Tuesday, March 25, 2014

The Ministry of Mercy must still go on

World Vision is a Christian para church ministry that provides ministry to poor and needy people, especially children, all over the world.  They take in a billion dollars each year for the operation of their ministry.  Christianity Today reported yesterday World Vision previously required its some 1,100 employees at the American branch to abide by a policy that required fidelity within marriage and abstinence outside of marriage, and only recognized heterosexual marriages. However, now World Vision is allowing gay Christians in legal same-sex marriages to be hired as well as gay Christians who follow their policy of abstinence outside of marriage.

World Vision's capitulation on the latest American cultural popular movement shouldn't really be a surprise given their para-church design and function. Churches slide away from biblical and historical moorings too, but not as quickly as para church entities. At any rate, I have supported Compassion International for years, which does similar work as World Vision. Hopefully your church or denomination has ministry like this in various places to which you can contribute.

Don't buy the guilt trip about stopping your donations to World Vision.

Mark Tooley of The American Spectator made a poignant observation-
"No doubt World Vision, which receives tens of millions from the federal government totaling about 18 percent of its budget ($174 million in 2011), has accurately calculated that it’s so large that it can absorb any significant drop-off in donations from traditional Evangelicals. It will chug along for decades to come, moving further and further away from traditional Christianity, becoming just another generic charitable machine in pursuit of government contracts and foundation grants. Who needs the Gospel when there’re so many good works to achieve?"

The gospel is fundamentally about estranged sinners being made right with God through faith in Christ (as His merit is credited to us). Compassion, love, and mercy are the definite fruits of one who believes the gospel. Compassion/love/mercy toward others is not an option for Christians, it's God's command, and frankly, it's the evidence we have actually been transformed by God's grace. The gospel is not fundamentally about meeting people's areas of poverty, such mercy ministry is a fruit of the gospel or reaction to the gospel by those who believe.

The institution responsible for ministering to the poor and needy is the Church. Every gospel-believing church must be about serving the poor. This can be done in many ways, but it must be done. So the first place to donate is our local gospel-believing church. Because the need has been so great over the years and churches have been largely negligent in meeting the needs (sometimes because governments have made it difficult to perform this mercy function- but that's a different subject) independent "Christian" organizations have cropped up to meet these mercy needs. Para-Church entities have done wonderful work, like World Vision, Compassion, and many, many, others.

I think people should give most of their charitable donations to their local church.  Hopefully your church is doing or supporting mercy ministry. If your church is not pipe lined in such a way, I'd seriously challenge your church's thinking or even find a new church (how can a gospel-believing church NOT be doing mercy ministry?). But, if you wish to give elsewhere, faithful para church organizations are an option. There are LOTS of really good para ministries doing very effective, Christ-honoring mercy ministry. People should choose an organization that most aligns with their convictions. That's all I'm suggesting here. For me, World Vision doesn't align with my core convictions, so I'll look for ones that do. Since there are many solid churches and organizations doing this work, we have lots to choose from.

Again, don't buy the guilt trip about stopping your donations to World Vision, unless you stop donating to the same cause all together. 

I trust there will be no less mercy ministry done as a result of World Vision's shift in position. It will simply be done by other organizations.

Monday, March 3, 2014

The Oscars (Neo-Paganism) interrupted by Neo-Evangelicalism-Lite

The Oscars are one of the most telling displays of neo-paganism one can observe, for that, I am always intrigued and pay attention. The best actor winner- Mattthew McConaughey- was totally deserving. His performance was masterful. 

His speech stood out, because he gave some credit to "God" at the beginning. I put "God" in quotes because what he said next rather defined God in his personal view (not based on God's revelation of Himself in Scripture or nature, for that matter). He spoke of His father in some kind of heaven, looking down with satisfaction. He noted the usual humanistic "respect yourself so you can respect others" doctrine, and then went on to say his life motivation is about chasing himself as his own hero. 

Honestly, his speech didn't make logical, coherent sense. As you might expect, many Christians are lauding his speech because in the midst of such a hedonistic, humanistic, neo-paganistic crowd, it sounded like he was Joel Osteen. 

But therein lies the problem- Joel Osteen is emblematic of the weakness of "Christian" thought in America today. So it was Neo-Paganism interrupted by Neo-Evangelicalism-lite as represented by a Joel Osteen-esque Matthew McConaughey. 

Yes, America in 2014.