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I totally agree with the author that it probably displeases God when the body of Christ has been divided (“Will We Ever Learn What Unity Means?”, May 2023). Many have been encouraged through preaching about the importance of unity in God’s church, yet we keep on splitting up for reasons that we justify on our interpretation of his Word as revealed in Scripture. Lamentable, but probably necessary, was the schism of the Reformation. Today when the term is used, it means “Think like I do.” … The author asks what makes the seventh commandment rise above the rest of the commandments. My answer would be that [violations of] all the commandments are … still recognized as “sin.” What troubles me most is that those who practice homosexual acts refuse to acknowledge them as sin as clearly referenced in both the Old and New testaments. Then what comes into play is the almost-forgotten mandate to exercise church discipline and all of its consequences.
Alex Krikke // St. Catharines, Ont.
In Ron Polinder’s article, he asks the question with regard to the 2022 Synod decision on human sexuality, “What makes the seventh commandment rise above the rest of the commandments?” It is a fair question, but I fear he has not given any gospel scrutiny to his own question. From the very beginning of the gospel story, the only offense most grievous to our Father is that willful, darling sin in each of our hearts that we cannot even bring ourselves to call a sin, let alone bring it to the cross and confess it. I long for the unity Mr. Polinder desires, but the pathway to it, as the human sexuality report clearly presents, can only be the path of self-surrender that leads to the cross: the good news. There, with each of our darling sins in our open hands, we can find unity. Anything else is something of our self-made imagination.
Don Westhouse // Dorr, Mich.
A belated thank-you to Ron Polinder for this excellent article! I agree completely with his perspective that we need to work for unity. I am thankful, with Ron, for so many ways in which God is working in the Christian Reformed Church to build his kingdom. I also come out on the other side of this issue. Nevertheless, I would welcome the opportunity to gather at the communion table with Ron and all who are on that side of the issue. I would gather at that same table with a believer in a same-gender relationship.
Roy van Eerden // Abbotsford, B.C.
Relaxed and Reformed
In “Relaxed and Reformed” (June 2023), Rev. Al Postma makes a compelling argument for our responsibility in sanctification but that ultimately God does the work. However, his statement “We do the best we can” reminded me of my years working at a retail chain reporting directly to a very large and emotional president. Whenever something ran afoul, he would come storming into my office, and I learned very quickly not to use the “doing the best we can” line but instead to say, “We are working on it,” which I must have used hundreds of times as a way to … assure him we would have a plan for improvement. Is that not what we should tell our God during prayer and confession as we live the Christian life? James 3:13 comes to mind. In fact, the entire book of James is about “working on it.”
Jim Heida // Apex, N.C.
Is Love a Salvation Matter?
My answer would be “Certainly!” (“Is Love a Salvation Matter?”, Sept. 2023). I think you tend to overtheologize a bit. Read the book of James. He tells us clearly that faith without deeds (which I would define as acts of love) is dead. Faith in Christ cannot be separated from love. As the old Sinatra song says, “You can’t have one without the other!” Thanks for your work as editor of The Banner. I appreciate your editorials. Blessings!
Bruce Nikkel // Pella, Iowa
I would like to thank Banner editor Shiao Chong for his recent editorial “Is Love a Salvation Matter?” I have long felt the Christian church has emphasized faith at the expense of love despite the clear emphasis on love throughout Jesus’ teachings. Evidence of this can be found in the title of the editorial, which is framed as a question rather than a statement. I think there’s a strong argument to be made that a church of Jesus’ followers would want members willing to make a “profession to love” rather than a “profession of faith.”
Phil Bloem // Grand Rapids, Mich.
In the context of the Good Samaritan parable, when other people are in desperate need, like the man on the road, is when our love for neighbor is tested. But in the greater context of Scripture, love always operates within the boundaries of God’s Word and the Holy Spirit’s discernment (Phil. 1:9-10). The question “Is it a salvation issue?” seems like an easy way to dismiss a lot of what you don’t agree with and gives an excuse for almost any behavior. In our current cultural setting, some are willing to compromise the teachings of Scripture for the sake of “loving” others. Biblical love doesn't tolerate false teaching or sinful behavior, but rejoices when God’s Word is taught and obeyed. The most loving thing we can do for others is to live according to biblical truth (2 John 6).
Ivan Mulder // Pella, Iowa