World Vision: Why I stopped giving

Tags

, ,

wv World Vision: Why I stopped givingWorld Vision USA announced yesterday that they were amending their hiring policy to include people who are in a legal homosexual marriage. Their requirements, as they were explained to me by Melissa, a “special agent” at World Vision are that all employees must be Christians, affirming the Apostles Creed or a World Vision statement regarding the Trinity (I was not able to find this statement, I would appreciate a link to it if anyone can find it.), and agree to submit to the World Vision USA policy on marriage. That is, employees must have a Christian worldview ethic on matters of sexuality, except when it comes to homosexual marriage, it seems.

This change, as Melissa explained, is because gay marriage is a very big and divisive issue in the Church, and World Vision USA works with several Churches (denominations) with varying beliefs in the areas of divorce, birth control (I didn’t ask her if this referred to abortion or not, sorry!), and homosexuality.

I asked a few questions, hoping to get Melissa off of her script, and to find out a little bit more. They accept donations from anyone, which is to be expected, I couldn’t imagine making potential donors read and agree to the Apostles Creed or the World Vision USA statement on the Trinity, and maybe the Westminster or other Confession. And, they work with what appears to be any group that calls itself a Church. As for their employees, they represent a diverse group that includes Roman Catholics, Baptists, Presbyterian Church USA (the dead liberal ones), Evangelical Lutheran Church of America (ELCA, this group is in a race with PCUSA to be the first to abandon all Christian doctrines.), United Methodists (who are currently fighting with themselves over gay marriage with the African Methodists trying to steer the ship back toward orthodoxy.), and any others that are willing to affirm the Apostles Creed.

In reading articles on World Vision USA’s announcement I found an article that explained a little more about World Vision International than what I knew, and reminded me of some concerns I already had with them.

World Vision International is a humanitarian aide organization, a Christian humanitarian aide organization. They operate all over the world working to improve the structure of villages to help support an economy and to provide for the residents to make a living and be able to sustain themselves. This includes building roads, wells, supplying animals for milk or meat, and training people on how to steward the land and resources they have. Though their flyers seem to indicate that a sponsorship goes to an individual child, that is not the case, rather that child represents a community that they are working in. Your sponsored child receives benefits as the community benefits, rather than benefits going directly to feeding that individual child. Letters mailed to the child do actually go to the child, of course.

World Vision International works with local and national governments to help these villages. This allows for donations to be more helpful as the national government of the country works with them to build the necessary infrastructure.

However, this also presents a problem, many governments are less than hospitable to Christians bearing the Gospel, so World Vision International agrees not to proclaim the Gospel to the people who they are aiding in these countries. This allows them to work in Muslim, Hindu, or even atheistic nations. So, the infrastructure is being built, but the Gospel may or may not be proclaimed, depending on the wishes of the national government.

To compare, Compassion International works directly with the child to meet their individual needs and to proclaim the Gospel to them. However, this likely means that they would not be allowed in to many nations that are more hostile to the Gospel.

Having read about these things, and praying about this, I decided that I could not in good conscience give money to World Vision USA any longer. I’ll now attempt to give the reasons for my decision, in hopes that others will also think this through and carefully weigh the matter.

Gay Marriage

The obvious, and already mentioned, catalyst is World Vision USA’s announcement that gay marriage is divisive and not important enough for them to take a stand against. I understand their reasoning, and in a pragmatic way I can see why they would make the decision. When much of the American Christian Churches are going liberal the donations and workers are going to dry up and they’ll look “intolerant.” Offending people is hard, and we all want unity. As I explained to Melissa, light can’t have unity with darkness.

Melissa reiterated the official press release, that this change is not in any way endorsing or promoting gay marriage or homosexuality. Unfortunately, making an official policy, and an announcement, on the subject is doing exactly what they have said they aren’t doing.

(Adam Ford (Adam4D) had a very timely infographic on this today)

Authority of Scripture versus Pragmatism

World Vision USA and International, as Melissa was careful to remind me, is not a Church, rather it is a parachurch Christian humanitarian aide organization. A couple issues here, if it is Christian it needs to hold to the Bible as the ultimate authority and that requires that Scripture trumps pragmatism and unity. Yes, Jesus did pray that we would be united as one. Unfortunately, as Paul would remind us, there is and will be division among us because many have turned from the light to darkness. Light and darkness can’t have fellowship they are opposites.

