Thank you to all who donated to our fundraising campaign this past year. At the time of writing, we have received more than $420,000, making it the fourth consecutive year we have raised over $400,000! Your generous support is amazing, especially because 2020 was a pandemic year with economic downturns. We are most grateful for your strong support.
This support reflects the high number of readers—69.7%—who expressed “satisfied” with us in our 2020 readers’ survey. I take this as an overall sign of approval of what we are doing at The Banner. We can never please everyone, of course, but it is good to know that our efforts overall are appreciated.
Frankly, on some days I need that encouragement. In striving to be a fair forum for diverse perspectives in the denomination, I know that not everyone will be happy with some of the views I allow to the table. For instance, many people, mostly from those who are affirming of same-sex marriage, were upset at the article “How to Walk Well Alongside LGBTQ+ People” (June 2020). On the other hand, I received a lot of angry letters from readers who support the traditional view after our November article on “Same-Sex Relationships and the CRC,” even though it was a balanced article presenting voices from both sides. Two letters in particular stood out. Both were from longtime Christian Reformed Church members who were so offended by the article that they asked to discontinue their Banner deliveries. But here’s the catch: one reader supported the traditional view while the other was affirming of same-sex marriage. Neither side was pleased with the same article.
Thankfully, I also got positive responses to the article. One traditionalist reader thanked us for presenting the differing views and wrote, “I feel I can now better understand the arguments for both sides and the people behind the arguments.”
The 17th-century Christian poet John Milton once argued against censorship: “Let (Truth) and Falsehood grapple; who ever knew Truth put to the worse, in a free and open encounter?” (Areopagitica). In other words, we need not fear a fair open exchange of ideas, as truth should win out.
When I was a campus pastor, I hosted a weekly no-topic-is-taboo discussion for students. I had Christians, atheists, and people of other faiths attending and sharing their thoughts and questions. Everyone had a fair voice in this forum. It was dialogue, not debate. I didn’t allow any harsh words or tones. I had a number of non-Christians, even ex-Christians, who not only kept returning every week but invited their non-Christian friends to attend.
Rather than controlling the discussion, I trusted in the Holy Spirit’s guidance that the biblical truths shared would take root in the midst of other views. Sure, some of the opinions shared made me cringe. But I trusted that God’s truth would resonate more with people in the end. The Christians grew in their faith because they learned to answer for their beliefs. The non-Christians learned more about Christianity and the Bible in a safe, non-threatening, and uncensored environment. An ex-Christian student once remarked that he might still be Christian if his youth pastor had been as patient as I was with his tough questions.
I try to fill my editor’s role here with that same posture. I believe God’s Spirit of truth (John 16:13) will guide us as we humbly seek for truth in the midst of varying opinions.