Search

I’ve already written at length on why I think World Vision’s new hiring policy is a profound mistake. I won’t rehash those arguments here. But I want to briefly respond to a couple of points that keep surfacing–points that can appear more persuasive than they really are.

Poor Argument #1: How can you let children starve just because you don’t agree with gay marriage?!

This line of reasoning packs an emotional punch. Who wants to be the Levite who refuses to cross the road to help the  sick and dying just because a gay couple wants to help the battered man too? Ouch. Sounds terrible. But the argument is much less than meets the eye.

It assumes that sending money to or through World Vision is the only way to help the poor. The situation is not analogous to the parable of the Good Samaritan. Or if it is, it’s like the Samaritan hears about people in Spain suffering from famine and there are seven different ships sailing to Spain to deliver relief and he has to decide on which ship to place his grain.

The argument assumes that as long as a person or organization aims to help the needy every other consideration is irrelevant and inappropriate. But what if Samaritan’s Purse had announced on Monday that it was now was open to hiring polygamists or racists or sex offenders or members from Westboro Baptist, do we really think the progressive wing of the church would be as strictly utilitarian then?

The argument assumes that the critics of World Vision are themselves indifferent to the suffering of others. To be sure, not everyone reduces the argument to this ad hominen level. But some do, as if people like Justin Taylor, Russell Moore, and Trevin Wax have never done anything for orphans in their lives. Meet their families. Read their bios.

The argument assumes too much. If the needs of hungry children justify the acceptance of homosexual behavior as consistent with Christian witness, why disallow adulterers from being hired? Why insist on Trinitarian Christianity? Are we so overcome with Mormonophobia that we wouldn’t help the bloody man on the Jericho Road just because Mormons want to help him too? World Vision is a Christian organization which insists on certain Christian beliefs and Christian behaviors in its employees. If we are all utilitarians in the strictest sense, we ought to have been outraged with World Vision a long time ago.

The argument assumes that maintaining its Christian identity is ancillary to the real mission of World Vision. If gay marriage is good, let it be said so. Then what we are really arguing about will be clear. But if a Christian believes same-sex intercourse is not fitting behavior for the holy ones of the Holy One, then it makes sense that he would see the tacit support of gay marriage to be deeply subversive to the Christian identity of World Vision, so much so that he may choose to support another organization which more fully embraces Christian principles.

Poor Argument #2: Isn’t it best not to take sides since the church has not reached consensus on the issue of homosexuality?

This train of thought contains a kernel of truth. On some issues it is the better part of wisdom to draw a line in the sand at refusing to draw lines in the sand. Sometimes when faced with committing to the run or committing the pass, we punt instead. But as a general principle the “we can’t decide what is biblical without consensus” argument is absolutely disastrous.

On what point of theology do professing Christians everywhere in the world agree? You can find churches, scholars, and pastors who support abortion and others who oppose abortion, some who believe the prosperity gospel is good and others who believe it is wicked, those who believe the bodily resurrection of Christ is essential to the faith and others who believe the resurrection is only a powerful spiritual metaphor. There is not one point of World Vision’s statement of core values or behavioral hiring policy that some Christian and some church would not dispute.

Okay, you say, but those are extreme examples. Obviously, we aren’t talking about anything goes. We must walk in the way of the Great Tradition. That’s what really matters–the Apostles’ Creed, the Nicene Creed, Chalcedon, that sort of stuff.

And what sort of consensus was there at time of Nicea? Arius was a sincere person. Arius had Bible verses. Arius had a following. We are happy to use the Nicene Creed as a means of stating our consensus, but the creed was first necessary because there was not complete consensus. Every creed and confession in the Great Tradition arose out of some controversy. If the church must steadfastly refuse to take sides every time professing Christians read their Bibles differently, then shame on Augustine for combating Pelagianism, shame on Chalcedon for getting hung up on definitions, shame on Athanasius for wasting his life contra mundum for a diphthong.

