By Craig Funston
You have heard of Yale and Harvard, of course. They were once stalwart Christian seminaries, solid hallmarks of biblical academia. However, somewhere and somehow they succumbed to the pressures of the day—both from within and without—to become mere secular universities and graduate schools.
I don’t know exactly how—I’m not that old, cousin Reggie—but something was either introduced or willingly allowed that brought them to a different place. For your information, we’re talking just under 400 years ago.
You may or may not know that the “Y” is one abbreviation for another abbreviation, namely, the YMCA. The full title is Young Men’s Christian Association, with “C” standing for the word “Christian.” It was an outreach programme for men, started by an entrepreneurial Christian businessman. He saw the need to help young men in his native Chicago. While it is no longer Christian, per se, it is still doing a good work all over North America.
Again, I suggest to you that a shift in basis became a shift in focus, which became a shift in style.
By the way, one person influenced by the YMCA was a gentleman by the name of Henri Dunant. Between seeing the hands-on, practical Christian faith in action, coupled with the needs of wounded soldiers, he introduced a medical mercy institution that is still active globally.
You may not have heard of him, but you may have heard of what he was instrumental in co-founding: the Red Cross.
But in today’s culture, of course, because these parties held to a traditional, historical view of marriage, they would be branded as intolerant bigots. Thank goodness they got a head start a century or two ago before our culture became “enlightened.”
Now even closer to home: Ever heard of the Samaritan’s Purse? That’s the organization that distributes thousand of toys and packages all over the world, to needy children, regardless of race or religion, creed or colour. It’s a Christian organization, you know.
Even as I write this, they are serving in cyclone-ravaged Vanuatu. Maybe we should shoo them away because of their alleged intolerance.
Are they the next movement to lose its effectiveness in the community by the naysayers? Will they forced to compromise or even shut down because they hold to a traditional, historical view of marriage?
But they are more than Christmas gifts and disaster relief overseas. The people in High River, I’m sure, recognize the good that Samaritan’s Purse has done for their flood-ravaged friends.
Well, not exactly “friends”: They are complete strangers, but nevertheless it’s the Christian thing to do.
What about Habitat for Humanity, another faith-based operation? I went to their website and was pleased to see their claim to be a Christian-based operation. You should do the same. You’d be amazed, as I was, to see where they are, who they build free houses for, regardless of (here we go again) race or religion, creed or colour.
The same can be said about the global impact of Canadian Foodgrains Bank, another Christian organization? Their subtitle says, “A Christian Response to hunger.” As usual, space forbids to discuss the good that Mennonite Central Committee does all over the world.
Do you get the picture so far? The vision and initiative of Christian men and women, helping their fellow-citizens in regular, practical ways, with no government assistance and no strings attached. It can’t get any better than that.
But there are days that I fear that a certain vocal element will worm their way into these (and many other) humanitarian services, and destroy them for their differing views of morality.
Will these wonderful organizations become compromised like Harvard and Yale, sued, then shut down like some bakeries in the States, all for want of a difference of conviction? Where’s the “agree-to-disagree” principle? Where’s the “live-and-let-live” rule of thumb? Where is the true tolerance?
Are thrift stores with religious roots, such as Salvation Army, Catholic Charities, and Bibles for Missions, the next target? Are the soup kitchens and many programmes provided by Union Gospel Mission in the cross hairs of these people?
If people don’t appreciate or value the good work done by these institutions, they should start their own services to the poor and needy, the under-nourished and illiterate, the destitute and marginalized.
After all, it would be the Christian thing to do.