Outlook for the RCA
Two stories in the August Banner indicated that the Reformed Church in America is on the verge of a split. We are divided, it’s true. But don’t put the Holy Spirit in a box by assuming a split is inevitable. An excellent team is working hard on our behalf to propose a recommended future. It may be business as usual, reorganization, separation, or a new option that arises. As we wait for that recommendation, we are walking by faith. We are waiting with expectation for the Holy Spirit to write the next chapter of our story. Brothers and sisters in the Christian Reformed Church, please join us in praying for this work, for our future, and for open hearts to hear from God and the courage to follow where God calls.
Rev. Eddy Alemán // general secretary, Reformed Church in America
A sincere thank-you to everyone who was part of the July/August issue of The Banner. I appreciated the review of the actions of Synod and being informed about the issues facing the CRC. With this information we can start conversations, pray for our leaders, search the Scriptures and our hearts, and challenge the leaders of our individual churches to do the same. I am impressed that in Jesus’ high-priestly prayer (in John 17), as he prays for those who believe in him but have never seen him, he prays that we may love each other and that we may be one. And he adds the phrase, “Father, I in them and you in me.” May we ever be willing to submit to the spirit of Jesus within.
Blanche VanderBent // Grand Rapids, Mich.
Statement Regarding Mass Shootings
There is much to commend in the “Statement Regarding Mass Shootings” released by the denominational offices a month ago. Prayer and a willingness to rethink one’s own prejudices are certainly necessary on all sides as society looks for ways to address and respond to this phenomenon. One line in the Statement reads: “[W]e call on all members of the CRCNA to take an active stance against false narratives.” Maybe that stance begins closer to home than the Statement’s authors care to look. It was published several days after the shootings. The Dayton Daily News had already reported that the Dayton shooter had attended a Ku Klux Klan rally as an armed counterprotester. While officials are still searching for a motive, there is no reason whatsoever to believe it had anything to do with the shooter being a white supremacist. It very much bothers me the shooting in Dayton was shoehorned into the Statement’s white-supremacist narrative.
Bruce Anderson // Muskegon, Mich.
The assumption is that (deciding one’s identity) is primarily a psychological rather than a theological issue (“Big Questions: How do I decide my identity?” September 2019). It is proper to normalize some of this searching and questioning, but by this age we should also expect that the church has laid a foundation of theological reference points that can start to guide a young person or at least serve as a compass the person’s local congregation (parents, pastor, teachers, friends) can use to provide direction.
David Dill // online comment
We must be careful to observe categorical differences between God’s revealed will for personal behavior and God’s revealed will for governments (“Big Questions: Why does the CRC endorse ‘just war’?”, September 2019). However pacificistically you interpret passages such as “turn the other cheek” or “love your enemies,” such commands were not being made in context to governments or governing officials as they carry out their duties. We must balance God’s personal instructions with God’s institution of government as one that “does not bear the sword in vain” and is an “avenger who carries out God’s wrath” (Rom. 13:4, ESV). It simply will not do to attempt to hold the instituted government to the standards for personal conduct because government was instituted by God for a specific purpose. We don’t personally seek vengeance and punishment on those who have harmed us because we leave that to God, both in the eternal/final sense and in the temporal sense through his instituted agents (government) and through his providential will.
Eric Van Dyken // online comment
Thanks for sharing! (“His Wounds,” September 2019). Listening to people’s rants and anger at God is such a valuable ministry. We don’t have to have all the answers; listening, all by itself, shows that you value that person enough to spend time to listen. It shows God’s love and care. It’s not easy to hear, but is part of what we are called to do when we are called to love.
Bonnie Nicholas // online comment