Of course, it may be argued that homosexuality is not nearly so important as those issues. But given 2,000 years of pretty darn near unanimous consensus on the sinfulness of same-sex intercourse, this is a point that must be proven, not merely sidestepped because that consensus has been fractured in the West. Everything in the New Testament–from Paul’s farewell to Ephesian elders to the pastoral epistles to Jesus’ letters to the seven churches in Asia Minor–suggests that within the church there will always be those who oppose the truth.

Always.

In the church.

As in, no universal consensus among those who profess to be Christians.

The task, then, of the Scripture-saturated, Spirit-filled, heaven-smelling, holiness-pursuing, righteousness-loving, grace-offering church is to discern the truth, rightly handle the word of truth, and stand as a pillar and buttress of the truth, so that the sheep are protected, the wolves are warned, and the darkness is exposed by the light. On issues of eternal significance–the kind the devil loves to confuse–to wait for consensus is not compassion; it is capitulation.


View Comments

Comments:


81 thoughts on “Two More Thoughts on the World Vision Controversy”

  1. DA says:

    Tim,

    You must not be very familiar with the Reformed Church in America. If you were, you would know that the RCA speaks out of both sides of it’s mouth so they can ride the fence of the controversy in a desparate attempt to hold on to as many members as possible. You would know about the formula of agreement that allows homosexual pastors from ohter denominations to fill an RCA pulpit. You would also know that the RCA has been bleeding members from it’s rolls for many, many years which speaks to their desperation. So while you cut and paste what the RCA says out of one side of their mouth, below you will find what the RCA is saying out of the other side. The bullet points below are actually out of another of Kevin’s blogs. I ask you to read below and tell me how the RCA is any different than World Vision in their acceptance of homosexuality.

    •In 2005, at the same Synod in which Rev. Norm Kansfield was disciplined, an item was included under “new business” with the title “Engage in Dialogue or Hold Us Accountable, Too.” The letter stated: “We believe that the Church of Jesus Christ, full of the Spirit, should bless covenantal same-sex relationships, as it does heterosexual relationships. We believe committed same-sex relationships are not sinful, but rather a blessing from God. We believe that the Reformed Church in America ought to confess its sinfulness in adhering for too long to an oppressive position on homosexuality and ought to seek the forgiveness of its lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgendered brothers and sisters.” The letter included more than 150 signatures, including dozens of RCA ministers, scores of elders and deacons, and several professors at RCA institutions. (MGS 2005: 378-81)

    •In 2007, Rev. Jacqui Lewis was invited be the guest preacher at General Synod, this despite the fact that she and her church had recently made very public statements supporting and promoting homosexuality.

    •Room For All continues to pursue its mission, with seeming immunity, in “supporting, educating, and advocating for the full inclusion of LGBT persons in the Reformed Church in America.” Their website lists 16 board members, including eight RCA ministers, and lists 15 “Welcoming and Affirming” RCA congregations (four “Collegiate” churches in New York City, plus four New Jersey churches, and five New York state churches). Room For All offers several regional conferences and saw over 150 people attend some or all of their national conference hosted by Central Reformed Church in Grand Rapids. [Note: Since drafting the overture there are now 17 Room For All congregations, the latest Hope Church in Holland, Michigan.]

    •The Reformed Church of Highland Park (NJ), in partnership with a local Lutheran church and Unitarian Society, hosted a Room For All Christian camp for GLBTQ teens. The effort was spearheaded by Rev. Patty Fox, a pastor at RCHP and a lesbian with a longtime partner. According to the Room For All newsletter (Summer 2011), “Youth who identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual, or trans-gender were given the opportunity to spend time with other teens and adult staff who acknowledge their own Christian orientation.”

