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Let’s Talk About Iraq

While I have considerable respect for both Jim Skillen and Kathy Vandergrift and their contributions to the “War and Peace” report before synod, I was disappointed in The Banner’s decision to have them argue some fine points of disagreement between them regarding the report (“Speaking of War and Peace,” May 2006). I wish you had asked them to state up front why the report takes the Bush administration to task for the invasion of Iraq and its militaristic policies.

I fear the articles by Skillen and Vandergrift were not helpful to most who are distressed about the current turmoil in the Middle East and are wondering what the Lord might have to say about the way we are conducting ourselves in what is claimed to be a war against terrorism.

Churches in the Reformed tradition have been silent too long on this crucial issue. The Banner had an opportunity to speak with a clear, biblically based voice about the war in Iraq but let that opportunity slip away.

—Rev. Al Hoksbergen
Spring Lake, Mich.

Editor’s Note: Rev. Hoksbergen has written an article examining how, with the war in Iraq, the United States has departed from the path for war and peace laid out in Scripture. You can find his article at

Gambling and Grace

I am concerned regarding the possible message exuded by the article “Texas Hold ‘Em—Finding God in Poker” (April 2006). Gambling violates at least nine biblical principles and is contrary to everything for which Christianity and faith stand.

Gambling violates three of the Ten Commandments: Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not covet, and Thou shalt have no other gods before me.

Gambling is a predatory, parasitic, deceptive, and exploitive industry. Texas Hold ’Em poker is a plague and a blight on our society, and our Christian youths must be properly instructed so they will not fall victim to this satanic deception.

—Ken Darnell
Crestwood, Ill.

I’m horrified that a publication of the CRC that is supposed to uplift us in our faith has stooped to comparing gambling to God’s grace. I have actively studied gambling and worked against it in my community for two years. Anyone who has studied the facts surrounding gambling and the moral, civic, and, ultimately, physical and spiritual decay it causes could never compare it to God’s grace. In two years, neither I nor any of the other 50 people with whom I’ve worked weekly in this battle have found anything remotely good in gambling. This sort of article should be researched so people do not get the idea that gambling is in any way an acceptable activity for Christians. 

—Deborah Van Drunen
Crete, Ill.

Is the Spirit empowered message of the gospel so hopelessly foreign to Rev. John Van Sloten’s reality that he is compelled to go everfarther “out into the world” to find gambling and Rrated movies like Crash (deemed “morally offensive” by Christian Spotlight on the Movies for its filthy language, sexual content, and some violence) as prooftexts? Are there no relevant passages in Godbreathed Scripture to drive home these same points? Have our ministers’ lives, worldviews, Bible knowledge, and communication skills become so desperately impoverished that the best means they can find to spread the message of salvation is a deep dive into the lowest gutters of human depravity in search of “relevance”?

—John Nabholz
Marshall, Minn.


Your April issue contained a review of the movie Crash (“Hollywood Meets Easter” by John Van Sloten), but the article makes no mention that the film is rated R for violence, language, and sexual content. I have heard others laud Crash as a movie that Christians can appreciate, but in this case the rating has held me back.

In no way do I want The Banner to become a magazine that reviews only “safe” topics—that is, only films, music, and books from Christian producers. God can speak through non-Christian artists. But please let your readers know the possible pitfalls so we can make more thoroughly informed choices.

—Noreen Vander Wal
New Sharon, Iowa

Interesting Juxtaposition

In your April issue I came across an interesting juxtaposition of articles. After reading Dr. Ronald J. Feenstra’s “The Resurrection of the Body,” in which he beautifully illustrates the lifefromdeath cycle evident in nature (the death of an acorn being vital to the life of an oak tree) that parallels the resurrection of the human body that Christians profess, I turned the page to see Gordon De Young’s pictures of trees and other plant life “groaning under the burden of sin.” It’s good to know that God’s plan includes the renewal of all creation, in our human bodies as well as in nature.

—Katherine Jongsma
Munster, Ind.

Death Before the Fall

Yes! Death came before the fall (“Death Before the Fall?” March 2006). Death and decay did not come through Adam; death and decay were an inherent part of the creation. Adam’s disobedience of the Creator and his following the insinuation of Satan brought sin and spiritual death in the world.

Life without death is not possible; this holds true for both the flora and the fauna. The whole food chain depends on it—what grows will die and will become part of the soil again. Would paradise have been possible without fertile soil?

—Henry Blok
Maple Ridge, British Columbia


Classis Zeeland did not ask synod to appoint a study committee concerning church membership of people living and working illegally in the U.S., but has appointed its own classis study committee (“Requests to Synod 2006,” p. 17, May 2006).

Regarding “Abuse Victim Seeks Compensation” (May, p. 16), the synodical Judicial Code Committee does not automatically hold a hearing on every case referred to it.

The Banner apologizes for the editing errors.

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