Perhaps World Vision Should Ask Evangelicals: “Who Did You Think We Were?”

By Scott Fowler

John Mayer, the popular guitar player and singer, has a song called “Who Did You Think I Was?” Part of the lyrics go like this:

Every mornin when the day begins

I make up my mind but change it back again

I’m a shifter of the shape I’m in

Who did you think I was?

This article asks this question of World Vision and its leadership.

In his article, How World Vision Can Regain Trust, Dr. Michael Brown’s perspective is right on. We must accept World Vision’s statement of repentance. I also think his list of questions for President Stearns are essential to answer moving forward. But there is something else we should ask of ourselves: What is World Vision? Does it claim to be evangelical? Who did we think they were before all of this happened? Were we accurate? I am fully aware that there are genuine evangelicals working in the midst of World Vision but are they in the minority? I personally never assumed World Vision was evangelical. Yet we find that evangelicals are holding World Vision to an evangelical standard. Who did we think they were?

I have read World Vision’s statement expressing its core values. It is a laudable expression of Christian faith and compassion. But we have made certain assumptions. We have assumed that we define Christianity the same. We have assumed that we share the same definition of sin. Do we?

While I agree with Dr. Brown that we should accept World Vision’s statement of repentance, I believe it is fair to ask of Wolrd Vision and its leadership, “Are you repenting of causing displeasure to your evangelical supporters or are you repenting that you slipped into a compromised view of homosexuality? How is it possible that after praying for years about this issue you can make such a decision only to reverse it just two days later? When you made the initial decision to hire same-sex couples was it because you decided that homosexuality was normative? Yes, you said you were deferring to the authority of the local churches, but it seems that you deferred to the authority of local churches that accept same-sex marriage and embrace gay Christianity! Did you decide that it just didn’t matter in the face of doing good deeds unto humanity? If so, isn’t that the definition of a social gospel?

After reading Mr. Stearns’ interview with Sarah Pulliam Baily in the Huffington Post given after the reversal, I have concerns that cause me again to ask, “What do we think World Vision is?” In response to the question:

Did anyone come out in the time between the announced decision and the reversal? In other words, are there any employees in same-sex marriages currently?”

Mr. Stearns answered, “

As far as we know, we don’t have any World Vision U.S. employees involved in a same-sex marriage. With a population of 1,100 employees, I’m sure we have people with a same-sex orientation on our staff. But I think it’s important to say that we respect the privacy of our employees. We don’t ask about sexual orientation in the interview or in hiring because we do welcome people regardless of their sexual orientation if they can affirm the Apostle’s Creed and the statement of faith, and if they can abide by our conduct policy. The conduct policy applies to heterosexuals and homosexuals. We’re not trying to exclude someone because they have a same-sex orientation, but we do have a conduct standard that governs all employees.

So, World Vision has no problem with gay Christianity.

When asked,

What kind of church do you attend, and has that informed your personal view on same-sex marriage?

Stearns answered,

“It’s a Presbyterian Church (USA) in the Seattle area, but I don’t want to drag them into this. I’m not telling people where I stand on same-sex marriage because I don’t think it’s relevant.

Even the Huffington Post recognizes that a person’s church affiliation affects one’s opinions and that those opinions affect one’s decisions!

When asked about his opinion concerning the emphasis evangelicals put on sexual morality, Stearn, in part, said,

“But we all have to admit that issues like this distract us and take up more time than they should or than they ought to. We’re trying to call people to our mission and let’s come together and change the world. I wrote a whole book called “Unfinished” that’s about the kingdom mission that was given to Christ is unfinished 2,000 years later, and we need to finish the job, working across differences. That’s not saying we shouldn’t violate core principles of our faith in various faith communities, but we have to come together to finish this kingdom mission.”

As far as I can see from World Vision’s statement of their core values, their mission is to relieve human suffering among the poorest of the poor. Who doesn’t applaud that? But that is not the kingdom mission! The mission is to go into all the world, preach the gospel, teach people to obey Jesus commands, baptize people in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and to make disciples. In the process of fulfilling that great commission, yes we meet human need, regardless of our success at converting those in need. BUT, we can’t compromise the biblical truth and principles of the spiritual mission for the sake of completing the social aspect of the mission.

