"Language, as well as the faculty of speech, was the immediate gift of God." ~ Noah Webster

Sunday, February 13, 2011

A Concern or Two ~ EC-3

Since I am talking primarily about the book written by the president of  "World Vision", I thought it might be helpful to give a bit of history about this organization. As I said before, Richard Stearns’ book is not so much about the work of "World Vision"; but as the title suggests, The Hole in Our Gospel, it is more about what Stearns believes is the problem within the Christian faith.

"World Vision" was founded in 1950 by a pastor whom had traveled to China and South Korea as a missionary with “Youth for Christ”. His name was Dr. Robert Pierce. A sincere desire of Dr. Pierce was written on the flyleaf of his Bible: "Let my heart be broken with the things that break the heart of God."

To me that demonstrates a beautiful yearning for the things of God and explains why Dr. Pierce was so successful in his endeavor with World Vision. But his selfless ambitions did not end when Dr. Pierce resigned from World Vision in 1967. He also founded the effective evangelical Christian organization, "Samaritan’s Purse" which is now lead by Franklin Graham.

The original World Vision Mission Statement read as follows:

"To follow our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ in working with the poor and oppressed to promote human transformation, seek justice and bear witness to the good news of the Kingdom of God."
A current mission statement that I took from the World Vision website reads this way:
“World Vision is a Christian relief and development organization dedicated to helping children and their communities worldwide reach their full potential by tackling the causes of poverty.”
Not quite the same, is it? Upon searching their website further, though, I was happy to find the original statement has also been included on their website:

“World Vision is an international partnership of Christians whose mission is to follow our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in working with the poor and oppressed to promote human transformation, seek justice, and bear witness to the good news of the Kingdom of God.”
But still, upon searching "World Vision’s" website, the Gospel of Jesus Christ and any mention of the cross seems to be missing. So though started by a humble man with a sincere heart for the things of God, and whom had an effective missionary agenda, "World Vision’s" goals seem to have changed somewhat since its beginnings. In reading their website it appears they have lost their main desire to evangelize for Jesus; and instead as reported by some, they now direct their efforts toward “community development” and aid for the poor around the world. Unfortunately, although the name of Jesus is used, what He did for us no longer appears to be at the forefront of "World Vision’s" goals.

Of course theirs is a worthy cause and I don't know who would ever want to find blame with an organization that seeks to help suffering children around the world. I am simply concerned (as are others) about their failure to mention mankind's need for a Savior while claiming to be a Christian organization. Though their agenda for community development and help for the poor is indeed admirable and is truly something that is necessary around the world, if we do not include a salvation message to bring others into the Kingdom, I’m afraid it is all for naught. Sinners cannot be lead to salvation with a weakened Gospel that fails to show why they are in need of a Savior. How sad an organization such as this, would fail to show all that Jesus endured so that we might have salvation. Hopefully they do that in their work, but I could find nothing on the “World Vision” website that even so much as alludes to our old-fashioned Gospel message. It just isn’t there; and that appears to be the case for many of the emergent leaders and their ministries. That single factor is where the concern begins for those that question emergent doctrine.

But let me get back to the desire posted on "World Vision’s" website that speaks of seeking to help through community development. The Wikipedia definition of “community development” reads as follows:
“Community development seeks to empower individuals and groups of people by providing these groups with the skills they need to affect change in their own communities. These skills are often concentrated around building political power through the formation of large social groups working for a common agenda.”
Hmmm…..As I said, although the website tells us much about Jesus’ concern for children and the poor, one will be hard-pressed to find any mention of salvation or the cross. That simple fact is what is most needed to change and transform lives.
“We seek to follow Jesus — in his identification with the poor, the powerless, the afflicted, the oppressed, and the marginalized; in his special concern for children; in his respect for the dignity bestowed equally on women and men; in his challenge to unjust attitudes and systems; in his call to share resources with each other; in his love for all people without discrimination or conditions; in his offer of new life through faith in him. We hear his call to servanthood, and to humility.”
That’s as close as "World Vision’s" website gets to any mention of a Savior or Salvation. I believe what is mentioned in the above statement fails to include everything with which Jesus was concerned. Wouldn’t you agree? By the way the lack of capitalization of the pronouns referring to Jesus in this quote is "World Vision’s" error, not mine…

One more quote from the "World Vision" website:
“We are called to serve the neediest people of the earth; to relieve their suffering and to promote the transformation of their wellbeing. We stand in solidarity in a common search for justice. We seek to understand the situation of the poor and work alongside them.
We seek to facilitate an engagement between the poor and the affluent that opens both to transformation. We respect the poor as active participants, not passive recipients, in this relationship. They are people from whom others may learn and receive, as well as give. The need for transformation is common to all. Together we share a quest for justice, peace, reconciliation, and healing in a broken world.”
That pretty much sums up their vision. It sounds extremely noble. Certainly, it is something for which we should strive. But wouldn't it be wise to question their means and methods in seeking this end?

For me, one of the biggest concerns about the new "World Vision" – or perhaps I should say the president of "World Vision U. S." – is the political affiliations I have found. And though in his book Stearns seems to bash all things political, (I will get to that in future posts) "World Vision" itself, I believe, has become a liberal, emergent campaign. “World Vision International” has openly endorsed the “Universal Declaration of Human Rights” as well as the “United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child”. Believe me, that is a political posture! We have conservative politicians and organizations fighting courageously and tirelessly to pass an amendment to our US Constitution - “Parental Rights Amendment” - so that we might keep our freedoms as parents. Unfortunately, this amendment is now desperately needed to prevent the United Nations from having control over our own nation’s children and families! That is the type of control the UN will be allowed through the “United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child”! You can read more about the efforts and concerns of "Parental Rights" here:  http://parentalrights.org/

To see a “Christian” organization supporting the UN program mentioned above is frightening. Through out his book, The Hole in Our Gospel, Stearns makes a number of political statements, (sometimes subtle and sometimes not so subtle) but the whole attitude of his book is one of politics. It just doesn’t happen to be “conservative” politics.

World Vision by their own admission is an ecumenical organization that partners with Christian churches but desires to be respectful of other faiths. Respecting another’s beliefs is important and admirable, but when respect turns to acceptance of false teachings that are contrary to Scripture, a line as been crossed. This is a second concern of those that question the emergent doctrine.

This will be the only post written about "World Vision"; the rest of my posts will be concerned with the statements Stearns makes in his book. I’m sure it is safe to assume their visions of this work are the same.

Personally, I believe if Dr. Pierce was still living, he would not be happy with the direction that "World Vision" is taking.

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