Death Before the Fall?
“Death Before the Fall?” (March 2006). No. Death and decay came into the world through Adam, and “cursed is the ground because of [him]” (Rom. 5, 8; Gen. 3). How could death have been part of God’s perfect creation? Is it “good” (Gen. 1)? No. Rather, it is the “last enemy” (1 Cor. 15:26). Biblically, as well as logically, the article is flawed. It describes “seas that . . . gradually dried up . . . over millions of years” and “fish… perfectly preserved with the catch of the day still in their stomachs.” But does not the rapid death and preservation of these fish suggest a speedy and cataclysmic demise, rather than a slow expiration? Also, the supernatural power of God is ignored, as the article assumes that the system at work within the perfection of Eden was necessarily the same as the one we now inhabit, one of decay and death. Yes, God could have made formerly docile creatures vicious after the fall, just as he confused the languages at Babel (Gen. 11). We should look at science through the lens of Scripture, not vice-versa.
In the February Banner, Jordan Ballor suggests that when a church spends $1 million on a building project, the congregation should pledge an additional $100,000 for mission projects (IMHO, “Building on the Tithe”).
I like Jordan’s thinking but would propose the reverse. I think that’s what the church in Macedonia would have done.
First CRC, Toronto
It’s good that First CRC, Toronto, has agreed to abide by denominational guidelines on homosexuality and won’t allow members in gay and lesbian relationships to sit on council (“First Toronto Replies on Homosexuality Issue,” February 2006). Sadly however, I’m not convinced the threeyear controversy is over. For while the congregation now says it will adhere to the denomination’s “current position” condemning homosexual relationships, it plans to ask synod to revisit the denomination’s guidelines on homosexuality.
It’s disturbing to see a congregation stray from the purity of the gospel, but it’s also disenchanting to learn that a special committee appointed by Synod 2005 and Classis Toronto encouraged this wayward congregation to ask synod to take another look at CRC guidelines “as the appropriate avenue of seeking change.” Such counseling suggests there may be room for compromise in God’s Word as revealed in Holy Scripture.
—Joe A. Serge
In light of the issue with First CRC, Toronto, I find it interesting that those who disagree with the CRC’s official position on gays—on the side of love by accepting civil unions and full membership—are driven out of the church and/or excommunicated. But those who disagree on the side of the law—and will accept no gay person—are respected and not disciplined. The biblical passages that deal with homosexuality can be interpreted in several ways. Interpreting them with New Testament love leads to acceptance and life. Interpreting with Old Testament law leads to rejection and death. I’ve always been taught that our God is a God of love and that love trumps law.
Although the CRC reaches its 150th anniversary in 2007, I’m wondering what we as a denomination are really supposed to celebrate (see “CRC-RCA Cooperation Grows,” February 2006).
Since the CRC was born out of a schism with the Reformed Church in America (RCA), it doesn’t make much sense to commemorate divisions and fragmentation in the body of Christ. The need for two separate mainline Reformed denominations has long passed, since the issues that caused the split 150 years ago seem irrelevant and petty today.
Would we not be better served by our denominational leadership if they promoted not just partnerships but a complete merger between the CRC and RCA to be in place by 2007?
War & Peace
I believe the CRC Committee on War and Peace is exactly on target in declaring preemptive war doctrine morally unacceptable (“Committee on War and Peace Reports,” February 2006). Every major Christian group has labeled the U.S. attack on Iraq as immoral and unjustifiable. It’s time our denomination confronts this issue; aside from a few lone voices, little has been heard in dissent against this war. How can this be when the central tenet of Christ’s teaching is to love God and our neighbor and to do good even to our enemies and those who persecute us? The “power of the sword” was to make a peaceful society possible; it most certainly was not for international power plays. It’s simply wrong to equate our war with Iraq with the war against terrorism; we know now there was absolutely no connection. In the same way we know there was no threat from any Iraqi weapons of mass destruction. Moreover, any serious consideration of Christian just-war criteria would rule out this war, and indeed most modern wars, given the destructive nature of modern weaponry and tactics. Why aren’t more Christians protesting?
—George De Vries Jr.
Orange City, Iowa
The Gospel and a Blade of Grass
I tremendously enjoyed “The Tip of a Blade of Grass” (February 2006). The well-written article made me feel as if I were right with the missionaries trekking to those remote Fulbé villages. The beauty and humor of this missions story captured my heart and imagination and has helped me pray more specifically and effectively for these missionaries, as well as for others. Thank you for printing it.
—Bonnie (Jones) Hull
Regarding “Bringing the Bible to Life” (CRC News, March 2006, p. 14), the new miniseries based on Bruce Feiler’s book Walking the Bible premiered in January on PBS throughout the United States, with a potential audience of 130 million households. Drew S. Levin, an Emmy Award-winning producer, headed up the project, which helped make it possible to get the series on PBS. For future broadcast times, or to purchase a DVD of the series, see www.pbs.org.
Regarding the February 2006 cover story on Winson and Josie Elzinga (p. 29), the Elzingas live in Carrot Creek, Alberta, not in Edmonton.
The Banner apologizes for the errors.