The April Banner reported the signing of a climate change declaration written by evangelical leaders from around the world (“CRC Signs Climate Change Declaration”). While we can probably all agree that we have failed to be good stewards of God’s creation, we do not all agree that climate change is manmade or that human beings can control the Earth’s temperature—which has been fluctuating for centuries, long before the industrial revolution.
The science of climate change is debatable and has turned scandalous. By signing a controversial declaration that declares humans have caused the earth’s climate and temperature to change, the CRC’s Board of Trustees is stepping over the threshold from acknowledging humanity’s sin to agreeing with a flawed and questionable argument.
—Terry TinklenbergEdgerton, Minn.
Playing with Numbers
I found Rev. Bob De Moor’s editorial to be a good reminder of both death and eternal life (“Numerical Nonsense?” April 2010). His points were easy to remember because of the clever number play. At the same time, I also think that linking numbers with spiritual truths can quickly become dangerous or at least misleading. You can use numbers like this to drive home practically any point you like. It’s a fun way to look at theology, but not a very meaningful one.
—Erica JensenCalvin College studentGrand Rapids, Mich.
I just read the article on cremation, and I think it was very thorough and well written (April 2010). However, I do need to point out one matter. I was raised in the CRC but have been Eastern Orthodox since 1991. The article’s sentence “There does not appear to be a formal rule against cremation in the Orthodox tradition” is not correct. To hold a funeral service in an Orthodox Church, the body of the deceased person must be physically present in order for the priest to pronounce the final Absolution. Without the body, the Orthodox Church will not even consider holding a funeral in the church. The Orthodox Church in Japan is an exception because cremation is the law of the land.
—Willem TensenBurbank, Calif.
Treasuring the Heidelberg
Thank you for including “Our Great Treasures” in the March issue. How sad to hear a young person have to ask, “Why don’t we learn more about the Heidelberg Catechism?” What better time-tested document by which to teach our young members (and older ones) our identity? Discussion and small groups in many churches have taken the place of the evening services of solid teaching as they were meant to be.
—Marion Van WykClinton, Ontario
I appreciated George Vander Weit’s answer to the question about declining church attendance and a pastor’s alleged lack of concern (FAQs, March 2010). The question ended with, “Shouldn’t he be asked to leave?”
I agree with the wise advice that the pastor be given tools and resources for improvement prior to involving classis and the denomination. We have often found underlying issues contributing to a pastor’s apparent lack of concern. Sometimes when a leader is given the opportunity to face these deeper issues, performance in other areas improves.
I wonder if this church’s elders have addressed these concerns with their pastor. Has there been a study to determine the reasons attendance is declining? Has the pastor been given a sabbatical during his 10-year tenure? Answers to such questions would shed a lot of light on what would help the pastor and the church move ahead together.
—Jim SchlottmanCEO/Executive DirectorQuietWaters MinistriesDenver, Colo.
If Church Order Article 65, requiring annual “family visiting” of church members by church pastors or elders, is “unrealistic,” as Pastor George Vander Weit has discerned (FAQs, February 2010), what are our options? Do we change the Church Order, ignore it, or apply our own “realistic” standard? Are there clues in the Church Order that would help the rest of us discern “this is one that we really mean” or “this one is unrealistic—apply as you wish”?
—Les KuiperOostburg, Wis.
Bombs and Burqas
I think that writer Jim Romahn glosses too easily over the problem we face in the form of jihadists who have declared war on the infidels (“Beyond Bombs and Burqas,” February 2010). Further, he reports that Ayaan Hirsi Ali had been deported by the Dutch government because she changed her name on her refugee application. The fact is that she had informed the authorities of this before she became a Member of Parliament; she even discussed this with the Minister of Immigration, Rita Verdonk. When a reporter again raised this issue during a televised interview, Verdonk threatened to cancel Ali’s citizenship, but then had to withdraw her threat after the public and her government colleagues raised strong objections. During these tumultuous events, Ali remained deeply grateful for having found freedom in Holland. She wrote, “I am lucky and privileged to be Dutch” (Infidel, p. 346).
—Harry AntonidesWillowdale, Ontario
I was disappointed in the misleading character assassination of Ms. Ali contained in this article. Her reason for using her grandfather’s family name is clearly stated on pages 192-193 of her book Infidel.
I was also disappointed in the article’s conclusion: “The challenge for us is to learn to love all God’s people with the same love our God has for all people.” It would seem this statement is not in agreement with the Reformed doctrines of “Irresistible Grace” or “Limited Atonement.”
—Julian Ross HudsonPonoka, Alberta