Whirled Vision

My brief post on the reversal of the turnaround at World Vision generated some questions and comments, so let me chase them here.

Start with the central thing — and that would concern our duty of not being the older brother in the parable of the prodigal son. If the subject is sin and repentance, it should go without saying that we should never sneer at a broken and a contrite heart. How many times do we forgive someone? Jesus dealt with this famously when He said the right number was 70 times 7. And that does not mean that once the sinner gets past 490, then pow, right in the kisser. Our forgiveness for others should imitate God’s forgiveness of us, and it is obviously impossible to outshine Him.

Jesus taught that someone could sin against us seven times in a day, and that upon a profession of repentance we should forgive him each time. Now, along about the fourth or fifth incident, I might begin to suspect that my friend is not dealing with the root issues — but I am still to forgive (Luke 17:4).

So, how does this relate, if at all, to World Vision? Our problem is that we have confused two categories that must never be confused. In the church, we must learn to maintain an understanding of a fundamental difference between qualifications for fellowship (on profession of repentance) and qualifications for leadership (as found, for example, in 1 Tim. 3 and Titus 1). The former is not based on the record at all — the publican in the Temple professed himself wretched, and went home justified. But the latter is very much based on proven character over time.

If you require that every member of the church meet the qualifications for elder, then congratulations, you’re a Pharisee. But if you think that elders don’t have to meet the qualifications for elder, then congratulations, you’re a anarchist.

If a pastor committed adultery, can he be forgiven? Of course. Can he be restored to the fellowship of the saints, admitted to communion again? Again, of course. Could this happen in a very short period of time? Of course. Could he preach the sermon three weeks later? Of course not. But the fact is that we live in muddled times, and to refuse him the privilege of the pulpit would be seen by many as a “refusal to forgive.” But it is nothing of the kind. Apples and mangoes.

World Vision is a parachurch diaconal ministry. This means that the qualifications for leadership apply, and not just the qualifications for fellowship. And this means that the leaders of World Vision cannot just announce one day that a practice that God declared to be an abomination is now all right with them, and then two days later (after their financial support started to evaporate) drop that position like a hot rock, and yet remain qualified to provide moral leadership. They blew a huge hole in their credibility. Leadership being what it is, they can receive full and free forgiveness — but the hole is still there. The hole is still there because God wants it still there.

They destroyed their credibility, not me. The first step in restoring that credibility is to receive forgiveness. The second is behave in a way that shows that they understand that destroying their own credibility is what they did. The third is to recognize that credibility is something that is built over time, in the very nature of the case. They can’t just “have it back.” The next thing they should do is start accepting resignations. They sinned in a number of different ways, but one of the big ones is that they demonstrated that they were and are untrustworthy.

One of the most important truths I try to communicate in pastoral counseling is the idea that trust and forgiveness are two very different things. Many people cannot see their way to forgive someone else because they assume that forgiveness requires trust, and they are in a situation where trust would obviously be insane. Forgiveness is required of us because it has been sought, and we give it by grace. It is grace. But trust is earned.

So, do we forgive the leadership of World Vision for this sin that they have confessed? Absolutely. Do we trust them? Are you serious?

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Matt Massingill
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Matt Massingill

That all holds plenty of water, and yes we should give forgiveness by grace,  but my question is, have they really repented for the sin of dishonoring God by disregarding his Word in an effort to be expedient, or have they simply “asked forgiveness” – i.e. more as a figure of speech –  for striking the wrong chord with their partners and supporters.  Are they repenting for sin or are they issuing an organizational “my bad,” to mitigate the financial bleeding.    I have not read the letter they sent out, so maybe it’s more specific than I’m assuming, but… Read more »

rcjr
Guest

Excellent. Helpful. Hopeful. Boy howdy you have skillz. 

Matt
Guest
Matt

So just to be clear, it is a sin to hire homosexuals?

David Axberg
Guest

Amen my brother. 
 

David
Guest
David

Doug,
You remind me that being a pastor is a calling and that those called are gifted by God. Praying for you. Thanks for what you do.

Rick Gibson
Guest
Rick Gibson

Another, and very important, reason not to support World Vision is that they are anti-Israel.  One of the best, and fastest, ways to ascertain if an allegedly Christian group has gone liberal on us, is to check out their position on Israel.  World Vision, like all liberal alleged Christians, supports those who wish to destroy Israel.

timothy
Guest
timothy

So just to be clear, it is a sin to hire homosexuals?
 

No.