Parachurch

Then there is the issue that World Vision is a parachurch organization. Being a parachurch organization it isn’t held accountable to any denominational synod or presbytery. Just like any secular charity it is only accountable to itself and those who donate to it.

Along with this comes the difficulty of trying to support something that is trying to serve part of the role of the Church while not being part of a Church. As I’m learning more as a Presbyterian one of the big things has been the Church, God’s chosen people. God’s grace is extended through the Church and God’s people are held accountable to the Church. Why should this ministry be outside of the Church? Wouldn’t it be better to support missionaries and humanitarian aide through the ordinary means God has provided through the Church? What does it say of our ecclesiology if we think the local congregation and the Church it is a part of isn’t where our giving should be focused? Why even give to a Christian organization that isn’t tied to the one Christian organization that God gave us, is this any different from giving to a secular group?

Gospel

Last, and most important, is the Gospel of Jesus Christ. What good is it if we feed the world but don’t give them the thing they lack most? What is the role of the Church if not to proclaim the Gospel? Yes, humanitarian aide is good, and we should do it as we are able. But, that isn’t the command Jesus gave to the Church. The Great Commission is “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” World Vision International isn’t a Church and isn’t working toward the Great Commission. Don’t get me wrong, I think what they do is a good thing, I really do, but I think my money would be better used in giving it to the local church to support the Gospel being proclaimed locally, to support the two overseas missionary families my congregation supports, and to the denomination and the missionaries it supports.

Update: Today (3/26/14) World Vision USA announced they were taking back their policy change and not going to allow people in legal gay marriages to work for them. They also issued an apology.

However, for the reasons in my post, I still am not going to be funding them. I’ve also found out a little more, it seems World Vision doesn’t proclaim the Gospel at all.

J. Gresham Machen’s birthday book giveaway!

Tags

, , ,

machen photo J. Gresham Machens birthday book giveaway!Following on John Calvin’s birthday book giveaway, I thought it worthwhile to give out another book that changed the face of Christianity. Like Calvin, it didn’t change things to something new, but rather it brought many back to the faith once for all delivered to the saints.

In the early 1900s, John Gresham Machen, combated what was then modern liberalism, with his book “Christianity and Liberalism.” His major point in that amazing book was that Liberal Christianity is not Christianity at all. Instead, it is a new religion that seeks to corrupt the Christian church.

While Machen didn’t put an end to it, he dealt a significant blow to it for quite some time. I think the two world wars, and the bloodiest century of all time, may have played a role in curbing it as well. It seems that liberalism isn’t compatible with the real world, or how broken and fallen the real world is. Unfortunately, in our time of mostly peace in the United States, at least as far as the average citizen observes, the cancer began to grow back, and we have the post modern emergents. It is nothing new, different faces for the same old heresies. Tony Jones, Doug Pagitt, Rob Bell, Brian McLaren, and Greg Boyd being among the leaders of the new post-modern liberals emergents.

What they all have in common starts with a denial of the truth of Scripture. It starts with denying things that “no one can really know for sure,” and “things that don’t really matter all that much,” and moves on to denying the deity of Christ, the reality of hell, and Jesus being the only way to God.

Like all heresies, they are defeated by generations that came before us, but they grow back with slight mutations and must be defeated again by another generation of Christians.

Thankfully, history, and God’s providence are on our side.

That book, Christianity and Liberalism, is as powerful and relevant today as it was in 1923 when it was first published. The book is no longer under copyright. So, please feel free to download a free copy today, and to distribute it as much as you are able to. Please, for your own benefit, and the benefit of the Christian church as a whole, read it. (epub | pdf | Kindle mobi | audio)

John Calvin’s Birthday Institutes Giveaway!

