World Vision and the Damage Done

What a whirlwind.

First, World Vision announced a policy change that would allow married gay Christians to work for the organization, igniting the vast indignation of the conservative evangelical establishment.

Then, just yesterday, less than 48 hours later, World Vision reversed their decision, issuing an apology (mainly to their conservative constituency).

Several reports cite a nearly instantaneous loss of 2,000 child sponsorships when World Vision made the initial policy decision. That, along with the speed of this reversal, indicate that it was likely a matter of financial and organizational survival, not, as many conservative evangelicals are saying, a matter of conviction and repentance over theological sin.

But the much larger issue here, at least as I see it, is the damage inflicted on evangelicalism as a whole over the past few days. This has been an eruption of the Real. And while the fault lines have been rumbling over the last 5-10 years, we may have just experienced the Big One.

Nothing will ever be the same.

As Benjamin Corey so astutely demonstrated, World Vision’s initial decision produced such intense backlash from the conservative and fundamentalist segments of evangelicalism that nuanced/centrist, progressive, and emergence evangelicals were fully pushed out by the majority. It was nothing less than an excommunication. The “Farewell” was not fond – it was final. The mainly younger progressive camp was sent a decisive message: you are not True Evangelicals, you are probably not True Christians, you are no longer welcome. It was an act of ecclesiological alienationCut off.

But then came the reversal. And this is where the truly devastating damage occurs, in my view. For instead of this merely being a message from the conservative majority in response to a hopeful step for progressives, now that hopeful step was rescinded entirely, confirming the enduring political power that mainstream evangelicals hold. While debates up to this point had been about protecting children affected by the withdrawal of conservative funds, now it has been shifted right back to whether or not gay married couples (and their allies) can be truly Christian, evangelical, etc. And the importance of the conservative evangelical ideology on this matter has fully trumped the importance of widening the tent for the sake of local ecclesial discernment and greater kingdom impact in the world (i.e. feeding more children).

In other words, sacrifice has trumped mercy.

A friend and leading progressive evangelical voice tweeted this after the reversal:

I doubt she is alone in this, because it’s very clear that there is no longer any room for nuanced/centrist, progressive, or emergence expression in the evangelical tent.

Finally, to get some clarity on what is going on underneath this reversal, I asked this question on Facebook and Twitter: Do you think the World Vision reversal was based on money or repentance/theology? 

The answers demonstrate the eruption of the Real, the big quake, the damage done:

And, this: 

So what say you? Have we just witnessed a large scale evangelical schism? Is there a way forward, or should those of us outside the conservative evangelical tent jettison the word entirely?

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About Zach Hoag

Zach J. Hoag is an Author, Preacher, and Content Creator who writes and curates here at The Apocalypse Review. You can also catch him at his author blog, zhoag.com.

  • mhelbert

    I’m not sure that this was the actual schism. We’ve known for ages that the evangelical gatekeepers have defined anyone who doesn’t follow their particular brand of religious dogma as ‘outsiders.’ I think that those who have wanted to hang on to their evangelical roots while holding progressive, emergence or centrist positions have just realized that they have already been shown the door. What this does for Christian unity is still a work in progress. It’s my hope that we can still embrace one another. With Paul, I say that as far as it’s up to me, I will try to live in peace with all. But, I can’t speak for others’ willingness to join with me.

  • http://flamingfundamentalist.blogspot.com/ Curt Day

    Will have to disagree here. It is one thing to advocate gay rights in society. That is appropriate and necessary. But within any group that calls itself Christian, we need to pay heed to the Scriptures that talk about sin. Though it wouldn’t have lost 2,000 sponsorships if it never changed policy in the first place, I think that the reversal was appropriate

  • http://alshaw.blogspot.com alshaw

    It may surprise some readers to hear that this crisis has barely received a mention in Christian circles this side of the Atlantic. That aside, it may be worth taking a historical look at when issues become divisive in church. Sometimes, as in the early Medieval row over the appropriate tonsure that should be worn by monks, the issues appear to the (post)modern mind arcane and ludicrous. On other occasions, the issue at stake seems clearer. Occasionally, the specific issue that causes a stand to be taken looks narrow at the time but with the benefit of hindsight its value becomes plain. Athanasius’s stand against Arianism is an example of the latter, when the former was virtually alone in asserting his orthodox christology against church and emperor.

