Wednesday, March 26, 2014

World Vision and Samaritan's Purse

note: this was written before the decision was reversed.

Just a foray into a larger discussion, but as I've read World Vision's announcement and a spectrum of evangelical Christian responses it has become apparent to me that there is a failure by some pretty prominent Christian leaders--such as Franklin Graham--to appreciate and deal articulately with the nuances of the situation.

For my part I appreciate Richard Stearns' explanation that World Vision is "deferring to the authority of churches and denominations on theological issues"---which means continuing to work across theological divisions to unify churches in helping the global poor. Franklin Graham's insinuation that World Vision is trying to unify churches, full stop and without qualification, seems to be at best a misinterpretation and at worst a kind of opportunism.

I have a feeling that some of my readers and friends will see this another way, and I'm happy to hear from them and discuss. Perhaps Graham would say that Stearns does not intend to make a theological determination on behalf of partnering churches, but by his actions inevitably does. If so, then Graham should make that more clear, and explain why, in this case, the theological determination is wholly out of bounds.

Let's be clear: "in this case" refers to employment in the particular task of World Vision---which it sees not as church planting or even proselytization but as an operational humanitarian extension of the Church's overall mission. In that case it seems relevantly ironic that Franklin Graham's organization, Samaritan's Purse, derives its name from a story where a religious outsider helps a person in need, no questions asked.

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