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Is Santa Real?

Regarding “Why I Believe in Santa Claus” (December 2011): We told our sons the truth from the beginning: God is real; Santa is a stranger in a costume. When he was five years old our oldest said, “I’m sure glad Santa’s not real. Nobody would get any presents.”

“Why not?”

“Mom, everybody sins.”

Thank you, Jesus, for giving us what we could never deserve!

—Betsy VanZytveld
Grand Rapids, Mich.

Together Doing More

Thank you for your detailed ministry shares report this year (December 2011). I was moved to tears by the story of Maimuna’s restaurant (“Where to Eat in Kwikuba”), as I often am by regular Banner reporting on CRWRC and BGTMI throughout the year. I am proud to be part of a church that collects and uses ministry share the way we do, and humbled to see how God multiplies our efforts throughout the world.

—Elizabeth Knighton
Seattle, Wash.

Young Adult Exodus

I was saddened to read that the Roels feel that there is in the CRC an unofficial anti-intellectualism driving out educated young people (“Evolution and the Young Adult Exodus,” December 2011). They cite the evolution issue as a microcosm of this problem.

At least as often I hear the opposite—that we are too intellectual. So we need diluted doctrine, lite worship, and emotional entertainment to soothe our young people into staying with us.

Here’s my plea to the Roels: Don’t give up on us. We make mistakes, but we are not anti-intellectual. We are not hostile to scholarship. Use your educated gifts faithfully, patiently, and gently to exegete for us the universe—that beautiful book which our Belgic Confession says is the first means by which we know God.

—Syl Gerritsma
St. Catharines, Ontario

I have sat in church classrooms with youth leaders leading Bible studies who misinterpret and misquote to make the Bible more comfortable. Well-meaning volunteers who need guidance themselves should not have to be accountable to giving youth guidance by themselves.

Perhaps to keep young adults in our churches we should give them a better foundation and more discipleship before we send them off to secular universities and colleges. Maybe then they will be able to resist temptations and attacks on their faith and beliefs by professors and peers, and thus return to the CRC as young adults.

—Erin Couperus
Brighton, Ontario

I believe that young people are not moving away from the CRC because of fundamentalist views of Scripture but because we are not demonstrating to our children a belief in an all-powerful God. Jesus calls his followers to leave everything behind, including our god of learning and intellect (this does not mean to cease learning, but to embrace it within the context of God’s call on our life). When we show our children a life of commitment first to Christ, then to whatever follows, God will breathe life into his church.

—Tim Van Hoffen
Fenwick, Ontario

Climate Change

I am heartened that my church’s publication takes this global concern seriously (“Global Warning(s), November 2011). Scientific facts aside, can we honestly say that we don’t see the piles of garbage and dirty air our excessive living have produced? When glacial change is noticeable in one lifetime, we as Christians should be alarmed. If the result of all this getting is making our planet sick, is that not an indication of where our hearts lie?

I want to discuss these things in church. I don’t want to talk so much of heaven that I am of no earthly good.

—Carmen Los
Edmonton, Alberta

Kudos to Brian Martin for his thoughtful article on our environment. There is nothing wrong with trying to better our environment and protect creation, whether you believe in global warming or not. I, along with my solar panels and Chevy Volt, stand behind him!

—Barbara Kamps
Placitas, New Mexico

I am most thankful for Brian Martin's the article on the science behind climate change (“Global Warning(s),” November 2011) and for the accompanying editorial. I am a climatologist (now retired) who has spent more than 25 years of my career studying and communicating this same science to Canadian government officials and the public, including church and Christian school groups. However, I have also experienced considerable skepticism and even open hostility to this information from fellow Christians.

Article 2 of the Belgic Confession, reminds us that we know God first ‘by the creation, preservation and government of the universe’ (general revelation), and second through Scriptures (special revelation). Thus, we are called to know him better both through the study of Scriptures and of his creation.

