The Real Problem with World Vision

World made of flip flops!

World made of flip flops!

World Vision has been in the news quite a bit lately with its flip-flopping stance on accepting workers who are openly gay. There are extremely strong statements both for and against this issue. Let’s say this up front: I doubt my thoughts here are going to satisfy either side.

Let me say that I can understand both sides. The one side says, what kind of ministry discards obvious biblical standards of morality? How are they still a Christian ministry? You wouldn’t say that a ministry could accept child molesters (which are also being said to be genetically motivated!) or alcoholics for the sake of ministry. The other side says, simply because of my genetically inherited propensities, I can’t help starving children? All of these people would rather have a starving child die than concede one little inch of their precious standards? How does that work?

I can honestly see both points. They are powerfully correct. What a mess.

The real problem is that World Vision is a “Christianish” organization, as are its vocal critics, but both sides seem to have disavowed themselves of the crown jewel of Christianity, the gospel of Christ and Him crucified. How do I make such a sweeping statement?

The head of World Vision, Richard Stearns, is well known for writing a book entitled “There is a Hole in Our Gospel.” I still stand behind my scathing review of this noxious book. In his view, the “gospel” is the idea that we should be going to Africa to feed starving children. If you aren’t about that, you can’t really be said to believe the true gospel – you have a hole in your gospel. Nothing any gay person is doing is as evil as this satanic twisting of the message of Jesus Christ our savior. Now I think that feeding starving children is a very fine thing. I have poured more money than I can count into missions endeavors in Africa and other places. If I thought it would do any good I would go myself. I have sold my homes and cars to live with cheap used cars and rented houses so that I can gain the freedom to follow Jesus. However, there is no way that I think the “gospel” is about doing those things. At all. It is all rubbish. At my best I am a horrible servant. No one is required to do anything to gain Christ except believe that He died for them.

And this is the problem on both sides of this twisted and contorted issue. On the one side, the “gospel” is about serving the poor, so that a person’s spiritual condition is completely secondary to this false “gospel”. On the other hand, there is the idea that the “gospel” is about not being a sinner. If homosexuals can’t serve, where is the outcry about gluttonous fat people serving, or the covetous (notice they are in the same list of heinous sinners as the homosexuals, 1 Co 6:9-10), or heterosexually immoral people, or those who seek to serve to gain a sense of prideful moral superiority? Should these also be excluded from service? People on both sides of this issue act in a way that reflect viewpoints which stem from belief in a false crossless gospel. Neither side has the theological toolset to say, “I can love this sinning person and accept the service of this sinning person, without saying that their sin is OK.” There is no place to care for the wounded healer. There is only a place for redemption by works on both sides, and the reasons for compromise on both sides are equally crossless.

Once again, the root problem we are seeing here is that Christian ministries and churches do not really grasp or ultimately believe in the extent and power of the gospel. Gay people and gluttonous fat people and covetous greedy people and arrogant prideful people are not going to be saved by ending these sins. They are not even going to be saved by agreeing that certain behaviors are indeed sins. They are going to be saved by believing in Jesus Christ and Him crucified for all of their sins. The saved person is free to serve, but they are saved even if they serve poorly or do not serve. Does anyone really believe that any person is going to be persuaded to forego their sin because they are precluded from knowing and serving Christ? What in the world did He die for anyway?

Posted in Blog.


  1. Great points. The whole World Vision situation was very thought-provoking. It made me remember reading years ago about how, decades earlier, a Christian relief organization went through some uncertainty as to whether to keep employing Max Lange, who at the time was an atheist but a dedicated worker. They ended up keeping him on. Eventually he became a believer and went on to found Siloam International (now Childcare Worldwide). This in turn got me thinking about the appropriateness of Christian organizations having policies prohibiting those who practice certain sins from being employed by them. I’m sure it is appropriate to some degree, but I don’t know what that degree should be. It might depend on the organization and just what it is that they are doing.

    The strange thing to me about the World Vision situation is that they already had policies in place which (if I remember rightly) forbade adultery and fornication, as well as gay marriage, among their employees. My understanding is that they did not rescind these policies when announcing that they now permitted gay marriage for their workers. Then after the backlash, they hastily apologized, changed the policy back to what it had been, and said that they should have sought more input before acting. It made me wonder just what they thought would be the reaction to the policy change. The whole thing was very odd. It struck me as a badly-thought-out PR move gone wrong. If they had truly been acting out of a sense of principle I doubt they would have capitulated so quickly.

    I was not aware of the book you mention. How sad. It is always maddening to hear of Christians who say that if you aren’t doing X, you aren’t a real or dedicated or first-class follower of Christ. There is enough sin and sorrow in the world without loading people down with false guilt, and it’s always terrible to see something substituted for the real gospel.

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