggard – Repentance as Convenience

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i'm better now

i'm better now

God gave us free will. But he also has a plan. So goes the tautology at the heart of Evangelical Christianity. It’s a religious belief based on the fact that everyone can be saved and forgiven, no matter what your position in life or transgression.

That is particularly convenient if you happen to be a disgraced evangelical preacher trying to make a comeback. In fact, it makes the repentance all the sweeter. If some nobody who’s done not that much repents, it’s nice but it’s not news.

If the guy who ran your mega-church and is a big Evangelical honcho gets tangled up with allegations of meth and male prostitutes, now that right there is big news. Forgiving a guy who’s done an awful lot of forgiving is just the kind of challenge that Evangelicals like, you know, to show the unwashed what fabulous, selfless people they are.

The evangelical moral code is indeed a tad twisted. Their double standards are legion. They castigate the moral failings of people outside their world ( the guys who are getting left behind when the rapture drops), but when it comes to their own, “it’s time to forgive”. Perhaps that explains why so many shady egocentrics with a gift for public speaking are drawn to the Evangelical church. The more you transgress, the more it loves you. The further you fall, the more it wants to nurture you back to spiritual, and ahem, financial health.

The cycle of destruction and rebirth is a dramatic ritual in the Evangelical community. Moral failure is fundamentalist. In fact, it can’t do without it. The Bible Belt is all about saving people from abortion and being gay, as well as being divorce and teen pregnancy central. But it’s a shame that it has to foist its Freudian mess on the rest of the country, as if it has something to teach us about forgiveness.

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