Apr

02

2014

 
 

Apr

01

2014

Justin Taylor|2:45 pm CT

10 Lessons I Learned From My Mistakes in Preaching

Kevin DeYoung offers ten things he has learned:

1. Beware of preaching all your battles from seminary.
2. Be careful with offhanded comments.
3. Be yourself.
4. Remember there are different kinds of people listening.
5. Don’t let personal conflict creep into your message.
6. Make sure your best stuff is from the text.
7. Be a pastor for the whole church, not just part of it.
8. Don’t give them the whole elephant.
9. Root for others and don’t compare.
10. Tell your congregation you love them and are glad to be their pastor.

Here is his talk on this at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, though he doesn’t follow all the order of the above.

 
 

Apr

01

2014

Justin Taylor|8:53 am CT

Clarifying the Bible: DVD + Workbook

What is Clarifying The Bible?

Clarifying The Bible is a DVD presentation with an accompanying workbook. In less time than it takes to watch the average movie you will be introduced to the Bible like never before. The DVD presentation takes viewers on an exciting journey from Genesis all the way to Revelation.

The workbook is divided into two major sections, Section I: DVD Notes and Section II: Notes for Further Study. Use Section I for your first viewing of the DVD presentation. Pop in the DVD, watch at our own pace, and use this section to take your initial set of notes. Then use Section II for further study. This section contains much more information related to each portion of the presentation. You can work through this section of the book either with or without the DVD presentation.

More information here.

 
 

Mar

31

2014

Justin Taylor|8:25 am CT

Books at a Glance

Screen shot 2014-03-28 at 3.00.24 PMI like the new service being offered by Books at a Glance.

Subscribers can use it to be informed on what’s being published and make wiser purchasing choice.

They offer “executive summaries,” as it were, for Christian books, summarizing the main argument and the chapters in 7-10 pages. So you get a good sense of what’s out there and whether a book is really worth picking up and reading straight through. They also provide book reviews, author interviews, and a blog. It’s worth checking out!

Here’s a little blur I wrote about the service:

Of making many books there is no end” (Eccles. 12:12). If that was true in Solomon’s day, how much more true is it today in the 21st century! Even the best of us can only read a tiny fraction of what is written. If we want to “make the best use of our time” (Eph. 5:16), we could use some help so that we don’t waste our reading. I thank God, therefore, for ministries like “Books At a Glance,” designed to guide us to choose our reading wisely. From summaries to reviews to interviews, I expect this to be a key resource to help me know what is out there and what to read next.

 
 

Mar

28

2014

Justin Taylor|2:52 pm CT

Michael Horton’s “Calvin on the Christian Life”

calvinThe latest entry in Crossway’s Theologians on the Christian Life series is by Michael Horton: Calvin on the Christian Life: Glorifying and Enjoying God Forever.

These comments about the work capture the spirit of it:

“Be warned. This looks like a book on how Calvin thought about living the Christian life. But open it and you will discover that Mike Horton is driving you on a grand Calvin tour of the whole of theology. And that, of course, is Professor Horton’s (and John Calvin’s) point: it takes the whole biblical gospel to make a whole Christian life. By employing the classical formulation of the two natures of Christ (‘distinct but not separate’), Dr. Horton provides readers with a key to help unlock Calvin’s teaching. But more than that, he shows why the Genevan Reformer’s vision of the Christian life remains unsurpassed. Thoroughly satisfying, thoroughly enjoyable, and thoroughly recommended.”
—Sinclair B. Ferguson, Professor of Systematic Theology, Redeemer Seminary, Dallas, Texas

“Learned and lucid, masterfully organized, and vigorously expressed, this full, solid, and exact study of Geneva’s reforming pastor is an outstanding piece of work. In all four sections Calvin comes to vigorous life. Calvin’s reputation for godly wisdom, and Horton’s for vivid writing, will certainly be enhanced.”
—J. I. Packer, Board of Governors’ Professor of Theology, Regent College

I cannot think of a better introduction to Calvin’s understanding of the Christian life than what Horton has produced here.

