Clueless Christianity, Fuzzy Thinking, and Some Spiritual Lessons

Much ink has been spilled on the recent World Vision debacle: the capitulation to the homosexual agenda, and then the abrupt about-face. As to the back-down, many are still asking if this was mostly motivated by genuine repentance or mere damage control. One suspects it may have been a bit of each.

As I wrote elsewhere, we can thank God and WV that they did bow to public pressure, and did admit to their grievous mistake. But we can learn some other lessons from all this as well. Sadly, there was lots of sloppy Christian thinking that emerged over this episode.

For example, simply calling WV out on this got some believers all upset. Consider this doozie that I received elsewhere for example: “Jesus is Love. OUR involvement in all of this, to be hands and feet, is to deliver the MESSAGE, and to Love those we encounter. Discrimination and legalism have no place in that.”

So, to simply ask questions about an organisation one contributes money to is being discriminatory and legalistic? By that twisted thinking, Elijah was wrong to ask questions of the Baalists, Jesus was wrong to ask questions of the Pharisees, and Paul was wrong to ask questions of the Judaisers. We are always meant to stand for biblical truth and morality, and when they come under clear attack – whether from within or without – we are to take a stand.

And I have spoken too often before about this worldly, saccharine-sweet concept of love which has no bearing on biblical love at all. It is always the epitome of biblical love to affirm biblical truth and to warn against serious error and apostasy.

Another clear bit of fuzzy thinking by some Christians had to do with the issue of forgiveness. I was told by more than one person that WV apologised, so we must simply forgive them and move on. We are not to “bash them” anymore I was told.

But this misses the point on several levels. It is one thing to forgive an individual, but here of course we are dealing with a massive, global, billion-dollar a year organisation. Millions of Christians (and presumably some non-Christians) are giving this organisation lots of money.

Thus WV needs to be fully accountable here, just like any other public body dealing with vast sums of money. Those who donate have every right to know exactly how their money is being spent. And if their giving is motivated by biblical concerns, then they have a right to know where the organisation stands on key biblical issues.

So while we certainly should forgive individuals when they offer apologies, things are a bit different when we are talking about global bodies like this. We might forgive the board members for example, but we still have every right to ask WV some ongoing hard questions.

Another matter that came up over all this was the concern that even though many were uneasy about the pro-homosexuality bit, they still wanted to make the case that we must continue supporting WV. The two most commonly-heard remarks from these folks were:

-“I don’t support homosexuality but they are doing a good job otherwise.”
-“Yes, but what about the children?”

Consider what one WV defender threw at me elsewhere: “I think its great that WV recognises that gay christians also want to help feed the poor. This has increased my respect for the organisation and makes me feel proud with my 15 year involvement with them. It saddens me that people prefer to put their theology above a child’s hunger. I think it would also sadden Jesus!”

Just to let you know what sort of “Christian” this guy is, he immediately followed that remark with this one: “Bill Muehlenberg are you a member of the Westboro Church by any chance?” Of course when ugly trolls say that sort of rubbish, I usually just ignore them altogether.

But since his first comment is reflective of far too many rather misguided and clueless Christians, it is worth using that as a representative bit of their thinking. Allow me therefore to offer a few responses to it. The first thing to say is this: What he cavalierly dismisses as mere “theology” is of course nothing other than the express will of God as expressed in his Holy Word concerning human sexuality.

And it is all about whether or not we are going to agree with God or openly rebel against God on such matters of fundamental importance. This idea that ‘people come first’ while theology is meaningless or unimportant betrays a gross perversion of New Testament Christianity. Right belief and right living are both crucial, and if we have flawed doctrine, our ability to help others will suffer as a result.

Is human need important? Of course it is. But the only way we can adequately and decisively address the needs and problems of mankind is to do it God’s way, and not to resist God’s way. Human beings are of course in need of both physical nourishment and spiritual nourishment.

Thus a genuinely Christian aid organisation will both look after the material needs of mankind, but also look after their spiritual needs. To address only the former is to relapse into the old spurious social gospel, where the spiritual truths of the gospel were abandoned, and work was done only on the physical level.

But biblical Christianity must always address both levels. To feed people, only to send them to a lost eternity, is not at all Christlike. Indeed, as Jesus clearly asked, “What does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses his own soul?” (Mark 8:36)

So to think that feeding someone while ignoring or rejecting the Word of God is ultimately being helpful and Christian is to fool oneself. And of course it is utter foolishness to think that children won’t be fed if WV is no longer supported by conscientious Christians. There are all sorts of aid organisations – both pagan and Christian.

Needy kids can be helped by plenty of other means, and there are plenty of Bible-honouring and God-fearing aid groups out there who do not abandon the gospel as they meet material needs. And that is exactly what we find not just in the US, but elsewhere.

Consider these remarks from the head of WV Australia: “We don’t engage in proselytism, and we work cooperatively with people of all faiths and those without a faith. In fact World Vision has more Muslim employees than any other NGO in the world, including Muslim NGOs. We strive to serve people everywhere without regard to their race, religion or politics.”

No proselytism?! Muslim employees?! If that is what they want to do, fine. But then they should stop pretending they are primarily a “Christian” organisation. They are acting just like any other pagan organisation in this case. Christians have every right to know how their money is being spent. We are to be good stewards of what God has entrusted to us.

If a group like this is effectively selling out on the gospel – or at least is refusing to even share the gospel with those they are helping – then we need to know about this, and we need to consider whether we may start giving elsewhere.

While we applaud all the good work WV has done over the years in helping children and others, if it wants to have the full support of the Christian community, then it needs to carefully take stock of where it is at. Is it indeed a Christian organisation, boldly and unashamedly proclaiming the whole biblical gospel, or does it just see itself as another aid organisation, with some Christians working for it?

