On March 7 Ted Haggard became president of the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE). Haggard pastors New Life Church in Colorado Springs, a 9,200-member church known for emphasizing prayer for world evangelism. Todd Hertz, CT's assistant online editor, interviewed Haggard.

Why do you think you were chosen to head the organization at this time?

The number one discipleship mechanism that God has chosen is the local church. It makes all the sense in the world for the president of the NAE to be a local church pastor. It's important that after I do an interview with a Washington, D.C., radio station that I then have to lead a marriage counseling appointment and then a funeral. What happens at that wedding, the funeral, and through teaching Genesis 19 on Sunday morning is the reason NAE exists.

How would you describe your beliefs—where do you fit in the evangelical spectrum?

I am a Spirit-filled evangelical and a dispensationalist, but I am not a sensationalist dispensationalist.

My worldview embraces the body working together to promote the gospel. Christians need to be connected both to their local churches and, through their local churches, to a larger network of churches for the promotion of the gospel. There are certain things we can do together that we could never do alone.

Former NAE President Kevin Mannoia got into trouble for advocating closer ties with the National Council of Churches. Should the NAE build closer relationships with other networks, such as the NCC?

We need to have a respectful, civilized relationship with the NCC, but our differentiating chord is the emphasis on being born again, the integrity of the Bible as the Word of God, and that Jesus is the only way we can have eternal life. Many in the NCC do not embrace these things. I am not interested in unity for unity's sake. I am interested in born-again Christian believers being in unity to advance the cause of Christ. I am not interested in NAE participating in every group that wants to get together to celebrate the brotherhood of mankind. The gospel is a dividing message.

What are your priorities for NAE?

One of my passions is to ensure that evangelicalism is thoughtfully and effectively represented in the public debate. NAE is, to a degree, the representative of evangelicalism worldwide. The Southern Baptist Convention is not a member of NAE, but we still speak for them since they are evangelicals and we are the National Association of Evangelicals. In that role, my intention is to move NAE from being responsive to being proactive—and probably a little assertive.

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