Some will say this article is mean-spirited. It is not meant to be. But we must answer the most fundamental questions concerning where we stand on gay Christianity. If we don’t, the same thing that happened to World Vision is going to happen to churches and ministries all across America. Genuine evangelicals must consider their endorsements and ask themselves, “Who did we think they were?”

It’s not about same-sex marriage! It’s about gay Christianity!

By Scott Fowler

It is time to re-frame the discussion going on in evangelical Christianity concerning homosexuality. For a very long time now we have allowed the discussion to be couched in terms of same-sex marriage. But the elephant in the room is gay Christianity! The reason true evangelicals can’t support a ministry willing to hire same-sex couples is that we can’t support gay Christianity! It is as simple as that! It’s not about hate. It’s not about politics. It’s not that we don’t care about hungry children. It’s about the fact that biblical Christianity does not endorse same-sex attraction, same-sex relationships or for that matter, celibate homosexuals who embrace homosexuality as normative and God created! Genuine Christianity cannot embrace homosexuality. And we cannot support a ministry that operates in Jesus’ name but rejects His commandments.

Two Typical Responses

The responses to the forgoing statements will be predictable. From inside the church will come those who say, “We support Christians who have committed adultery or who have been guilty of lying and stealing! Why do we single out the sin of homosexuality?” Anyone with this response simply isn’t paying attention to the flow of logic and reason. First of all, this response is an apple to my statement about oranges. Gays and lesbians are not showing up at our churches and asking us to accept them in the midst of their sin of homosexuality. If they were we would embrace them (don’t judge all Christians by the few who would not embrace repentant homosexuals). On the contrary, gays and lesbians are showing up to our churches and saying, “Accept our lifestyle as godly.” (By the way, we don’t embrace adulterers and thieves, we embrace people who have fallen into those sins and we call them to repentance!)

Others from inside and outside the gay community will ask, “How can you reject gay Christians simply because they have a different interpretation of Scripture and a different theology?” There are some issues where Christians can differ and remain in fellowship with one another: predictions about the Rapture, whether or not it’s ok to drink, sprinkling or immersion, even speaking in tongues. But no serious Christian would suggest that a community of Christians embracing open sex among their families should be accepted into fellowship! We would point out the error of their ways and if they did not repent we would distance ourselves from them and expose them because adultery and promiscuous sexual activity are sins! So, how can we embrace homosexuality as simply a different theology when we believe it is a sin before God? We can’t! We can preach and teach the truth. We can share with the gay community the error of their ways. But if they do not agree and cannot repent, we cannot embrace them and fellowship with them as Christians.

Rights and Double Standards

A gay person can certainly reject my perspective on this matter and embrace homosexuality and even proceed to embrace Christianity as well. Likewise, I have the right to reject homosexuality as a lifestyle and walk according to my convictions. But this is not good enough for the gay community because it demands that all people accept them as normal. Biblical Christianity simply cannot do this!

Here’s an example…

Typical evangelical churches are being asked to accept gay Christianity in the same way we would ask a Baptist Christian to fellowship with a Pentecostal: put away your non-essential differences and rally around your profession of Christ or around your desire to feed children. We can’t do it. Our differences are essential! But do you imagine for one minute that a congregation of gay Christians would hire a pastor for their staff who rejects homosexuality as normative? No way! Because they too believe that acceptance of homosexuality is essential!

Gays can be gay. They can marry where it’s legal (coming to a state near year if it hasn’t already arrived). They can form unofficial marital bonds if they like. They can live together. They can promote whatever they want to promote. It’s America. But I am free to stand by my convictions and preach and teach biblical truth exactly as I see it. The reason this is increasingly hard for the culture and the gay community in particular to accept is that homosexuality has been elevated to the level of a civil right.

The Impasse and the Hate Card

Finally, we are at a fundamental, immovable, insurmountable impasse. Okay, that happens. But it is childish for the gay community to continually characterize Christians as haters and murderers simply because we disagree. Disagreement is not hate. It is not murder. And I have to wonder what kind of arrested emotional development identifies disagreement in such a way?