    •The legalization of gay marriage in New York has opened a door for RCA congregations and pastors there to perform same-sex marriages, even though this is in violation of the Scriptures and the official position of the RCA. For example, consider this announcement from an RCA church’s website in June 2011: “Tonight the New York State Senate voted in favor of legalizing same-sex marriage. The consistory of the Greenpoint Reformed Church has voted to encourage committed same-sex couples to prayerfully consider marriage, and pledge our support to couples wishing to get married in our church. If you would like to be married at the Greenpoint Reformed Church or would like one of our ministers to officiate at your wedding, please email us. . . .” Likewise, in an online article focusing on the wedding of a lesbian couple in an RCA church, one person reports: “I regularly attend Middle Collegiate Church where our Pastor, a fierce advocate for Marriage Equality, invited us to share our commitment along with two other gay male couples a week later, on July 31, 2011. Our families came to that ceremony where, in front of an affirming church community, three homosexual couples renewed their spiritual commitment through marriage.”

    •Ann Kansfield, the daughter of Rev. Norman Kansfield, was ordained by in the UCC in 2011. Ann and her partner Jennifer Aull (also ordained in the UCC), are listed by the Greenpoint Reformed Church in Brooklyn as their co-pastors.

    •According to a recent article in the Grand Rapids Press, “An RCA classis in New Jersey in September embraced the ordination of the Rev. Ursula Cargill, a gay woman credentialed in the Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches.”

    •On October 18, 2011, the Rev. Dr. Norman Kansfield was reinstated as a Minister of Word and Sacrament by a nearly unanimous vote of the Classis of Rockland-Westchester. The RCA Disciplinary Procedures (Part I, Article 6, Section 2, page 83) stipulate: “A person who has been suspended or deposed from office may be restored to office upon repentance and renewal of vows before the judicatory which suspended or deposed that person, provided that the judicatory is satisfied that the honor of the office will not be impaired and that the welfare of the church will be served by such a restoration, and provided that the restoration is approved by a two-thirds vote of those present at the meeting of the judicatory. Restoration after deposition shall include reordination to office.” It is hard to imagine how Rev. Kansfield has repented of Charge One which found him guilty of acting “contrary to our faith and beliefs as affirmed by the Holy Scriptures and the decisions of the General Synod concerning the relationships of active homosexuality.”A few days after his reinstatement Kansfield administered communion with his daughter Ann at the Room For All national conference. He gave a seminar entitled “Uncomplicated Theology for Same-Sex Marriage.”

    •On December 29, 2011, Rev. Jon Norton, who is on staff with the Synod of New York, posted the following announcement from Rev. Rob Williams (an RCA pastor in Rockland-Westchester Classis) on that Regional Synod’s website: “I am excited about one of the best Christmas presents I have ever received. On Wednesday, December 7th, Clark & David Cameron-Gonzalez allowed me to perform their wedding at our church (the United Church of Spring Valley). I had truly married them nine years before at the Marble Collegiate Church, but this wedding, on the ninth anniversary of the original, has the force of New York State law. Hallelujah!”

  2. Paul Janssen says:

    DA cites several examples of RCA congregations acting in ways that indicate that the RCA speaks out of both sides of its mouth. The RCA speaks, in fact, out of several more sides of its mouth — if you are going to count every statement that every congregation ever made on every single issue. Or if you take every statement that every minister says. But the question is what the RCA, AS THE RCA, says. (Sorry about the caps; I don’t know how else to make an emphasis) And, one might or might not like it, but the RCA’s official “position” (how a church without a magisterium can have an official position is beyond me) is enshrined in its reports on homosexuality from years ago. If you want to know what the General Synod of the RCA has said, read those. If you want 1,000 opinions, ask 1,000 ministers.

  3. SB says:

    I’m glad others brought up the RCA connection. I find it extremely ironic that a pastor in the RCA is condemning WV for their choice.

    DeYoung wrote: “On issues of eternal significance–the kind the devil loves to confuse–to wait for consensus is not compassion; it is capitulation.”

    How is this any different than keeping your congregation in the RCA, a denomination that is known far and wide for having capitulated? Staying in the denomination that allows or encourages the same thing you are condemning makes absolutely no sense to me.

