Christianity Today’s cover article actually made me sad. It is about New Life church in Colorado Springs and where it is now (supposedly in a recovery) after the Ted Haggard business and the shooting that followed not long after. It made me sad because I still don’t think they get it.
The article is written by a man who worked there for a long time, left after all the bad stuff, and has recently come back. But listen to his description of why he started going there in the first place. He describes the priorities as: “Be a blessing to the world around you”. Then he states,
"Haggard issued a straight-forward gospel, one calling Christians to give their lives to steady prayer and acts of love." (CT Dec. 2013 issue. pg. 38)
I am not against prayer and acts of love nor being a blessing to those around you, but this is not the straight forward gospel. The gospel call is straightforward, but it is “Repent and believe”. Believe what? Believe Jesus is the Christ, Son of the living God, who has come into the world to take away our sins. According to the article this was not part of the “glory days” of New Life. Sin is not something you will find mentioned much in the article nor repentance. Then, according to the article, they went astray getting into politics and then the awful stuff. Now they are getting back to basics. What are those basics? Back to prayer and being a blessing to the less fortunate with acts of love. This is not getting back to the gospel of Jesus Christ, it is back to community service.
The article goes on to talk about how at New Life – Downtown they are doing some sort of Anglican worship and how the elders have now voted the Nicene Creed as their statement of faith. But it is hard to escape the notion that they have no idea about the theology behind Anglican worship. Or behind a man being ordained a “priest”. The article mentions the insights of John Stott, Karl Barth, N.T. Wright, but most importantly Eugene Peterson, the author of the Message. Somehow, I think even Wright would be horrified at that thought.
The article was the cover article and touted as good news amidst the awful news that is usually reported. I found the distinct lack of “good news” to be the main problem. I am glad that community service is being done. But that is not what saves people’s souls. That is not any different than what the Rotary Club does. New Life appears to have never focused in on the gospel, and they are still missing the boat. Out of all the bad news usually reported, I find this to be the saddest of all.
DISCLAIMER: I lived in the Springs and knew several people who attended New Life before the Haggard controversy.