Monday, March 31, 2014

Top Posts - March

Not much went on this month at WTOHT. I've been busy doing other things, what can I say? Enjoy some of my more heavily trafficked posts his month and all-time, respectively. BTW, what's the attraction with the 300th post?

March Posts

Friday, March 28, 2014

World Vision's Big Problem

Number One Fan

A dark cloud has come over World Vision. WV's decision to change their hiring policy to allow their human resources department to hire LGBT Christians for their organization and subsequent retraction statement has left them in a losing situation. Nobody is or should be happy with World Vision this week.

This week has been especially burdensome for myself. When I first heard about the decision, it was framed to me as if World Vision made this statement as a way of redefining the traditional, biblical definition of marriage and masking the reality of sin. Clearly, this is something that I cannot stand for and will not support.

My support of World Vision began with Richard Stearns' first book The Hole in Our Gospel, a book which I positively reviewed here on this blog. It continued when I was contacted to read and review the follow-up entitled Unfinished, again, a work which I strongly affirmed and talked about with friends, family and fellow believers. World Vision appeared to be a fantastic organization that upheld both doctrinal truth while facilitating the fruits of charity.

I am not one to react passionately and strongly in the heat of a moment. I believe that has been displayed here on this blog frequently. My first thought was that I would have to redistribute my charitable giving to another organization that is more closely aligned with my beliefs. Note, the money I have committed to charity will go to charity, it will not return to my pocket. But I decided not to make a rash decision. I have been following the story and wrestling with my thoughts on the matter.

That is enough talk about my personal feelings regarding this matter. What is really interesting are the ramifications of these decisions.

Follow the Benjamins

Of course, the immediate, visceral reactions to this story have to do with money. That's what it always seems to boil down to. It is the main accusation fired at World Vision.

Conservative Evangelicals accused World Vision of pandering to liberal Christendom and bending to accommodate their agenda and reap their dollars. These are accusations I have personally heard and seen. Further, World Vision's headquarters in Washington state are used as fodder for this idea. Of course they made this decision, they are bowing to the Pacific Northwestern liberal mentality that has permeated even so-called Christian churches.

Is there any validity to their statements? I don't know. I have not heard any data that either confirms or denies this claim.

However, the same charge is leveled at World Vision from the opposite spectrum when they waffled on their statement. Fundamentalist Evangelical dollars were in jeopardy, so World Vision reversed their decision, obviously. WV lost 5K sponsorships, so that must be the case.

Either way, World Vision comes out looking like a money grabber.

What is a Para-Church Organization?

While the monetary issue (on both sides) is interesting and valid, there is an even deeper issue at play here which has wider-ranging effects. What is a Para-Church organization and what expectations should be placed on them?

World Vision clearly claims to be a Christian organization. They quote scripture, have a statement of beliefs and take scripture seriously when defending the least of these. So obviously, their mission is inspired by the doctrine which flows from The Church. And they state as much, in their releases they mention that they defer doctrinal issues to The Church while operating within a specific scope and mission. That is all week and good. 

The problem lies in the following: Which church is World Vision affiliated with? If we knew, for example, that WV was affiliated with Presbyterian Church (USA) then the original announcement should have come and gone without the batting of an eye since PCUSA affirms Gay Marriage. However, World Vision tries to be a branch of the entirety of Christendom, where a vast majority of traditions only recognize marriage as a man-woman proposition.

This is a conundrum for World Vision. It is one that they obviously decided could not be swept under the rug any longer. They came out with one stance (alienating a segment of the Christian community) and recanted (effectively alienating the other segment). This is an unfortunate byproduct of their noble attempt at being non-denominational/all-denominational/inter-denominational, it breaks down at some point.

A Little Clarification

All dogma is man-made while inspired by scripture. The Church has been given the responsibility of handling God's Word properly and interpreting it for the congregation. With any experiment in interpretation, one can expect consensus on the main themes of the text with differences on the granular level. This is exactly what we see in The Church today. Consensus on the overall arc of God's plan for this world with a few dissenters on the particulars. I am not saying that this issue is small, though I am saying it represents a relatively minor dissenting group within the ranks of Christendom.

I have not, until now, revealed my thoughts on the LGBT issue as a whole. I feel that while my views are fairly progressive, I am still bound by what God's Word says. Scripture clearly illustrates that the lifestyle is a sin, though I do not feel bound to the common fundamentalist rhetoric surrounding the topic. For me, homosexuality is the same as other sins: a reality of our existence and part of the fabric of mankind. However, God does not ask people to go and sin no more without first offering forgiveness, The Church is to be a collection of instruments of his compassion.


World Vision is in the unenviable position of pissing off everyone who cares about this issue. They have also succeeded in giving people who do not care about Christianity something to scorn. There is no way that World Vision can escape from this unscathed with their integrity in tact. Each side has a legitimate gripe to lodge against them. This is unfortunate, as everyone can agree that their actual work is positive. All they can do is learn from this experience and press onward.
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Monday, March 24, 2014

Christopher M. Jimenez. Powered by Blogger.

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