  • Olivia

    To progressives, the point is that the Bible doesn’t say that you shouldn’t let sinners or “sinners” help you feed the poor. This wasn’t about whether or not gay marriage is okay. It was about whether or not evangelicals could deign to work with married gay people to help the “least of these.”

  • Mark

    You can interpret things as you’ve done, Zach, as “emergence evangelicals [having been] fully pushed out by the majority. It was nothing less than an excommunication. The “Farewell” was not fond – it was final. The mainly younger progressive camp was sent a decisive message: you are not True Evangelicals, you are probably not True Christians, you are no longer welcome. It was an act of ecclesiological alienation. Cut off.”

    Or you could interpret it as conservative Christians seeing biblical *sexual* ethics as non-negotiable, & behaving petulantly in their defense of a truth that they believe (and I believe) matters to God and for people. (Obviously, other important matters — justice, poverty — are areas in which conservative Christians are much less feisty, and are even silent.)

    I will agree with you if you say that those who cut off support from kids were being petulant. I agree that lots of LGBTQ folks showed more grace than conservatives did, who screeched at first and then bragged when the reversal came.

    But, at least for me, your interpretation and expression of it is as bad as their petulant reaction. You’re stepping right into the breach they made and you’re widening it. You’re exacerbating it. You are participating in the alienating effects. *Nobody* that I heard said progressive Evangelicals weren’t true Christians; they did say that they don’t want to spend their hard-earned money on an organization that takes biblical sexual ethics too lightly. You may think that puerile, and I may agree, but that’s a very different act/statement than saying: “you’re not true Christians.”

    To me it seems obvious that you want to be divided from conservative Evangelicals. Fine, but then don’t pretend like it’s all on their side. Or, if you don’t want to be divided, then find common ground, or at least don’t look for the worst possible interpretation. Maybe I’m missing something, but I’m not feeling the nuance right now.

  • Amy Martin

    Any person or group that continues to call cognitive dissonance “disunity” will stunt itself from it’s own growth and development until it shrivels up and dies.

  • David Veenstra

    The Bible does not condemn homosexuality. Since the original Greek and Hebrew have no words for homosexuality, they must be extrapolated. What some texts speak to are specific forms of homosexuality and heterosexuality, for instance rape, temple or other prostitution, idolatry and pederasty.

    Let’s dispense with the two verses in Leviticus immediately.
    Although they likely referred to temple prostitution, more importantly, they are part of an extensive purity code which was meant to strengthen tribal identity. I have never met a Christian who makes any attempt to live in accordance with this code, which includes, among a host of provisions, a prohibition of wearing any blend of fabrics, contact with menstruating women, and the rounding off of hair on ones temples.

    The story of Sodom, which tells of the attempted rape of two visitors in Genesis 19, gives no explanation of why Sodom is destroyed. There is an explanation in Ezekiel 16:49. “Behold, this was the iniquity of Sodom, arrogance, overfeeding and unconcern, neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy.” Wow! It sounds more like God was pissed that Sodom didn’t take care of the poor and needy. That’s consistent with the message that I see in both Testaments.

    Among other problems with an often quoted verse in Romans 1 is that it does not
    represent Paul’s view. Paul was using a common technique of his time; point,
    counterpoint. In other words, Paul sets up an argument in Romans 1 and then
    destroys it in Romans 2, condemning judgmental behavior that causes internal
    conflict within the community. Those who judge others are themselves condemned.Paul’s message, boiled down, is – Don’t be so judgmental. This aside, the meaning of the phrase used is unclear, and may have referred to a pagan mystery cult of that time.

    1 Corinthians 6:9-10 names ten types of persons who “shall not inherit the kingdom of God,” and 1 Timothy 1:9-10 names fourteen types of law-violators including among others: soft (malakoi), and abusers of themselves with
    mankind (arsenokoitai). Put simply, these words are associated with abusive, power relationships, rather than loving, caring ones. I can provide more detail, but I’m trying to be brief.

