I'm “curious” if “curiosity” was the intended or unintended theme of the June Banner issue. At least three excellent articles mention it as a positive attribute of Christian life—Bryant Russ’ “Becoming a Listener”; Brandon Haan’s “Culture War-ification of the CRC”; and Sam Gutierrez’s “Exploring the Divine Mystery.” It’s a trait I strove for among my students in 39 years of teaching chemistry, but I was pleasantly surprised to find it multiple times in our church’s publication as something we should all strive for as Christians.
Lou Sytsma // Palos Heights, Ill.
I feel a special fondness for the Good Samaritan story and was pleased to see it highlighted in the June editorial by Shiao Chong. It both stands alone and connects with other teachings of Jesus. It affirms Jesus’ teaching about the greatest commandments (Matt. 22:34-40) and tells us that loving one’s neighbor means granting mercy to anyone, including anonymous strangers who need our help. It reinforces what Jesus taught about the inadequacy of simply knowing and legalistically complying with the law (Matt. 19:16-22) and shows us that a reviled foreigner who practices a different religion might please God more than an admired member of our own religion. I hope Chong will share the results as he continues “to wrestle with this parable more deeply.”
Frank Barefield // Holland, Mich.
Identity in Christ
Rev. Darrell Delaney’s article “Identity in Christ Is Our Strength” (May 2023) is exactly the kind of write-up Christian Reformed Church members expect to find in their magazine. Such articles serve to remind believers who they are and what they have in their identity with Christ. Too often believers at Sunday worship are led in prayer confessing they still sin by deed or omission. This triggers sin-consciousness rather than joyously singing God’s praises in the blessed assurance that, thanks to Calvary, Christ’s righteousness is credited to them and God remembers their sins no more.
Joe A. Serge // St. Oshawa, Ont.
Thank you for the excellent article about waiting times with refugee sponsorship (“Churches in Canada Waiting for Sponsored Refugees’ Arrival,” May 2023). To reduce waiting times, the Canadian government should increase the number of resettled refugees it accepts each year, as a backlog accumulated during the COVID-19 pandemic when immigration numbers decreased. Churches have an important role to play in calling the government to welcome more refugees.
Ian Van Haren, executive director of Action Réfugiés Montréal // Verdun, Que.
In the article “The Bible and Cognitive Dissonance” (May 2023), Jake Masselink asserts we cannot be certain about religious knowledge. It is even dangerous. Instead, we should be humble, and we should not judge others because only God can judge. Ironically, he is very certain that we cannot be certain. But Jesus claims he is the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6). God wants us to know we have eternal life (1 John 5:13). The real question is, are we going to believe the truth claims of human invention, or the truth claims of God’s Word?
Patrick Anthony // Ripon, Calif.
Mystery or Vulnerability
I write in agreement with editor Shiao Chong’s “Mastery or Vulnerability” (May 2023). Robust knowledge of Scripture appears to be energizing the uncivil discourse in society. The devil quotes Scripture to deceive as he did when he tempted Christ in the wilderness. He does the same today. Beware of those quoting Scripture while subverting the doctrine of salvation by grace through faith in Jesus’ sacrifice. Salvation is not predicated on how we impose biblical law on our fellow citizens, especially those of different faith persuasions. Using the Bible as a literal guide for law and punishment could well result in the establishment of a “Christian caliphate” ruled by an iron-Bible fist. I shudder.
Evan Roelofs // Byron Center, Mich.
A Third Way
A third way? (“Unity, Not Unanimity, Say Organizers of ‘A Third Way’,” April 2023.) In today’s world many believe there is no absolute truth. We don’t realize how abhorrent sin is to our Holy God. We have whitewashed sin and become desensitized to it. Homosexual acts are unchaste and are sins, as Synod 2022 ruled and Synod 2023 upheld (Rom. 1:26-27; 1 Tim. 1:9-11; 1 Cor. 6:9-10; Lev. 18:22; 20:13). God’s word is a two-edged sword and is not to be compromised or reinterpreted for the sake of inclusivity or unity. There is much sympathy for those who have a heavy burden to bear, but sin is to be resisted, not normalized and accepted. There cannot be a third way. Let us hold fast to the truth.
Violet Reinsma // Schererville, Ind.
Men’s volleyball is a great addition to Calvin’s athletic program (“Football Comes to Calvin University,” March 2023)—physical skill, quick reflexes, team unity, and interdependence coupled with an appreciation and respect for a worthy opponent. Football, on the other hand, is often a clash of titans leading to physical injury and brain damage. The only benefit I see is a possible financial one for the institution. Many young men will be paying the price in the years to come.
Tom Posthumus // Sebringville, Ont.
Thank you for including the Fred Klooster quote “(F)aith involves heart knowledge rather than mere head knowledge” in your April editorial. That quote reaffirms the faith that lives in my 91-year-old head and heart. A blessed Easter to you and all the creative Christian heads and hearts at The Banner. God bless you!
Merle Oosterhoff // Red Deer, Alta.