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True Dialogue

Thanks for your excellent editorial “True Dialogue” (May 2011). It reminded me a bit of an April 9 Charles Honey column in The Grand Rapids Press, which he began by saying, “Essay question: Should a religion be judged by its most hateful actors? Include examples from recent current events to support your argument (20 points).” Then he talked about the hateful actions of Florida pastor Terry Jones. He ended his column by saying, “Back to the essay question, then. My answer is unequivocal: No. People do great harm in the name of religion, and also great good. That human capacity for good and evil is one of the central concerns of religion itself.

“Maybe Jones is in fact teaching us something here. Let me attach two further questions:

1. Do you judge all Christianity by his actions? If no, then

2. Do you judge all Islam by the actions of the Afghan murderers, the Taliban and Osama bin Laden?

Remember to sign your answers before handing them in.”

Excellent advice from both Charles Honey and you.

—Gerrit W. Sheeres
Grand Rapids, Mich.

Meatless Mondays

We were disturbed by the article “Building Community While Using Less Energy” (April 2011), which mentioned a “Meatless Monday” challenge offered to Calvin College students to raise awareness of the environmental effects of meat production and to encourage a new lifestyle habit by going without meat, among other things. It was discouraging for us as meat producers. Many farmers and ranchers across the United States and Canada depend on the income from meat production to support their families as well as denominational causes. Are we being led to believe that meat production is more of a detriment to our environment than other forms of industrialization?

—Willis and Leon Groenendyk
Oskaloosa, Iowa

Global Warming

There were four aspects of “Get Off the Global Warming Bandwagon” (IMHO, April 2011) that Reformed Christians should find discomforting. First, it represents a distrust of science and a disregard for the conclusions of virtually all the major reputable scientific societies of the world, which overwhelmingly agree that mean global temperatures have been rising and that human activity is a significant contributing factor. Second, ignoring the threat of global climate disruption is to ignore the plight of the poor around the world who stand to suffer most from the effects of climate disruption, such as flooding due to rising sea levels. Third, the recommended DVD series Resisting the Green Dragon is an embarrassment to most thinking Christians. All Banner readers should see at least the three-minute summary of this film on YouTube and read the reactions of its viewers, many of whom think Christians are uncaring and wacky. Finally, the article minimizes the importance of proper Christian stewardship for the creation God loves and declared good. Although the evidence is overwhelming for global warming and anthropogenic reasons for it, even if there were no such evidence, Christians ought to be examples for the world for other reasons, including the conservation of earth’s resources and global justice.

—Lou Sytsma
Professor and Chair of Chemistry
Trinity Christian College
Palos Heights, Ill.

What a refreshing article! In just two columns Paul Rhoda puts the whole global warming issue in its place. Thank you.

—Ray De Vries
Kalamazoo, Mich.

I had concerns over your April IMHO and editorial (“Christ Has Risen Indeed!”). I felt both tended to categorize people with somewhat different opinions as not having true faith in Jesus. Many faithful Christians are doing kingdom work in the mainstream churches. Likewise, many of those on the other side of the environmental debate affirm their faith daily. I found the quote about environmentalists being “urban Atheists” especially disturbing.

I hope my friends in the CRC can keep their minds open to those of us who disagree on the side issues but strongly affirm that Jesus is risen indeed!

—Dr. Cherie Trembath (M.D.)
South Lyon, Mich.

Allowing for many viewpoints is a good idea, but why choose such an extreme position that is so far from the truth? Would you print an opinion piece denying the Holocaust just because someone in the CRC wrote it?

—David Hoekman
Madison, Wis.

Regardless of our opinion on climate change, all Christians should be challenged to be much better caretakers of God’s creation and its resources than we have been.

—John Franken
Smithers, British Columbia

Global warming and cooling are part of nature’s system. There is nothing “bandwagon” about the natural issue of global warming. What may be questioned is the influence of human beings on the process. Both sides of the issue have their own agendas; even scientists have admitted to the subjectivity of science. For a Christian approach to the subjectivity of science (and its influence on law), I suggest reading the recent issue of Dordt College’s Pro Rege on this topic.

—Bert den Boggende
Brooks, Alberta

Instead of being warned against alarmism, maybe we should consider Genesis 1-11 as the ultimate of alarmist texts. In it we read a witness both to the interconnectedness and stability of the earth as well as to the genuinely destructive potential in human beings to harm that world (and ourselves).

—Wilma and Kevin van der Leek
Surrey, British Columbia


Last month, in correcting the church membership of Susan Collins, we accidentally ordained her husband, Tim, who is a member but not the pastor of Rochester (N.Y.) CRC. And if you want to get really technical, the Christus Rex statue at Valparaiso University, which appeared on the April cover, is properly translated “Christ the King.”