TCL

Here are the other books published in the series so far:

2012

Fred Zaspel, Warfield on the Christian Life 

2013

William Edgar, Schaeffer on the Christian Life

Stephen J. Nichols, Bonhoeffer on the Christian Life

Fred Sanders, Wesley on the Christian Life 

And here are the volumes forthcoming:

2014

Dane Ortlund, Edwards on the Christian Life: Alive to the Beauty of God (August)

2015

Carl Trueman, Luther on the Christian Life (February)

Tony Reinke, Newton on the Christian Life (June)

Sam Storms, Packer on the Christian Life (June)

John Bolt, Bavinck on the Christian Life (August)

Michael A.G. Haykin and Matthew Barrett, Owen on the Christian Life (September)

2016 and Beyond

Gerald Bray, Augustine on the Christian Life

Michael Reeves, Spurgeon on the Christian Life

Derek Thomas, Bunyan on the Christian Life

 

 
 

Mar

27

2014

Justin Taylor|4:14 pm CT

Top 10 Ways to Win at the Internet

b

A step-by-step guide on how to be enraged on the internet all of the time:

1. Always remember: it’s about you.

2. You are the only person who realizes how enraging this situation is.

3. Everything is your business.

4. Learn the vocabulary of outrage.

5. Constantly threaten to quit social media.

6. Quit social media.

7. Rejoin social media.

8. Pile on.

9. Don’t keep your outrage hidden.

10. Make sure your tone is hectoring, intolerant, and enraged.

Read the whole thing for an explanation of each principle.

And if you’re looking for some real principles for online interaction, consider the following:

“You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor” (Ex. 20:16).

“A fool gives full vent to his spirit, but a wise man quietly holds it back” (Prov. 29:11).

“The vexation of a fool is known at once, but the prudent ignores an insult” (Prov 12:16).

“Whoever meddles in a quarrel not his own is like one who takes a passing dog by the ears” (Prov. 26:17).

“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things” (1 Cor. 13:4-7).

“Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt” (Col. 4:6).

“By your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned” (Matt. 12:37).

“Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor” (Rom. 12:10).

“Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear” (Eph. 4:29).

Always be “speaking the truth in love” (Eph. 4:1525).

“If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless” (James 1:26).

 

 
 

Mar

27

2014

Justin Taylor|11:41 am CT

The Absolute Best Way to Introduce Your Kids (and Yourself!) to Church History: 50% Off for a Week

boxChances are you’ve never heard of the History Lives series from husband-and-wife writing team Brandon and Mindy Withrow.

It deserves to be better known and widely used. It’s the sort of narrative writing that my kids really enjoy (written as individual stories about characters and events, rather than a typically dry history-book approach). And adults will learn an enormous amount if they join with the kids (ages 9-14) in reading them.

For one week WTS is offering the box set (of 5 paperbacks) for 50% off, and 45% off of the individual volumes (which ends up being just over $5 a copy).

First, a word about the authors. Brandon is a historian with a PhD in historical theology from Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia and currently teaches at Winebrenner Theological Seminary (Findlay, OH). Mindy is an editor and a digital strategist for a creative agency,  runs a literary website, and is currently working on short fiction and a novel.

The combination means that the stories are well researched from the best historical materials and written in a lively and engaging way.


vol1

Peril and Peace: Chronicles of the Ancient Church (Volume 1)

From the apostle Paul to Benedict you can discover how those in the early church still influence the church today. In their lives you will see the young and developing church struggling and growing in a hostile and difficult world. Watch in amazement as a varied selection of people from different countries, cultures and times merge together to form the Christian church. Learn from their mistakes and errors but more importantly learn from their amazing strengths and gifts. Marvel at the incredible things accomplished by God in such a short space of time. Written in a modern and relaxed style this is a book that will introduce you to history without the tears and with all the wonder.

[Sample chapter here.]


vol2Monks and Mystics: Chronicles of the Medieval Church (vol. 2)

Read the stories of the Medieval church and discover how the young Christian church moved on into another era of time. From Gregory I through to Wycliffe and Huss you can discover about the crusades and the spread of Islam as well as the beginnings of the Universities and the Reformation. As the church moves on through the centuries you can see its people struggling against persecution and problems from inside and out. Marvel at God’s wonderful care of his people. Extra features throughout the book look deeper into issues such as Islam; Division; The crusades; the first university; Creads and Councils and the Renaissance.

