November 9, 2012 — Who Are the Vulnerable?
I appreciate Kate Kooyman's concern for “the vulnerable” (“Can We Talk First?” October 2012) or humans in need she mentions several times in her discussion with Edward Gabrielse. However, I’m curious to know how she feels about the most vulnerable among us: the unborn children the Obama administration has shown little or no concern for. The official Democratic Party platform calls for abortion on demand and opposes “any and all” efforts to restrict abortions. Their official language also states that the party “strongly and unequivocally supports Roe v. Wade,” the 1973 Supreme Court decision effectively legalizing most abortions.
Kate’s argument for supporting the Obama administration because she believes they do more to protect the vulnerable from a life of poverty ignores the larger injustice [of] preventing life at all. Like Kate, I too hope to vote for a candidate who does not forget the vulnerable.
Oklahoma City, Okla.
The political dialogue in the October Banner (“Can We Talk First?”) spoke of jobs, capitalism, and entitlements. Discussion about the vulnerable was about the poor. We live in a country that aborts over 1 million truly vulnerable lives a year. They did not volunteer to be aborted. We have a president and a political party that claim to believe that abortion should be safe, legal, and rare. To date, they have given us only the first two goals. Until the CRC attacks this issue head on from both the pulpit and The Banner, our denomination will, at best, lead from behind.
—Gary J. Tenpas
Menomonee Falls, Wisc.
I noticed that neither Edward Gabrielse nor Kate Kooyman discussed the “life” issue in their article (“Can We Talk First?”). For me the very first criterion when I choose a candidate is whether he or she is pro-life or pro-abortion.
I appreciate the thoughts expressed by the authors (“Can We Talk First?”) but feel they missed the point. The Bible is emphatic about the fact that God’s desire was to have Israel serve and worship him as the supreme King of kings. Whenever they disobeyed God, he permitted heathen nations to take them captive.
God is undoubtedly concerned about the worldwide economy and social issues. However, I feel the article would have been more relevant to the Christian community if it had addressed which candidate would do the best job of orchestrating a nation that glorifies and praises the Supreme Ruler of the universe.
Grand Rapids, Mich.
What Would Jesus Do?
Kathy Vandergrift’s comment “Silence is also a political choice” (“FAQs,” September 2012) says much about our church today. By our silence we are choosing to be politically impotent in a world that is teeming with poor and powerless people, the very people about whom Jesus had so much to say.
Our ministers rarely say anything about our wars and other oppression. They, and we in the congregation, never seem to even pray about war, except for our own soldiers. What about all innocent victims? And what about the causes of war, which certainly include domination and oppression?
I’ve asked a couple of ministers, with little result, to please be more prophetic in these troubled times. To the extent that they and we do not at least speak out, we are rapidly losing our Reformed (and reforming) potential.
Could we still renew our Reformed potential (in the tradition of John Calvin and Abraham Kuyper)? Jesus spoke out vehemently on the issue of the powerful and powerless. What would he have us do?
—Ron Vander Kooi
Mr. Selles’ brand of introversion strikes me as a bit extreme (“Negotiating Coffee Time,” September 2012). But there are degrees in everything, and you can just as well be an introvert with a score of 17 (mine) as with a score of 71. Not everything he writes about introversion need apply to you, and you don’t need to worry about being weird because you are more socially inclined than he is.
Still, it might be worthwhile for congregations to offer their members the opportunity to take the MBTI [Myers Briggs Type Indicator] inventory. I remember feeling that the results validated my differences tremendously.
Adam and Eve
Like a refreshing rain on a drought-stressed land your article lifted my spirit (“Did Adam and Eve Really Exist?” August 2012). Thank you, Bernard Van Ee, for so simply and concisely articulating and reinforcing the very foundation of God’s Word.
When we meddle with Genesis, we also meddle with the entire gospel. As a denomination let us never waver in stressing the historicity of Genesis.
I appreciate the stand Bernard Van Ee takes (“Did Adam and Eve Really Exist?”). Science is an excellent tool to discover how awesome our God’s creation is, but science today seems limited because many scientists do not accept the existence of a Creator. Even some Christian scientists who accept the existence of a Creator seem to have a difficult time believing that the Creator can work outside the laws that he created. This can result in ignoring or marginalizing much of God’s supernatural work in the Bible, including the miraculous redemptive work and story of our Lord Jesus Christ. If God’s miraculous intervention in his history is removed from the Bible, God’s story in his Word is incomplete.
—Dick Van Eck
Yorba Linda, California
A Covenant Economy
Chandra Pasma states that ancient Israel’s laws mandated periodic redistribution of wealth to the poor and needy (“Abundance in a Covenant Economy,” September 2012). She referred to debt forgiveness and slaves being freed in Deuteronomy 15:1-18 and also to the Year of Jubilee mentioned in Leviticus 25:8-55.
There is no evidence that this ever took place. Did Abraham, Job, Solomon, David, and other wealthy, godly men redistribute their wealth to the poor?
There have been countries that have tried to redistribute abundance in wealth. Russia collapsed, and Greece, Portugal, Spain, and Italy are on the verge of collapse. We have a U.S. president piling up massive debt that will eventually cause a collapse in the American economy.
There is nothing sinful about abundance and wealth. When you have it, you should be responsible in your spending and help those in need.
—Harold D. Van Wyk
I greatly appreciated Professor Wolterstorff’s article (“The Art of Lament,” August 2012). He and I share a common experience in the loss of a son. A faith that incorporates grief is certainly stronger and richer than a faith that sings only praise songs.
—Harvey R. Heerspink
I was disappointed in the recent article by Lee Hollaar (“Just War, Not Just Another War,” October 2012). I would like to respond briefly to three points he raises.
Regarding his questioning the relevance of synod’s position on Just War theory in today’s complex world, I would refer readers to synod’s 2006 report, which addresses issues aligned with current U.S. National Security Strategy doctrine and calls for continued action in response to the nation’s current military action.
Regarding his characterization of current military service members as “the poorest and least empowered segments of our society,” I suggest that our current all-volunteer force is by far the most experienced, best resourced, most capable, and most highly educated military in the history of the world. Certainly some who are poor and poorly empowered enter the service, but in an all-volunteer force there are a number of standards that separate out the bottom 25 percent of society from those eligible to serve. All individuals seeking enlistment or a commissioning must meet the requirements for a security clearance, must be free of all major medical or psychological conditions, and are required to have a high school diploma (or equivalent) or a Bachelor’s degree. Currently, 50 percent of those accepted have college degrees and 40 percent have graduate degrees.
Regarding the 1927 synod report concerning ethical decision-making and war cited by Mr. Hollaar, I must disagree with his contention that war “is inconsistent with the gospel” and that “all militaristic ideologies are to be challenged.” He, in fact, suggests that we draw a parallel from our own nation’s experience (silence from the church during the Iraq war) with that of the church in Germany during the rise of Hitler and the Nazi regime. Such a comparison is beyond the pale. To suggest that the CRC’s corporate silence during the Iraq War is comparable to the silence of the church in Germany during the rise of Hitler is disturbing. In attempting to draw such a comparison, Mr. Hollaar appears to be implying that the genocidal atrocities committed at the hands of German soldiers under the orders of their superiors are in some way comparable to how our own service members have conducted themselves under the direction of their leaders. This idea is not only offensive but baseless.
Mr. Hollaar raises a number of reasonable questions and rightly challenges the church concerning her corporate response to war; unfortunately, his arguments often fall short of the mark and are clouded by inaccuracies, poor assumptions, and faulty logic.
—Mark Staal, Lt Col, USAF
Southern Pines, NC