Finally, we mixed up May letter writer Harry Vriend of Grand Rapids, Mich., with Harry Vriend of Edmonton, Alberta. Sorry, Harrys.

Please accept The Banner’s humble apologies for the errors. (But if we mess up these corrections, we’ll be too embarrassed to want to know about it.)

See comments (5)


It's very disconcerting when a professor of one of our own colleges simply repeats the left-wing line on Global Warming without even considering or ignoring completely the multitude of honest scientists that now are coming out against the belief that man is causing the warming. And no mention at all of the scandalous actions coming out of the University of East Anglia last year. And to throw in the line about the poor being hurt the most just shows the typical fear-mongering that always comes out of the left. It seems to me that our time would be better spent saving the world from it's sin than to continue to waste time on an issue that is not proven.

Lou Systma,you should be ashamed of yourself! Man made global warming is a myth. It has been debunked time and time again! The conclusions you refer to are very unscientific and based on computer modeling.

CO2 emissions are absolutely necessary for the earth to rejuventate itself. Please get off your socialistic high horse and realize God is a perfect Creator! Nothing man does can destroy the environment. You and your ilk think way to much of yourselves!!

Gerrit Sheeres;

Islam is a violent religion. Just because some do not follow all the teachings of the Koran,and are peaceful, does negate the fact the Koran teaches the killing of all Jews and all who do not follow Islam.

Interesting letter from Gerrit W. Sheeres above re: “True Dialogue”. I agree with Gerrit, a religion should NOT be judged by its most hateful actors…it should be judged by how the vast majority of its adherents treat the occasional attention-seeker in their midst.

For example, Florida “pastor” Terry Jones decided to promote himself and incite possible retaliation against our troops and our country by killers who purport to be part of the “religion of peace”. By the way, that contradiction always puzzled me, “I’m from the religion of peace and if you speak out against me I’ll cut your head off!”

“Pastor” Jones leads a small flock of attention-seekers in an obscure town. His actions, while odd and unnecessary, do not threaten to kill or harm anyone who disagrees with him. His actions are overblown by the mainstream media eager to lump all Christians together.

The salient point is that mainstream Christians loudly disavowed Jones and his group. We did not see mass groups of Christians cheering and laughing in the streets, celebrating what “Pastor” Jones had done.
I hope we don’t fall into moral relativism by comparing this one small group to the Afghan murderers, the Taliban and Osama bin Laden and his al Qaeda following around the world. When Osama and the radical Islamist fundamentalists brought down the twin towers on 9/11/01, we did see masses of people celebrating this death. We see many Imam’s in many mosques preaching hatred against the west and preaching jihad and the subjugation of all non-Muslims in a state of dhimmitude under shari'a law. Yes, these jihadists have hijacked the Muslim religion and are plotting and planning an attack on America greater than the one on 9-11-01. They think it is their duty from Allah to kill and wipe out all Christians and Jews. They train in terror camps in Afghanistan, Pakistan and previously in Iraq before we liberated that country. They learn how to make bombs and how to fly planes but not land them.

As Christians, it is our task to share the good news of the love of Jesus Christ with Muslims. And many Muslims are friendly, warm people. A good example of that is Zuhdi Jasser, M.D., founder of The American Islamic Forum for Democracy's (AIFD) at http://www.aifdemocracy.org/about/members.php

Dr. Jasser advocates for the preservation of the founding principles of the United States Constitution, liberty and freedom, and the separation of mosque and state. Dr. Jassers group, AIFD, seeks to counter political Islam which is the ideology that fuels radical Islamists. Dr. Jasser directly confronts the ideologies of political Islam and openly counters the common belief that the Muslim faith is inextricably rooted to the concept of the Islamic State (Islamism).

PNR has stated that “It is also the task of our soldiers, Marines, sailors, and airmen to identify the potential threats, isolate them, and destroy the threat” and also that it is “…our task as Christians to pray for those who would kill us or torture us or who try to stamp out the Gospel…”. I agree with both of those statements. We should protect the innocent and stop anyone who threatens to kill or harm us, while at the same time praying for them and showing them by our lives what it means to know Jesus. I try to do that every day at bakerfree.blogspot.com

I find it interesting that Professor Sytsma thinks Christians should be discomforted by an article that encourages a distrust of science.

Why? Has "science" (an ambiguous term) now become the final arbiter of truth? Frankly I am more discomforted by his implication that we should always trust science as if it is some high-priestly source of inspired, incontrovertible Truth.

The fact is, Rhoda was not arguing for a distrust of science, but a distrust of scientists - flawed human beings who, in the course of their studies, arguments, and conclusions have been known to be often incomplete and at least occasionally in error. To drastically alter the entire economic structure of a civilization in an incredibly short period of time on such a flimsy basis *is* something we should distrust.