And if it wants to regain the trust of evangelicals especially, then it still needs to answer some hard questions as Michael Brown suggests. Here is just one of them:

In your interview on Monday, with reference to homosexual “marriage,” you challenged the idea that “Scripture is very clear on this issue,” responding with, “Well ask all the theologians and denominations that disagree with that statement.” In contrast, in your statement of repentance, you said, “World Vision U.S. stands firmly on the biblical view of marriage.”

So, what do you actually believe? Many of us are genuinely confused. Are you now saying, “Although some churches may differ on this, we are reaffirming our strong belief that in God’s sight, marriage is the union of one man and one woman, while homosexual practice is always against the law of God, even in the context of monogamous, homosexual unions”?

On Monday did you feel that the biblical definition of marriage was debatable but on Wednesday you decided that this was not the case? If so, what produced such a drastic change? Your clarification here would help to instill greater confidence.

Yes, a very good question indeed. It is up to individual Christians what they now do with WV. Some have already made up their minds and will not be returning to WV. Others might choose to stay and do business with them. But we all should think carefully and prayerfully not just about how we deal with WV, but all Christian organisations.

Asking hard questions is never amiss here. Indeed, it is our Christian duty to do so.

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11 Replies to “Clueless Christianity, Fuzzy Thinking, and Some Spiritual Lessons”

  1. For those who think World Vision, or any other body, corporate or individual, ‘should’ be forgiven, a common error is to think that it is within out purview.

    “(Our Father) Forgive US our trespasses as we forgive those that trespass against US”.

    World Vision has an issue of forgiveness with God, not me. I have no part in the forgiveness of World Vision as it has not trespassed against me. It has trespassed against God and far from it being that God ‘should’ forgive them, it is a case of their repenting and asking for forgiveness from God. What God chooses to do is His Will.

  2. Thanks Chris. But WV has also trespassed against the entire body of Christ in its rejection of biblical morality and its capitulation to the radical homosexualists. And it has also trespassed against me and every other Christian who has donated to them. So it certainly needs to apologise to God first and foremost, but it must also apologise to all those betrayed by this foolish decision. Then it is up to individual Christians what they do with all this.

  3. Jesus was all about love?

    Tell that to the Pharisees whom he referred to consistently as:

    Children of the Devil

    Tell that to the moneychangers whom He ran out of the temple with a whip he made.

    Tell that to the woman caught in adultery to whom he replied after declaring that He didn’t condemn her (he couldn’t, there were insufficient witnesses) GO AND SIN NO MORE. (He wasn’t letting her off the hook, HE WAS REBUKING HER!)

    Tell that to those whom Jesus said: Or those eighteen, upon whom the tower in Siloam fell, and slew them, think ye that they were sinners above all men that dwelt in Jerusalem? I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.

    Or how about Paul who told the Galatian Judaizers that he wished that they would castrate themselves since they were so all about being circumcised. And Paul’s word concerning Alexander the Coppersmith: “He has done me much harm. May God reward him according to his deeds.” (In case you don’t know, that’s a nice way of saying “I hope God sends him to hell.”)

  4. Thanks Ed. of course all these actions were indeed loving – but loving according to the biblical definition, but not according to the world, and the evangellyfish.

    It is always loving to share truth and rebuke sin and stand for what is right. So Jesus, for example, was being fully loving to form a whip and use it as he overturned tables in the temple.

  5. To quote the meme from one of your previous posts Bill:

    “Legalism. You keep using that word. It does not mean what you think it means.”

  6. As we discuss theology and helping the poor, we should remember that unrighteous practices also lead to poverty as well as spiritual separation from God and physical sickness. So how can you fight poverty effectively without loving, knowing and doing the truth?
    We have just finished James at our bible study and I just noticed the last 2 verses of the book. It says there that “he who brings back an erring brother to the truth, not to love, but the truth has done a good thing and is responsible for many sins to be forgiven”. Very much paraphrased. Truth has got to be the starting point of any healing, reconciliation, etc. We know even in the physical realm, if you don’t tell your health professional what is really wrong with you he won’t have a clue how to help you get better. He might not have a clue even when you do 🙂 🙂 , but he certainly won’t if you don’t start with a truthful appraisal of the symptoms and continue that approach into diagnostics etc.
    Many blessings
    Ursula Bennett

  7. Yes, surely we all want to believe it to be genuine repentance. Yet also agree that a question we may ask is. “did WV reverse their decision because of true conviction, or expediency?” It is imperative that the Board who passed the original decision be checked out carefully to ascertain what are their REAL convictions on this matter. Otherwise, it’s possible they may simply wait and try another route to compromise the ministry’s stand.

    In another clarion voice for righteousness, the writer in the post hereunder offers other relevant truths for us to think about:

    Shalom from the Piries.

  8. Yes this morning I’m in total agreement with same sex marriage but tomorrow who knows. I could go either way, in the afternoon yes but by night time no. Sometimes no then yes quickly.
    I refuse to listen to my critics constantly harassing me to commit in some boxed in stifling way, no my yes can be no and vice versa.

  9. God’s love is not wishy-washy, but tough. Those who don’t understand how to love the sinner while hating the sin clearly don’t get that, and should think about these examples: God forbids murder, but still loves the murderer. God loves the prostitute, but forbids prostitution. God loves the alcoholic, but does not approve of drunkenness. A parent who lets a child do anything it wants is not loving but loveless, and that child will not grow up understanding true love.

    God indeed loves those who are sexually disoriented, but He does not approve their sexual misbehavior.

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