Me with my lovely wife, Kathy:

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

World Vision, A Survey:

I have not had any close alliance with World Vision, so there is a lot I don't know about them.  I see their ads and, from time to time, read reports of their work around the world, and was glad they were relieving suffering, and providing opportunities for those in our world who are in great need.  That they do this work in the name of Christ is commendable.

The announcement that World Vision in the United States is open to employing those who profess faith in Christ, who agree to WV's basic statement of faith, and who are also legally in a homosexual marriage, hit the Christian--especially--the Evangelical community like a plane-load of sacked up rice.

Maybe Richard Stearns simply wanted to get his message out before everyone else did it for him, but if he thought that his news release announcing WV's policy change would control the spin, he certainly misjudged.  Pretty much everybody that is anybody in the Evangelical world, and beyond, has weighed in on the subject.  My purpose here is not to rehash the matter in my own words.  More capable, not to mention quicker, writers and commentators have already explored WV's announcement.  I figure it is worth the time it takes to think through the issues involved, because it is likely that there will be other similar announcements from other ministries.  Those of who labor in relative obscurity have to make up our minds.  This is the issue of the day.  What follows is a brief list of some online comments and reactions, with brief descriptions and comments from me.  Hopefully what this will do is pull some material together so you can make better use of your time.
You are welcome.  :)

Richard Stearns's announcement:
Stearns's apologetic is that he and WV are seeking unity.  There is much I could say, I'll leave it at, "He didn't convince me."

Here is a brief critique of the WV decision, by Jim Denison.

John Piper makes the point that WV's decision "trivializes perdition — and therefore, the cross — and  . . . sets a trajectory for the demise of true compassion for the poor."
A friend of mine, who doesn't have national prominence, but who should, Norm Dietsch, commented on Piper's piece:  "As to the World Vision pres. argument that the issue divides churches and families, I wonder if he has heard that even the humble Jesus had a word to say about division.. Luke 12: 49-53.  We, too, care about the homosexual community-enough to stand for the truth of Scripture and to bring the good news of redemption and reconciliation for all sinners, and we recognize we are no better, but in need of the same redemption and reconciliation."

Al Mohler makes the same point John Piper makes and also warns about the slippery slope on which WV, and any other organizations who adopt similar policies now find themselves. ". . . moral revolutions are marked by events that signal major turning points in social transformation. Yesterday, [the day of the WV announcement], will be remembered as one of those days."
Warning: In spite of what some would tell us, some slopes truly are slippery, and some slick spots really are slanted.

Mark Tooley sees the bottom of the hill.  He simply declares "WORLD VISION GOES LIBERAL.  And of course it doesn't think it has.  Tooley's prediction or statement of fait accompli is not without evidence.  He refers to fairly recent history and quotes from some other conservative Evangelicals who agree.

Maybe I'm being too harsh.  I really like the man.  But I found Franklin Graham's announcement a bit self-serving.  I don't disagree with what he says, it just kinda sounded like he was saying "OK all you righteous people who are rightly offended at what World Vision did, the line to give money through a good organization forms right here."  As I say, maybe I'm being judgmental, and I continue to support Samaritan's Purse efforts but read on . . .

Matthew Lee Anderson helps us wrestle with some practical issues.  What happens when organizational problems intersect with human needs?  I'm not one of them, but thousands of Christians are involved in supporting a child through WV.  Should they just stop.  In a well-reasoned article, MLA offers some alternatives.

My list is clearly lacking a defense, other than Stearns's own, of WV's action.  If I find one, or if you point one out to me, I'll include it in the next post.

Before we go, let's make sure we remember, all over the world there are people, most of them children, in desperate need.  Whatever we conclude about WV's new HR policy, let's not forget them.


Lee Walker said...

Thanks for this synopsis, Howard. Helpful. I cannot defend World Vision's decision but I can certainly understand it's development. Running an organization, staying true to convictions, motivating people with theological differences to support doing good in Jesus name... these are all hard things. The struggle (indeed,the grind) can wear you down and allow you to end up in places where, once there, you look around and say, "How did I get HERE!" Like you, I have little contact with or knowledge of World Vision. Certainly I am disappointed... but even more... sad. Nobody wins here. God's work is damaged, the evangelical community further splintered, and I fear somewhere there is a child who will have less to eat. Sad.

Howard Merrell said...

World Vision reverses its position.