Genuine Christians will love people regardless of their sins or even their wrong beliefs and views, but we cannot compromise  our convictions.

World Vision’s “Lose-Lose-Lose” Situation

By Scott Fowler

As any who are following the story have already heard by now, World Vision reversed its decision to hire same-sex married couples. Unfortunately, this situation is a lose-lose-lose situation.

The first loss came when the initial decision was made. According to an Associated Press article report (Major Evangelical Charity To Hire Married Gay Christians), Richard Stearns, President of World Vision indicated that “the World Vision board had prayed for years about how to handle the issue as Christian denominations took different stands on recognizing same-sex relationships.” Initial response to World Vision’s decision from traditional evangelicals was sadness, disappointment, dismay, even rebuke. It’s decision to hire same-sex married couples in order to avoid division thereby shirking its responsibility to stand behind its own statement of faith in some attempt to remain neutral by deferring to the authority of local churches all while claiming that it was not compromising but holding true to Scripture was a ludicrous attempt at a balancing act that was doomed to fail. And fail it did, setting up the second loss.

The second loss came two days later when the decision that came after years of prayer was reversed and labeled a mistake. Okay. It’s a tough spot to be in for World Vision. By their own admission they “failed to seek enough counsel” from their own Christian partners (World Vision Reverses Gay Marriage Decision). It is possible to become myopic when we allow ourselves to become too isolated. It happens. But the problem now is that we are left to surmise that if the leadership at World Vision had felt no negative feedback it would have stood by its decision to hire married same-sex couples. The current leadership at World Vision is capable of making this kind of decision when left to its own counsel. So, even though their decision has been reversed and a sincere apology has been given, it seems that we now know where the leadership of World Vision really stands on the issue. This is a demonstration of its biblical hermeneutic.

The third loss is felt by true evangelicalism as a whole. It is just one more prominent ministry that has demonstrated that it does not understand the full seriousness of the battle that is engulfing evangelicalism and the believing Church. One by one ministries, leaders, politicians, and families are succumbing to the pressure of the culture and their own subjective experiences to compromise in their beliefs causing the Church’s cultured despisers to question just how deep our convictions go.

 

World Vision: Unable to Identify the Slippery Slope

And the hits just keep on coming! World Vision, a ministry that I would have considered to be more of a mainline, social gospel relief agency than any genuine evangelistic outreach, has decided to hire “Christians in same-sex marriages.” (Click on this link for the article Major Evangelical Charity to Hire Married Gay Christians – NBC News.com) Why? Because they are trying to

“prevent this divisive issue from tearing World Vision apart and potentially crippling our ability to accomplish our vital kingdom mission of living and serving the poorest of the poor in the name of Christ.”

Two very interesting pieces of logic come with this report: First, the motivation for this move is to keep World Vision from being torn apart so that it can keep doing what it is doing in the name of Christ. Once again, a subjective need or concern (which amounts to a financial issue) trumps integrity. I would suggest that what we do in the name of Christ cannot be separated from what we choose to ignore. I would also suggest that World Vision is hiring same-sex Christians (a term that is actually an oxymoron) in the name of Christ.

Second, Richard Stearns, president of World Vision, tries to thread the needle by saying they are not endorsing same-sex marriage “but we have chosen to defer to the authority of local churches on this issue.” So, following this logic, you can do whatever you want or abstain from operating with integrity just so long as you are not a local church. I suppose pro-abortion Christians are ok as well.

But, finally, a word of encouragement comes! Stearns assures us that World Vision is “not sliding down some slippery slope of compromise, nor are we diminishing the authority of Scripture in our work. . . . We are the same World Vision you have always believed in.” Whew! Thank goodness! In reality, this is yet another attempt to demonstrate how we can try to claim allegiance to Scripture while at the same time not following its instruction.

 

WORLD | A Wheaton discussion of homosexuality | March 1, 2014

An important article (with links to other sources) that give insight into what is happening at one of the premiere Christian colleges in America. I am encouraged by Wheaton’s stated policy. Also, Rosaria Butterfield’s story and insights constitute a significant perspective that needs to be considered.

WORLD | A Wheaton discussion of homosexuality | March 1, 2014.