  4. NessaLeigh says:

    I live 5 miles from WV headquarters and, though I am a full blown Christian with a degree in ministry I cannot work there because I am a Oneness Pentecostal (I believe in one God who, like 1 Tim 3:16 says, was manifested in the flesh and is fully Father, Son, and Holy Spirit while just one God, not three distinct persons).

    WV says the purpose was to prevent disunity in the church but if that’s true then why won’t they allow all denominations?

    Secondly, Jesus loved all but never condoned sin. He showed grace and mercy but then preached repentance. Romans 6 says that we should not abide in sin just because we have grace.

    Furthermore, WV says employees would still be required to sign the statement of faith even if they were in a homosexual relationship. But that statement says the Bible is infallible. Can someone who doesn’t believe homosexuality is a sin, which the Bible clearly states, truly believe the Bible is infallible?

    WV purpose and way of going about this was completely faulty and very poorly thought out.

  5. NessaLeigh says:

    Lastly, the church doesn’t need to reach a consensus about homosexuality. The Bible says it’s a sin and that settles it, no matter what any church believes. The Bible should be the sole source of doctrine.

  6. DFB says:

    We are taught in scripture that a fool cannot be reasoned with and it is foolish to reason with a fool. Which of these is you? I read the same arguments made over and over and scripture ignored and replaced with feelings.

    Christian it is time to knock the dust of foolishness from your shoes and coat and leave the
    Fools to there folly, at least for now. Let’s not waste time on those with hearts and minds to closed to hear God’s truth. Move on to more productive fields. For the harvest is ripe and workers are few.

  7. DA says:

    Paul,

    Yhe RCA also has an “official position” on discipline in the denomination, too, when churches or pastors continuosly violate the supposed “official position” of the RCA. By not disciplining those in violation of the official position, the RCA is giving tacit approval to the actions of those violating the “offical position”.

    Allowing Jacqui Lewis to speak at General Synod was not the action by a lone ranger pastor – it was through a direct denominational invitation by the RCA to speak at the GENERAL SYNOD!

    Being a member of the formula of agreement is an RCA action which allows homosexual pastors to preach in RCA churches in direct opposition to their “offical position”.

    These are hardly the 1,000 opinions you speak of but rather direct actions by the RCA that tacitly support homosexuality within the RCA. So what is it the RCA says, AS THE RCA? What they’ve put on a piece of paper as their “official position” or what they practice day in and day out?

    DA

  8. Brian Wasicki says:

    Well said, Kevin. Well said.

    Unfortunately, only the choir will hear it though, as Liberals tend to disregard logic and well-thought-out biblical arguments in favor of emotion and worldly ones.

  9. Paul Janssen says:

    The RCA indeed has provisions for discipline — and for who should practice it. It broadens from a Board of Elders, which is accountable to a Classis. The Classis’ discipline is subject to the Regional Synod, and, moving onward, the RS is accountable to the GS. The RCA does not discipline from the top down. If that’s what you want, you can find several episcopal denominations that do. It is a profound error of order to demand that the General Synod discipline local pastors.

    Jacqui Lewis was invited by a rather conservative pastor (and likely one who is not terribly permissive regarding matters of homosexual behavior, though I’ve never personally verified that) to speak at the GS over which he presided. The question was brought to the body. The body made a decision, during which the rights of the minority to express opposition were carefully guarded and maintained. Then the body made a decision. And surely you know that the RCA (even the Classis of New York) is in no position to discipline a pastor from the PCUSA. The consistory — well, sure, it could, if it chose to. But the Classis hasn’t chosen to do so. Cross-classis discipline would introduce wholesale chaos into the body, as the witch-hunters from BOTH the “liberal” and “conservative” ends of the denomination will go looking for each other. Surely you don’t want that.

