If Rev. Wayne Brouwer’s meaty “nutshell” (“Reformation: A Short History,” Oct. 2005) were to be enlarged, there might be added the meaning of God’s grace.
Before the Reformation, the biblical meaning of God’s grace as the merciful preservation of his fallen world and the rescuing of his children bent on losing themselves, had drifted into rites the church’s hierarchy dispensed to those qualified. It was Luther’s revolutionary discovery and declaration that God reconciled to himself, through his incarnate Son, those he chose in him, who took him at his word.
What Luther affirmed, Calvin developed: God’s undeserved favor to all his creation. Somewhere he said, “Were it not for the grace of God, we would instantly crumble into dust.”
Through the centuries the notion has persisted that like the priests of Baal contesting with Elijah, saving grace can be evoked and experienced by playing on people’s emotions with loud declaiming and ecstasy-arousing music. And still prevalent is the idea that grace is a spiritual substance infused into those who access the ecclesiastical channels.
Maybe we ought to tiptoe afresh through T.U.L.I.P.
—Richard Hudelson, Holland, Mich.
Reformation in Brief
Regarding Rev. Wayne Brouwer’s article, we may like to think that the Reformation marks the end of 1,000 years of “deformation,” but that’s a claim that cuts two ways. It implies that the Holy Spirit was practically on vacation for about half the church’s history—active in the early church and then again in “our” Reformed churches, but not doing enough in between.
Luther, Calvin, and others rejected a theology that put the clergy front and center. Their Reformed theology emphasized the ability of lay people to connect directly with God through the Bible and prayer. Their Reformed churches adopted many worship practices that lay Christians had been following for centuries through the period of supposed “deformation”: Bible reading, lay sermons, praise songs, charity, group devotional exercises. If we truly confess that “the Spirit moves in mysterious ways,” we need to look beyond the theologians to discover what the laity are doing in their efforts to serve Christ. Luther and Calvin certainly did.
—Nicholas Terpstra, Toronto, Ontario
DYM and the CRC
Per the Oct. 2005 editorial, perhaps The Banner should extend an olive branch to the Cadets by simply and humbly writing a good story about the Cadet International Camporee in Iowa this past July. It’s not too late. How about it? I’m sure lots of people would love to hear more.
—Tom Martinie, Hudsonville, Mich.
Dynamic Youth Ministries (DYM) has served the Christian Reformed churches quite admirably by providing youth ministry programs. I can see no benefit to either the CRC denomination or to DYM in having the denomination take over DYM. The independence of DYM from any one denomination has allowed it to serve a number of denominations as well as the many former CRC churches that separated due to their discomfort with our perceived liberal direction. It ain’t broke—don’t fix it.
—Clarence Dykhouse, Port Lambton, Ontario
I’m writing in response to the Banner article (Sept. 2005) and the numerous newspaper stories and stories in other publications regarding the resignation of Rev. Cal Bremer from the position of executive director of the CRC. Once again, the adage that Christians shoot their wounded has proved to be true. How sad, how shameful. Cal is a friend and I believe he has been treated shamefully by the church he served so well for the past 33 years.
—Jim Hofman, Cadillac, Mich.
The issues surrounding the resignation of Rev. Cal Bremer gave The Banner and its new editor the first significant test of their independence.
I don’t know what is coming in future issues, but so far it sounds like The Banner is a “house organ.” I pray that we will examine these events much more critically and take steps to make changes so that we do not repeat these mistakes. The Banner should lead that discussion.
—Calvin Hulstein, South Windsor, Conn.
I have always read Rev. Lou Tamminga’s “In Memoriam” articles, which report the contributions of pastors who have passed away. In the Sept. 2005 Banner, I notice that the articles on Rev. Jeffers and Rev. Dresselhuis were abbreviated to less than half a column, and the reader is directed to The Banner’s website to get the full article. I find this especially puzzling, in that a full-page news article consisting of three columns and a picture was devoted to a pastor who resigned his position when the Board of Trustees lost confidence in his judgment.
—Harry Vriend, Edmonton, Alberta
Power of Symbols
I am responding to the Q&A about Free Masonry symbols in the Sept. 2005 issue of The Banner. Pastor Vander Weit states that doing away with Masonic objects is extreme. How does this agree with God insisting that no evil thing was to be brought in from the pagan nations surrounding Israel in Deuteronomy 7:2526 and Joshua 6:18? This tells me that symbols and objects from pagan religions are not passive things. They invoke the spiritual power that they represent as do, for instance, our Christian symbols of the communion cup and the cross. I encourage both the reader and responder to take an in-depth look at the Masons’ deceptive occult religious teachings.
—Alice de Hooge, Ontario
This is in response to the article “Living in Sin City” in the August 2005 issue of The Banner. Every city, town, and village is Sin City. Lonely, sin-sick people are everywhere. I live in and love Las Vegas. There are very beautiful communities with God-loving people here. What about the 1.5 million people who go to work in Las Vegas, ignore the gambling, and live regular lives?
—Sarah Kostyo, Henderson, Nev.
Almond Valley CRC graciously served as the headquarters for the Midwest SERVE team (Oct. 2005, p. 15). This fact was omitted from the story due to an editing error. The Banner apologizes for the oversight.