Recent surveys show that more than 95 percent of researchers from around the world actively involved in studying the earth’s climate system—a remarkable component of that creation that allows life on Earth—agree with the conclusions put forward by Dr. Martin. We are experimenting with the very life support system that God has put in place for our benefit with potentially calamitous consequences.

Let’s stop the denial and move forward in fulfilling our original mandate of caring for the earth and all that is in it.

—Henry Hengeveld
Willowdale, Ontario

Why Play Favorites?

Thanks for your editorial (“Why Play Favorites?” November 2011). Colossians 1 says that we have been brought into the kingdom of the beloved Son. Dare we acknowledge that in the kingdom we are all called to a certain kind of politics that flows directly from the character of our King? Our King calls us to follow him out of the politics of self-interest and entitlement that are corrupting democracies in Canada, the United States, and around the world.

—John Luth
St. Albert, Alberta

Are you kidding me? After telling us that the matter of climate change is so dire and so inarguable that it should not be challenged (“Why Play Favorites,” November 2011), the only practical advice offered is to “write to your political representatives and encourage them to ‘do the right thing’”! I can’t think of anything more hopeless than to entrust such a weighty matter to our politicians, especially right now.

Therefore, I offer four suggestions to add to a long list of practical, stewardly steps that we all can take toward reversing environmental degradation in a prudent manner:
Avoid being lured into buying manufactured things at mega-stores. These giants foster careless consumerism and fuel the environmentally reckless manufacturing machines of foreign countries.

Encourage your sons and daughters to know and understand Genesis 1, to be in awe of a beautiful sunset, and to be cheered by the song of a bird in springtime. Teach them that they cannot depend upon government policies or economic structures to defend and protect these sources of beauty. Cultivate redemptive wisdom in them so that they make judicious decisions in light of their convictions. Also encourage them to take their love of creation into the fields of science and engineering; we need engineers that have Psalm 104 on their lips when they show up at work to design algae bioreactors and carburetors.

Buy locally grown food, or grow your own if you can. Consider how much fuel it takes to get pears from Argentina, lettuce from California, pineapple from Hawaii, and beef from Australia to the kitchen tables of Michigan.

Try not to go a year without planting at least one tree, no matter where you live. And whenever possible buy things made from wood, not plastic.

—Donald Voogt PE
Hilbert, Wisconsin

Biblical Interpretation

The problem with the proposition for biblical interpretation forwarded by Rev. Vos and others (“How Should We Read the Bible,” November 2011) is not the Genome Project. It is not geology or the fossil record. It is not biochemistry, physics, biology, or anything else in God’s natural revelation. The problem lies in interpreting special revelation (the Bible) via natural revelation as though it can supersede the special revelation. The Bible must always trump a human interpretation of natural revelation, since the Bible is the very Word of God and human interpretations are simply human interpretations.

—Ross van Bostelen
Edson, Alberta

See comments (10)

Comments

I have to take issue with the author's use of John 8:11 in "Mom, We're Living Together." While it is true that Jesus did not condemn the woman, He did not condone her actions either ("Go now and leave your life of sin.") Taking the attitude of "times are changing, they're going to do it anyway" is a slippery slope indeed. There are times when we lovingly need to tell someone that what they are doing is outside of God's will - Paul was never afraid to do so! (See 1 Corinthians 5.) It would be refreshing to see my official denominational publication take a strong stand on this topic.

Matt Hofman
Waupun, WI

I greatly appreciated much of the excellent advice given in "Mom, We're Living Together." Certainly God calls each of us to demonstrate Christ-like wisdom, humility, and tact when applying the law of love in what is often a very sensitive situation for all involved. The depth of our relationship with the individual(s) often makes all the difference in the world. Might I also suggest that sometimes fulfilling the law of love includes the following: "Because of Christ, I love you enough to humbly confront you on the 'sin' of cohabitation." ... Alas, no form of the word 'sin' was to found in the article itself. ... Grace and truth - such a delicate balance!