    The Formula of Agreement, if you pay attention to it, also allows conservative RCA pastors to preach in other denominations with more liberal positions, right? There are lots of very conservative churches in the UCC, PCUSA, and ELCA — despite their denominational position on homosexuality. What’s to prevent conservative RCA pastors from “colonizing” congregations in these “liberal” denominations? The Formula is very careful about who governs pulpit and table. I suggest you read it again.

    You seem to want the RCA to be a denomination with a magisterium. It has none. You may wish to go to a denomination that makes “authoritative interpretations.” I suspect you’d be happier in that kind of order.

  10. Paul Janssen says:

    In other words, if you want Westminster, you may find a place that feels more like home within a Westminster denomination. There are several to choose from.

  11. DA says:

    Not to worry, Paul. I’ve already left the RCA because it has been taken over by people like you that like to split hairs on semantics at the expense of truth as your response demonstrates. I also know from your other responses here and on the Church Herald site that you are a big proponent of advancing the homosexual agenda within the RCA so I get why you like to split those hairs for your advantage. The homosexual agenda in the RCA is following the same track as the egalitarian movement within the church with similar arguments and similar violations of the “official position” of the church. It’s a slow process, isn’t it Paul, but eventually you’ll get your way. It’s progressing nicely for you and your Room for All partners and only a matter of time before full inclusion of homosexuals in the RCA takes place.

    You and room for all have made your position clear and you have a friendly home within the RCA. That ship has sailed. However, I continue to be amazed that Kevin speaks out about decisions like the one at WV while staying put at a denomination that is doing the exact same thing.

  12. TS says:

    DA,

    Could you perhaps stop spouting the same criticism over and over, at least long enough to actually absorb what KDY posted in reply to your concerns?

    “DA, leaving a denomination is something that takes a lot of prayer, study, and time. The process is long and arduous. Not knowing who you are, my assumption is that you have no idea whether we are in the midst of such a process or where we might be in the process. Grace and peace.” -Kevin DeYoung (March 27, 2014 at 7:41 am)

  13. Paul Janssen says:

    Wow. “People like me.” I’m not splitting hairs on semantics, but trying to live in an orderly way with my brothers and sisters in Christ, with some of whom I disagree. We have differing views of truth and how it “works,” I suspect. I don’t deny you your sense of it, but I frankly don’t share it. To me, there is enough room in a big Christian tent for the both of us. The folks who advance “the homosexual agenda” within the RCA will be surprised to find out that I’m a big proponent, since I’ve only been to one meeting of RfA, back in the day when it was initially forming. Let me be clear: I don’t have substantial difficulty with their approach, but I just haven’t been a participant. I regret that it seems you don’t understand the nature of “official positions” in the RCA; that’s why I suggested that other denominations may be a better home. If you have indeed left the RCA, might I suggest that you refrain from offering certain pronouncements about what it’s doing and characterizing them in such a way that they cannot help but sounding like they come from a disgruntled former associate? I only commented on this thread because I felt the need to offer correction to some of the characterizations you offered. You are free, of course to offer them. And I am free to offer what I believe to be corrections. Neither one of us, I imagine, are in full possession of “THE TRUTH”. Peace be with you. Someday we’ll have wonderful discussions, on this side of paradise or on the other.

  14. randy buist says:

    Resounding gong is what is heard hear. Tell a kid who has lost his sponsorship that you have it ‘right’ and he can find a new program to feed him. May God forgive your selfish attitude towards having ‘it’ right for the sake of your own salvation. Perhaps God is bigger than your own salvation.

  15. heather says:

    Someday God will hold you responsible for writing these things. Someday God will hold The Gospel Coalition responsible for believing that your interpretation of the gospel is the only pure holy gospel. Someday you will answer to him for this article and how you cared more about defending your position and making the decisions that people pull sponsorships acceptable. Its disgusting. And there are hundreds if not thousands of evangelical churches that find you and neo-calvinsm disturbing and “pharisaical”. Your organization and bloggers have to retract more blogs and behavior than any other evangelical organization out there. I know that my husband (a pastor at a church of 6000) and I do whatever we can to warn people of The Gospel Coalition and how irresponsible they are in leadership and theology. There are millions of evangelicals onto all of you. And these articles, defending the abhorrent behavior of dropping sponsorships will be your downfall and proof of your misguided and unbiblical behavior.