    Jude 1:7 is sometimes quoted. “Even as Sodom and
    Gomorrah, and the cities about them, gave themselves over to fornication, and
    going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the
    vengeance of eternal fire.” Verse 7 uses the Greek word, heteras, from which we get our English word, heterosexual, instead of the Greek word, homoios, from which we get our English word, homosexual. Jude condemns human attempts to have sex with angels.

    Stable, loving relationships are not the target of these verses most commonly used to defend the notion that the Bible condemns homosexuality.

  • David Veenstra

    The Bible does not condemn homosexuality as sin. I just posted details in a new comment.

  • S. Gore

    “*Nobody* that I heard said progressive Evangelicals weren’t true Christians”? You must not have been looking very hard. The comments on Jenn Hatmaker’s post — that said nothing about whether same-sex marriage should be accepted by Christians, merely that World Vision was recognizing a plurality of opinions among Christian denominations and that to pull support from a child over this is wrong — accused her (a Southern Baptist pastor’s wife!) of not being Christian. Nearly everyone I saw on the conservative side said that this change meant that World Vision was no longer a Christian organization.

    I’m not sure when gay marriage became a litmus test for true Christian belief, but I’m grieving that day.

  • Heather McAuley

    I think it goes beyond money. It feeds personal power and agendas cloaked in righteous indignation. First of all I want to say the we all have a moral imperative to tithe ( spend our money to further God’s work) As followers of Christ I believe that is all of our money not just the guilt offerings many toss into a plate on occasion. That being said, for some of the morally indignant to imply that children will starve because of an organizational policy change is inflammatory, purposely divisive, and promotes both fear and hate. For one to jump to this erroneous conclusion one would have to believe that World vision is the ONLY organization that effectively feeds children, That if people decide to withdraw support because of personal beliefs that they will NOT seek out ways to continue to feed children that does align with their convictions. Neither of these statements are true. So my conclusion is that if those so mortified by the WV initial decision were focused on GOD’s work instead of the perceived mote in their brother’s eye they would have suggested where folks could funnel their support to continue to feed kids. However, the fact that they chose to make these emotionally extortive statements makes one wonder if it is the power of being able to herd the cattle that draws them. Which begs the question, where are they herding the cattle to?

  • R Vogel

    I think ‘kick-ass kingdom of G*d furtherer’ is still available….

  • R Vogel

    How about those scriptures that talk about love? Enjoy your trip on the Titanic, I hear its unsinkable….

  • http://zhoag.com/ zhoag

    that’s awesome.

  • http://zhoag.com/ zhoag

    dang.

  • http://zhoag.com/ zhoag

    Except I haven’t heard of ONE CASE of the people who are sad now withdrawing their support. So what’s a bunch of crap again?

  • http://zhoag.com/ zhoag

    Yeah, that’s the point. I’m not advocating for disunity – wherever there can be unity in the midst of disagreement (while prioritizing justice & mercy, not sacrifice) then I’m all in. I’m seeing the call for disfellowshipping from only one side in this scenario.

  • Eric Boersma

    I’ve seen this post — not this exact post, but this template — so much in the past four days that I can’t even begin to explain how tired I am. “Stop being so mean to us,” it cries. “Stop treating our perspective so harshly. Stop demonizing us!”

    Here’s the truth: anyone who sees an organization tell the truth about employing gay people and then decides that the best way to respond to that news is by letting a child starve has committed an evil act. If they have performed that act because they believe the God they worship demands it, then they worship an evil God.

    The people who did this deserve far more than the scorn they’re receiving. They deserve to be in the shoes of a child who has to listen while his caretaker tells him that he doesn’t get to go to school or get his medicine today, because somewhere far away someone decided that there was a person who might exist in the chain of people trying to help him who didn’t have the right sexual ethics.

    If those sexual ethics are all you’re bringing to the table, or even a significant part of what you’re bringing to the table, maybe it’s time you take a seat and let the people who want to do real work get moving.