Dan
Guest
Dan

Matt to answer your question we need to make a few qualifying statements. 1. Same sex attraction is not a sin 2. Acting on same sex attraction is. 3. In a Christian organization policy of hiring should directly relate to scriptural adherence. this would include  things such as orthodoxy in matters of faith, character, i.e behavior. A person with same sex attraction who doesn’t identify themselves as “gay” i.e as their birthright, and also would agree that any sexual activity outside of marriage is forbidden by scripture; i.e. therefore any gay sex as sinful would imho be hirable  provided they… Read more »

carole
Guest
carole

This reminds me of the beautiful post you wrote about Doug Phillips.
 

Matt Massingill
Guest
Matt Massingill

Correction, “massage,” not “message.”

Alex
Guest
Alex

Thank you Pastor Doug,  My question and concern still remain. It doesn’t sound as though you actually addressed your statement from yesterday. My concern from it did not have to do with the distinction between forgiveness and trust (which was helpful, thank you), but rather, the judging of motives in repentance. In other words, I cannot gather from your comments that you forgive them, which, wouldn’t you say you have the obligation to do based solely on expressed confession, and measure of repentance? If not, should you not make that explicit, even with reservations regarding trust? It seems a gospel-issue… Read more »

Matt
Guest
Matt

Then Worldvision, at least in respect to this matter, hasn’t sinned and need not beg forgiveness of anyone.

wtrsims
Member

Matt, I think Pastor Wilson explained the necessity for repentance and forgiveness in paragraph 7, explaining that it’s a diaconal ministry that normalized sin.

Matt Massingill
Guest
Matt Massingill

Alex, I think part of the issue here is that World Vision didn’t sin against Doug Wilson in particular, or against all who disagree with their initial policy change.  They sinned against (a) God; and (b) any of their supporters who they (may) have made promises or pledges to to adhere to Scriptural principles.   I’m not sure that it can be said that anyone else who disagrees with their decision is an offended party.   In other words, not everyone who comments or offers a public rebuke is in the position to offer forgiveness, b/c they weren’t necessarily the ones sinned… Read more »

sean carlson
Guest
sean carlson

You are correct about forgiveness & also correct about trustworthiness. WV can receive the 1st but I’d say the 2nd has pretty much been shot to doll rags. How in the world did this Christian organization ever come to their original position in the 1st place? How can the Lord’s people trust them again? At the very  least their board needs to be re-shuffled.

Jane
Member

What does the question of “hiring homosexuals” have to do with what World Vision did, Matt? You do realize that this was not about that, right? It was about hiring people engaged in a mockery of marriage.

Jane
Member

Or I should say, it was about hiring people engaged in a mockery of marriage for work in a Christian ministry, which is a substantially different thing from whether it is a “sin to hire homosexuals” in general.

willis
Guest
willis

For all the people chiding for Pastor Wilson questioning their motives in repentance, can we be serious for a moment. Do you really think that funding had nothing to do with it? Do you really think this group of intelligent people would sit down and carefully think out a major break from biblical teaching, send out their leader to defend it, and then two days later suddenly have a change of heart unless funding was involved?  I am all for personal forgiveness but Doug is right on with the leadership thing. They are not fit for leading and it will… Read more »

Jill Smith
Member

When I look at pictures of hungry third world children, it is hard for me to see why they should be penalized because an organization failed to maintain doctrinal purity.  I would hold my nose and partner with the Westboro Baptist Church if it meant that starving children get clean water, food, and medical care.  I am very glad that WV reversed itself; but I am stunned by people were prepared to dishonor their commitment to specific children whose trusting faces they see every time they walk past their desks or their refrigerator doors.

David
Guest
David

Jill, I can completely relate to what you are saying, and I have thought about this as well. In reality, there are other groups you could redirect your financial support to, if you were so inclined. What I found so edifying about Doug’s posts on this topic was his comment regarding the difference between criteria for fellowship, and criteria for leadership. The interruption of funds in that scenario is really a consequence to the appropriate withdrawal of support from men who decided to disqualify themselves for Christian ministry (as opposed to secular ministry), and the blood is on their hands,… Read more »

Jeremy
Guest
Jeremy

One thing that may have contributed to World Visions reversal, but I have not heard mentioned, is the response of its 1,100 staff.  More than losing 2,000 child sponsorships in 2 days, having x% of staff hand in their resignation letters at the same time can quickly bring change.   Like Doug suggests, World Vision has a credibility problem when they make a policy change that does not reflect the majority values of its staff.  