[Sample chapter here.]


vol3 Courage and Conviction: Chronicles of the Reformation Church (vol. 3)

Read the stories of the reformers in the 16th and 17th centuries who changed the face of the Christian church forever. Meet the German monk, the French scholar, and the Scottish tutor who protested corruption in the church. Get to know the queens and explorers who risked everything for the freedom to worship according to their consciences.

It was a time of war and upheaval, but also a time of promise and hope. From Erasmus and Luther to Katherine Parr and William Bradford, God used different personalities in different places to bring sweeping changes to church government and the way we worship. Learn from their mistakes and be encouraged by their amazing strengths and gifts.

Extra features throughout this book look deeper into issues such as the Scientific Revolution, wars of religion, the Puritans, and the settling of the Americas.

[Sample chapter here.]


vol4Hearts and Hands: Chronicles of the Awakening Church (vol. 4)

Read the stories of the gifted preachers and justice fighters who led the 1st & 2nd Great Awakenings in the 18th and 19th centuries.

Meet the American preacher who started a national revival in his tiny church. Spend time with the wealthy English politician and the former American slave woman who helped abolish slavery in their countries. Get to know the missionaries who built lasting Christian communities in China, India, and Africa.

For the first 1700 years of the church, God’s people had worked to define Christian teachings and secure their freedom to worship. Now they began to see, in a new way, how the power of the gospel should change their feelings both toward Jesus and their fellow human beings.

From John Wesley and Jonathan Edwards to Elizabeth Fry and Sojourner Truth, God used the tender hearts and strong hands of his people to offer mercy to the world.

Extra features look deeper into issues such as social reform, the French and American Revolutions, and the rise of Protestant Denominations

[Sample chapter here.]


vol5Rescue and Redeem: Chronicles of the Modern Church 1860 AD—Tomorrow

As the modern world exploded with rapid changes—in transportation, in communication, in manufacturing—people around the globe faced overwhelming new challenges. As Christians arrived for the first time in other countries, they realized that being a Christian was about living out the gospel in every culture. And they realized that great injustice was everywhere! So they met the challenges of modern life with new ways of communicating Christ’s ancient gospel. From Niijima Jo and Pandita Ramabai to Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Janani Luwum, they set out to rescue God’s global people and redeem them to new life in Christ.

Extra features throughout this book look deeper into issues such as modern Bible translation, living the Golden Rule, new developments in missions, and big moments in modern Christianity.

[Sample chapter here.]

 
 

Mar

26

2014

Justin Taylor|5:03 pm CT

World Vision USA Reverses Its Decision: The Letter and Some Reactions

World Magazine broke the news earlier this afternoon that the U.S. board of World Vision released a statement reversing their decision to allow Christian employees to engage in homosexual intercourse as long as they are in a legally recognized same-sex marriage. The letter reads as follows:

Dear Friends,

Today, the World Vision U.S. board publicly reversed its recent decision to change our employment conduct policy. The board acknowledged they made a mistake and chose to revert to our longstanding conduct policy requiring sexual abstinence for all single employees and faithfulness within the Biblical covenant of marriage between a man and a woman.

We are writing to you our trusted partners and Christian leaders who have come to us in the spirit of Matthew 18 to express your concern in love and conviction. You share our desire to come together in the Body of Christ around our mission to serve the poorest of the poor. We have listened to you and want to say thank you and to humbly ask for your forgiveness.

In our board’s effort to unite around the church’s shared mission to serve the poor in the name of Christ, we failed to be consistent with World Vision U.S.’s commitment to the traditional understanding of Biblical marriage and our own Statement of Faith, which says, “We believe the Bible to be the inspired, the only infallible, authoritative Word of God.” And we also failed to seek enough counsel from our own Christian partners. As a result, we made a change to our conduct policy that was not consistent with our Statement of Faith and our commitment to the sanctity of marriage.

