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.
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, OntarioCorrection
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!