Rod Story
Guest
Rod Story

Jill,
Charity Navigator (website) is helpful in ranking organzations who sponsor inpoverished children, particularly the administrative costs and real impact for these childern. World Vision has been slipping in recent years, becoming heavy on adminstration costs, including a highly paid CEO. Consider Compassion International for a better “bang for the buck.” Oh, and avoid UNICEF, unless you want to pay for fancy Europeans to vacation.
http://www.charitynavigator.org/index.cfm?bay=search.summary&orgid=3555

willis
Guest
willis

Jill, there are countless good organizations (or at least ones that do not publicly reject the bible). I can recommend Compassion International and the PCA’s MTW One Child program (we give to both).
Yes, it is sad to stop giving to one child but if there are other children that are unfunded because of the money that World Vision takes. 
 

Rick
Guest
Rick

Jill, the reality is that partnering with pro-homosexual marriage WV would be not very different than partnering with Mormonism. Not even hungry children are more important than honoring and obeying God.

Rod Story
Guest
Rod Story

One more thought: there are many organizations, religious and not, that seek to do good, and in a measure provide some temporary relief of suffering. However, passages like Matt 7:21-23 should give us pause–it is possible to do what we perceive as “great good” and yet not know God and His salvation. We must seek to do good “because we belong to Christ,” as Christ directs us in Mark 9:40+

Greg
Guest
Greg

Could he preach the sermon three weeks later? Of course not. Thank you for the thoughtful, intentional and Scriptural observations you shared. Now, concerning your quote above: this state of things has always been a curiosity to me. What is the time standard by which we measure “enough” time to reestablish leadership or credibility or both? Though experienced prior to the Pauline declarations of the qualifications of elders, I’ve always been drawn to Peter’s betrayal of Christ some 50 (or so) days before he stands on the Day of Pentecost to preach the Gospel. Clearly, God ordained the moment and the… Read more »

Moor
Guest
Moor

matt: There is little to add to those who have already addressed your question, but just so that we are all clear, your question is a red herring and does nothing to address the issue at hand.  You seem bent on turning this debate into something other than what it is, and while you are undoubtedly asking important questions, they are not particularly salient.  If you have a statement to make, just make it.

melody
Member
melody

Greg, does the name “Jimmy Swaggert” ring any bells?  Remember the big repentance drama in front of his church after he got caught with a prostitute?  Jimmy claimed that because he publicly repented of his sin, he did not need the proscribed year of counseling required by the AOG denomination under which he served.  Now, remember the next prostitute he got caught with? – Suppose a man confesses to his wife an affair he has had and seems genuinely repentant.  That same day he puts the moves on his wife to get her in bed.  When she protests that it… Read more »

melody
Member
melody

It seems to me that the leadership at WV has held needy children hostage and used them as pawns in a game to obtain homosexual power over another group of defenseless people.  If those leaders cared a fig about those children, they would gladly give up their own salaries to bridge the gap formed by the thoughtless and uncaring people who would withhold funds – wouldn’t they?

Jill Smith
Member

Thank you, everybody.  I think that this could make a person decide not to support WV if they have never done so, but I would hope they could find a way to ensure that every child they currently sponsor can be transferred to another organization.  If not, I would want to go on sponsoring my child even if every monthly check was accompanied by a letter of protest.  But, I do hope that people will reconsider their refusal now that WV has changed its mind.  I think there is a middle ground between backtracking because of genuine moral conviction and… Read more »

Eric the Red
Guest
Eric the Red

I need some more facts, but based on what I’ve read thus far I’m not convinced WV went quite as far as what they’re being criticized for.  If they have 2500 staff positions, do all of those positions involve leadership?  Presumably this includes people who work in the mailroom, empty the wastebaskets, and order office supplies.  Are all of those people required to be held to the standards of elders and deacons, just by virtue of working for a parachurch organization?  For that matter, are people in non-leadership positions in a parachurch organization even required to be Christians?  I strongly… Read more »

Eric the Red
Guest
Eric the Red

I need some more facts, but based on what I’ve read thus far I’m not convinced WV went quite as far as what they’re being criticized for.  If they have 2500 staff positions, do all of those positions involve leadership?  Presumably this includes people who work in the mailroom, empty the wastebaskets, and order office supplies.  Are all of those people required to be held to the standards of elders and deacons, just by virtue of working for a parachurch organization?  For that matter, are people in non-leadership positions in a parachurch organization even required to be Christians?  I strongly… Read more »

Eric the Red
Guest
Eric the Red

Sorry for the double post.

John R.
Guest
John R.

Eric, the immediate problem is not that WV was (necessarily) going to hire homosexuals for leadership positions (though that would indeed be a massive problem). The problem is that people in leadership positions in an explicitly Christian organization were going to adopt hiring practices which accede to a redefinition of marriage that mocks God, ignores the authority of the Bible, and is inconsistent with their own statement of Christian faith–which they admitted to in their apology. 

