Reply All: December 2021

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Editorials

The Banner’s editorial page is the first thing we read when we pick it up at church. We appreciate Mr. Chong’s insight and analysis of the issues he discusses. It seems to us that he gives a balanced, thoughtful, and respectful perspective on the contentious issues our culture and our denomination encounter. We’ve been members of the Christian Reformed Church for about 40 years. Shiao Chong’s editorials always leave us with something to consider and discuss. We enjoy The Banner and read most of it cover to cover, but our favorite section is the editorial page.

Bill and Maxine Crofton // Nanaimo, B.C.

 

Just a quick note to thank you for your insightful editorials in regard to the issues we CRC people struggle with. I very much appreciate your wisdom and fresh perspective. I always read the editorial first, and they put me in a thoughtful frame of mind as I approach the rest of the articles. Keep up the good work!

Alice Groenenberg // Williams Lake, B.C.

 

Political Issues and the Pulpit

These wise words from someone who knows and respects the church order as you do are especially helpful (Big Questions, October 2021). Our synod has spoken on so many issues and yet we hardly dare to address these topics in polite conversation, never mind from the pulpit. Those synodical statements, plus your discerning observations, create generous space for pastors to help their flocks engage in thoughtful reflections on difficult topics. It doesn't mean that no one will be made uncomfortable, but I pray we can find ways to promote vigorous and loving dialog about how to be faithfully obedient in these challenging times. 

Karl Westerhof // online comment

 

Bethany Christian Services

How very limited vision the COD had when it voted to take Bethany Christian Services off the approved causes list (over the issue of homosexuality). (“Bethany Christian Services No Longer Recommended for Offerings,” June 2021.) BCS is one of the five major agencies leading the resettlement of refugees in the United States, and the CRCNA took a negative stance on it just at a time when their service and witness is of national profile/significance. To many who are aware, BCS is closely related to the Reformed faith and churches. (This is) another setback to the reputation that the CRCNA once had for “loving the stranger in our midst” through its resettlement efforts. 

Rev. Lou Wagenveld // Holland, Mich.

 

Body Shaming

In response to the October 2021 article “The Weight of Body Shaming,” God has answered my prayers concerning food. I love chocolate. A while ago, I began daily prayers for Jesus’ triumph in his death and resurrection to replace my impulsiveness with self-control. God did much more than I had asked. He took away ALL of my desire for food with two meals a day and only water in between. I praise God for his surprising answer through Jesus’ victory.

Rev. Bruce Leiter // Hudsonville, Mich.

 

Improving the Prison System

Mr. Terpstra (“Mistakes Can Be Corrected,” September 2021), please add this to your list (of ways to improve the U.S. prison system): more equitable access for people of color to serve in prisons/jails in various paraprofessional capacities. Addressing mental health issues is much needed. However, you can’t address the American prison system without acknowledging the racial disparities. Prisoners of color make up more than half of the population, yet the administration, chaplains, wardens, guards, social workers, and medical/dental professionals as well as mental health workers are by and large white.

Pamela Martin // online comment

 

Wearing Masks

I thought this was a wonderful article; thanks for posting (“Disputes About Masks Reveal Our Cracks in Christ,” As I Was Saying, online). My only trouble with it was this line: “I would happily worship in a designated mask area.” We share the same world and the same reality; in terms of COVID, that means that we need to pay attention to the disease experts and take what they say into account in our discussions. I agree that it is important to value relationships over being right, yet that doesn’t mean we need to deny what is true. Rather, we should be able to talk openly about what’s happening and what our options are. I remember restaurants with both smoking and non-smoking sections. The trouble is the smoke didn’t know to stay in its section; (I’m) not sure the virus would know that either.

Bonnie Nicholas // online comment

 

Theological Malpractice

"It is not good to have zeal without knowledge" (Prov. 19:2). Preaching and pastoring are two different callings that require distinct skill sets (“Theological Malpractice,” October 2021). Unfortunately, we live in a culture where quick, feeling-oriented and "inoffensive/inclusive" answers are demanded over self-reflection and deep understanding. Triviality has replaced profoundness; abnormalities are accepted as normal, truth is variable, evil does not exist, and doctrinal teaching is irrelevant. Many people take their morality cues from Oprah Winfrey, Ellen DeGeneres, CNN, CBC, or the New York Times, and they rarely open their Bibles or study the Belgic Confession. Anyone who persists in using the pulpit to teach a watered-down, feel-good message that is not rooted in Scripture or sound doctrine is practising theological malpractice. Mr. Burge, I do not envy the huge task in front of you.

Charles Ferkranus // online comment

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