  • http://www.makeroomforelephants.com elephantspace

    I am deeply saddened by these events. What’s more, as a gay christian, now I have to figure out how to talk to my gay friends about events like this. Is there a way to spin it so the evangelical church is not the villain? I’m gonna have to be reeeeally creative.
    All that’s to say, I feel the pull to jump ship, immediately become Catholic, and remove myself from the Ten because I’m ashamed and don’t want these darned evangelicals tarnishing my image.
    I feel a pause, though, when I think about our Savior and how He might be viewing His Bride, all of us together, progressives and evangelicals.
    Would yet another schism do anything to promote the essential truth of the Gospel, that Christ came to save sinners of which we can all compete for the position of “The Least?”
    Perhaps we progressives are the enlightened ones. So then, if we all leave the Evangelicals smoldering in their ignorance, how is that helping them?
    We are angry at the evangelicals for, apparently, valuing their theology more than mercy and actually caring for people. If we abandon them completely, are we not in danger of committing the same mistake?
    Don’t get me wrong. I’m very angry at the evangelicals. I’m appalled, I think they’re wrong and perhaps they have misinterpreted the Gospel.
    But they ARE our brothers and sisters. If we expect them to make room in their tent for the LGBTQ community(and others), perhaps we should work to create room in our progressive tent for them…

  • Mark

    S. Gore: Every day will find you lots of hysterical conservatives, and also some hysterical progressives. No, I didn’t see anyone remarking like that, and you’re probably right that I didn’t look hard. The point I was trying to make was that I didn’t hear Christian leaders saying that. However, I’m sad that there are folks who are so willing to condemn, as you point out that there are.

  • Mark

    First of all, you assume that people who withdrew support weren’t going to give it elsewhere. That may be the case, but there’s no reason to assume so. Why assume that?

    Second, these people have already been giving, so we have that reason to assume they care about kids and aren’t giving to WV (or, weren’t giving) for the sole reason of their sexual ethics!

    I get your point — that it’s really awful (even if said people immediately gave elsewhere) to think that those folks would give the impression (if nothing else) of letting children suffer for our intramural disagreement. Fine.

    Scorning them — that’s the problem. You think A, they think B. They are scornful conservatives, you’re advocating scornful progressivism. How does that advance anything? How does that help the church? And if the church is fracturing, then we’ll do even less good for the world.

    I’m not suggesting we just bless all the conservatives who (supposedly) gave up caring for poor children. As far as I can tell thus far, that’s a straw man.

    There are progressive soap boxes, too, not just conservative ones. I’m saying that in either case, nothing is gained by worsening the divide. Nothing’s gained by conservatives getting the vapors. And, also, nothing is gained by progressives acting like they’re the only ones who care about poor children. Did any progressive people notice how many conservative *brothers and sisters* actually give to WV, and care about WV?

  • Mark

    Right, so they *obviously* didn’t decide to give elsewhere, and *obviously* don’t even care about impoverished kids. That’s quite a lot of conjecture.

  • aleigh97

    From my understanding of how WV works, it seems to be a mischaracterization to say that because one person stops their donation, their sponsored child doesn’t receive benefits from WV anymore. This comes directly from WV Ireland’s website in the FAQ section:

    “What happens to my child if I cannot continue sponsoring?

    As your money does not go directly to the child, but to the community as whole, a cancellation of your sponsorship will not directly affect the child. The child will still benefit from World Vision Ireland’s child sponsor funds which support the long term development of the community.”

    I’m not certain if this is the rule for the WV organization as a whole, but I would imagine it is. Granted, if a large number of sponsors cancel at once it is more likely to affect the children more directly, but I think this a point that needs clarification.

  • http://benirwin.wordpress.com/ Ben Irwin

    Elephantspace, I just want to say I’m inspired and humbled by your comment. The grace you extend to those who demonize & dismiss you…it’s beautiful.

  • Jacob Lupfer

    I started responding, and ended up writing enough to make my own blog post, which I did. I think there is a schism brewing between SBC/PCA/new-Calvinist evangelicals and Fuller/East Coast/Upper Midwest relatively more moderate evangelicals. On a number of controversies, the fault lines are about the same: World Vision, women’s roles in church/family/society, academic freedom at evangelical colleges, the primacy of sex issues over all other ethical issues.

