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Reformed Accent

Steve Timmermans’ essay “Speaking with a Reformed Accent” (April 2019) proves an incentive to ponder the distinctiveness of the Reformed perspective. The social gospel movement emphasizes the social teachings of Jesus, not the Christ who is the divine son of God who gave himself on the cross for mankind’s eternal salvation. The hymn “This World Is Not My Own” reflects much of fundamentalist thought about our world. Thus the motive for serving our Lord is the assurance of salvation. In contrast, “This Is My Father’s World” reflects the Reformed perspective. The Reformed motive for serving our Lord is gratitude. Therefore, as Timmermans put it, Reformed Christians seek to better this world, in so doing avoiding “any division between sacred and secular.”
Robert Bolt // Grand Rapids, Mich.

Good People

After reading Christopher Schoon’s “Do All Good People Go to Heaven?” (April 2019), I recalled the words of John 11:23-24. Here Jesus responds to Martha’s comment about her dead brother Lazarus by assuring her “Your brother will rise again,” to which she responds, almost annoyingly, by saying, “I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.” It seems to me that instead of speculating about who eventually may or may not enter heaven, it would be better to heed N.T. Wright’s words: “All Christian language about the future is a set of signposts pointing into the mist” (Surprised by Hope).
Frank DeVries // Surrey, B.C.

Do All Good People Go to Heaven?” really helped me understand that we have to trust God for our salvation. I will put it in my Bible for rereading.
Suze Mast // Chatham, Ont.

Pew or Canoe

The author (of “Pew or Canoe,” March 2019) raises some good questions and interesting responses. But I believe he misses the boat on the biggest one: After all that hearing, giving, and talking, Jesus describes putting our beliefs into action—not just on committees or in organizations, but hands-on. Rather than talking about justice, poverty, the environment, and more, we should be personally involved in helping one person, situation, or emergency at a time. This gives us opportunity to live our beliefs (and maybe talk about it too) while following the Lord’s example. I am a beginner in the area and I’m disappointed that it took me so long.
Paul Triemstra // Portage, Mich.

Gary Burge (“Pew or Canoe”) is a voice in the wilderness, a redemptive voice we need to hear from the pulpit about our cultural mandate to do social justice, which is as important as the Great Commission. A similar voice to Karl Barth’s along the lines of: Take the Bible and your newspaper and interpret the latter with the Bible.
George Lieuwen // Langley, B.C.

Like Gary Burge (“Pew or Canoe”), I am a 50-something, disillusioned lifetime CRC member. My disillusionment is not on account of being a member of a constituency to which the church fails to cater. Exactly the opposite: my disillusionment comes precisely because the church thinks I am part of a constituency to which it must cater. It is as though the church is a service club that must create reasons for and promote membership. No doubt the Spirit is as likely to be found in the canoe as in the pew, not on account of any failing on the part of the church but because the Spirit comes and goes as it wills. We neither control the Spirit nor have it at our disposal. Whatever the allure of the canoe, it cannot be to gather with brothers and sisters—members of the covenantal family of God.
Ron Nightingale // Kitchener, Ont.

Gene Editing

I’m not very knowledgeable about gene manipulation (“Big Questions: Ethics,” March 2019) but believe it can target a specific mutation related to a specific consequence. We operate on many people to correct such conditions—hip dysplasia, for instance. Gene editing could fix that instead. It is not like a new drug, which can have a myriad of side effects. Regardless, God has commanded us to have dominion over creation. He has gifted us with inquisitive and creative minds. Suppressing new developments like gene editing is akin to the early church insisting that the world is flat. It will not enhance our message that Christ rules over all. Better that Christian scientist jump into a leading role to guide those who might not hold to the same ethical standards.
Bill Wybenga // Picton, Ont.

Kudos for The King’s University

A gospel of exclusion will never reach those who have already been systematically excluded from the majority of Christian institutions (“Churches Talk with The King’s University about LGBTQ Issues,” March 2019). I applaud The King’s University for playing its role in the world—that of an educational institution—by engaging in the culture as Christ did, in a way that starts with belonging and relationship. This is Christ’s example for us. To engage with a marginalized community, you need to be in relationship with a marginalized community. I encourage everyone in the denomination to relinquish the need for judgment until you are in relationship with and find belonging in the marginalized community you are judging.
Darren Sytsma // Abbotsford, B.C.

Where Were the Women?

Congratulations to Sarah Hoogendoorn for persevering despite difficult circumstances (“Called to a Different Kind of Ministry,” Our Shared Ministry, March 2019).The photo of white males blessing Sarah was not a photo I would recommend to demonstrate inclusivity in the CRC. Were all the (other) females occupied in the kitchen?
James Vanderleeuw // Waterloo, Ont.

As I Was Saying

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Comments

I want to extend my thanks to James Vanderleeuw for his affirmation of women called to ministry.  Such support from brothers and sisters in Christ is always a blessing!

Although the photo may not look inclusive, it is one of my favorites from the day of my ordination.  That photo contains people who walked alongside me in very real and tangible ways - my dad, my brother-in-law, a college friend's father, my mentor during my first CPE residency, and Council members who have supported me throughout my entire ministry journey thus far, even as they might have wrestled with the role of women in ministry.  The women who walked alongside me may not be pictured, but they were very much present, active participants.

As the first woman ordained in Classis Iakota, and as a member of a calling church that doesn't have women in ordained office, I find the photo to be a beautiful representation of how people of differing opinions and values come together for the glory of God's Kingdom, participating in the rich ministry of God's grace as one Body.  

I am hurt by your words, James. Is Classis Iakota as far along in inclusivity as you would like to see? Perhaps not. But instead of celebrating the steps you see us making in that direction, you stereotype and assume that just because you don't see in the photo other women or ethnicities, they are uninvolved and unvalued in the Kingdom work happening in the churches in this part of the US. That is presumptuous of you as well as unfortunate that you now have influenced others to perceive Classis Iakota negatively and, in my opinion, inaccurately. ~Stanley Groothof

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