This is a page that focuses on religious and theological issues, as well as providing comprehensive teaching from a classic Catholic perspective. As you read the articles, it is my hope they will educate and bless you.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

The Cost of Compromise

Earlier this week, a major Evangelical ministry, World Vision, really stuck its proverbial foot into its mouth when its President, Richard Stearns, decided to allow same-sex couples to be "married" and remain in the employ of World Vision.  He said it was not about politics, but rather about "unity," although he meant unity at the cost of apostasy.  A good part of this story is that a couple of days later, Stearns and the other leaders of World Vision came back to say that "after looking at the Scriptures more closely," they decided to rescind that policy.  However the damage was possibly done, much as it was to Exodus International a couple of years ago.  Despite the right move to reverse what was a stupid statement on the part of Stearns, some questions still remain:

1. How is it, first of all, that only now are they "discovering what Scripture has said all along?

2.  Secondly, being that Stearns had his brainfart spasm a couple of days ago, it begs the question as to what else he's going to make stupid statements about?

3.  Thirdly, being that World Vision is a ministry of compassion, isn't it odd that Stearns pulls in a $350K annual salary?  This is something I find odd, as World Vision was one of the founding ministries of the Evangelical Council for Accountability (ECFA), and they didn't find that odd??  To me, Stearns is reminiscent in that regard of the professors at Southeastern University these days who make a lot of stink about the "plight of the poor," yet they too have extravagant salaries and $300K homes, drive around in fancy cars, etc.  

4.  Finally, the fourth question is what really warranted this change of heart - was it the prayerful seeking of the Holy Spirit's direction through Bible study, or was it the potential loss of donor dollars?     After all, there were many staunch pro-family Evangelical Christians from a variety of denominational backgrounds who embrace traditional values and would not even consider the possibility of "gay marriage," and many denominational leaders, heads of theological schools, and others (including the president of Dallas Seminary, as well as the heads of both the Assemblies of God and the Southern Baptist Convention) have advocated ceasing support among their members for World Vision. 

These questions have provoked questions from others on social media sites such as Facebook, and one woman I saw who posted on a FB discussion about this had a very legitimate question - she wanted to pull her support from World Vision, but she was worried about the child suffering that she was supporting through them and she didn't know what to do.  So, I want to offer some bits of advice on dealing with something like this, as it might help give some answers and elimate some confusion:

1.  First, if you are supporting a child through World Vision, don't necessarily stop but also start demanding a higher level of accountability from them - this should be a standing rule with any ministry or organization actually.  In World Vision's case, they have membership in ECFA, and ECFA requires that its members provide quarterly or annual financial disclosures to their supporters, so take full advantage.  If your support, for instance, is giving more towards lavish executive perks rather than helping the children or whoever the ministry is supposed to serve, this is a problem that needs to be addressed.  Also, grill these people to explain exactly what "administrative costs" are, because oftentimes these are loopholes that hide unnecessary perks and ridiculous expenses.   If you see excessive "administrative costs" that take up more than 5% of an organization's budget, it's time to maybe pull your support.

2.  Despite some heart-tugging advertising campaigns some of these organizations use regarding specific children, the fact is one of these children may be the beneficiary of aid from a variety of sources, as it should be - one source often doesn't cut the living expenses of the families of these children.  It may take some homework, but if you are dissatisfied with the accountability of an organization like World Vision, it would be wise to research into similar ministries, because you may be able to financially contribute to the same child and their family through another organization that is helping them.  If I were a donor, I would research similar organizations such as Compassion International and Food for the Poor, as a chance exists that you may be able to continue sponsorship of the same child you have been donating to through one of the other organizations.  If that be the case, shift your support then to them.

3.  It must also be remembered that just because an organization claims to be "Christian" does not mean it is necessarily.  A perfect example is Christian Children's Fund, whose ads you may recognize by the Miss Piggy-esque mug of a fat Sally Struthers trying her hand at tear-jerking.  CCF was founded over 100 years ago, and at its beginning may have been more Christian, but the evolving theological liberalism of the mainline Protestant denominations that supported it have caused it to be about as Christian as the Church of Satan.  It appears that World Vision and other "Evangelical" ministries may be headed in a similar direction, given their permeation with the Emerging Church movement which has infected mainstream Evangelicalism sort of like crab lice infect a hooker.  Charity is a fundamental Christian conviction, but we also must temper charity with responsible Christian stewardship as well, not throwing money at every cause, campaign, and crusade that rolls down the pike just because it has a "Christian" label on it.   God is not the Haines Underwear lady, folks!  Therefore, in stewardship as well as anything else we must do as II Timothy 2:15 exhorts us, and be diligent to "study to show ourselves approved."  Being (and staying) well-informed is the most exemplary exercise of Christian stewardship, and one much of the American Church lacks today.

I hope this will be of service to those of you who struggle with supporting even supposedly "Christian" ministries that oftentimes see fit to compromise their convictions.  With Exodus International, Joel Osteen, and now World Vision doing its thing, there  are bound to be others, and we live in a day and age where we need to exercise sharp discernment, because the deception of the enemy is getting more intense.  Use these tips I have provided, and may God's blessings be with you as you are encouraged that ultimately HE is still on the throne!