We are brokenhearted over the pain and confusion we have caused many of our friends, who saw this decision as a reversal of our strong commitment to Biblical authority. We ask that you understand that this was never the board’s intent. We are asking for your continued support. We commit to you that we will continue to listen to the wise counsel of Christian brothers and sisters, and we will reach out to key partners in the weeks ahead.

While World Vision U.S. stands firmly on the biblical view of marriage, we strongly affirm that all people, regardless of their sexual orientation, are created by God and are to be loved and treated with dignity and respect.

Please know that World Vision continues to serve all people in our ministry around the world. We pray that you will continue to join with us in our mission to be “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.

Sincerely in Christ,

Richard Stearns, President
Jim Beré, Chairman of the World Vision U.S. Board

Christianity Today has been reporting on developments to this story.

Darrell Bock, who had some hard but necessary words to say about World Vision earlier in the day, has now posted the following—which seems like the right way to respond to and to process this news:

The board of World Vision is to be thanked for its prayerful reconsideration of its earlier decision. Reflecting and turning back is a very biblical concept. The move shows the heart intent of the organization as we live in a complex world full of ethical tension and their ultimate desire to represent Christ well. The criticism that came was because many Christians so love what World Vision stands for and what it seeks to represent in its care for those in need. This is true of the engagement on the entire topic. It is love that motivates critique, not hate. That is what good friends do. They challenge because they seek to love well. And friends also take such critique seriously. So again, thanks for listening to those who spoke out.

Russell Moore, in a series of tweets, offered the following:

World Vision’s right decision, as articulated in their board letter, conveys a spirit of Christlikeness and humility in tone and content.

World Vision has done the right thing. Now, let’s all work for a holistic gospel presence, addressing both temporal and eternal needs.

It’s the older brother who questions motives in repentance. Don’t be like that. The father’s house rejoices, receives.

Matt Smethurst added:

Answered prayer is never an excuse to gloat. It’s an occasion to praise.

Matthew Lee Anderson posted a series of insightful tweets seeking to put this in wider perspective:

The @worldvision situation suggests we need to think a lot more about the problem of moral complicity.

I think @WorldvisionUSA and others deeply misjudged the depth of the evangelical commitment to ending poverty.

That sounds counterintuitive given the popular narrative. But hang with me. . . .

For many evangelicals, WV functions as something more than a poverty-relief/development agency. They have a symbolic status.

What IJM is to young evangelicals, @worldvisionusa is to traditional evangelicals. They bring together poverty-relief and evangelism.

And they did it in a way that conservative evangelicals could be proud of and point to as . . . well, as their own, in a sense.

Evangelicals cared really deeply about @worldvisionusa’s identity as a Christian organization—which meant both poverty-relief and doctrine.

The depth of that sense of identification and ownership, along with the depth of the commitment to those joint goods, prompted the backlash.

That evangelicals were construed as not caring about children or poverty—even by their own children—was heartbreaking . . . and false.

Conservative evangelicals helped build @worldvisionusa for years before I was born. WV is what WV is today because of their sacrifice.

In one sense, everything young evangelicals have touted about merging faith and practice . . . conservative evangelicals have done through WV.

The most shocking part of this is how badly @worldvisionusa judged their own support base and the depth of their commitment to that merger.

Has @worldvisionusa damaged its status and created mistrust with evangelicals? Sure. Will that last? No. Why not? Because . . . 

Contrary to popular perception, evangelicals are a forgiving lot. Look how we are with the politicians we support, for goodness sake.

None of this entails that conservative Christians have been perfect or trained themselves well to respond to today’s ethical challenges.

My first book critiqued evangelicals for their instruction on marriage as undermining their resources to respond well to today’s questions.

And I think that evangelicals need to think hard and carefully about what is required for institutional identity, in hiring and otherwise.

But as has often been said, truth is the first casualty in the culture war and misrepresentation the mode of an uncharitable people

The manner in which we argue among ourselves is as much a part of the witness to the world as the conclusions that we come to.

The depths to which we feel the church’s divisions, and the earnest sorrow we meet those we fear have left it—these too must mark us.