Tags

,

Cakeb John Calvins Birthday Institutes Giveaway!For the 504th birthday of John Calvin I want to give away free copies of Institutes of the Christian Religion. I have it available in epub (anything but Kindle can read this) and mobi (Amazon Kindle) formats. Or, if you prefer to listen, a link to an audio book version that is also free.

epub format for Nook, almost any other ereader device or app

mobi for Amazon Kindle or Kindle apps

Institutes of the Christian Religion audibook from Reformed Audio.org

Secular Church

 Secular ChurchSecular Church, two words that seem to contradict one another. Apparently that is no longer the case. A “church” in Baton Rouge is about to have their first service. A secular church providing “life enhancement” messages about how to be a better person and how to enjoy life more.

In some ways this is nothing new, the Unitarian Universalists are almost to the point of being a secular church. Many of the churches in the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America (ELCA), Presbyterian Church USA (PCUSA), and United Methodists no longer seem to believe in Jesus, or that He is the only way to the Father anymore.

A few things did stand out from the article though. First is DeWitt’s own testimony, that his background is Pentecostalism and that he was “saved” (emphasis in original) at Jimmy Swaggart’s church at the age of 17. As a follower of the Reformed tradition, or Calvinism, if you will, I don’t believe that someone could be saved and then somehow have lost that salvation. Rather, we believe that God does not lose His sheep. But, I definitely believe that false converts are often made, especially when emotionally manipulated into the semipelagian act of “making a decision” for or “accepting” Jesus.

Is it possible that DeWitt was emotionally manipulated, or even somewhat convicted about his sin, and told to pray a prayer, to accept Jesus, or to go and do better? Maybe he was told that God helps those who help themselves and he should live better and God would save him? And after Mr. DeWitt prayed that prayer, was he told by Mr. Swaggart that he was saved?

If the Gospel is not rightly proclaimed, and if the command given is something other than to repent and believe, what should we expect but false converts?

Jimmy Swaggart is known for his rather charismatic Pentecostalism. The charismatic church is known for its “experiencing the Holy Spirit.” Seeking after feelings rather than trusting in God’s promises. Seeking personal revelation rather than God’s Word. Seeking that which God has not promised rather than trusting in what He has. When someone no longer “feels” this experience what do they turn to? If they’ve never been taught to read and trust God’s word and promises, what will they seek? From where does assurance come?

A false convert in a church that sought after, and likely even manufactured, experiences rather than truth is a bad recipe. A false convert told to live better or do your best and God will do the rest is a tragedy. A tragedy as the false convert likely for awhile thought he was saved, but then comes to realize the things he was taught aren’t true, that is, he never heard the true Gospel and believed.

The other point that really stood out to me though, and which leads to my assumptions above, is what DeWitt thinks the churches preach. And, sadly, I would have to agree with him, that most churches do preach exactly what DeWitt says.

The sermons will be about “life enhancement” – a subject that DeWitt says successful ministries already focus on, with lessons about how to be a better person and how to enjoy your life more. DeWitt’s church just won’t wrap those messages in a religious context.

The sermons will be about “life enhancement”, how to be a better person, and how to enjoy your life more. There are many sermons like that, there are many so-called pastors that preach that. But, that isn’t what Jesus and the Apostles taught. A sermon is supposed to be about Jesus, about how He died in the place of sinners paying for their sin and giving them His righteousness. If the Christianity I believed in was what DeWitt seems to believe the church teaches, I too would become an atheist.

Fortunately, the Gospel isn’t about life enhancement, it isn’t about becoming a better person, and it isn’t about enjoying this life more. It isn’t even about “life change” as many preach today. It is about Jesus dying for the sins of the world to save those who believe. Repent and trust in Christ alone for the forgiveness of your sins.

And to Mr. DeWitt, I’m sorry that you heard a false Gospel of life enhancement for those 25 years. I’m sorry that you were probably told to pray a prayer to accept Jesus into your heart. I’m sorry that you were probably told that you were saved because you prayed a prayer. And I’m sorry that you were probably told to look to feelings and experiences rather than God’s promises as found in His word. If by chance you come across this post please contact me and I’d be glad to hear and discuss your experiences and, if you are willing to listen, to talk about Jesus and the Gospel. I live within a few hours of Baton Rouge, so if you see this and want to talk, let’s make this happen.