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Gracious Lutherans

When I saw the April Banner, I was pleased to see the Christus Rex from the chapel of Valparaiso University, my Lutheran alma mater, featured on the cover. (I have since found a welcome home in the CRC.) Depicting the resurrected Christ ascending off the cross into his rightful role as King of Kings, it is certainly the perfect illustration for your cover article “The Kingdom on Earth or in Heaven? Living into the reality of the resurrection we await.” (The motto of VU is “In thy light we see light,” from Psalm 36:9).

I bet it was just a simple oversight, but nowhere in the magazine did this photo receive attribution as that of VU’s sculpture.

—Gregg Shewan
Big Rapids, Mich.

You really should credit the photos you use. I am a Lutheran pastor in Iowa. When the post office accidentally delivered the recent Banner to me instead of to the local CRC congregation, imagine my amazement at your cover photo. That particular graven image graces the chapel of my alma mater, Valparaiso University, a good Lutheran school. I was drawn to read the magazine, which I found informative and delightful. I am blessed to be sharing a community with CRC folk.

—Rev. John Wolf
Inwood, Iowa

Editor’s note: Oops! Please see our correction below.

Global Warming Bandwagon

Regarding “Get Off the Environmental Bandwagon” (IMHO, April 2011), I encourage Paul Rhoda to look deeper at Christian environmentalism. While I fully acknowledge the challenges of weeding through science, there are still deep issues of stewardship and social justice involved. Sure, let’s not make decisions based on alarmist rhetoric, but let us thoughtfully acknowledge how our food, transportation, and living choices affect others both locally and globally.

Reducing such choices to an issue of scientific argument at best selfishly forgets the deeper social effects of how our consumption often comes at the expense of others—and highlights our privilege of discussing this topic without experiencing its direct effects.

—Kyle Wigboldy

Muslim-Christian Chasm

The article “The Muslim-Christian Chasm” by Rev. Paul Hansen (IMHO, April 2011) is one of the best I have read in The Banner! I would like to add a small correction: the email address recommended for the two-day seminar offered by Rev. Marvin Heyboer should be

—Bill Kooman
Red Deer, Alberta

While the Crusades were initially motivated by a pious desire to reclaim Jerusalem, they were largely fought by men seeking personal gain (wealth and land), a convenient way to be absolved of their sins, or an escape from punishment for being on the wrong side of a power struggle in the never-ending cycle of intrigue and murder that constituted politics in medieval Christendom. There was no unified “Islamic empire” against which the Crusaders fought.

Moreover, Rev. Hansen writes of Islam and Muslims as if they constitute one unified, unchanging entity. Rather, the differences between Calvinists, Baptists, and Catholics mirror the differences between Sunnis, Shias, and Sufis—and each of their sub-denominations. The debate over how literally to read, interpret, and implement sacred texts exists in both Islam and Christianity.

—Matthew de Zoete
Dundas, Ontario

I recommend Rev. Hansen and all to read A World Without Islam. You may gain further insights as to why the Eastern Orthodox Church and non-Western peoples have great suspicion of the motives and actions of Western Christians.

Also, I take exception to paragraph three of the article, which states, “Most of the Crusades were efforts to throw back the Islamic empire.” If we could have only been present in Constantinople during the Crusades when the crusaders demanded that this Christian city and its Christian people surrender and promised to spare all. When those poor people agreed, the crusaders plundered the city and killed all. On the other hand, years later, the Muslims also came to this city and demanded surrender with a promise to spare all—and honored their word.

Let’s realize that much darkness, at its root, stems from factors such as culture, geopolitics, and the pursuit of power and not religion.

—David Daugharty
London, Ontario

Help Regarding Homosexuality

The author of “Talking Biblically about Homosexuality” (March 2011) implies that this is a controversial subject much like women in church office. Is it? I think the Bible is pretty clear in calling homosexuality a sin.

I do believe that most CRC pastors don’t know how to help people who struggle with homosexuality. But wouldn’t it be more helpful to refer the latter to counselors who could help (such as at Baxter Community Center and Life Center, Grand Rapids, Mich.), rather than come up with a new theological position on homosexuality?

—Dan Vander Kodde
Grand Rapids, Mich.

It isn’t really clear to me what sort of conviction the author of this article, Rev. David Kromminga, has regarding this issue. Is he asking the CRC synod to reaffirm its 1973 and 2002 decisions, or is he suggesting that we change them?

I’m in favor of open discussion on this issue, even though “it may not necessarily be easy or safe.” I do think it would be courageous, comforting, reassuring, and gratifying if synod would do the following:

  • Reaffirm what we believe the Bible says about moral and immoral sexual behavior.
  • Reaffirm the scriptural definition of marriage as being restricted to a legal, spiritual, connubial covenant between a man and a woman.
  • Reaffirm our commitment to compassionate counsel and support of those who struggle with wrongful sexual inclinations and/or behavior.

—Harry Vriend
Grand Rapids, Mich.


In a rather incredible oversight, we neglected to credit our Lutheran brothers and sisters for the wonderful image on our April (Easter) cover. The Christus Rex (Christ the King) is the focal point in the Chapel of the Resurrection on the campus of Valparaiso University, Indiana.

Speaking of oversights, we mistakenly changed the church membership of Susan Collins in our review of her book Starting from Scratch (April, p. 37). She belongs to Rochester (N.Y.) CRC. Ironically, an article by her husband, Tim, appears on pp. 38-39 of that issue, and he’s pastor of Rochester CRC!

The Banner humbly apologizes for the errors.

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