 
 

Mar

26

2014

Justin Taylor|1:07 pm CT

How It’s All Going to End

Sam Storms, writing several years ago, lays out his biblical understanding of how the bad will get worse and the good will get better as we see an increasing carving out of the middle:

As we approach the second coming of Christ, whether that be one year or one-thousand years in the future, I believe the presence and power of common grace will progressively diminish. The restraining power of the Spirit on the sinful souls of men and women, as well as on the natural creation, will incrementally weaken. The manifestation of human sin and wickedness and unbelief will therefore expand.

Common grace is much like the emergency break on a car that is parked on a steep incline. The weight of the car, together with the force of gravity, would naturally result in its descent down the road and its eventual crash. But the emergency break resists and impedes this otherwise natural inclination. So, too, with human sin. The Holy Spirit is like an emergency break on the human heart. But one day, perhaps imperceptibly and certainly in gradual fashion, the restraint on the sinful and depraved inclination of the human soul will be removed.

But here is the good news. I also believe that together with the progressive withdrawal of common grace will be a corresponding increase of special grace! The people of God will experience fresh and ever-increasing manifestations of divine favor and power and blessing and anointing simultaneously with the withdrawal of the Spirit’s common grace work of curbing the sinful impulses of the lost. This is why there will be an increase of wickedness and persecution (and, yes, martyrdom) in the world at large at the same time there is an increase of righteousness and perseverance in the church in particular.

My “theory” (which I do believe has Scriptural support) is that the Church will experience great revival, ever-increasing impartations of supernatural power, unprecedented expressions of love and unity, all the while she is being oppressed and persecuted and increasingly hated by the unbelieving world. Special grace will intensify even as common grace will diminish.

I should also point out that this process will culminate eternally in what we know as heaven and hell. Heaven is the unabated overflow of special grace. Hell is the utter absence of even common grace. Forever.

Storms ends by asking how, in light of this, we should respond. And he answers:

We should . . . flood the people who are suffering with expressions of kindness and compassion and generosity, knowing that such devastation could as easily fall on us (cf. Luke 13:1-5). As the Spirit’s provision of common grace diminishes, may the recipients of his special grace overflow in the goodness of Jesus to the glory of God the Father.

 
 

Mar

26

2014

Justin Taylor|12:51 pm CT

Darrell Bock Says World Vision Is Having “More World, Less Vision”

BockDarrell Bock, Senior Research Professor of New Testament Studies at Dallas Theological Seminary and one of the premiere Jesus scholars of our day, laments the recent cultural capitulation of World Vision:

This is a sad blog to write. It is about a profound failure in a ministry whose track record has been good, even exemplary.

World Vision has served the needs of the poor in exceptional ways for decades. I recall with deep fondness visiting numerous times their school site located on the edge of the garbage dump in Guatemala City, Guatemala. I took students in to show how poverty can be met with ministry. Their outreach to children living in the dump to give them a core education using the help of volunteers and seminary students showed love and compassion of the deepest kind. It was the faith at its caring best.

But the decision World Vision made to accept same sex marriages among its employees was a betrayal of that care for kids.

It let different kind of standards guide their choices than that which has led them to minister to kids in the dump. The betrayal was not about laws in a nation nor about rights in the public square debate about same sex marriage. People are making their choices there quite evident. Our culture has signed on, for better or for worse.

No, this act was a betrayal of the nature of the Christian community and the importance of pursuing divine standards in our ways of life within that community.

It was a denial of how Jesus defined marriage as between a man and a woman when he was asked about divorce.

It was a rejection of the call of the Christian community to be distinctive even as the world goes its own way.

It ignores that whatever one might expect of standards of life in the world or see there, that Christians are to strive to live and love in a way that is not merely what others do.

World Vision had an explanation for why it did what it did. Its goal was Christian unity, acknowledging a disagreement about the area of monogamous same sex marriage across all the denominations World Vision serves. It was opting out of that debate, just as it does on modes of baptism.

No one should doubt the sincerity of the transparency this announcement conveys. What is questioned by one sympathetic to all the good World Vision does is the judgment and lack of discernment it reflects.

