Critique the Quote

I was asked whether I agree with a quote from a twenty-year-old World Vision magazine.  My answer, unfortunately, can only be based on World Vision’s current website, since I don’t have the magazine.  World Vision probably didn’t even have a website in 1997.

Without context, I am reluctant to agree or disagree.  I’m more inclined to analyze the quote.

Social action has been seen as a lesser priority, because it has been seen as something that “man” can do by himself, whereas evangelism is seen as something “spiritual.”

Social action is seen as a lesser priority by whom?  Perhaps he means that World Vision chose to do social action solely because of their perception that others weren’t doing it.  Certainly people can do it on their own without God—millions are doing so, but that doesn’t mean we have to.  Conversely, many are doing evangelism in their own strength—perhaps even with wrong motives.

Try as we might we could not bring these two together, nor could we abandon one for the other.  The Bible is clear about the demands on us to do both.

I don’t know who he means by “we.”  If World Vision, does it mean they tried and failed?  If so, it may be that something was lacking in their approach.  World Vision seemingly did abandon one for the other.  But consider that it may not be abandonment but strategy:

  • A policy of social action only probably gains them access to a lot of places that are closed to “evangelists.”
  • “[Using] aid to induce a person to change religion” can be unfruitful—many will see it as hypocrisy, deception, insincerity.
  • This policy also makes it possible for them to get government grants of nearly two hundred thousand dollars a year, as well as funds from people who would never give to a “missionary.”
  • If we read their “Vision and Values,” it is clear that they are “not ashamed of the gospel of Christ” and are ready to “give an answer” while they live out James 2:16