By Faith or By Sight? World Vision in Perspective

I’m sure most of you have been amply informed concerning the World Vision USA news that has harried itself in and out of the Christian blogosphere over the past couple of days. In summary, on Tuesday World Vision released a statement that it would hire practicing homosexuals as long as they are in a legal marriage. This received considerable backlash from the evangelical community which in tern received considerable backlash from the more “progressive” Christians. Another big announcement was released by World Vision USA yesterday afternoon when they announced that they are going back on their original decision and are whole heatedly committed to the Biblical understanding of marriage understood as the union of one man and one woman. This serving as summary, I would like give a few thoughts concerning some of the reactions to the original announcement (pro-gay) that I came across yesterday.

Like I mentioned, the evangelical community was no fan of World Vision USA’s announcement and they made that perfectly clear. The reactions that I would like to highlight is those reactions of professing Christians who chose to lambast the evangelicals for their condemnation of World Vision USA’s decision. One response in particular that caught my happened to be a tweet by Michael Gungor.

In terms of rhetoric this tweet is brilliant. Michael Gungor (“MG” henceforth) seems to pit two Biblical principles against each other and place them on a scale. On the one hand you have caring for the poor and on the other you have judging homosexuality. In MG’s mind, caring for the poor should far outweigh petty discrimination towards homosexuals. On the surface this seems like wisdom. But when you scratch beneath the surface of the argumentation MG uses you will find that it ignores the most vital Biblical principle of all: Faith.

MG is concerned with service to the poor. This is admirable. In the words of James “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.” Christians should be in the business of serving the poor, helping widows, and housing orphans. But in the words of the author of Hebrews “without faith it is impossible to please God.” This means that in our service to the poor we must be serving in faith otherwise it is not pleasing to God.

The reason that I bring up faith as the issue here is because faith, in its very nature, is able to hold the seeming tensions that the Bible sets forth. The way MG seems to see things is that, depending on the situation, one aspect of Biblical teaching must necessarily give way to another and we ultimately become the judges of the which ones we follow and which ones we don’t.

The man of faith is able to believe that God is the God who created everything out of nothing and calls forth into existence things that are not (Romans 4:17). The man of  faith sees no tension between loving the poor and at the same time disagreeing and not supporting a ministry that blatantly disobeys scripture, regardless of how much good that ministry does for the poor. The reason the man of faith can do this is because the man of faith has faith that God, not himself or a ministry, cares more about the poor than we do and is ever mindful of them.

When we get picky and choosy with Biblical ethics and sacrifice one at the expense of another we are essentially pretending that we are, in fact, God. This should not be the case. Jesus teaches us to obey all that he has commanded us (John 14). When, in faith, we commit ourselves to obey God, we cannot agree with something that is against God, regardless of how much “good” that something might be accomplishing. We must have faith, confidence in that which cannot be seen, that being faithful to God will ultimately bring about more good (Romans 8) than to compromise of Biblical ethics because of the good we can see (not faith) happening now.

I realize that in making these points on these particular issues is somewhat of a moot point because World Vision USA retracted their original statement and are now (thankfully) repentant and obedient to the Biblical definition of marriage. The point that World Vision USA has changed their stance does not change the way many progressive Christians responded to the evangelical detractors. MG (and others) who seem to think that doing good works can somehow atone for disobedience to God present a very disjointed (although compelling to many) view of the way we are to humbly relate to God and his commands.

These are my thoughts on a rather particular aspect to this whole situation. I hope they weren’t too disjointed and I was able to present my thoughts well enough to make a point. Furthermore, I hope the point I was trying to make was helpful.

Food for thought.

Michael

Advertisements

4 comments

  1. I feel like this is more of an incognito lecture on what it means to respond to all scripture in the best possible way. Michael, you point out that Faith is the highest and most biblical effective way to respond and act on all scripture because it says verbatim it is impossible to please God without it. As a Christian, what is the best way to believe and obey all of God’s Word? Your answer is Faith. I agree that faith is required, but as you know, there are many other godly principles that add to the many pages of the Bible. Put it this way, if Faith was the only way, why didn’t God just stop the author of Hebrews and close the book and say “that’s it. The book is finished and there is nothing more to add to it. If people just read this vital point, it is all they will ever need to know” But as you know, there ARE other principles that compliment the principle of faith that Jesus also talks about (love, hope, forgiveness, humility and you know all these). In this particular post though, you actually brushed on another principle with words such as “wisdom” and “judging” “balancing scriptures on a scale”. Unknowingly, you are actually pointing to the biblical principal called Discernment. Google this word, check this out and you will see how this all ties into your main point, which is: As a Christian, what is the best way to believe and obey ALL of God’s Word? Obviously faith, but discernment as well!

    I am referencing this link now: http://www.gty.org/resources/questions/QA138/what-is-biblical-discernment-and-why-is-it-important

    Discernment is the process of making careful distinctions in our thinking about truth. First Thessalonians 5:21-22 teaches that it is the responsibility of every Christian to be discerning. Discernment — the ability to think biblically about all areas of life — is indispensable to an uncompromising life. It is incumbent upon the Christian to seize upon the discernment that God has provided for in His precious truth! Without it, Christians are at risk of being “tossed here and there by waves, and carried about by every wind of doctrine” (Ephesians 4:14).

    To add further, you never mentioned once in this post, the role of the Holy Spirit. All denominations acknowledge Father, Son and Holy Spirit. What is the role of the Holy Spirit in our lives and how does He help us? John 14:26 “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. ” The Holy Spirit inside you, helps you to discern truths in His Word that the Father knows. Spirit unto Spirit. That’s a whole other topic but I wanted to add this in because our belief in faith of what the Holy Spirit can show us or teach us is indispensable to a practicing Christian.

    P.S. I used discernment to understand what you were really saying in this post.

    1. Thanks for the comment Danielle!

      I don’t think there is anything you wrote that I would disagree with! I just never mentioned them in the post.

      My main concern was in addressing the false dichotomy often set up between the moral/ethical principles the Bible presents and its commands toward charity and love.

      Thanks again for the comment!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s