May I approach this from another place? I agree Christian Culture/individuals, myself included have a tendency to focus on the behavioral-external stuff when it comes to subjects like this. It’s often the place where we miss Jesus and become entangled with legalism or externalism.
It’s easy to get behind some cause and miss who we are on the inside where the real changes must take place; where a worldview and biblical view can co-exist if that worldview is also biblical. So, rather than talk about whether World Vision hires a gay person or couple, my concern goes to another place which Richard Stearns went – possibly without knowing it.
He makes this statement: He asserts that the “very narrow policy change” should be viewed by others as “symbolic not of compromise but of [Christian] unity.” He even hopes it will inspire unity elsewhere among Christians. Then he says this decision for World Vision, “… is us deferring to the authority of churches and denominations on theological issues. We’re an operational arm of the global church, we’re not a theological arm of the church.
Talk about an oxymoron! Stearns statement separated himself and World Vision out from the Body of Christ/global church and defined what they do as only being an operational arm of the global church. Can’t have it both ways in my view. So whether we’re talking the issue World Vision places before us or – let me be ridiculous – whether World Vision made a stance on whether it’s okay to serve cultures that chew bubble gum or not, to suggest what he/they have done as not being a part of the theological arm of the global church isn’t a biblical worldview, in my opinion.
Here’s something to consider about cultural diversity of which this issue certainly raised. “The 1966 Wheaton Declaration states that syncretism is the attempt to unite or reconcile biblically revealed Christian truth with the diverse or opposing tenets and practices of non-Christian religions or other systems of thought that deny it.” Fathering Leaders, Motivating Mission, pg 237
May I say that in my thinking Stearns and World Vision have unwittingly done the above in making this issue about who they hire or don’t hire. Then they are unknowingly teaching there’s a sense of Schizophrenic Christianity that is acceptable, where we separate out who we are from what we do – whether it’s personally, corporately or economically feasible to do so, or not.
I believe the global church is “me” “you” in the work place or ministry, or wherever we find ourselves in our cultures. It is an organism and can’t be separated out by terms like “Para-church” verses a “theological arm compared to an operational arm” of the Body of Christ.
Stearns statement then goes to the place where he asserts that the “very narrow policy change” should be viewed by others as “symbolic not of compromise but of [Christian] unity.” He even hopes it will inspire unity elsewhere among Christians. Let me mind this gap would you? This smells of inflated thinking to me. Why?
Here we have Stearns supposed agenda; even a theological agenda centered around “unity” for every Christian that he says World Vision really isn’t involved with since they are only an operational arm of the global church, which points to the satire I see in that statement.
I think there’s truth to how hypocritical we can be on this subject, by not going to places where we ask even tougher questions about ourselves and what’s going on in our communities. Questions that point out how easy it is to get on this bandwagon and not see that the issue is about Jesus; about my personal sin (failure to love) and reaching a lost world for the sake of eternity and in the “now.”
It’s interesting to me that “syncretism” has entered the picture again. When that happens, I’m not inclined to agree with World Vision’s statement that they’re just an operational arm of the global church, and that they haven’t made this decision under pressure.
If no one asked them to make this decision, why did they feel/think they have to issue one publicly? To dodge the divisiveness? Well I guess that didn’t happen.
So let me be clear in minding this gap for inflated thinking. The issue for me isn’t about who is hired or not. We all need Jesus and we get that authority from the Bible. The issue is about the danger of syncretism. It’s about the hypocrisy of hiding behind looking like the good guy and then separating ourselves out from the global church, which World Vision and Stearn say they are a part of – to leave everyone else to handle the collateral damage of their decision. That raises suspicions about agendas to me.
World Vision has done a wonderful job in serving the poor and supplying the needs for cultures in trouble from disasters. But, trust levels are in question now, not because of the issue of who they will employ but because of stepping onto the slippery slope of syncretism; a position which raises questions as to what their motives behind their need to make this declaration really are.
Here’s a question I’ve been considering that has come out of my work in restoring marriages at risk and the question is more about the offender in that marriage and not the offended. It’s a question I think/believe has to be dealt with or the marriage doesn’t experience reconciliation or restoration when unconscionable sin or habitually irresponsible behavior on the part of the perpetrator has destroyed the marriage. But I’ve seen and been a part of counseling marriages that have been miraculously restored when the perpetrator genuinely struggles to understand how twisting the issue of grace can ruin any chance for reconciliation, restoration and renewal.
Allow me to ask the question:
For people who misuse or redefine GRACE when they are actively being irresponsible, is it grace for them to say they deserve something they don’t deserve while refusing to change, and then demand others bleed for them or else they bolt from being held accountable?
Here’s another way to ask the question.
When someone has been actively irresponsible and hurt others – maybe even those closes to them and are being held accountable by the person closes to them – I have heard the offender say, “There’s no grace in or with this accountability, so I won’t or don’t have to be held accountable.”
So is it grace to agree with them and then let them define how they will be held accountable? If so, how does that help the offender or does it help the non-repentant offender?
In order for Grace to be Grace, doesn’t a core reality or ingredient of grace present a boundary/accountability issue? We see the grace of God in Christ on the Cross don’t we? But the Cross is an invitation from God that says it is God’s way or no way on the road to forgiveness.
That means if a perpetrator/sinner told Jesus he didn’t think it was right for God to reject others because the perpetrator didn’t think there was enough grace extended to them to do it their way, it didn’t matter. Why? As far as God is concerned, Calvary was the Grace boundary and God holds it as a line of accountability for all of us to deal with our sin or it wouldn’t be grace.
My premise is that accountability and grace are part of the same although I do agree that when we talk about relational styles, that might not resonate because the style of holding someone accountable can block the way. Hard call but with perpetrators of destroying their marriage, it would seem to me they are not in the place to define Grace because motivations are untested and suspect.
I’m putting thought and questions out there but really am interested in your thoughts and questions as well, whether it agrees or pushes back. Let me invite you to do so.