Bob Rodgers “sets the record straight” concerning Pastor David Yonggi Cho

In fairness I thought it would be useful to share this link to an article written by Bob Rogers, pastor of Evangel World Prayer Center in Louisville, Ky. He is apparently a close personal friend to Cho and claiming that Cho’s troubles are due more to a lack of paying attention than to anything wicked or corrupt. Still, Rogers must answer Ha Sang-ok, a former church elder, who said:

“A sect leader might violate the commandments and do as he wishes, but a pastor cannot do that. Over the past 14 years, I have met with Rev. Cho many times to try to persuade him to repent and return to being a great pastor, but the corruption has continued. That’s why I had no choice but to disclose it to the outside world (Huffington Post article).”

 

David (Paul) Yonggi Cho: Found Guilty of Embezzlement

David Yonggi Cho (also known as Paul Yonggi Cho) was found guilty this week of the embezzlement 12 million dollars in church funds. It seems he allowed his son to sell the church stocks at a grossly inflated price. There are a number of other accusations being leveled at Cho for corruption stemming back decades.

Cho, who founded the Yoido Gospel Fellowship in 1958 which is the world’s largest church with a million members, has been a highly influential figure in Pentecostal/Charismatic circles for the last thirty years. Many in those circles will be greatly disturbed by this scandal, and for those in South Korea where the church is located, it may well be a bigger scandal than that of Jim Bakker and Jimmy Swaggart! But the influence of Cho on American Pentecostal/Charismatic pastors and congregations should not be underestimated. Since the tendency of those pastors and congregations is to emulate other successful pastors and congregations, many of them have followed and exalted Cho and his congregation over the years.

Cho has been sentenced to three years in prison (although at least one source claims that sentence was suspended) and ordered to pay over four million dollars in fines. Unfortunately, this was a father and son operation and so Cho’s son, Hee-jun, was also sentenced to three years but not suspended.

Of course, this will be yet another example used as evidence by the cultured despisers of the Church to demonstrate why the Church should be rejected. Any mature assessment of this subject will arrive at the conclusion that just because a man or even a congregation falters is no reason to discount all churches and Christians and certainly no grounds for discounting Christ or the Bible. Still, though I know nothing of what the Christian atmosphere is like in South Korea, in America, as long as we value money more than people, things more than God, and image more than integrity, there will always be scandals.

(The following articles were sources for this article)

The Huffington Post 

Wikipedia

The Gospel herald 

KEN HAM AND BILL NYE DEBATE CREATIONISM, AND THE WINNER IS…

By Roger Erdvig and Lynn Swaner

On Tuesday night Ken Ham, prominent creationist (CEO of Answers in Genesis and the Creation Museum), engaged in public debate with Bill Nye (of “Bill Nye the Science Guy” fame) on the topic of the validity of creationism as an explanation for the origin of the universe. There were not many surprises in the debate– Bill Nye did not “convert” to a belief in creationism, nor did Ken Ham capitulate on his strong stance against evolution.

But really, public debates of this nature are not for the purpose of changing the mindset of the debaters. Rather, debates offer the public the opportunity to listen to two (or more) thoughtful individuals engage in a disciplined, well-reasoned dialogue about an important issue. Observers should come away with a greater understanding of the overall issue and of the opposing viewpoints. Unfortunately, the vast majority of people think of debates only in terms of the angry exchanges on talk radio and television news shows. These spectacles are not true debates. By contrast, last night’s debate was a thoughtful public discourse, and we can applaud both Nye and Ham for being respectful (for the most part) and being willing to debate in the first place. To look for a winner is to miss the point of such a debate (and if we are honest, most people’s opinions on who “won” will most likely be derived from their starting view of evolution versus creation).

So what was the point of the debate, especially if we cannot objectively and decisively declare a winner? We think there are three points.

