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God’s Kingdom and the CRC

In his column “The View from Here” Mr. Timmermans has a wonderful message (“God Is Using the CRC to Advance His Kingdom,” June 2018).

He wrote, “While the church is shrinking in North America, globally the church is growing.” He points out that many organizations are in place to further the global advancement of the church of Jesus Christ.

The declining attendance and membership in our North American churches is very noticeable in many different denominations, also here in Canada. Why do we read so little about this sad situation and why are not some efforts especially focused to stem this trend? Would not the Holy Spirit guide any effort if it was put forward? Has this particular issue ever been put on the agenda of synod?

Bram Wiersma // Grimsby, Ont.

Editor’s Note: Synod 2017 addressed the issue of declining church membership in response to an overture. Synod 2018 received a report listing resources and a biblical theology for church renewal, church planting, and evangelism (Agenda for Synod 2018, pp. 64-75).

Mental Illness and the Church

In response to the article by Mr. Struyk (“Mental Illness and the Church,” June 2018): I am the regional advocate for Classis Eastern Canada, and I have been serving in that capacity for about two years now. There is also quite a bit of material about mental illnesses on the CRC Network (https://network.crcna.org/) that church members can look up to educate themselves. Where there’s a will there’s a way. Even if people who are not living with mental illness will find it hard to relate to, say, someone hearing voices, they should be able to empathize with the emotional distress that such an experience usually provokes.

Michele Gyselinck // Montreal, Quebec

In the article “Mental Illness and the Church,” the author puts autism in the category of mental illness, which it is not. Autism is a developmental disorder. I agree with the spirit of the article, but think the distinction is important.

Beth VanStaalduinen // Jordan Station, Ont.

Editor’s note: There is ongoing debate about whether autism is a mental illness versus some other kind of developmental or neurological state. However, both the American Psychiatric Association and the National Institute of Mental Health categorize autism as a developmental disorder.

Faith and Climate Science

Clayton Carlson’s article “Faith and Climate Science” (May 2018) elicited a series of online comments that I found troubling, largely because they were rooted in various misinformation from the internet. Much of this misinformation is refuted easily by checking simple facts. As Christians, we are committed to values such as truth, and we have a faithful responsibility to use our capabilities to assess it. The Reformed tradition has exemplified this commitment by placing a high value on Christian education and sound reasoning. The best scientific reasoning humans have suggests that climate change will profoundly affect the poor. We may disagree about precisely how this will happen, but we have a faithful duty to acknowledge the truth, act, and not purposely ignore it.

Colin Conrad // Halifax, Nova Scotia

I would challenge Carlson, who stated that climate deniers claim “the climate change movement is embedded with corruption and political agendas” (“Faith and Climate Science,” May 2018), to approach the arguments from the other side with some humility and consideration. . . . The only point [on which] I could agree with Carlson was his imagery of scientists occupying a priestly position. They do have a moral obligation to be honest in their findings even if that means publishing something that sheds doubt on the consensus model.

Karen Bastian // Montreal, Quebec

Church and Politics

My mind keeps returning to the question you raised in the editorial “Church and Politics—Again” (May 2018): “It is time we determine whether our faith is shaping our politics or our politics has been shaping our faith.” I cannot imagine a more compelling issue, succinctly stated, for the CRCNA and for people of faith everywhere.

As a veteran policy analyst and governmental relations specialist for more than 40 years, it is my considered opinion that a large segment of the American people has been seduced into acceptance of a “new normal.” It seems that there are no limits to the falsehoods and distortions to which we are subjected, and yet ANY questioning of the president’s pronouncements are met with derision by much of the evangelical community, which is proud to consider itself the unwavering base of the president’s support. Where will we find leadership that has not already committed itself to a single source of “news” and commentary, and, in the process, created a toxic environment for fruitful discussion?

Gerrit L. DenHartog // Walker, Mich.

More Still

We need more Katie Ritsema-Roelofs (“We Need More ‘Still’,” May 2018). It sounds like she could use another one of her too—pretty busy!—so I won’t hold my breath. Loved that final page.

Kathryn Waldyke // Makanda, Ill.

Off the Clock

Please pass on to Zach Vandenberg how much I enjoyed his article “Off the Clock” (May 2018). My family also relished the “holy” experience camping can be, when we let go of many of life’s distractions and attune ourselves to God’s voice speaking through the weather, the landscape, the wildlife, and God’s Word.

Kerri Howard // Hettinger, N.D.

Beyond Thoughts and Prayers

As a Canadian observing the U.S. political scene, I am often amazed at the cowardice of politicians when confronting the gun lobby to offer anything beyond thoughts and prayers to the victims of gun violence (“Beyond Thoughts and Prayers,” May 2018). Here in Canada, we have fewer gun-related deaths annually than in the U.S. (as a percentage of the population) because here owning firearms is not a constitutional right; it is a privilege. People must undergo a background check before they can buy a gun. We have had a number of shootouts, but nowhere near as many as there are in the U.S. Gun control is possible, but you need the political will to see it through.

Michele Gyselinck // Montreal, Quebec

We would do better by finding some balance in our perspective about guns (“Beyond Thoughts and Prayers”). Police really need guns. Our Second Amendment creates legal rights (even if subject to reasonable regulation) for folks to have guns. And some folks have and use guns for legitimate reasons.

And, of course, the “removal of guns in our communities” wouldn't remove crime—even murder―from our communities. To say it another way, the “removal of guns in our communities” will not create the “shalom” that this article suggests it will.

Doug Vande Griend // online comment

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