Thank you for your January editorial bringing light to the abortion issue ("Security for Whom?"). I work in a medical crisis pregnancy center. It can be heartbreaking when a patient chooses an abortion after counsel and an ultrasound. But it is very rewarding when a patient chooses life for her unborn baby after counsel and an ultrasound. God is still at work, changing hearts and minds one at a time.
—Beth Klimp Cadillac, Mich.
A Modest Proposal
Banner editor Bob De Moor's "Modest Proposal" (December 2010)—to keep our three historic Reformed confessions as is but elevate our Contemporary Testimony— might be a short-term solution for what we require officebearers to sign, but it sidesteps the larger issue of the confessional stance of the CRC. To elevate the Contemporary Testimony is an internal CRC matter. To adopt the Belhar would be an ecumenical matter, which is, after all, what any confession is: what we hold in common with other parts of the church around the world. If the CRC were a new denomination today, considering what statements we'd adopt to stand with the larger body of Christ, I could well imagine that many would discourage adopting the Canons of Dort because it comes from another geographic and cultural context— an argument being used against adopting the Belhar. To me, Bryan Berghoef 's argument in favor of adopting the Belhar ("Our Discomfort with the Belhar") is the most compelling: our historic Forms of Unity address what we believe; the Belhar challenges us by more directly addressing how we should live.
—Emily R. Brink Grand Rapids, Mich.
Before jumping into my opinion on the matter, I would like to congratulate The Banner on an excellent series. "True Confessions" has painted a portrait of the church's history and identity that many contemporary religious publications do not provide, and for that I am extremely grateful. The church definitely has a duty to uphold and express Christian doctrine, but requiring ministers to passively commit to the party line is not only stifling but narrow-minded. After all, any single grasp the church has of theology is at best half the story and not necessarily universally appropriate. Rather than giving a single position on issues, the confessions of the CRC should discuss the merits of multiple opinions without being dismissive and should require ministers to show congregations the case for all major positions.
—Kevin William Walker Halifax, Nova Scotia
Your "Modest Proposal" is nothing less than an attempt to prepare the membership for cutting the Christian Reformed Church loose from its moorings. If favored, we have ceased to be Reformed. If the requirements for officebearers to uphold the creeds and confessions is eliminated, then we do not know anymore what they stand for . . . what they truly believe.
—John VanVeen London, Ontario
Your "Modest Proposal" seems right to me. We as churches do need to address our sins and shortcomings that emerge over the course of history, so that we change our attitudes as well as our practices. But we catch them better in our own situations and contexts. So I think that accepting the Belhar Confession as it is and adding it to our present confessions would definitely not be the best way to go. And, certainly, a review and modification of the place of our Contemporary Testimony would be a wise consideration.
—Rev. Peter Sluys Lacombe, Alberta
Thanks to Rev. John Luth for pointing out the lack of confessional courage in our denomination ("Confessions: Cautions and Concern," December 2010). And how great to see confessional courage demonstrated in the same issue when Bob De Moor suggests that we require officebearers to subscribe to our Contemporary Testimony without fearing that doctrinal chaos will result ("A Modest Proposal"). Our willingness until now to leave the Contemporary Testimony in no-man'sland, confessionally speaking, while at the same time recommending the Belhar, is ironic. Once again we leave the hard work of confessional articulation to someone else either far away in time or place. While stopping short of proposing full confessional status for the Contemporary Testimony, De Moor's proposal would actually be quite far-reaching. Strengthen the CT by all means, even using insights from the Belhar, but let it be our own confession we confess.
—Wilma van der Leek Surrey, British Columbia
Graham Cracker Nativity
Thank you so much for the pattern for the graham cracker nativity (Just for Kids, December 2010). This was the first Christmas that my 2-and-a-half-year-old daughter "got" the story of Jesus' birth. She played constantly with the nativity scenes that we had set out. And when she saw the picture of the "Incredible Edible Nativity" in The Banner on our coffee table, she pointed to it excitedly and asked, "Please—we make this?" So we did. And it turned out great!
—Heather Dekker Burlington, Ontario
The top photo on page 27 of the February Banner is of Waiyee, a woman whose life was changed by God through a radio program of Back to God Ministries International ("From Listener to Friend"). She now regularly contributes to the BTGMI blog for that program.