John Knoester
Mount Vernon, WA

I am wondering what the CRC would look like if for the last five years the churches had been studying the prophets, like Amos and Isaiah, rather than the Belhar Confession. We'd all agree that it was the Word of God. We would all feel how important issues of social justice are to God. And we would know Scripture better. All the good that is in the Belhar is even better in Scripture. I propose we quit worrying about man made documents and get back to the Word.

"Mom, we're living together." Feb/2012

Thank you for talking about the elephant in the room!

I read Rev. De Moor's editorial piece entitled "Why Play Favoites" and was frankly upset by its one-sidedness. Rev. De Moor, who candidly admits that he and Banner staff are non-scientists", is apparently so certain of the accuracy and truthfulness of the popular position that the globe is warming due to increase in CO2 gases caused by human activities and that alarmist action is needed that he, speaking for the Banner, discourages opposition on the basis of popular opinion among scientists. There are many examples of popular scientific opinion which turned out to be false/incorrect. So consideration of credible scientic differences of opinion are often useful in forcing accuracy and truthfulness. Let's not forget that fame and fortune often come from identifying a problem and then also creating alarmism on the topic. After all, in an effort to win over popular opinion, alarmism is a very useful tool. Let's also remember that there is a huge motivation for face-saving among people who have stated a position and then are confronted with opposing evidence. This is especially true among people who consider themselves intellectual since the public must see them as such. Admitting error would be counter-productive. Should we not only trust without question the supposed accuracy of scientific thought, but also the ethics and honesty of the scientists themselves? Does the dishonesty surrounding the so-called "climate-gate" teach us anything? I am not claiming wide-spread dishonesty, and I am not alledgin conspiracy, but yet we need to be aware that it can exist where fame and fortune are at stake.

But what about the popular global warming position that is accepted by so many? Is the evidence really incontrovertible? Are it so trustworthy to equate disagreement of it with presenting "misinformation" as stated by Rev. De Moor? Perhaps it might be useful for your readers to know that in September,2011, Nobel Prize-winning physicist Ivar Giaever, a supporter of President Obama in the last election, publicly resigned from the American Physical Society (APS) with a letter that begins: "I did not renew [my membership] because I cannot live with the [APS policy] statement: 'The evidence is incontrovertible: Global warming is occurring. If no mitigating actions are taken, significant disruptions in the Earth's physical and ecological systems, social systems, security and human health are likely to occur. We must reduce emissions of greenhouse gases beginning now.' In the APS it is OK to discuss whether the mass of the proton changes over time and how a multi-universe behaves, but the evidence of global warming is incontrovertible?" Tom Tripp, another Nobel prize winner for his research on Climate change and member of IPCC since 2004, said in July 2009 when presenting the the July 2009 Farm Bureau Convention that there is so much natural variability in weather it makes a scientifically valid conclusion about man-made global warming difficult. Specifically, he said, “It may well be, but we’re not scientifically there yet”. Your readers would also find a WSJ opinion piece signed by 16 scientist interesting which is in direct opposition to much of the popular global warming opinion. http://online.wsj.com.

So there are supremely gifted scientists who have opinions in direct opposition to oone or more elements of popular opinion regarding global warming. I therefore encourage the Banner to avoid premptive strkes for the purpopse of discouraging opposition to topics which you are obvious promoting. Characterizing dissagreement as "misinformation" is really inexcusible. Perhaps the Banner was so eager to accept the popular global warming position that it neglected to do the necessary research that may have revealed the above examples of dissent among the ranks of climate change scientists.