  • Joe

    It seems odd to me that you would make a theological transition from Protestant to Catholic over a culture-war dispute.

  • Eric Boersma

    How does that help the church? And if the church is fracturing, then we’ll do even less good for the world.

    I’ve been thinking this for a long time, but this week confirmed it: the evangelical arm of our Church has cancer. It’s sick. It’s killing people; it’s killing people who are within it by poisoning them with hate and bile and horrible attitudes toward fellow Christians, and it’s killing people outside of it, by depriving them of food and drink, by causing the suicide rate of gay teens in the United States to be 3 times higher than that of straight teens, by convincing people that living in poverty and taking some kind of assistance is a sin against God.

    I don’t want to see conservative Christians split from the Church. I don’t want to push them away. But I also don’t want to push away gay Christians. Or young people. 85+% of millennials, when asked what the first thought “Christian” brings to mind to them, respond “Anti-gay”. If you want to know why millennials are leaving the Church today, it’s because the Church has told them (and proved, repeatedly!) that if they have any love at all for a single gay person in their hearts, they’re not welcome. They are emphatically not welcome. This week only reiterated that.

    Evangelical Christianity has convinced itself that only people with the Right Ideology get to stay Christians. As a result, their tent keeps getting smaller and smaller and smaller. They’re pushing people out of the Church, in droves. This cripples the Church. They’re not fracturing the Church, they’re cutting whole parts out. That activity needs to stop. It’s cancer, and it’s killing us.

  • Mark

    Commenting on the Pauline parts: I think that this is an inaccurate assessment of what Paul wrote and meant. Paul wrote of various behaviors in Romans 1:18ff: idolatry, envy, murder, quarrels, deceit, malice…and homosexual behavior.

    Then turns it on his religious readers to say that nobody is outside the scope of God’s righteous judgment, apart from salvation in Christ. But unless you think he was blessing idolatry, envy and murder, then, homosexual behavior is also indicted.

    So, the message is “boiled down,” as you put it, not to “don’t be so judgmental,” but rather, “everyone deserves judgment.” Quite a different message than what you’re asserting.

    You are rejecting the authorial intent of the texts and making them to say something else. It’d seem (to me, anyway) better if you’d say, “They say X, and I disagree and I hate it,” than to say, “They bless Y,” when they just don’t.

  • Mark

    I agree with you that there’s lots of homophobia on the conservative side of Evangelicalism. Almost never outright Fred Phelps-ing, but more subtle homophobia. Even the discussion about “should we bake cakes for gay unions” reveals that lots of conservatives would question that while never, ever questioning cohabiting heterosexual couples. Which is homophobia.

    What I think they’re right about is to question the whole basis of the gay identity, and to question the interpretation of Scripture that stands behind it. Sadly, they don’t offer lots of love (or sometimes any love) along with their interpretation.

    It’s over the top, though, to accuse Evangelicals of killing people. That’s just breathless hysterical nonsense, which is likely to make most people ignore the other important bits you’re pointing to.

  • Eric Boersma

    Tony Jones notes from a source inside world vision that the response received by World Vision in the wake of their announcement Monday would likely have destroyed the organization if it hadn’t been reversed.

    Think about that for a second.

    Evangelicals hate WV telling the truth about gay people working there (elsewhere that source notes that LGBTQ people will not be fired even if they had come out, and that there have been LGBTQ people working there basically since it was founded). WV has essentially never worked exclusively with straight people. It’s impossible for an organization of that size to hire exclusively straight people.

    World Vision is an organization that Evangelicals built. Last Friday, many would have proudly stood up and told you that World Vision is all that’s keeping many of these villages they help afloat. I think they’d have been right. Yet that organization they built meant so little to them that they would have completely destroyed it for telling the truth about employing gay people. If World Vision is in fact keeping these villages afloat, that means people are going to starve. They’re going to die from lack of medicine or clean drinking water. Medicine and food and water they had last week, but wouldn’t have had next week because World Vision was willing to tell the truth about employing gay people. That would have killed people. A lot of people.