The suggestion that this debate is equal to a kind of neutral thing, like modes of baptism, reflects a blind spot of black hole proportions.

The idea that the decision might hope to unify the church by accepting that which Jesus and the Scripture rejects shows how tone deaf the action is.

The explanation and defense in part was that because same sex marriage is now legal, World Vision did not want to be placed in a position of excluding someone who meets a legal standard.

So what World Vision did was let the world set its moral standard and lose its vision for reflecting to righteousness that God sets forth as a Christian community’s standard of righteousness.

It ignored how unitedly the church has read these texts for centuries despite more recent discussion. God’s vision for how we are to live by His Spirit calls us to do better than the world.

One can only pray that World Vision will regain its biblical sight and move from more world and less vision to being an example again.

 
 

Mar

25

2014

Justin Taylor|4:04 pm CT

Albert Mohler and Andrew Peterson in Wisconsin

Screen shot 2014-03-25 at 2.58.47 PM

For those in the Upper Midwest, there is a free one-day pastor’s conference in northern Wisconsin that would be well worth your time. On Monday, April 28, R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, will speak in the chapel of Northland University, followed by lunch and then a pastors’ reception, and then he will speak again in the evening—followed by a concert from singer-songwriter Andrew Peterson, who will also give a talk the following morning on Christianity and the arts.

More details here.

 
 

Mar

25

2014

Justin Taylor|3:22 pm CT

Why the Biblical Definition of Marriage Matters

Ray Ortlund:

A beautiful, tender, thriving, Ephesians 5-kind of marriage makes the gospel visible on earth, bringing hope to people who have given up believing there could be any love anywhere for them.

That is why biblical marriage deserves our courageous loyalty today.

And that is why, in our increasingly secular times, biblical marriage is under pressure.

Its true meaning is understood and embodied and sustained only by the power of the gospel.

We can’t turn the clock back to the days of the Christian social consensus the West has foolishly thrown away.

But we who say we believe the gospel can and must stand up for the biblical definition of marriage.

We must cultivate beautiful marriages ourselves.

We must suffer social rejection bravely.

We must pray for revival.

We must wait for the inevitable collapse of every false view of marriage.

We must lovingly serve all who suffer for their foolish attempts at false “marriages.”

And we must go to church this Sunday and worship the living God with all our hearts, so that we ourselves are sustained for faithfulness over the long haul, because this isn’t going to be easy.

Read the whole thing as Ray looks at what Genesis teaches about biblical marriage.

 
 

Mar

25

2014

Justin Taylor|10:41 am CT

Should Christians Continue Supporting World Vision USA?

Also worth reading is Matthew Lee Anderson’s thoughtful piece on how Christians who financially support World Vision USA should respond.

Many will argue that the withdrawal of support directly harms needy and hurting families, and children in particular. Matt rightly points out that the relationship between a donor and an organization should not be established on strictly monetary or utilitarian grounds.

A further point that could be made is that it was World Vision USA that made this decision, presumably knowing full full that it would alienate a substantial portion of their donor base. Mr. Stearns tells us, ”We’re not caving to some kind of pressure. . . . There is no lawsuit threatening us. There is no employee group lobbying us.” So shouldn’t someone ask him: why is World Vision USA putting the lives of needy families and children at risk by making this unnecessary business move which will undermine the donor revenue from your base of support?

Anderson suggests three things Christians should do in response:

The first thing to do is, of course, inform World Vision USA of your conclusion and the difficulty they have subsequently thrown you into.  Angry, belligerent emails and phone calls are not a Christian mode of response. But level-headed, patient, and clear reasoning can be.  It would be prudent to ask for World Vision to set up pathways for people who have decided they can no longer give to continue corresponding and supporting their child directly, as a sign of their willingness to help those who disagree with their new vision carry on those modes of communication that first and foremost make World Vision a Christian organization, even if it costs the organization a great deal of money and time to ensure that it can happen.  Opening up such pathways would convey not World Vision’s commitment to unity of the right sort, namely that which respects and seeks to maintain lines of communication within and across real and substantive disagreements that it recognizes must be maintained.

