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.