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April Fool!

As much as we’d like to think that if Believers of Grace-U.S. (BOGUS) really existed, the denomination would be interested in tying the knot with the Christian Reformed Church, the joke’s on you (“New Denomination Seeks Affiliation,” April 2006, p. 12). The chair of the CRC’s Interchurch Relations Committee is not “Rev. Ben DeRoels,” nor does he advocate “show[ing] some flexibility in our doctrines.” Finally, while we won’t admit who wrote the story, it certainly wasn’t “Ima Lyon” (though she was). The Banner staff apologizes if the joke offended anyone and urges readers to keep a sharp eye out next April.

—Bob De Moor Banner Editor

Punch Lines

Is The Banner lowering its standards? I like a joke as much as the next guy, and I like the humor section in The Banner—mostly the sayings of small children. But with your so-called joke of George W. Bush going to heaven, I think you crossed the line. Those kinds of jokes do not fit The Banner, and I suggest you use better judgment in the future.

—Tony VanderStelt Belgrade, Mont.

Diaper Convert

My thanks to Matthew Stutz for his response on disposable vs. cloth diapers in the newly introduced “FAQ” column (April 2006, p. 29). The article has inspired me to switch from disposable to cloth. I even started making my own wipes. I have an 8-month-old daughter and, God willing, will have two or three more children. The savings for my family over these diapering years will be enormous, not to mention the environmental benefit. Thank you—you are making a difference!

—Larissa Jones Zeeland, Mich.

Laverne and Shirley

The opening editorial in the March issue gives a very interesting look at the Yiddish “Shlemiel, Shlimazl, Shmendrik” definitions as applied to stories that Jesus told. But it also brings into a much clearer light the opening lines of the 1980s sit-com hit “Lavern and Shirley”: “Shlemiel, Shlimazl, Hasenpfeffer Incorporated.” Now the use of rabbit soup, the spiller of the soup, and the recipient of the spilled soup makes some sense.

—Michael Lautenbach Grand Rapids, Mich.

Africa’s Plight Our Shame

Thank you for Rev. Phil Reinders’s article “Ignoring an Ongoing Horror?” in which he so eloquently reminds us of Africa and her many victims of AIDS. The question that needs to be raised, it seems, is why the desperate plight of Africa is not on the North American radar screen.

I believe the reason for our disengagement from Africa’s plight is sin, blanketed in deep shame—a shame that disallows a compassionate interest in this continent. I can’t help but feel we are responsible for much of the horror in Africa: Colonization. Slavery. Apartheid. World Bank loans offered upon conditions that decimate the public sector. Industrial nations promising 0.7 percent of GNP to foreign aid but not even coming close to delivering.

At the U.S. National Prayer Breakfast, Bono recognized that we’re good at charity, yet challenged, “It’s not about charity after all, is it? It’s about justice.” Our God requires justice.

We are the ones who need forgiveness. In confession and cleansing we will find compassion for those we have so wronged.

—Leanne Cooper Mississauga, Ontario

Death Before the Fall?

Your article “Death Before the Fall?” (March 2006) took me back to the time I attended a university lecture on origins, evolution, and the fossil record. The lecture was given by a visiting paleo-anthropologist who had come to faith through his study of the fossil record. His interpretation of the fossil story supported the biblical accounts of creation, the flood, and a young earth.

Did death exist before the fall? We may never know. But I would suggest that a Christian apologetic ought not unquestioningly rely on an evolutionary interpretation of the fossil record.

—Ralph Hart Brantford, Ontario

You asked Rev. Tidd to open a can of worms that should have stayed closed. Proverbs 25:2 says, “It is the glory of God to conceal a matter; to search out a matter is the glory of kings.” It is thus not to God’s glory if we “kings” try to understand and explain the matters God has concealed. To give speculative answers to the questions the author poses is to distract us from the central and known truth of the Bible: Jesus died for our sins, and he wants us to live his will for our lives and to spread the good news—all to the glory of God. There is no time for unproductive distractions in God’s kingdom!

—Andries Van Andel Belleville, Ontario

I applaud Rev. Mark Tidd’s intent to understand natural truth as well as Scripture; but he misstates the assumption he’s challenging, the theology is more intertwined than he realizes, and the evidence for prefall animal death is not as strong as he thinks.

For my first and second points, Genesis 1:2930, 9:13; Isaiah 11:69; and Romans 8:1921 make it clear that plants are to be eaten and thus can be destroyed, that carnivorousness was instituted by God only after the flood, and that vegetarianism is a hallmark of the coming peacefilled kingdom of God.

For the third point, there are still some scientists today who believe that a worldwide deluge after the fall explains the death we see in many geological formations, such as Solomon’s limestone.

Lastly, God’s character is at stake in these issues: does God really care about his creation, or is he merely the corn king of C.S. Lewis’s preChristian beliefs?

—Alan Bolind Urbana, Ill.

Corrections

Regarding “New Church Benefits from Roaring ’20s” (March 2006, p. 15), the Roaring 20’s restaurant that’s home to Epicenter Community Church, Ellenton, Fla., is still very much open for business. The Banner apologizes for the error.

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