(In a way, this reminds me of some things that were raised on a previous post about The Rights of the Victims and the Accused that I wrote back in January.)
Most of us have heard about the accusations that have been made against Ted Haggard. I imagine that, in time, we will know the truth regarding these accusations and I tend to think the best way for those not involved in a situation to respond is with a "wait and see" attitude. Over the years, there have been plenty of times in which false accusations have been made. And, over the years, there have been plenty of times when true accusations have been made - including accusations that shocked people.
Now, I am not a fan of Mr. Haggard or of the NAE (I think the inclusivism of the NAE waters down the Gospel, among other things), but I don't think this is the time to deal with those issues - especially if one wants to use this still unproven accusation as a club.
My question, however, stems from the response to this situation.
Well-known blogger Phil Johnson has written an article entitled, "Thoughts on Today's Scandal".
While I actually agree with Phil on much of what he says in this article, I do have a question - not necessarily even a disagreement - about his first point.
If he really didn't do it, he should not have resigned. If the accusations against him were totally false, there was no reason whatsoever to resign—in fact, that would be a totally wrongheaded and completely counterproductive thing to do
The question that has been bugging me is "How do we respond to something like this?"
Let me lay out a couple of parameters and then I would love to have some input on this.
1. Assume this accusation is againts you or against your Pastor.
2. Assume this accusation is totally baseless and untrue.
3. Assume that there is some type of constituency involved that is also being harmed by the mere accusation (e.g. a church, Christian college, etc.)
On the one hand, there is definitely a view out there that to resign or step down is essentially an admittance of guilt. This seems to be the view that Phil is taking here. When I watched Countdown with Keith Olberman (sp?) this morning, (something I have seen maybe three times in my life), he seemed to taking the same view - as have many of the headlines I have seen online.
On the other hand, if you do not resign, the organization you are part of generally gets accused of being involved in a cover-up, etc. It seems that, in general, when there are accusations against police for false shootings, etc., the general policy is usually that the officers in question are placed on some type of "administrative leave" while the investigation is ongoing. If I understand what happened here, it seems like the person in question did not actually resign his church, but temporarily stepped down while the allegations could be investigated.
So, what is the right response? Is there a third response? How would you recommend handling something like this? Assuming (for the sake of discussion) that an accusation like this was made purely for political motives or due to some personal animosity (it would not be the first time), how does this affect the concept of "blameless" and "of good report of them which are without"? (I am not saying it should affect this, I am just asking the questions).
I would love to hear the thoughts of those who are wiser than I on this topic.
Just my questions,