Skip to main content

Promoting Reconciliation

The word apartheid in the news article “California Student Laments Israeli ‘Apartheid’” (November 2010) does not represent the type of language that Hope Equals promotes. Hope Equals is about reconciliation between people on both sides of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, not about the rhetoric of either. Hope Equals exposes students to different narratives, and our goal is to come up with a narrative of reconciliation. To that end, language that alienates is not in line with our ethos. The use of the word apartheid was not endorsed by Hope Equals. We stand for the equal rights of Israelis and Palestinians to live in peace and safety with their neighbors.

—Mariano Avila Hope Equals Project Manager Christian Reformed World Missions

Not-So-Golden Years

For the first time I found myself reading an article that comes very close to how it is when you are in your 90s. I am 93, and I have sent a copy of “The Not-So-Golden Years” (October 2010) to all of my eight children.

—Anita Dogger Bullhead City, Ariz.

It’s OK to Sit

“30 Things You Can Do to Be Hospitable to People with Disabilities” (October 2010) was a good article that brought to light a number of issues. However, one disability was not mentioned that exists in every church. I have trouble standing, especially on a slanted floor. Every week I am encouraged to stand. I make it through two songs, and then I must sit. I have had a number of people tell me they have trouble standing for the music too. My answer is simple: “Then sit.” How should my fellow worshippers deal with this? Let me sit and don’t worry about it. I was at my brother’s church (Presbyterian), and they said, “Stand if you are able.” I like that.

— Bruce Fowler Hayward, Calif.

King’s and Khadr

I take great offense at the news story “King’s Linked to Guantanamo Trial” (October 2010) and its depiction of Omar Khadr. In a video shown at his trial, Khadr can be seen smiling while sitting cross-legged on the floor, rigging explosives. Do these King’s University College students honestly want such a person living in their neighborhood? And why do they want to bring Khadr back to Canada for trial if he is charged with killing an American soldier? Canadian students pay the price for crimes committed in other foreign countries; why not in this case? I don’t believe Khadr should receive special treatment. I’m all for forgiveness, but people must pay their dues to society if they break laws. The thief on the cross was forgiven by Jesus, but that didn’t keep him from paying the price for his actions.

 —Bert Wikkerink Elmira, Ontario

Why would these students want this man freed? If it were their brother, son, or father whom Khadr killed, would they feel the same way? Is the soldier less dead because he was killed by a 15-year-old? Don’t these students have anything better to do with their time, like feeding the homeless or visiting the sick and elderly? Has anyone bothered to contact the family of the dead soldier?

—Edward Visser Oak Forest, Ill.

I was appalled by this article. . . . Why don’t these young people attempt to stop abortion instead? Thousands of infants are murdered each day, and nothing is said. Instead we want to free a murderer? Omar Khadr has not suffered any injustice. The family of the soldier he killed has suffered the injustice.

—Jim Armstrong Utopia, Ontario

Separation a Sin?

It was helpful for Rev. Timothy Palmer to draw our attention to the context within which the Belhar Confession was created (“Is Separation Always a Sin?” September 2010). But we are not well advised to allow this context to minimize the Belhar’s prophetic reach. While apartheid doctrine forced separation of people on a racial basis, it surely profited from the argument that “it’s no sin to worship separately from other ethnic groups.” It’s a short walk from there to an argument for separation based on preference.

I wonder if our preferences for church life aren’t so tainted with self-centeredness that they actually make poor guides for what may be right. When the Belhar speaks of “sinful separation,” and not just the sin of “forced separation,” it’s drawing on resources far deeper than its immediate context. The plea of the Belhar is for the visible unity of the church because of the reconciling work of Jesus Christ.

—Rev. Albert Strydhorst Christian Reformed World Missions Nigeria

We have to be cautious with how quickly we disregard what Rev. Palmer has to say. (Why is it that no one has commented on his statement “It is beautiful when Christians from different ethnic groups worship together”?) If we adopt the Belhar, we as a denomination must confess our sin for promoting separation. In the meantime, we allow a classis based on ethnicity (Pacific Hanmi), yet deny other churches from transferring classes based on theological interpretation. Is that not allowing for separation, if not promoting it?

 —Brian Kuyper Granum, Alberta

I fully agree with Rev. Palmer with respect to the Belhar. All the more so because one of its main promoters, Rev. Peter Borgdorff, has said that the document does not express itself the way we would if we were to write it ourselves! Why in the world would we want to adopt a foreign document that does not say exactly what we want it to say?

—John H. Boer Vancouver, British Columbia

Editor’s note: For Rev. Borgdorff’s current view of the Belhar, please see “Adopt the Belhar” (November 2010).


Regarding “Small Groups, Big Impact in Korean Churches” (November 2010), there are at least 300 Coffee Break groups in southern California. The Banner apologizes for the error.

We Are Counting on You

The Banner is more than a magazine; it’s a ministry that impacts lives and connects us all. Your gift helps provide this important denominational gathering space for every person and family in the CRC.

Give Now