    I realize that this is a staggering evil to try to wrap your head around. It’s nearly impossible. It’s the kind of thing that leaves you bitter, angry and heartbroken. That’s what me and tens of thousands of Christians who supported World Vision’s move have been dealing with this week. We’ve been dealing with how to process the fact that people who take the name of Christ, who explicitly condemned the pursuit of perfect theology at the expense of real people suffering, can be used to justify that kind of hate. It leaves us wondering how we’re to identify to make it clear that we’re not like that. I don’t want this evil to exist. I certainly don’t want it to be calling itself Christian. Yet it does and it is. I’m not going to dance around it any more.

  • Mark

    Eric: yes, that is a terrible thing to consider and contemplate. I agree with you there.

    How many people actually died? Zero, as far as we are aware. That is what would have happened, could have happened.

    So spank conservatives if you will, fine. Decry their behaviors, fine. But don’t go the extra step and say they are killing people, when that is untrue –unless you have facts to support. Nobody *killed* anyone. the consequences of their actions would have been deadly, and I agree with you that that is worthy of note, but that isn’t the same as killing, especially since it didn’t happen! Homophobia happened. Guerrilla culture
    war tactics happened.

    Say it’s horrible, cold-hearted, sociopathic, whatever. But it’s just untrue that “Evangelicals are killing people.” That’s an side of language, and it undercuts your various good points. You got my attention, to be sure, and we are definitely not on the same page to begin with, so well done…but it’s hard to follow when you go gangbusters.

  • Eric Boersma

    Are you familiar with the laws recently passed in Uganda that were supported by Evangelicals? Are you familiar with anti-gay violence that’s been and continues to be perpetrated in the United States? Are you aware of the 300% higher suicide rate for gay teens in the US as compared to straight teens in the US?

    Sure, evangelicals aren’t standing there pulling the trigger, but to act like their actions exist in a vacuum and they’re just opinions with no side effects is myopic to the point of absurdity.

  • Abandon Window

    “*Nobody* that I heard said progressive Evangelicals weren’t true Christians”

    “Even some professing Christians are becoming hostile to those who will not move according to the shifting winds of the culture. And if God is doing anything in ordaining these cultural shifts to come to pass, it may be this: We are finding out who the real Christians are. (Even today, some are announcing in anger and embarrassment that they will never again call themselves evangelical, to which we must respond with all sincerity and soberness, “Thank you.”)”

    That’s from Jared Wilson on the Gospel Coalition. You’ll find the same sentiment in the other half-dozen posts they’ve put up on the subject over the past few days. These guys are apparently the ones who decide who’s in or out.

  • Mark

    Eric, I’m just going to stop here after this… but I think anyone who thinks that that legislation is sane, much less biblical, has many screws loose. I hope I’m correct in saying that most conservative Evangelicals would think that’s bananas. (Although, Franklin Graham might have a surprise for us.) For me, those laws are vile. And I really don’t think you can say many Evangelicals took part in that.

    I’m not sure why there’s a 300% higher suicide rate for gay teens — it’s awful. Homophobia is surely part of it. It’s surely complicated. I just don’t agree that Evangelicals are responsible, as if there’s a straight line b/w morally conservative Christians and suicide. A lot of Evangelicals don’t think God is in favor of homosexual behavior, and yet are open to gay people in the sense of being nonjudgmental and non-hostile. Surely there are lots of other Evangelicals who are hateful. But so, too, w/ progressives. We’re all a mixed bunch, each one of us a mixture of good and evil. That’s all I’m saying. I just think you’re making too severe and direct a connection here.

    And I don’t think I’m myopic at all. You assume a lot, about me and about who is in the boat of conservative (morally conservative) Evangelicals. I pastor such a church. And we support an on-site pantry, an on-site parachurch ministry that has 5 houses for homeless folks. Many of them come to our church. We love them. We love people. And we don’t think God blesses homosexual behavior. But we don’t want to condemn anyone, and anyone can come. We don’t have membership, because we think it’s a journey — the point is about whether or not people are journeying towards Jesus with us. We’re peaceable, or at least aiming to be. We’re a work in progress. I’m just saying this because it seems to me (perhaps wrongly) that you have a mold, but not everyone who believes some certain things fits with the rest of your picture. I certainly hope i/we don’t!

