UPDATED–Futile In Their Thinking: World Vision’s Hopelessly Incoherent Position

UPDATE, March 26, 2014: World Vision USA’s board has publicly retracted and apologized for their decision. Their letter is here: http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2014/march-web-only/world-vision-reverses-decision-gay-same-sex-marriage.html

I’m going to leave my article standing, however, because the hard fact is that the argument World Vision made is commonly used and convincing to many–as it was to World Vision until today. We can thank God for his mercy in granting repentance to their board; but we can’t assume that the underlying issues that drove it in the first place have disappeared. May this sad event serve as a warning to evangelicals about the dangers of accommodating the world, and of the continuing danger of indwelling sin for our lives and our ways of thinking.

Original article follows.

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By now, the news that the American branch of World Vision will allow practicing homosexuals who are in government-recognized gay marriages to work for them has been absorbed by the Christian community, and the evangelical response has begun.

Albert Mohler and Kevin DeYoung have some outstanding thoughts on this issue. I’d refer you there first, as they put the issue in far better terms than I can.

What I wanted to focus on was the fundamental incoherency of World Vision’s theological justification for their position. Here are the words of Richard Stearns, the American branch’s president:

“People can say, ‘Scripture is very clear on this issue,’ and my answer is, ‘Well ask all the theologians and denominations that disagree with that statement.’ The church is divided on this issue.”

The problem with making unanimity among everyone calling themselves Christians a necessary condition for confessing and practicing truth is that you can find a theologian somewhere who disagrees with pretty much everything. Several quick examples:

“People can say, ‘Scripture is very clear on [the Trinity],’ and my answer is, ‘Well ask all the theologians and denominations that disagree with that statement.’ The church is divided on this issue.”

“People can say, ‘Scripture is very clear on [the exclusivity of Christ],’ and my answer is, ‘Well ask all the theologians and denominations that disagree with that statement.’ The church is divided on this issue.”

“People can say, ‘Scripture is very clear on [the historicity of Jesus],’ and my answer is, ‘Well ask all the theologians and denominations that disagree with that statement.’ The church is divided on this issue.”

“People can say, ‘Scripture is very clear on [our duty to call every sinner to repentance],’ and my answer is, ‘Well ask all the theologians and denominations that disagree with that statement.’ The church is divided on this issue.”

“People can say, ‘Scripture is very clear [that God does not rejoice in the destruction of the wicked],’ and my answer is, ‘Well ask all the theologians and denominations that disagree with that statement.’ The church is divided on this issue.”

“People can say, ‘Scripture is very clear on [the existence of only one God],’ and my answer is, ‘Well ask all the theologians and denominations that disagree with that statement.’ The church is divided on this issue.”

To put it in different terms: there is a reason why our criminal justice systems use “beyond a reasonable doubt” as the threshold to convict a suspect, rather than requiring prosecutors to prove their case beyond any doubt. The hard facts are that not all doubt is reasonable and that there will always be some gullible soul who is convinced even by a really bad argument.

Basically, if World Vision’s approach to “Christian Unity” is legitimate, we wouldn’t be able to hold and practice any belief at all. So all Stearns’ pious protestations aside, on what logical and moral grounds does he prevent adulterers, cohabiting unmarried couples, or swingers from serving at World Vision? I’m pretty sure we could find a theologian or local church somewhere that would be okay with it.

This marks the end of World Vision as a Christian organization.

For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. (Romans 1:21)

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