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I just wanted to take the time to write an email of encouragement to editor-in-chief Shiao Chong. I have read a few articles that you have written and cannot express thoroughly in words my gratitude at the words you share. The honesty, struggle, prophetic naming of spiritual wrongness (and hopeful rightness) at tension within the Christian Reformed Church—these are all things I share, have noted, and through your articles do not feel alone in combating. Thank you for being “strong and courageous.” The power of words to influence and open up people to ponderings is so powerful. God is at work here, within the church that belongs to God, within the people that belong to God. I firmly believe that, despite our struggles and contentions, God's sovereign plan for salvation will be done among us.
Katelyn J. Van Hove // Surrey, B.C.
We love the cover of December with the Christmas song. The colors are indicative of diversity, and we are grateful for that.
Vern and Karen Steenwyk // Pelham, Ala.
Regarding the article “Seeing the Trees for the Forest,” by Diana Zondag (January 2023): a very thoughtful, good read, focused on the mom and the support for her in the pregnancy. Now we need to look at the rights of the little one made in God’s image.
Hans Visser // Taber, Alta.
I agree that our views on abortion should take a back seat in our ministry toward the abortion vulnerable, which is why I read your article with my head nodding—until I got to the part about both sides agreeing that it would be wonderful if terminating a pregnancy was never necessary or desired. The words we use when “going low” and speaking to those who are abortion vulnerable are very important and should be truthful. … So your narrative about abortion being the termination of a pregnancy is hardly the whole story. See, all pregnancies are terminated. Your mom’s pregnancy with you was terminated at your live birth. An abortion is a premature termination of a pregnancy, causing the demise of a child. That’s what should be included in our life-affirming narrative. … Our words matter. Yes, listen, but we also have to have the right narrative, as our audience is listening to us too.
Emily DeKorte // Tempe, Ariz.
I'd like to push back a bit on the answer to a question in the December Banner. The issue was Church Order, Article 54-b, and the question was concerned about the loss of Reformed doctrine. The answer stated we need to teach from the confessions so that we have “preaching that covers the full counsel of God's Word.” I would suggest we only receive the “full counsel” when we read all of Scripture, not just the Lord's Prayer and the Ten Commandments and the Apostles’ Creed. I think it is clear from recent history that many believers know little of Isaiah, Amos, or Micah, or even the teachings of Jesus. It is because I want people to know the “full counsel” that I preach from Genesis through Revelation.
Dan Walcott // Holland, Mich.
People would drive the nearly two hours to show up at the hospital to pray for faith to be increased, for the Devil to be bound, for sins to be confessed, and for physical healing to take place. This was our experience when my wife was in the hospital for three months after becoming paralyzed “overnight” by transverse myelitis. Healing did not take place as expected. Despite the possible implications of the article by Henry Wildeboer (“Just Do It,” January 2023), Scripture does not guarantee health and wellness in proportion to the faith we profess in Jesus as Savior and Lord. When we pray for healing we need to remember an important distinction: although God can heal us, we must never presume that he must.
Ivan Mulder // Pella, Iowa
Unity in Christ
I’m in a congregation that has chosen to remain together out of love for each other and our mission, even though we don’t all agree on contentious issues of the day. One of these is same-sex marriage. Most of us disagree with Synod 2022’s decision to make one interpretation of unchastity confessional and would like to see that reversed. But there is variation in response to the human sexuality report among members. From what I’ve seen and experienced in my church, we want to hold fast to our unity in Christ and to discover his unique mission for us; this is more important than complete agreement on same-sex marriage or abortion or a Christian response to global climate change, etc. Are there other churches out there walking the same path? Would you be willing to speak out to help show us another way ahead? It might surprise us just how many CRC folk there are across the U.S. and Canada who do not desire to split along party lines (so to speak), but in fact see it as a strength that we can commit to staying together amidst our differences.
Kathy DeMey // Grand Rapids, Mich.