The first point is that despite what we may have heard or read, the question of origins is still alive and kicking. The debate put this issue smack dab on the front page of CNN.com (which summarized the debate as “Nobody knows” vs. “It’s in the Bible”) and other national media outlets. The debate even received decent international coverage. Both sides may label the other position absurd, outlandish, and/or offensive, but the matter is far from “decided” culturally — according to a recent Pew Research Center survey, about two-thirds of Americans believe in evolution, and one-third believe that humans have always existed in their present form. Despite this reality, public science education accepts and teaches evolution as the only viable (and “established”) way to view origins. The debate brought to the forefront that not only is evolution rejected by a sizeable percentage of the American public, but also that the evolutionary stance of public science education is nothing less than “cultural hegemony.” Ironically, that term comes from the secular humanist playbook: a ruling group in a diverse society manipulates the culture — imposing their worldview until it is regarded as the cultural norm, accepted as natural and positive for everyone in that society — in order to preserve the power and status of the ruling group. So it goes with the evolution steamroller in American education, but for one evening the debate forced our society to be honest about the cultural relevance of the question of origins. The debate reminded us that people not only have the right to ask where humans came from, but also the right to open dialogue on that question.

The second point is that the debate underscored the importance of “worldview.” If you watched the debate, it couldn’t be clearer that what we believe about origins is central to our understanding or “view” of the world, and our place as human beings in it. The debaters themselves recognized this, often using the term “worldview” to describe the opposing position. The Bible itself, in Hebrews 11:3, acknowledges the role of worldview as it relates to origins: “By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.” Likewise Paul, when preaching in Acts 17 to Greek philosophers, used creation as his starting point to explain the “Unknown God” of the Athenians; he began by saying that God, “who made the world and everything in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth…” (v. 24) is the One who “gives to all life breath, and all things” (v. 25) and “has made from one blood every nation of men” (v. 26). Without this understanding of origins, little else in the Bible (including salvation) makes sense or can be claimed as true — a point upon which both Bill Nye and Ken Ham agreed and demonstrated. Everything hinges on worldview.

A third point of the debate – and another point of agreement among the debaters – is that education is a primary agent of worldview development in children’s lives (we witnessed Ham asserting that public school textbooks deprive children the chance to consider creationism and thereby push a secular worldview, and Nye begging that science education be kept “pure” and “free” from the influence of “religion”). Make no mistake about it — the debate was as much about what our children should be taught about origins as it was about what we believe individually. As educators and parents ourselves, we need to take the cue from Ham and Nye and ask the important question of how our children’s worldviews are developing. We need to scrutinize carefully the primary, educational shapers of that worldview. Specifically, we need to think critically about the type of schooling our children receive, the worldview of the adults who provide the schooling, and the curriculum and materials used in that schooling. The implications for our children’s worldviews — and thereby what they believe, who they are, and what they do — are profound.

Given these three points, here’s our final opinion on the debate last night: We think it was wonderful. Even though a number of the answers were not fully satisfying and seemed rushed, we loved every minute of it — and delightfully, there were over 150 of those minutes. We were with a group of over fifty people who stayed engaged for the full debate, and in this age of sound-bite sermons that must be wrapped up in a half hour lest “you lose the congregation,” it was refreshing to see so many people, young and old, listening to sometimes heady dialogue for that long. We cannot all agree on a decisive winner, but the debate helped us understand the strengths and weaknesses of our own arguments, and assess the strengths and weaknesses of others. It also keeps those issues that matter most — our beliefs about where we come from, which in turn influence who we are and what we do with our lives, and the way we shape those beliefs through education — on the front burner of our culture.

For those reasons, Ken Ham and Bill Nye are to be commended for engaging in this critical conversation, and allowing us to listen in. They have helped to educate all of us.

Roger Erdvig is the Superintendent and Lynn Swaner is the Assistant to the Superintendent for Academics at Smithtown Christian School.

To watch the full debate from Tuesday, February 4, 2014, visit www.debatelive.org.

 

‘Help, I’m Gay’ | Leadership Journal

This is the best article I’ve read to date concerning the dilemma of gay Christianity, the possibility of change from homosexual to heterosexual, the beliefs and attitudes the Christian with same-sex attractions should have, and the kind of approach the Church should take to people struggling with same-sex attraction, or as this author says, those who are struggling from the place of a “broken sexuality.” The article is long but a must-read for pastors and I would think a great help to those who are struggling and looking for hope.

 

‘Help, I’m Gay’ | Leadership Journal.