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A Modest Proposal

Since you ask . . . I can’t say I think much of your “Modest Proposal” to elevate Our World Belongs to God: A Contemporary Testimony (December 2010). In the first place, creeds are not intended to root us in history, and they don’t. They root us in a particular understanding of biblical truth. In effect, you propose establishing a “living creed,” the same way some jurists in the U.S. want a “living Constitution” that gets regularly revised. But a foundation that is constantly changing is no foundation at all.

—Rev. Eric Verhulst Sioux Falls, S.D.

In my opinion not only is your proposal modest, it is excellent! I had wondered early on why the ideas of the Belhar could not be worded into our contemporary testimony, to be followed by giving the testimony a higher status. Your proposal seems a good way to do this, while at the same time addressing needed changes in the Form of Subscription. (The proposed revision of the latter is a huge leap forward compared to the antique I’ve signed several times!)

—Bruce Nikkel Pella, Iowa

You really hit the right chord in my heart with this proposal. I have been uncomfortable with adding the Belhar to our confessions—where would this stop when culture continues to change? I hope CRC leaders will jump on this.

—Marion Van Sloten Hull, Iowa

Hope for the Journey

“When Kids Stop Walking with God” (November 2010) reminded me of my dad, who stopped walking with God in his teens but stepped on the road back at age 80—though God took him home before he could darken a church’s doorway.

Parents may not see their child’s return to the fold in this life, but they should not despair of meeting the prodigal in heaven. Even tough nuts to crack are not too hard for God.

—Michèle Gyselinck Montreal

Adopt the Belhar?

My concern over adopting the Belhar as a confession for the CRC (“Adopt the Belhar,” November 2010) is over what the document excludes. In its current form it highlights only one of two chief attributes of God that Scripture almost always states together. The Belhar focuses on God’s (and our responsibility for) mercy, while leaving out elements that would highlight God’s (and our responsibility for) holiness.

—Ron Vanderwey Boynton Beach, Fla.

In All Honesty

I was disappointed with the editorial “In All Honesty” (November 2010), in which the editor reflects on the Islamic presentation in our congregation. In my opinion, he gets it all wrong when he alleges that Allah, too, is a God of grace. My recent study of Islam revealed a strong emphasis on the belief that all who reject Allah as the one true God are infidels and must be destroyed. To suggest that Allah is a God of grace flies in the face of what the Bible teaches about grace.

I agree that we must not misalign Muslims falsely, but on the other hand we must see all false religions for what they are.

—John Piers Edmonton, Alberta

Your warm embrace of Islam and its representatives in your church to the degree that you encouraged their prayers to Allah was stunning. What typically happens when those who follow Islam reach majority status is that they kill Christians and burn churches, as witnessed just this year in Nigeria. As with many other issues, I do wish you would be a bit more balanced in our denominational magazine.

—Rev. Paul Hansen Hull, Iowa

As a missionary to Muslims for more than 30 years, I was deeply troubled by your editorial. In my numerous conversations with Muslims responding to evangelistic broadcasts and the related website I coordinate, I encounter a religion based totally on “works righteousness.” Muslims live in fear of their eternal destiny, under the profound stress of trying to exceed their accumulation of sins by accumulation of sufficient merit. If we define grace biblically, in line with historic Christian theology, it is an undeserved, free gift from God. That is simply not the case in Islam.

—Name withheld

I found this editorial interesting, albeit completely naïve. If you want to learn about Islam, you need to talk to former Muslims who have converted to Christianity. I know several, and they will tell you about a practice called Taqiyya, which allows Muslims to disguise their true beliefs, intentions, etc., in order to promote the cause of Islam.

—Rick Smits Austin, Texas

How could you allow prayers to a false god in a sanctuary dedicated to our triune God? Your flippant comment “the church is a people, not a steeple” is no justification at all.

—Charles Douma Brampton, Ontario

We seem to be so focused on people—trying to understand and love them—that we’ve lost sight of focusing on God and God’s love, justice, and judgment. We need to do both.

—Chaplain Ren Vandesteeg San Antonio, Texas

Such discussions desensitize Christians in the West to the dangers of Islam for the Christian church around the world. Wherever Islam is the dominant faith, no such discussions take place!