Second, it seems to me that continuing to give in a situation where there has been a substantive relationship established with a child would be appropriate, at least for a season.  Given that education and formation happens at the local level, and that the other branches of World Vision are not beholden to World Vision USA’s decision, there is nothing substantive lost by maintaining support temporarily. The boundaries of a “substantive relationship” are, of course, somewhat fuzzy.  In the abstract, what sort of relationship qualifies is impossible to discern.  But some sort of differences are obvious, as I noted above, and those differences introduce genuine and substantive reasons for acting that must be accounted for in this case.

But I would add a qualification to this, if support continues:  I would notify World Vision USA that the continuing of support is for the purposes of the child alone, and that when the financial-support relationship comes to an end (as it does automatically at age 21, and at other ages for a variety of reasons) it will not be renewed or transferred to another child, but will be taken to another organization.  There would be two ways to look at this sort of communication:  either it could be seen as ‘holding World Vision hostage’ by threatening to remove financial contributions, or it could be a form of ‘informing World Vision USA of a decision so they can make alternate arrangements’.  Which description belongs may depend entirely on how the communication is given:  non-profits need to know how to project their finances, and giving them some advance warning that support would be withdrawn at least allows them to seek alternative means of funding in the interim.

But the effects of these sorts of organizational decisions are often slower moving than internet responses or commentary.  The  logic of the traditional marriage case depends upon a commitment to something like a “moral ecology,” but that means that the effects of certain decisions are not often known until several generations later.  Analogically, this sort of symbolic move will have a substantive effect on the moral ethos of World Vision USA, but the fruit in its own organizational life and in its relationship to the broader World Vision organization (the structure of which is not entirely clear to me) may not grow for a while. For those who are committed to supporting particular children, that delay is a benefit, as it allows support to continue while still expressing a fundamental disagreement and communicating to World Vision USA the reasons for such a disagreement and the end-point of any future support or help.  It’s a slow withdrawal, to be sure, but we are to be patient in doing good, even when doing good demands changing the recipients of our support.

Third, I would begin any new contributions with another organization and encourage those who ask to do the same.  Food for the HungryCompassion International, and others do similarly good work to World Vision.  Best of all may be your own denominational support structures, which presumably are accountable to the body where you worship.

You can read Matt’s whole piece here.

By the way, this little piece by Shaun Groves, written several years ago, explains the difference between World Vision and Compassion International.

 
 

Mar

25

2014

Justin Taylor|10:30 am CT

Does the Bible Teach This or Not?

Kevin DeYoung weighs in on World Vision’s decision to allow practicing homosexuals to be employees as long as they are legally married:

We could talk about the assertion that World Vision is only an operational arm of the church and doesn’t try to make theological judgments (when their statement of Core Values already draws a number of doctrinal boundaries).

We could talk about the folly in surrendering an issue every time Christian thinking is not uniform (when, in fact, every major doctrine is disputed).

We could talk about the urgent pleas which are sure to come that we should not put our theological niceties above serving the poor (when there is no reason to think the pool of evangelical Christians wanting to do social justice work is so shallow that World Vision had to broaden their hiring policy).

Like I said, there is plenty that can and will be said.

But the overriding issue is this: World Vision has decided that to be a practicing homosexual and a practicing Christian is no contradiction in terms.

Despite the claims of neutrality, Richard Stearns and World Vision are not neutral. They believe what the Bible calls an abomination is not a big deal, not a serious issue like adultery, not a life threatening concern like malnutrition, not something that the Bible addresses clearly or warns against urgently.

Before we get embroiled in a throw down about whether Jesus would love to take coffee breaks with World Vision employees, before we allow the issue to be reframed as “Jesus was nice; the Pharisees were mean; you are mean and not nice; so you are a Pharisee and not like Jesus,” before we accept that calling someone a bigot is the same as making an argument, before we write off every opponent of this policy as a Calvinist fundie inhabiting a hermetically sealed little house on a Christian prairie somewhere in flyover country, let us establish if the following is true:

Jesus Christ is coming again to judge the living and the dead (Acts 17:31;Rev. 19:11-21).