  • Eric Boersma

    Franklin Graham came out in favor of the Ugandan law. He reiterated that support in an interview yesterday. If I’m not mistaken, so have people like Al Mohler and John Piper.

    The problem is, if you actually believe that those laws are immoral, they’re created, backed and supported by the large scale leadership of Evangelical Christianity. It’s why I feel so safe condemning them — because what they’ve done is damnable. I also recognize that if you’ve identified as an Evangelical for a long time, reconciling the idea that one needn’t be an evangelical to be a Christian can be hard.

    Thanks for taking the time to discuss this with me. If you’re ever in a place where you want to know what the world outside Evangelicalism looks like, know that I’d be happy to talk with you at length about anything and everything.

    Have a great weekend.

  • silicon28

    “But the much larger issue here, at least as I see it, is the damage inflicted on evangelicalism as a whole over the past few days.”

    Evangelicalism has been shooting itself in the head for at least two decades now. That’s the primary reason why so many of us have already said goodbye and moved on into other expressions of our faith. This really should not surprise a single person…

  • http://zhoag.com/ zhoag

    Absolutely.

  • http://zhoag.com/ zhoag

    Mark did you delete your first comment?

  • Mark

    Hi Zach…I honestly don’t recall. If it was snarky, then I may well have done so. Wouldn’t be the first time I made a comment that initially seemed reasonable to me, yet later seemed excessive, and then met the digital garbage can.

  • http://zhoag.com/ zhoag

    Interesting answer. Well, given the number of comments you’ve made on this post, I’d ask you to not delete them so the conversations look intelligible. Also, this may be a good stopping point for you, as I don’t want the thread to meander too much. Thanks.

  • http://zhoag.com/ zhoag

    Thanks for this. And I’m not advocating a schism on the part of progressives – just making a sociological observation about what conservative/mainstream evangelicals are saying. I think they are forcing public schism, but there will certainly be ways to build bridges and collaborate closer to the center.

  • http://www.fordswords.net/ Ford1968

    I don’t know about scorn…I’m not scorning conservatives. And I’ll certainly leave the children out of it.

    What this episode has taught me is that they really, really hate gay people like me. Russell Moore said that my marriage is evil and that anyone who doesn’t believe likewise puts the gospel of Jesus Christ at stake. I’m just not convinced anymore that we are practicing the same religion or worshiping the same Christ.

    I think that it’s fair for me to now distrust those who are seeking to marginalize me – just like they seek to marginalize the gay World Vision employees. I also think it’s important for me to recognize that they wish me harm. They want gay couples like my husband and me to disappear – and the fact that I identify as Christian makes them downright hostile. They are rightfully characterized as my enemies.

    My challenge in the wake of this is to understand how to love them regardless of their animosity towards me.

  • http://zhoag.com/ zhoag

    David, I track with your basic point about words in context, but I do think your argument re: Romans 1 & 2 is somewhat weak. A better approach might be: Paul clearly understands some form of homosexual sex to be under the “giving over” judgment of God, but the exact nature of that is unclear in the context. And, the primary arc of Romans is the inclusion of outsiders (Gentiles) in the covenant by faith in the Messiah’s work alone (and not by keeping circumcision, commandment, & sabbath, because no one is guiltless). Thus, the inclusion of outsiders on the basis of Jesus’s faithfulness and not our own has much relevance to the current conversation. Inclusion is a gospel issue.

  • Nathan

    At the end of the day, why would anyone want to be in a tent with TGC and the like? Evangelicalism in North America was always a soft, smiling sort of fundamentalism. The last 15 years have shown that the evangelical magisterium have stopped taking the trouble to smile anymore. Evangelicals = 21st C. Fundamentalists.

    We should have known this when the SBC tantrum of the 70s and 80s was extolled by other evangelicals as a good thing.

  • Nathan

    Where would you put CT in that matrix? They seem to be in bed with the SBC/PCA cabal.