—Klaas Brobbel Oakville, Ontario

Correction

Regarding “Disaster Response Pioneers Reunite” (p. 17, December 2010), the photo caption erroneously identifies Erwin (Erv) Mosher as Ed Mosher. Both men and their spouses have long been involved in disaster recovery work through the Christian Reformed World Relief Committee. Sorry about the mix-up!

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Comments

My Real Position on Abortion

This letter is in response to Rev. George Vander Welt’s letter in the February 2011 “Banner” entitled “Our Real Positon on Abortion”. In this piece, he stated that he believed that the official position of the denomination on abortion is “pastorally insensitive and lacking in Christian grace toward those who wrestle with the ‘hard cases’.”

I feel I am qualified to speak to this position on two counts. I have worked at a crisis pregnancy center for 15 years and have seen first-hand the devestating effects of abortion on women. Also, I am one of those “hard cases”. I became pregnant with my third child ten years after the birth of our other children and was very reluctant to start over with the “baby stage”. My doctor had offered me several opportunities during my pregnancy to have an amniocentesis test. I decided it didn’t matter what an amnio test showed since I wouldn’t abort no matter what it showed anyway. Several months later our third daughter was born. It turns out she had a serious genetic condition that resulted in many serious surgeries, therapies and specialists. She is now almost 16 years old. She is non-verbal, severely autistic, functions at a cognitive level of a 2 year old and needs complete 24/7 supervision and care. And she is the love of our life! Our daughter has brought so much joy to those around her. She teaches us much more about grace than we could ever have learned any other way! How does one rationalize the right to end a pregnancy because of “hard circumstances”. Isn’t that up to God to decide? Who are we to say if she has a purpose to fill in this world? God created her. Do you think it came as a surprise to him that she had a genetic disorder? Should I have been granted the moral right to abort this pregnancy to promote sensitivity and Christian grace?

In my work at the pregnancy care center, I have counseled many women who regret abortions to their very core. See “Silent No More” website at www.silentnomoreawareness.org As far as cases of rape or incest, why would we as a denomination seek to rationalize the “right” of abortion in this circumstance? Rape or incest makes the women the victim, not the perpetrator. We are to walk alongside the victim with sensitivity, grace and love. Why would we not discourage her from becoming the perpetrator of her baby’s death? That would make her not only a victim, but also a victimizer. An abortion in these cases does not erase the terrible emotional, spiritual or physical effect of the criminal offense against them. These women do not need the guilt of their baby’s blood on their consciences—they are already dealing with enough. Could God not have prevented these conceptions of rape or incest if he did not have a plan for these babies? If conception occurred in these circumstances, are we not to trust that God knew what he was doing and has a purpose in this life. What has this baby done not to deserve the opportunity for life? If not emotionally equipped to raise these babies, what about adoption? I abhor abortion because I am an advocate for women. Abortion hurts women!

Spiritual growth comes wrapped in struggle. Since when are we allowed to decide when a circumstance is too hard to do the right thing? I don’t see any biblical support for this type of thinking. I’m just a mom of a dearly loved special needs child and an advocate for women in tough pregnancy situations, but, in my humble opinion, if God allows conception, who are we to second guess him?

Shelly Boeve

Calvary Christian Reformed Church

Holland, MI

I read with interest the article about professors Harlow and Schneider. I see no problem with their version of creation as long as it is acknowledged that God is sovreign and is the creator of all things. Even at age 65, I've always had questions about the creation story being literal or a way to teach us how God created man in his own image and how man fell into sin. Were there only two people created, was there a tree, did Satan take the form of a snake and why is the fruit always an apple? RC Sproul, a conservative Reformed scholar has said that God must have preordained sin to allow for his redemptive plan. We don't know how sin entered heaven through Lucifer. As long as a teaching does not violate or impact my salvation, I don't worry about it. I have my surety in Christ and through him my redemption. How my sovreign God created is not essential to that. I may not agree with those who believe in a seven day creation, but I respect them and expect to see them in heaven. Doesn't God use examples of theological truths all through the Bible? We will never understand his ways because he is our almighty and holy God and our minds cannot comprehend him. That's where faith comes in.

Irene Streutker
Olney, MD

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