Aaron O'Kelley
Guest

This is a very helpful distinction, Rev. Wilson.  Thank you.

mekt75
Member

Holding kids hostage is what every school district does at bond time. Why should we be surprised that UNICEF @ WV. Both do the same?

Tim P
Guest
Tim P

I was one of the donors who dropped a sponsorship because of the policy change. I did pick it back up after the reversal.  I agree that they have lost a lot of trust but I felt that continuing my current pledge was an acceptable way to demonstrate forgiveness, though I will not be making any new long-term commitments through WV until trust is reestablished. Additionally Eric, for me the crux of the problem was that WV essentially stated in their policy that a flagrantly unrepentant person should be accepted as a faithful Christian period (in this case the pet… Read more »

David Moody
Guest
David Moody

Stearns, the president of World Vision, was interviewed <a href=”http://www.religionnews.com/2014/03/27/qa-world-vision-president-rich-stearns-sponsors-staff-lost-sex-marriage-announcements/”>here</a>.

http://www.religionnews.com/2014/03/27/qa-world-vision-president-rich-stearns-sponsors-staff-lost-sex-marriage-announcements/

It doesn’t look like he has changed his opinions.  It only looks like he has decided to be quiet about it again.
 

timothy
Guest
timothy

From :David’s link above:

 
…. I’m not telling people where I stand on same-sex marriage because I don’t think it’s relevant.
 

This is not leadership.
 
 

Joseph Hession
Guest

Pastor Doug, Could you address “the way forward” for those invested in W.V. children and/or initiatives?  For those un-invested they can choose Samaritan’s Purse or some other organization, but it’s quite a bit messy for those already in the game.  While I’m not trying to go for a “but what about the children” thing here…well…ok…in this case I am.  Sure, someone who was sponsoring a child could take their $30/mo elsewhere (there are no shortage of needy kids), but most of the money is going to the child someone is sponsoring, so the relationship is being severed with the child… Read more »

Cindy
Guest
Cindy

I have found this distinction between forgiveness & trust to be so very true in my own life.  Having said that, I’ve never really trusted or regarded WV very highly.  When we researched different organizations, they came to the top of the list for administrative costs, and after some prayer, we just felt ‘off’ when it came to them.
I found a great response re how to handle an existing relationship with a child sponsored via WV on Mere Orthodoxy, from Matt Anderson.  http://mereorthodoxy.com/whether-christians-keep-supporting-world-vision/.  Thoughtful, intelligent.
Thanks for this blog, Pastor Wilson.  Love. it.

timothy
Guest
timothy

Cindy,
 
The link you provided pulls up a page-not-found. Could you please summarize what the page said?
 
 

Eliza
Guest

It seems there is such a low standard for repentance.  They didn’t confess their sin against God and against His Holy Word.  They were trying to appease their constituency both times, the first time, those who are pro-homosexual marriage, the second time, those who take a Biblical stand against homosexual marriage.  They saw their number of supporters drop in response to their adoption of a liberal hiring policy regarding married homosexual couples.  In contrast, this is what David said when he was confronted by the prophet Nathan for his adultery with Bathsheba and murder of her husband Uriah: To the… Read more »

willis
Guest
bethyada
Member

Cindy’s link didn’t work because the stop at the end is in the hyperlink. Try http://mereorthodoxy.com/whether-christians-keep-supporting-world-vision/

James Bradshaw
Member

“Not even hungry children are more important than honoring and obeying God.”
Let me put this a little more bluntly for you: Better a child should starve to death than a fag drive the truck that delivers the food to them.
Christian love at its finest.  Do you demonstrate “God’s love” to your children by putting their puppy in the microwave after it pees on the floor?  I take that back … at least the dog’s suffering would come to an end.
 

timothy
Guest
timothy

Bethyada.
 
Thank you.
 
James.
When your blood pressure is reduced somewhat and you can think through your reflexive repulsion at God and His people, you may want to have a gander at the link as well. Your smear of “better a child should starve than a fag drive the truck that delivers food to them” speaks to your spiritual blindness and not to the character of the body of Christ.
 
 

David R
Guest
David R

@James – prior to this brouhaha, WV had a policy of sexual purity within and outside of marriage. Would you then claim that it was better that a child starve, than a lothario to drive a truck. Was this policy also hateful or punishing to children?

melody
Member
melody

The problem with WV and most other organizations like them – and the reason I choose to put my money elsewhere – is that they are interested in feeding children food and, for the most part, uninterested in the salvation of their souls. If you are going to market yourself as an Evangelical Christian organization, then for heaven’s sake, act like one or don’t ask me for support.  The wimpy Evanjellical Church has just become tiresome. The notion that WV chose to use children as hostages in order to promote a homosexual agenda is despicable beyond belief.