The Real Hole in The Gospel
Posted by Matt Henry
Well, the news has hit that World Vision’s president, Richard Stearns, has announced that World Vision is redefining marriage as either one man and one woman, one man and one man, or one woman and one woman. So now, a so-called Christian organization has made a decidedly non-Christian decision. There are many who have and will weigh in on this subject so I will merely give a few thoughts on this situation:
In his interview to Christianity Today he argues that this “very narrow policy change” will be an example of the pursuit of Christian unity. He makes the point that same-sex marriages are tearing apart churches. Of course he fails to answer the real question of if that is a good or bad thing. I think that the bible is abundantly clear that the gospel has a separating quality because it calls people to turn from themselves and their sin to follow and love Jesus.
I would ask Stearns what Jesus meant in these words, “Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I came to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and a man’s enemies will be the members of his household” (Matthew 10:34-36). Or, what Paul said in 1 Corinthians 5 regarding a so-called brother who loved his sin over truth and Jesus, “I wrote you in my letter not to associate with immoral people; I did not at all mean with the immoral people of this world, or with the covetous and swindlers, or with idolaters, for then you would have to go out of the world. But actually, I wrote to you not to associate with any so-called brother if he is an immoral person, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or a swindler– not even to eat with such a one. For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Do you not judge those who are within the church? But those who are outside, God judges. Remove the wicked man from among yourselves” (9-13). You see, World Vision purports to be a Christian organization. If it were not, I would have little to say regarding the decision, it is a non-Christian making a non-Christian decision. But he claims Jesus as Lord as well as does his organization, so he is held to a different standard.
I am painfully aware that the idea is that those employees are professing Christians. But professing means nothing because at some point one must take what the bible says regarding what is a Christian seriously. I know there are books out there that speak about how homosexuality is sooooo misunderstood by the Church and yes you can be a Christian and also love and marry a person of the same gender. But, of course, the bible is clear and unambiguous on the subject except for those who earnestly desire otherwise. In other words, the problem with World Vision is deeper than this decision. In fact, this decision simply is a by-product of the real issue, they don’t know what a Christian looks like. Not in reality.
Stearns wrote a provocative book entitled, The Hole in The Gospel: What Does God Expect of Us?. It was well received over-all but that doesn’t mean it was a good book. His premise is that God expects the Christian to help alleviate poverty. That is fine. Our church is all for that. But as Dr. D. A. Carson points out, that is not the gospel. And here is the problem as I see it, now looking back upon that book. I think Stearns does see it as the gospel, just as the liberal church has always seen the gospel, more in a social justice perspective rather than a reconciliation with our Creator God through Jesus Christ. That book was merely a precursor to this current decision which is also not gospel-centered or even Christian. My mind goes back to these powerful words by Carson,
. . . even while acknowledging—indeed, insisting on the importance of highlighting—the genuine needs that Mr Stearns depicts in his book, it is disturbing not to hear similar anguish over human alienation from God. The focus of his book is so narrowly poverty that the sweep of what the gospel addresses is lost to view. Men and women stand under God’s judgment, and this God of love mandates that by the means of heralding the gospel they will be saved not only in this life but in the life to come. Where is the anguish that contemplates a Christ-less eternity, that cries, “Repent! Turn away from all your offenses. . . . Why will you die, people of Israel? For I take no pleasure in the death of anyone” (Ezek 18:30-32). The analysis of the problem is too small, and the gospel is correspondingly reduced.
In closing, I whole-heartedly agree with Trevin Wax who tells us to weep for the children. But I would add that we need to weep for the lost all the more. For the many who are lost while professing Jesus at World Vision and across this land shall one day hear those terrible words, “And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; Depart from me, you who practice lawlessness'” (Matthew 7:23).
About Matt HenryMiddle-aged pastor trying to figure out how to be missional in his world. Loves his wife, his children, and his dog Bear. I have a love of woodworking even though woodworking doesn't always love me. The name is xagete but is pronounced exegete.
Posted on March 25, 2014, in Bible Observations, Church, gospel, Missional, Politics, Theology and tagged D. A. Carson, Gospel, Homosexuality, Marriage, Orphans, Richard Stearns, Social Justice, The Hole in The Gospel, World Vision. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.