Friday, March 28, 2014

World Vision Episode--"A Truth Serum For Evangelicals"

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Dr. Richard Land with the Southern Baptist Convention says this week's episode with World Vision deciding to embrace homosexuality in their employment policy---then 24 hours later reversing their decision, provides a reality check for evangelicals.

In fact he says through this episode same-sex marriage has provided a "Truth Serum" for evangelicals.

I wrote about this yesterday and did not intend to mention it again today, however the shock waves and ripples continue across the evangelical community.

Dr. Land is suggesting that this event and the homosexual agenda may in fact serve to bring greater focus to the Truth of God's Word and serve to purify and refine Evangelicalism.

And that, he says, is always a prerequisite for true spiritual revival.

I want to share what other leaders like Franklin Graham, Russell D. Moore, with the Southern Baptist Convention, and Dr. George Wood, head of the Assemblies of God, are saying, and what we can take from their wisdom.

Franklin Graham said earlier this week, "I was shocked today to hear of World Vision's decision to hire employees in same-sex marriages. The Bible is clear that marriage is between a man and a woman."

"My dear friend, Bob Pierce, the founder of World Vision and Samaritan's Purse, would be heartbroken. He was an evangelist who believed in the inspired Word of God. World Vision maintains that their decision is based on unifying the church – which I find offensive – as if supporting sin and sinful behavior can unite the church. From the Old Testament to the New Testament, the Scriptures consistently teach that marriage is between a man and woman and any other marriage relationship is sin."

After the reversal, Franklin said, " World Vision has reversed their decision to employ individuals who are in same-sex marriages, after an onslaught of negative reaction. In our country today, there is tremendous pressure on Christians, churches, and Christian organizations to lower our moral standards. God is clear in His Word, and His standards never change. I’m thankful that Christians across the country urged World Vision to reverse their decision, and prayed fervently that they would do so. Three cheers."

Russell D. Moore was quite candid when he said, "This is no surprise, on one level." He explained, "The constellation of parachurch evangelical ministries founded after World War II have been running headlong, with some notable exceptions, toward the very mainline liberalism to which they were founded as alternatives. Some think if we can just barter away Christian orthodoxy fast enough we can catch the wave of that Presbyterian Church (USA) church growth boom."

He said, "But here's what's at stake. This isn't, as the World Vision statement (incredibly!) puts it, the equivalent of a big tent on baptism, church polity, and so forth. At stake is the Gospel of Jesus Christ. If sexual activity outside of a biblical definition of marriage is morally neutral, then, yes, we should avoid making an issue of it. If, though, what the Bible clearly teaches and what the church has held for 2000 years is true, then refusing to call for repentance is unspeakably cruel and, in fact, devilish."

Moore said he believes we are entering a time "where we will see who the Evangelicals really are, and by that I mean those who believe in the Gospel itself, in all of its truth and all of its grace." He says he expects "many will shrink back."

He wrote that there's "an entire corps of people out there who make their living off of evangelicals but who are wanting to 'evolve' on the sexuality issue without alienating their base."

"I don't mind people switching sides and standing up for things that they believe in," Moore states. "But just be honest about what you want to do. Don't say, 'Hath God said?' and then tell us you're doing it to advance the gospel and the unity of the church."

He points out that, "Donor bases come and go. But the Gospel of Jesus Christ stands forever. World Vision is a good thing to have, unless the world is all you can see."

Dr. George O. Wood, General Superintendent of the Assemblies of God, initially expressed his profound disappointment in World Vision's decision.

He said, "Recognizing legally valid same-sex marriages is not a narrow policy change. It is a fundamental shift away from a normative biblical understanding of marriage as the lifelong union of a man and a woman. Far from promoting Christian unity, the policy change enlists World Vision on the liberal Protestant side of the same-sex marriage debate as opposed to that of Pentecostal and evangelical churches in the U.S., not to mention Pentecostal and evangelical churches worldwide. And the policy change cannot be construed as anything but an endorsement of same-sex marriage. World Vision requires its employees to practice sexual abstinence outside of marriage. If it now permits its employees to enter legally valid same-sex marriages, then it has explicitly taken a position opposite of Scripture."

He told Assemblies of God churches and pastors, "Because of this policy change and the need to maintain continuity of care for the people who most need our help, I encourage Assemblies of God churches and individuals to begin gradually shifting their support away from the U.S. branch of World Vision to Assemblies of God World Missions and other Pentecostal and evangelical charities that maintain biblical standards of sexual morality."

Wood said, "Above all, I encourage Assemblies of God churches and individuals to remember and continue to put into practice James 1:27: 'Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world'" (NIV).

Yesterday, Dr. Wood applauded World Vision's decision to reverse their prior decision and called on members of the Assemblies of God churches to accept the apology from World Vision and continue any support they had committed to the organization.

It was Dr. Richard Land who perhaps put it all in perspective, and caused me to write on this subject again today.

He said, "The essential truth that emerges from this sad, but instructive episode, is that the issue of same-sex marriage is utterly unlike the other issues raised by Stearns in his original statement. The Bible is crystal clear on the issue of marriage. As God declared in Genesis and Jesus reaffirmed in Matthew's Gospel, marriage is between male and female (Gen. 2:18-25; Matt. 19: 4-6). Furthermore, God condemns all same-sex behavior as sinful and immoral (Rom. 1:26-27; I Cor. 6:9).

"As World Vision has learned, Evangelicals cannot declare 'neutrality' on this issue, and it cannot be fudged or finessed. If you tolerate same-sex marriage and/or same-sex behavior as acceptable morality for Christians, then you have rebelled against biblical authority and departed from the orthodox faith of biblical Christianity," Land said..

Land was very candid. He said, "As the World Vision episode illustrates so vividly, the same-sex marriage issue will act like a truth serum, dividing true Evangelicals from the faux Evangelicals who seek to travel under the Evangelical banner while denying the biblical faith of their Evangelical forefathers."

And finally, Dr. Land concluded, "Perhaps in the final analysis the same-sex marriage and homosexual issue will purify and refine Evangelicalism (always a prerequisite for true spiritual revival) by causing those who accept the current politically correct zeitgeist to be known. As the Apostle John said long ago."

"They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not of us" (I Jn. 2:19).

Be Discerning. Be Vigilant. Be Informed. Be Bold. Be Prayerful. Be Blessed.