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Total Depravity?

I am writing because of concern about the article “Total Depravity, Total Grace” by Ken Hekman (November 2005).

The line of thinking that is presented in this article is confusing at best and downright heresy at worst. I must assume Hekman is addressing the reader as a believer. If so, then the statement that “We’re 100 percent evil, totally depraved, incapable of pure thoughts and choices on our own” is double-talk, or worse. Galatians 2:20 says, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.” Second Corinthians 5:17 says, “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” How can one who is “in Christ” be considered to be “100 percent evil and depraved” if Christ came to give us “life to the full”? Either Christ came to do what he said he did or he is a liar and we have no savior. —Dale Boeve, Jenison, Mich.

I appreciated the article by Ken Hekman in which he recounts his faith journey since the death of his daughter, Carla. Hekman provides a moving testimony to the power of God’s grace and God’s ability to rescue us from our despair and depravity and give us hope.

I do have one concern about a statement that Hekman makes, which to my understanding is incorrect from our Reformed perspective. Hekman says that we are “100 percent evil, totally depraved, incapable of pure thoughts and choices on our own.” To my understanding, when a person of the Reformed faith says that they are totally depraved it means that every part of his or her life—the total—has been tainted and affected by sin.

However, we are not as bad as we could be. We aren’t 100 percent evil. If we were all as bad as we could be, the world would be in absolute chaos. It isn’t, though. Why? As much as the evil in this world shocks us, it could be worse. God, in his sovereign power, restrains the amount of evil there could be.

God’s sovereign grace rescues us from our sin and brokenness, but his sovereign grace also spares us from the worst that we and our sinful world could produce. —Rev. Todd Zuidema, Hull, Iowa

Reformation History

Wayne Brouwer’s “Reformation: A Short History” (October 2005) is a valuable and historically concise summary of a complicated issue, and he is to be commended. I would suggest that the “forming” metaphor be extended. We are entering a post-Reformation period, which I would call the “Conformation”-a period marked by true believers in Jesus from many diverse traditions and cultures who define themselves as conforming to the image of Christ. Perhaps we have reached a state in history when we should define ourselves less by the past and more by the principles of the creeds and confessions that unite us. As we enter into this exciting age of global Christianity, let us remember Romans 8:29: “For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son.” —Charles Bordogna, Midland Park, N.J.


I read Rev. Eppinga’s column about “the good ole days” (October 2005) and how he considered “unventing” things, as he says. How about un-inventing the notion that there comes an age when you can say you’re too old to serve as an officebearer in the church? And if I recall correctly, the good old days also didn’t include 10 to 25 percent of our congregations disappearing for warmer climates all winter . . . again offering an exemption for service. I would also like to say what Eppinga implied. Rather than spend our time longing for bygone eras, we should direct our sole focus to building upon the good old days-making each day its own good day. —Barry Ruiter, Grand Rapids, Mich.

DYM and the CRC

After reading “The More We Get Together” (October 2005), a few points stood out from the rest regarding Dynamic Youth Ministries becoming a wholly owned CRC ministry.

First of all, I’m sure there are valid arguments for both sides, and I would suspect this isn’t the first time that this discussion has taken place, nor will it be the last.

However, Bob De Moor doesn’t appear to be very interested in discussing the issues so much as attacking a ministry that he acknowledges makes “strategic contributions to CRC congregations” and getting DYM to contribute to the finances for distribution of The Banner.

I wondered why Rev. De Moor feels he can’t “pray as well as pay for their work” just because DYM doesn’t fall under the denominational agencies. —Linda Vanderaa, Edgerton, Minn.

Punch Line Critique

Making light of the seventh commandment in Punch Lines (October 2005) shocked me. It seemed very inappropriate that the same publication that gives guidance and comfort to those who have been devastated by adultery now pokes fun of it. —Carol Raterink, Zeeland, Mich.

Is there no policy for proper Christian humor for Punch Lines? We received the October 2005 issue and couldn’t believe some of the stories that were allowed to be printed in our church paper! What kind of witness in proper humor is this? —Durk and Shirley Sybesma, Visalia, Calif.

In Memoriam

The “In Memoriam” articles are now abbreviated, and we are directed to The Banner’s website for the longer version. I think we owe the memory of those who served us more space and attention than just a few lines in the printed Banner.

Also, those who are most likely to read the “In Memoriams” are less likely to be in a position to access the website. In our sometimes unwarranted and unnecessary hype about websites and e-mail, we too often isolate a segment of our membership who still want to be included. —Hilbert Rumph, Drayton, Ontario


The article “Korean Coffee Break Holds Family Conference” in the Church@Work section of the November 2005 Banner contained a few errors. The name of Jeong Gho was incorrectly spelled Jung-Suk Koh. He and his wife, Misook, are not Korean missionaries to Japan but rather are American citizens who work as missionaries to Japan under Christian Reformed World Missions. The Banner apologizes for the errors.

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