  • http://livingliminal.blogspot.com.au/ Living Liminal

    It’s way beyond time that we dropped the labels and grew up enough to extend grace to our brothers and sisters even if they make decisions we don’t like or even agree with.

    Personally, my God is big enough to cope with his children having differing understandings, and I’m willing to trust him to deal with them as he sees fit. I’ll get on with running my own race!

  • http://www.makeroomforelephants.com elephantspace

    Thanks for your words! And thanks for listening and being open. :)

  • Grotoff

    All Mohler has been plenty clear and he’s a seminary president. Progressive Christians, in his view, aren’t really Christians.

  • Grotoff

    You are right. Many people are confused by this. No one is directly sending money to children, or pandas, or roads, or anything else people sponsor. It’s symbolic. Your donation allows this particular thing to happen.

  • Mark

    It’s sad when “red-meat” conservatism (the kind embodied by people like Sarah Palin, whose words are almost never constructive and always aiming to stir up rage) is mirrored in the church — esp. by seminary presidents. Yikes.

  • http://www.avclub.com/users/paul-kinsey,71501/ Paul Kinsey

    I know I’m really late to the party, but I was reading through the comment section and I had to correct you on one thing, @ericboersma:disqus. I can’t find any evidence that mainline conservative leaders support the anti-gay laws in Uganda. I’ve googled the names you mentioned and I can’t find any quotes at all from them about the law and zero evidence that they support it. The evangelical leaders that I can find quotes from (like Rick Warren and Russell Moore) have strongly condemned the law and said explicitly that they want homosexuals to be reconciled with Christ through the church, not jailed. Do you have a link to the interview with Franklin Graham you read or any direct quotes from Piper or Mohler about it?

    Edit: Here’s a good article that sums up the stuff I was able to find from Warren and Moore on the law. http://www.religionnews.com/2014/03/04/u-s-evangelicals-defense-ugandas-new-anti-homosexuality-act/

  • http://www.avclub.com/users/paul-kinsey,71501/ Paul Kinsey

    On a side note, you don’t actually believe that evangelical Christians are solely responsible for the suicide rate of gay teens, do you? Christians don’t have a monopoly on homophobia by any stretch of the imagination. One could certainly say that they’ve contributed to the overall climate of intolerance in the country or held back the era of tolerance to come, but they’re not the be-all/end-all of gay bashing.

  • Eric Boersma

    I’m not sure how you could possibly think that “Evangelicals aren’t the only people who act horribly to gay people” is a useful contribution to the discussion. Not acting horribly would be a much better contribution.

  • http://www.avclub.com/users/paul-kinsey,71501/ Paul Kinsey

    Correct me if I’m reading your comment wrong, Eric, but it sounds like you think I’m defending my own treatment of homosexuals in my comments. If so, that’s an incorrect assumption to make. I’m involved in a modern protestant church that preaches the great commission, so I guess that makes me an evangelical, but that’s never a word I’ve used to describe myself and I disagree pretty fervently with the “religious right” on numerous issues. When it came time for my state to vote on banning gay marriage, I voted against the bill and was so vocal about my vote and my reasoning both on my blog and on Facebook that church leadership had to ask me to cool it as I was upsetting the more conservative parents of some of children I work with. While I’m a fallen, sinful human who sometimes treats all manner of people poorly at times, there’s no significant difference between the way I treat my gay friends and my straight friends. So yeah, I think I’ve got “don’t act horribly” thing down. Thanks.

    As for the point I was actually trying to make, there’s a world of difference between the evangelical movement, on the macro level, being one small contributing factor among many to the suicide rate of gay teens and being the sole cause of their deaths. That’s an important distinction to make and I agree with Mark that your inflammatory language hurts the larger point that you’re trying to make, a point that I don’t necessarily disagree with. Unless a person literally, purposely killed another human being, calling him or her a murderer isn’t the best idea.

  • Eric Boersma

    Correct me if I’m reading your comment wrong, Eric, but it sounds like you think I’m defending my own treatment of homosexuals in my comments.

    You’re wrong. I never intended to imply any such thing.

  • http://www.avclub.com/users/paul-kinsey,71501/ Paul Kinsey

    Okay. My mistake. :)


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