Those who repent of their sins and believe in Christ (Mark 1:15Acts 2:3817:30) and those who overcome (Rev. 21:7) will live forever in eternal bliss with God in his holy heaven (Rev. 21:1-27) through the atoning work of Christ on the cross (Mark 10:45Rom. 5:1-21; Cor. 5:21).

Those who are not born again (John 3:5), do not believe in Christ (John 3:18), and continue to make practice of sinning (1 John 3:4-10) will face eternal punishment and the just wrath of God in hell (John 3:36;5:29).

Among those who will face the second death in the lake that burns with fire are the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, the murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars (Rev. 21:8), and among the sins included in the category of sexual immorality is unrepentant sexual intercourse between persons of the same sex (Rom. 1:26-271 Cor. 6:9-10; Jude 5-7).

I realize a paragraph like this has become highly controversial, even offensive, perhaps someday criminal. But the question for the Christian is whether the Bible teaches it.

If the Bible does not teach these things, or if we no longer have the courage to believe them, let us say so openly and make the case why the whole history of the Christian church has been so wrong for so long.

But if the Bible does teach the paragraph above, how can we be casual about such a serious matter or think that Jesus would be so indifferent to the celebration of the same?

You can read the whole thing here.

 
 

Mar

24

2014

Justin Taylor|9:50 pm CT

The Road Less Traveled: The Faithfulness of J.I. Packer vs. the Capitulation of World Vision

JIP

John Piper weighs in on the remarkable capitulation—surely a sign of things to come—as World Vision now regards homosexual practice within a state-sanctioned union as acceptable behavior for Christians and a secondary issue like baptism and speaking in tongues.

When J. I. Packer walked out of the 2002 synod of the Anglican Diocese of New Westminster, he was protesting it decision to “bless same-sex unions.” His rationale is relevant for the developments at World Vision.

First, his words about unity expose the crass alignment of homosexual intercourse and baptism as comparable markers for biblical faithfulness.  Packer wrote, “It is most misleading, indeed crass, to call this disagreement simply a difference about interpretation, of the kind for which Anglican comprehensiveness has always sought to make room.”

When World Vision says “We cannot jump into the fight on one side or another on this issue,” here is the side they do in fact jump onto: We forbid fornication and adultery as acceptable lifestyles among our employees (which they do), but we will not forbid the regular practice of homosexual intercourse. To presume that this position is not “jumping into the fight on one side or the other” is fanciful.

But worse than fancy, removing homosexual intercourse from its Biblical alignment with fornication and adultery (and greed and theft and drunkenness) trivializes its correlation with perdition.

This was at the heart of why J. I. Packer walked. Referring to all these sins, Packer said, “They are ways of sin that, if not repented of and forsaken, will keep people out of God’s kingdom of salvation.”

Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. (1 Corinthians 6:9-10)

In other words, to treat regular homosexual intercourse as less dangerous than fornication, adultery, greed, theft, and drunkenness is to treat perdition as if it were a small thing, or not really coming. The same text that imperils active fornicators and adulterers and thieves and coveters, also imperils those who practice homosexuality.

Make no mistake, this so-called “neutral” position of World Vision is a position to regard practicing homosexuals (under the guise of an imaginary “marriage”) as following an acceptable Christian lifestyle, on the analogy of choosing infant baptism over believers’ baptism.

Over against this, the apostle Paul says they will not enter the kingdom of heaven. It is that serious. If it were not, God would not have given his Son to be crucified for our rescue. Therefore, World Vision, has trivialized perdition and cross.

Piper goes on to argue that though they do not directly intend it, World Vision is making shipwreck of their legacy of compassion for the poor. To find out why he says this, you can read the whole thing here.

Sooner rather than later every Christian leader will need to go on record as to whether or not he believes the painful truth of 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 and the glorious possibility of 1 Corinthians 6:11. And those who follow such leaders—working for them, financially supporting them, read their books and listening to their podcasts—have a right to know now where their pastor or leader stands.

I do not think it takes a prophet to see where many of our well-intentioned but pragmatically  atheological leaders will land in the days ahead.