Reply All: November 2021

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Prison Reform

Thank you for this article (“Mistakes Can Be Corrected,” October 2021). Common-sense reforms to our laws, to law enforcement, to training of police officers, and to mental health services would not only improve life for people with serious mental illnesses and those who love them, but would bring greater justice in society and would be better for society. My only hesitation with your article is the implication that people with serious mental illness tend to be violent, when the truth is that they are no more likely to engage in violence than the general population. In addition, they are more likely to be victims of violence than the general population. 

Mark Stephenson // online comment

Neland Avenue CRC

I’m not sure what Synod will do next year about Neland Avenue Christian Reformed Church choosing a married lesbian to be a deacon (“Council of Delegates Discusses Neland Avenue CRC,” October 2021). … Love is the foundation of Christianity, which includes compassion, tolerance, and forgiveness. I know God can love when mere mortals cannot, but we can at least try. Is wanting schism an answer? I have heard there are 108 kinds of Reformed churches already. Do we need another one? I don’t think so. Conditional love is not biblical, so it is time now to show unconditional love, which Jesus showed with the prodigal son story, the thief on the cross, and the woman caught in adultery. Anything less than unconditional love is unacceptable.  

Joel Veldheer // Grand Rapids, Mich.

Trauma

Arielle Wellons in her “Mental Health, Trauma, and 2020” article (September 2021) spoke to the heart of the issue by saying that “trauma healing must rest on the foundation of the gospel.” Modern psychology and therapy too often ignore or deny the fact that God’s Word is the only real foundation with which to help people in need. The key, as she said, is that “(t)rue spiritual healing of trauma and sin is found through the presence and unconditional love of God.”

Michael DuMez // Oostburg, Wis.

Pride

I agree: pride of knowledge is rampant throughout the CRC and North American Christians (“Intellectual Pride,” June 2021). I’m on my face before the Lord. Thank you for sharing your discernment. I’m praying too. God bless you deeply.

Eileen Christofferson // Boulder, Colo.

Creation Care

Thank you, Chaplain Kuipers, for providing examples of the CRC taking the lead in caring for God’s creation (“Christian Hope in Response to the UN Climate Change Report,” online). Perhaps no religion has such a pointed emphasis on God creating the world for us to take care of as exists in Genesis 1 in our Bible. We cannot dissociate bringing the cross to the world from our other behaviors. Increasingly that means caring about the air and the water of those we want to reach with Jesus’ message of salvation. The church or individual Christians stuck in ignoring where we care poorly for creation also shows a lack of care for its audience. We will have a harder time being meaningful to hope-seekers with the wonderful message of Christ’s salvation. I hope to see more examples of our church leading in this area.

Scott Wagner // Kentwood, Mich.

Thoughts on Binationality 

The editorial (“Thoughts on Binationality,” September 2021) speaks to the proverbial elephant in the room: the cultural differences between American and Canadian churches. The binational nature of our denomination is felt much more strongly among Canadians than among Americans. There is a noticeable cultural difference that shaped both halves of the denomination a century or two ago. Those cultural differences have shaped the way our denomination approaches missions, both domestically and internationally. It shapes the way we view citizenship and politics and caring for the poor. The issue, therefore, isn’t really about binationality and equal representation at the table. The issue is about biculturalism. Can two different cultures continue to live together, or is it time to live in separate houses? 

Keith Knight // online comment

Two Brief Interactions

Thank you, Jisoo, for sharing your story and your true feelings (“Two Brief Interactions,” July/August 2021). Your story invites me to be humbly aware of my brokenness. Thank you for inviting me to seek to build relationships with others in a way I can honor them with love and see each person as Jesus did. 1 Corinthians 12:26 says, “If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.” How would we know if our body is suffering if we are not willing to pay attention and listen?

Yoori Shen // online comment

Never Forget

Your account brings me to tears (“How Sept. 11 Changed Me,” September 2021). Thank you for sharing. We will never forget.

Scott DeVries // online comment

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