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


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.