I read Rev. De Moor's editorial piece entitled "Why Play Favorites" and was frankly upset by its one-sidedness. Rev. De Moor, who candidly admits that he and the Banner staff are “non-scientists", is apparently so certain of the scientific accuracy and truthfulness of the popular position regarding global warming as presented in Brian Martin’s article, that he, speaking for the Banner, discourages opposition simply on the basis of it being the more popular opinion among scientists. This simplistic approach to approval should be avoided. There are many examples of popular scientific opinion which turned out to be incorrect. One of the best ways to guard against this is to promote investigation of credible scientific differences of opinion rather than discourage them. Let's not forget that fame and fortune often come from first identifying a problem and then also creating alarmism on that topic. After all, in an effort to win over popular opinion, alarmism is a very useful tool. Let's not forget that scientist can be wrong and they can be dishonest like humans in almost every other human endeavor. Should we trust without question the supposed accuracy of this scientific thought? Should we also unquestionably trust the ethics and honesty of the scientists themselves? Does the dishonesty and deception associated with the so-called "climate-gate" teach us anything? I am not claiming wide-spread dishonesty, and I am not alleging conspiracy, but yet we need to be on guard against such things when fame and fortune are at stake.

But what about the popular global warming position that is accepted by so many? Is it so trustworthy as to accuse those who express disagreement with presenting "misinformation" as stated by Rev. De Moor? Perhaps it would be useful for your readers to know that in September, 2011, Nobel Prize-winning physicist Ivar Giaever publicly resigned from the American Physical Society (APS) with a letter that begins: "I did not renew [my membership] because I cannot live with the [APS policy] statement: 'The evidence is incontrovertible: Global warming is occurring. If no mitigating actions are taken, significant disruptions in the Earth's physical and ecological systems, social systems, security and human health are likely to occur. We must reduce emissions of greenhouse gases beginning now.' In the APS it is OK to discuss whether the mass of the proton changes over time and how a multi-universe behaves, but the evidence of global warming is incontrovertible?" In another example of dissention, Tom Tripp, another Nobel prize winner for his research on Climate change and member of IPCC since 2004, said in July, 2009 when speaking at the July 2009 Farm Bureau Convention, that there is so much natural variability in weather it makes a scientifically valid conclusion about man-made global warming difficult. Specifically, he said, “It may well be, but we’re not scientifically there yet”. For further important reading about other scientific dissent, your readers will be interested in a WSJ opinion piece signed by 16 scientists which expresses direct opposition to much of the popular position taken on global warming. This piece can be read at: http://online.wsj.com.

So there are gifted scientists who have credible doubts or have opinions in direct opposition to one or more elements of popular opinion regarding global warming. I therefore encourage the Banner to avoid preemptive strikes for the purpose of discouraging opposition to topics which you are obviously promoting without critical analysis. Characterizing “disagreement” as "misinformation" is really inexcusable. Open debate among scientists should be encouraged, not discouraged. I expect better from the Banner. The Banner’s actions in this instance makes me wonder who is doing the misinforming?

I read Rev. De Moor's editorial piece entitled "Why Play Favorites" and was frankly upset by its one-sidedness. Rev. De Moor, who candidly admits that he and the Banner staff are “non-scientists", is apparently so certain of the scientific accuracy and truthfulness of the popular position regarding global warming as presented in Brian Martin’s article, that he, speaking for the Banner, discourages opposition simply on the basis of it being the more popular opinion among scientists. This simplistic approach to approval should be avoided. There are many examples of popular scientific opinion which turned out to be incorrect. One of the best ways to guard against this is to promote investigation of credible scientific differences of opinion rather than discourage them. Let's not forget that fame and fortune often come from first identifying a problem and then also creating alarmism on that topic. After all, in an effort to win over popular opinion, alarmism is a very useful tool. Let's not forget that scientist can be wrong and they can be dishonest like humans in almost every other human endeavor. Should we trust without question the supposed accuracy of this scientific thought? Should we also unquestionably trust the ethics and honesty of the scientists themselves? Does the dishonesty and deception associated with the so-called "climate-gate" teach us anything? I am not claiming wide-spread dishonesty, and I am not alleging conspiracy, but yet we need to be on guard against such things when fame and fortune are at stake.