  16. Dave says:

    Kevin:
    Be bold. Keep speaking the truth. These flaming arrows cannot penetrate the breast plate of righteousness.
    Though in sending this I do not worry that you will falter. Likely, you will not see this word of agreement and encouragement. It is as much to those who oppose us. I write so they know we have not been drowned out.
    It is no use debating them. We know what God, through scripture, says about wasting time.

  17. Emily says:

    Hey Kevin;

    Just wondering if you have any gay friends? Based on this appalling post I assume the answer is no.

    Maybe start there. Make a friend who has walked a path different from yours, and be truly educated with your heart.

  18. Emily,

    A more germane question is would any gay people want to be friends with a Christian pastor? I don’t see gay people flocking to hang out with Christians. Why not?

  19. Actually, the answer to those questions is found in John 3:19-21.

  20. Emily says:

    Morris,

    Shame on you.

  21. Dave says:

    The fact that World Vision wants to show love and not discriminate against their employees is a bad thing? Didn’t Jesus hang out with tax collectors, adulterers, and sinners? Did He not die for us while we were still sinners? Doesn’t that mean He died for homosexuals too? Why is this the Gospel Coalition if it picks and chooses who receives grace?

  22. Peter Stainton says:

    If you are the Samaritan helping the man who was beat up on the roadside and then find out he is gay, do you withhold your giving? You are the Samaritan and the innkeeper is gay do you still pay him to look after the assaulted man and return later to repay any additional debts? Do you really believe that is what Jesus was saying in the parable? If you are currently giving to desperate children in other parts of the world and then withdraw your help because gay people at World Vision are helping you give. Does that make any sense for Christians?

  23. Wow. Denomination demolition run amok here, for the rest of us to sit here, read, and muse upon.

    Here’s the “nuts and bolts” of the whole thing; WV does NOT, I say again does NOT, enable the sponsoring of individual children. According to statements from the org’s Australian arm, the funds are pooled into funding COMMUNITIES, due to what they cite as “fairness issues.” Regardless, those that would grind their religio-political axes through the (perceived or actual) deprivation of “the least of these”, are worth less than pond scum morally, despite their best efforts to paint themselves as taking the high moral ground in their battle against same-gender marriage equality. That’s the “gospel truth”, no matter HOW Kevin DeYoung wishes to slice it.

    This type of atrocious, self-righteous behaviour on the part of those that claim the monicker of “Christian” is exactly the reason that I no longer identify as such. Color me “Pragmatically Spiritual / Spiritually Pragmatic.” Yes, I still believe in God, Christ and redemption, however I’m not about to use children as pawns in a dogmatic chess match. I’ve a tad more integrity than that.

  24. Gail Vibert says:

    I have contributed to WV for over 10 years. Never once did they ask me if I was gay. Well, I am. I think what they should do in all good conscience, is ask all their GAY contributors to stop sending in money so they do not “defile” themselves or the poor orphans. I pray that agencies like these will be less “Christian” and more “Christ-like”.

  25. Was looking for good writeup. It was some sort of enjoyment bank account it. Look intricate in order to a lot more additional acceptable of your stuff! Having said that, how might we all communicate?

  26. Terry says:

    The Bible always first and foremost. It does not matter what a “denomination” or “group” says about a matter but the clear statements of scripture. May God help us not to try to “reinterpret” what He has said for our liking.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

Kevin DeYoung photo

Kevin DeYoung


Kevin DeYoung is senior pastor of University Reformed Church (PCA) in East Lansing, Michigan, near Michigan State University. He and his wife Trisha have six young children. You can follow him on Twitter.

Kevin DeYoung's Books