Thank you, Mark Brouwer, for your thoughtful and enlightening article “The Emerging Church” (June 2006). Although I have recently written similar articles about my profession (engineering), somehow I never quite applied the same concepts to my church. Your article touches on issues with which most of us have not yet begun to struggle. The transitions you discuss are very helpful. Thank you so much for the wakeup call.
In engineering, postmodernity has at least three hallmarks: sustainability, uncertainty, and pluralism. The church must certainly take these into account on its path to the future. Whatever we do needs to be supportable globally by future generations. It’s clear the time has come for the church to study, pray, and think about how to proceed as soon as possible.
—Bill Kamphuis Kingston, Ontario
Thank you for Rev. Brouwer’s article describing the emergent church. I’m grateful for the ways in which he nuanced his explanations of what is and is not unique to this socalled movement. However, I have to add that I would be a very rich man indeed if I had a nickel for every time I’ve read over the past 30 years that the latest innovations were moving the church “from salvation as life after death to salvation as life,” “from hierarchy to network,” or “from presentation to participation.” How about including some honest, contemporary church history in such analyses?
—Rev. David Crump Grand Rapids, Mich.
This article cites Brian McLaren with approval. In an essay McLaren lambasted “organized religion” so thoroughly I was surprised to learn he had founded a church in Maryland. All churches have many flaws, and church people have made many mistakes. But without an organized Christian church, we are left without confessions and creeds. At best we have a do-it-yourself religion. I don’t think Rev. Brouwer wants to endorse that.
—Emil Posavac Webster, N.Y.
Jesus the Way
In the June issue the FAQ section presented a disturbing response as to whether all Buddhists and Muslims will go to hell. The answer began, “I don’t know. Only God knows who really goes to heaven or hell.”
We as a church must unapologetically stand up for the truth of salvation through Christ alone, regardless of whether that makes us or anyone else uncomfortable. As Mark 8:38 says, “If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels.”
—Janet Egeler Dorr, Mich.
I appreciate Shiao Chong’s careful answer to the question of the final state of “good” Buddhists and Muslims. If all are hell-bound with many other nonbelievers, Christ’s victory would be rather lopsided.
—Walter Vander Beek Palmyra, N.Y.
More to Pentecost
The three short essays under the title “Listening Spirit in 2006” (June) were fine in as far as they went, but I thought it odd that none of them really addressed the primary emphasis of Pentecost. Sure, love is important; of course we need to care for the alien; and, yes, the Holy Spirit is creating a multicultural church. But the central truth of Pentecost—an emphasis on the mission of Christ made possible through the supernatural power of the Spirit—was missing. So was the excitement Pentecost ought to stir. Makes me wonder if the CRC is somewhat disconnected from the Holy Spirit.
—Rev. Kenneth Rip Alliston, Ontario
War and Peace
Regarding the CRC’s lengthy War and Peace report (May 2006), I believe the church can better spend her time and energy proposing how to get 500,000 missionaries into the world in strategic places. For example, we can send our young people out into the world two by two, a kind of missionary peace plan. I believe they would respond to the challenge. If the Mormons can do it, so can we.
—Louis E. Kok, Chaplain, Lt. Col. USAF, Retired
Children and the Church
I couldn’t agree more wholeheartedly with your editorial about including covenant children at the communion table (“God First,” June 2006). As a “frontier” Christian Reformed congregation on Guam, we see members from many Presbyterian and Reformed denominations. Our council has agonized with this issue as we see and feel very keenly the inherent conflict with our rationale for baptism and the way the CRC administers the Lord’s Supper. The one is administered covenantally, the other embraces a baptistic tradition. The sooner we include covenant children in both rites, the better and the more biblically sound our practice will be!
—Rev. Neil Culbertson Faith Presbyterian CRC, Guam, USA
Does Bob De Moor really think emerging churches don’t understand the theological issues involved in baby dedication? Does he really think that we’ve consciously chosen to dismiss God’s sovereignty as a biblical principle?
In allowing baby dedications, emerging churches have chosen to exercise the principle of generous orthodoxy; that is, allowing freedom in relation to non-salvation issues. In the church I pastor, we preach and teach infant baptism but are willing to make room for people who practice their faith differently.
I have little doubt that more of Bob’s Baptist friends have been won over to covenant theology by the patience and inclusive practice of emerging churches than by calls for theological uniformity.
—Pastor Bruce Gritter The River Community Church Edmonton, Alberta
I want to affirm what you said in your fine editorial “Youth Leaders” (May 2006). As a minister specializing in church education for 37 years and now as a professor and youth ministry adviser at Calvin College and Calvin Theological Seminary, I can offer much support for your thesis.
Young people not only learn by becoming engaged actively in the work of the church, but they also become more committed to the body of Christ in the process. We should connect them with the wisest and most mature of our church members with whom they can serve as apprentices.
Several outstanding resources can be found at Calvin College’s Ministry Resource Center (www.calvin.edu/library/mrc). Thank you for your crucial call.
—Rev. Ed Seely Grand Rapids, Mich.
Thank you for putting The Banner online. It allows me to copy and paste articles, then enlarge the print for two friends of mine who cannot read the type size in the printed issue of the magazine.
—Ruth Gritter Kalamazoo, Mich.