Dante and Haggard

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Dante and Haggard

Postby Marmie » Mon Nov 13, 2006 8:13 pm

Saturday's Gazette (Faith & Values page) featured an article quoting a Coe College professor, and was entitled Dante's Punishment for Minister. It, of course, spoke of the recent scandal involving Ted Haggard's publicized immorality.

According to Professor Edmund Burke, Dante described a "level" of hell for those who commit sodomy, as Haggard did; it was the "seventh level". But there was also an eighth level, which was for hypocrites, or those who commit "sins of fraud, the misuse of reason". Burke says that Dante would have viewed Haggard's hyprocrisy as fuel enough to send him to this eighth level of hell. Hypocrisy worse than sodomy? According to Burke, murder may be bad, but does no moral harm to the person being murdered, while "hypocrisy against someone can cause moral harm -- it can make them morally a worse person."

Maybe this is why Jesus continually railed at the Pharisees and religious leaders of the day: they were tried and true hypocrites. They led people astray, away from truth, by causing them to bend their reasoning and conscience from what they felt was right toward that which was wrong, or vice versa. After all, they were the spiritual leaders -- why shouldn't they be believed and followed? No one should question their pronouncements and judgments, right?

The end of the story: God will forgive Ted Haggard, if he repents, and He will likewise restore him to usefulness in some kind of ministry, if he humbles himself. But Ted will also suffer the consequences of his actions. He may never speak in public again, or at least never pastor a church again. His relationship with his wife will never be the same; the trust has crumbled. People will tend to disbelieve him; they will wonder about him. When he smiles, they'll question what's really on his mind. I think he will pay for his sin for a very long time.

And though we can't see what heaven holds, thank goodness we don't have to worry about levels of hell if we've truly experienced the cleansing power of the blood of the Lamb.
Marmie agrees that: ~The Lord will give grace and glory; no good thing will he withhold from those who walk uprightly. ~ Ps. 84:11
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