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Truth Will Win

Your excellent editorial about the challenges you face from readers of differing commitments made me ruefully laugh at myself (“Truth Will Win,” January 2021). At 74 years old, I hold with considerable passion some views which I would have opposed with equal passion 50 years ago. I’m convinced that the Spirit has guided me on that journey. That gives me a bit of patience with those who don’t yet hold the “correct” opinions that I do!

Syl Gerritsma // St. Catharines, Ont.

Same-sex Relationships

I am glad you are so directly addressing the issues of same-sex relationships in advance of the important discussions ahead in 2021. In two of the past issues, though, I noticed what appears to be use of terminology that is not congruent with commonly used descriptives (November and December 2020). You use “same-sex attraction” (SSA) to describe people in clearly defined homosexual identities and long-term relationships/marriages. Same-sex attraction is clinically defined as emotional and/or sexual interest. A fairly large percentage of people in our North American context have experienced SSA or have ongoing SSA. A much smaller percentage move through a process from SSA to sexual orientation (an enduring pattern of attraction based on desire) or identity (the process of labeling oneself).

Jeff Kreiser, M.A. in educational psychology // Folsom, Calif.

Sexuality Report

Why would anyone be surprised by the report on human sexuality? When only members who adhere to the 1973 synodical statement were allowed to be on the committee, the result was preordained all along—sort of like holding an election where only one political party is allowed to vote and then being shocked by the outcome. The Christian Reformed Church deserved better than this.

Valerie Terpstra Van Kooten // Pella, Iowa

Narcissism in the Church

The exclusively psychological perspective of this article suggests that Christian spirituality has little to offer this particular malady. What psychologists call narcissism today our spiritual forebears once called vanity, vainglory, and pride. It was one of the seven deadly sins. The cure for vainglory was humility cultivated in community, and the process of arriving at humility was self-knowledge. Self-knowledge was a process of prayerfully looking into one’s heart as with a mirror, and it was marked by such things as the opening of the soul, disclosure of thoughts, watchfulness, and attention to oneself. 

Ron Klok // Edmonton, Alta.

December Issue

Whoever gets their hands on The Banner first in our household dog-ears the pages of their favorite articles. Your December issue had all the pages (except the ads) bent over.  Compliments to the contributing authors and your editorial staff. Well done!

Russ Vandergraaf // Langley, B.C.

Hurt by the Church

On page 12 of the January edition (“Big Questions”), therapist Judy Cook replies to a question about family members hurt by the church. “How can I engage my family members in a sensitive but honest discussion?” Her reply, “It begins by repenting on behalf of the church,” falls short. Cook misses an important step. First, find out if the church is right or wrong. Cook’s advice would have Jesus repent because he caused the rich young ruler to go away sad. I pastored a church for 42 years and presently attend the CRC in Guam. I can say without any doubt that not everyone who is hurt by church, or a (specific) church, is hurt because the church did something wrong. Sometimes people are hurt because the church does what is right.

Howard Merrell // Guam

Infant Baptism

Kathy Smith’s answer to the question about child dedication (“Big Questions,” February 2021) covers some well-trod but seldom-examined ground. The argument that “a helpless infant demonstrates the truth of baptism—that God chooses us—in a way that is less apparent when adults are baptized because it may seem from adults’ testimony that they, not God, are the primary actors in their salvation” would be a powerful one, except that Scripture never makes it in relation to baptism. Rather, the emphasis is on the faith of converts who bring their families into the church by baptism. Besides, adults are saved by grace just as much as children are, and their testimonies can and should reflect that. The most egregious assumption is that all that is needed is “to disciple people toward understanding and affirming infant baptism.” In some (perhaps many) cases this will help, but there are those who understand the arguments perfectly well and still reject them.

Cameron Fraser // Lethbridge, Alta.

Are We Evangelicals?

I would add this to the article (“Are We Evangelicals?” March 2021): whatever Christians may decide to do in terms of embracing or rejecting or divorcing themselves from the word “evangelical,” politicians of today will use the term (as a praise or as a condemnation) for the sole purpose of attracting some voters and denouncing others. And sadly, what politicians do with the word will have a greater effect on its definition in the minds of the broader population than what those who actually are “evangelicals” claim for the word.   

Doug Vande Griend // online comment

White Privilege

I read the article “Hobbit Heroics and the Responsibility of Privilege” (January 2021) and found that it piqued my curiosity. I am wondering what it practically looks like to destroy white privilege as the article suggests. Many of the ideas are a little abstract and idealistic in my mind yet. I suppose the main question I pose is: what would it look like to practically live up to what the article suggests?

Caleb Kamerman // online comment

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Comments

Neland Avenue Decision: I would like to respond to Heather DeVries' comment in the March 2021 issue. She writes about Neland's decision to ordain a person in a same sex marriage to the office of deacon as "bigger than them." Neland's council and members recognized this as a fraught decision with wide-ranging implications. The decision process took years. During those years, some members left because they felt Neland wasn't moving quickly enough to open the offices of elder and deacon to gay people. During that time a committed gay member left Neland as her life-long church home because she felt there was no place for her.

Ms. DeVries writes about the heartbreak of living through a church split. As a member of Neland, I don't feel as if I'm living through a split. Some who are not wholeheartedly in support of the decision have remained. We recognize that we often live in Christian community with discomfort and disagreement but are called to live together in truth and love. There are more members of Neland who are LGBTQ+. Aren't their feelings also important? I believe that these folks feel more welcomed and included since this decision has been made. It's my hope that Neland may attract more such people who identify as LGBTQ+. 

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