Q. My pastor talks about spiritual warfare. In this battle between God’s angels and the devil’s angels, do some angels die, or is such talk simply a way of presenting what’s going on in the spiritual world? —Ontario
A. Rev. Andrew Bandstra, author of In the Company of Angels: What the Bible Teaches, What You Need to Know (Faith Alive Christian Resources: 1-800-333-8300, www.FaithAliveResources.org) says, “The Bible doesn’t specifically address this question. However, when Jesus responds to a question about marriage in the resurrection age, he says that people ‘will neither marry nor be given in marriage, and they can no longer die; for they are like the angels’ (Luke 20:35-36).
“The position that angels do not die fits the general teaching of the Bible and is in harmony with some Jewish writings of the New Testament period, including a reference in the Dead Sea Scrolls.
“In physical warfare we think about dead soldiers on both sides of the battle line. In spiritual warfare we need to think about places of power. When Revelation 12:7-12 describes the war in heaven, it reports that because of the ‘blood of the Lamb’ Satan is ejected from the place of power he once had and is no longer able to accuse God’s people (see Job 1 and 2). When Jesus is victorious over the demons of possession, they lose their power, not their lives (see Luke 11:14-22). Ephesians 6:10-18 describes our spiritual warfare against the devil in the same way.”
Q. What did Synod 2004 really say about Question and Answer 80 of the Heidelberg Catechism? —Ontario
A. Synod said, “Q&A 80 can no longer be held in its current form as part of our confession” (Acts of Synod 2004, p. 629). That decision was made after our Interchurch Relations Committee (IRC) studied Roman Catholic teaching and engaged in extensive dialogue with official representatives of the Roman Catholic Church.
The IRC concluded that, contrary to what Answer 80 says, “The Mass, when celebrated in accordance with official Roman Catholic teaching, neither denies the one sacrifice and suffering of Jesus Christ nor constitutes idolatry” (Agenda for Synod 2004, p. 304).
The IRC also said that Q&A 80 “may still apply to Roman Catholic practice in certain parts of the world.” Thus, rather than recommending the removal of Q&A 80 because it does not reflect official Roman Catholic teaching, the IRC recommended that it “be retained but printed in a smaller font because in certain contexts it has offered, and will continue to offer, a needed warning against teachings, attitudes, and practices related to the Eucharist” (p. 305).
To assist it in deciding how to handle this matter, synod submitted the IRC reports to the Reformed Ecumenical Council and to churches in ecclesiastical or corresponding fellowship with our denomination. It also asked each church council and classis to review these reports. Four options were outlined for Q&A 80:
1. Retain it with an explanatory footnote.
2. Retain it but print the words about the Mass in a smaller font and explain that in a footnote.
3. Remove it and explain that in a footnote.
4. Remove it completely.
After evaluating the responses it receives, the IRC will propose recommendations to Synod 2006.Q. In my church most creationists are also literalists. Is that necessary? Can I believe in a Creator God and an old earth at the same time? —Ontario
A. I assume yous’re asking, “When I confess that God, the Father almighty, is the creator of heaven and earth, must I also confess an interpretation of the Genesis creation account that says God did this in six 24-hour days?” Such an interpretation is not required by Scripture or by the Christian Reformed Church.
The authors of our denomination’s report on “Creation and Science” (Agenda for Synod 1991, pp. 367-413) said, “We confess that the one God—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—is this world’s Creator and Redeemer.” The appendix of their report contains a chronology that summarizes the scientific view that the world is billions of years old and that human beings appeared millions of years after other creatures (pp. 414-420).