May 2005

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New Banner

Thank you delegates to Synod 2004 for your decision to extend the distribution of The Banner to every Christian Reformed Church household. Our family recently returned to the CRC from an independent church, and one of the largest appeals for doing so was the community aspect. Receiving a copy of The Banner in the mail was such a wonderful gift and a tangible example of the larger church of which we are now a part. We look forward to the next issue!

—Karen Veldman, Glen Ellyn, Ill.

My compliments to you on the April 2005 issue. It does a nice job of introducing first-time readers to the CRC while also including good content for us veterans. The “Armchair Tour of the CRC” including the trivia contest was an especially nice touch.

—Jeff Adams, Calgary, Alberta

Great new Banner! I found the “Armchair Tour” article insightful. Having worshiped in a lot of Christian Reformed churches in Canada and a few in the United States, it never ceases to amaze me how each one is different and yet the same.

I have one question, however. How important is our doctrine? I’m Christian Reformed because I believe in the doctrines the church teaches—they’re a part of who I am. From what I’ve observed, though, we’re so anxious to increase our membership that the doctrines that make us distinctively CRC fall by the wayside. Even sermons on the Heidelberg Catechism are rare. Sad. We have such a rich heritage!

—Ann Bezemer, Grimsby, Ontario

I don’t know if it was deliberate on your part, but I have a feeling it was deliberate on God’s end. On page 17 of the April Banner there’s a calming picture of a man fishing from a boat on a lake. No worries surround him. If you turn the page 90 degrees counterclockwise so the bow of the boat faces down, the picture transforms into that of a cross—just a reminder that God will show himself if you’re looking.

—Nick Toornstra, Grand Rapids, Mich.

As a lifelong reader of The Banner, former Board of Publications member, an occasional contributor, and high school media specialist, I have watched with interest the recent changes in the content and layout of the denominational magazine. Many of them have been good and necessary. The decision to make the magazine available to all church members was a good one. But in all these changes, I detect one dangerous trend.

The Banner has always been an independent publication of the CRC. I’m concerned that it will now become a propaganda vehicle for denominational agencies. The April issue illustrates my concern. It includes a number of articles written by representatives of the agencies.

I prefer an independent Banner that serves as a kind of “checks and balances” vehicle for all church members.

—Robert L. Otte, Wyoming, Mich.

Thanks, Robert. Synod has carefully considered and protected the editorial freedom of The Banner. At the same time, we want to promote the good work of the agencies as well—“to share what we’re doing together in Jesus’ name.” See “Two Bosses, One Master” (March 2005) for how we hope to maintain a balance. —bd

Oxen and White Suits

Rev. J.D. Eppinga’s article “The Ox Was in the Pit” (April 2005) is endearing and thoughtful. He encourages us to uphold the Sabbath but not to forget the heart of the Sabbath—to enjoy the presence of God without worldly distractions. But his final comment about the pendulum disturbed me. He seems to suggest that we no longer care about the Sabbath.

Today’s younger generations are very concerned with the Sabbath, but because of limited work opportunities we rarely have the choice of which day that will be. Instead we have to find other times to enjoy the presence of God in community. In fact it takes a great effort in our culture today to be a Christian and to be with Christians.

—Erik Meinders, Kamloops, British Columbia

I appreciated Rev. Eppinga’s article about clothing (“Dress,” March 2005). It addresses an issue many people do not think about: we care too much about other people’s clothing. We often stereotype people based on their clothing. How trivial that is. Christians should adhere to the old advice that it’s not what’s on the outside that counts. We should not hire, fire, accept, or deny anyone based on his or her appearance. The heart might be different. But if our heart is good, we need to reflect that in our attire and not wear clothing that would cause someone to question our faith.

—Brandon Haan, Chicago

Riding the Wave

As a former Pentecostal who has fallen in love with Reformed theology, I was skeptical when I saw “Refreshed by the Third Wave” (March 2005). I was pleasantly surprised to read your healthy and balanced approach to the topic. Well done!

On the other hand, I felt “The One Perfect . . .” displayed a poor understanding of Reformed theology--particularly God’s sovereignty.

—T.A. Ragsdale, Albuquerque, N.M.

Thanks for publishing this article. Having been shaped by the second wave myself, I see a remarkable similarity between Dan Baker’s experiences and my own.

Regrettably, many of our CRC “neo-Pentecostals” of the ’60s and ’70s met with suspicion and hostility—and as a result left the denomination. But many of us also experienced, both then and now, loving acceptance and gratefully serve the Lord within the CRC.

May those being “Refreshed by the Third Wave” find loving acceptance and opportunities to serve within our churches.

—Jake Reedyk, St. Joseph, Mich.

Honest Despair

“From Despair to Gratitude” (February 2005) was poignant, painful, and incredibly real and honest. Thanks to Rev. Carl Tuyl and The Banner for printing it.

—Jeff Stam, Hudsonville, Mich.

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