But what about the popular global warming position that is accepted by so many? Is it so trustworthy as to accuse those who express disagreement with presenting "misinformation" as stated by Rev. De Moor? Perhaps it would be useful for your readers to know that in September, 2011, Nobel Prize-winning physicist Ivar Giaever publicly resigned from the American Physical Society (APS) with a letter that begins: "I did not renew [my membership] because I cannot live with the [APS policy] statement: 'The evidence is incontrovertible: Global warming is occurring. If no mitigating actions are taken, significant disruptions in the Earth's physical and ecological systems, social systems, security and human health are likely to occur. We must reduce emissions of greenhouse gases beginning now.' In the APS it is OK to discuss whether the mass of the proton changes over time and how a multi-universe behaves, but the evidence of global warming is incontrovertible?" In another example of dissention, Tom Tripp, another Nobel prize winner for his research on Climate change and member of IPCC since 2004, said in July, 2009 when speaking at the July 2009 Farm Bureau Convention, that there is so much natural variability in weather it makes a scientifically valid conclusion about man-made global warming difficult. Specifically, he said, “It may well be, but we’re not scientifically there yet”. For further important reading about other scientific dissent, your readers will be interested in a WSJ opinion piece signed by 16 scientists which expresses direct opposition to much of the popular position taken on global warming. This piece can be read at: http://online.wsj.com.

So there are gifted scientists who have credible doubts or have opinions in direct opposition to one or more elements of popular opinion regarding global warming. I therefore encourage the Banner to avoid preemptive strikes for the purpose of discouraging opposition to topics which you are obviously promoting without critical analysis. Characterizing “disagreement” as "misinformation" is really inexcusable. Open debate among scientists should be encouraged, not discouraged. I expect better from the Banner. The Banner’s actions in this instance makes me wonder who is doing the misinforming?

I read "Why Being a Binational Church Is So Important" and "Reformed Matters - Beyond Belhar" back to back and thought "Maybe we need to add a confession that originates in Canada as well." The CRC, to be sensitive to the Kingdom building of God, must prayerfully and thoughtfully address ministry issues in each cultural setting. Although they share a great deal, Canada, the United States and South Africa are distinct cultures calling for unique applications of the transformational message of Jesus Christ.

If it takes a document to be declared a confession to move us to live out the gospel in a certain area of our lives, let us declare them more readily, and for more topics, such as materialism, and sexuality, and church/government relations, and on and on. However, if "raising" a document to confession status results in simply defining something more astutely and holding each other accountable to a new standard, then will it result in love dominating the issue at hand?

Perhaps, instead of signing on to a document addressing issues from a culture that we may or may not identify with, we ought to write two confessions, one by the CRC in Canada and one by the CRC in the United States and then sign off on both of them? It seems this could result in increased unity, in thought and deed, with others close to home, which might then lead to unity with those further away. Though it may bring some solidarity with the South African church and/or the church world wide, I fear the Belhar may end up dividing more than uniting, no matter which way the vote goes.

Have too many words been expressed, too many positions defended, too much theologizing pursued, to pull back now? May God's Spirit guide us toward unity, which is His great desire.

The whole business of couples living together without formal marriage ceremony should be addressed in the context of committment. If they are not committed, if they are just "trialing" or experimenting, then they are really just committing adultery. In their lack of permanent committment, they are already unfaithful to their future. It is much like saying I will serve my God, as long as he serves my own perceived needs. If I become unhappy, I will reject my God.

If they are committed to each other, and intend to be faithful, they do not need to be hesitant to share that committment and intention with others in their community in some way. When they do not share that committment with others, they indicate a lack of certainty about the future, a lack of certainty about their own committment, and a lack of conviction about their relationship.

It is not the wedding license issued by the state that is the primary issue, since many get that license also with no real committment to a permanent future. The real issue for christians is how have they indicated their lifelong promise?

Why is this letters column so out of date?

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