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Synod 2012

Reportedly, more than a few people want the church to preach the gospel without mentioning political, economic and social issues (News, July 2012). What gospel would that be? Not the good news of Jesus. He calls his followers to relieve suffering of the poor, the foreigners, the sick and prisoners (Matt. 25).
John Calvin ceaselessly points out that relief of human suffering is a Christian duty. The poor deserve charity even when they are “contemptible and worthless” or have “provoked you with injuries and insults.” Why? Because they are made in God’s image and God values them no less than he values you (Institutes, Vol. 3, vii).
In recent years, governments on both sides of the U.S.-Canadian border have increased income inequality, enforced austerity on the backs of the poor, imprisoned more people for longer terms and shirked necessary earth care. Jesus says taking no notice of the marginalized earns you hell. The gospel, stripped of social justice, is not good news.
—Nick Loenen
Richmond, British Columbia

All hail to the four who came with a roar from the pews of Prince Edward Island's shore to synod’s floor (“Bikers Roar to Synod,” News, July 2012).We are told they are planning to do the same in key CRC locations. Why? Because there are no anti-pornography messages being heard from the pulpits!
—Jake Prins
Grand Rapids, Mich.

I read with interest the name change for the Christian Reformed World Relief Committee (“New Name for CRWRC Is Official,” News, July 2012). It struck me that the new name is but a shadow of the original.
Why would an organization with a highly respected history of compassionate and generous global Christian work want to remove the key word from their name and turn it into something as generic as World Renew?
No doubt some will argue that with the word “Christian” in the name, we often are prevented from assisting where an urgent need arises. But even Jesus told the disciples to shake the dust off their garments where their message was not welcome.
Would it have been so difficult to have changed the name to “Christian World Renew”? Has a nice ring to it, doesn't it?
—Jack Toornstra
Edmonton, Alberta

In the article “Synod 2012: What to Watch For” (News, June 2012), I came across a statement made that made me pause. It mentions the “untimely death” of Robert Heerspink, former director of Back to God Ministries International.
As Calvinists we must remember that death is never “untimely.” God appoints the time of death for each person even before we are born.
The world often describes the deaths of important leaders, actors, etc. as “untimely,” especially when they are young. We must not fall into that same word pattern. God “times” the deaths, not humans.
—Linda Cotton
Kent City, Mich.

Another Tower of Babel?

Bolstering the fallacy of determining scientific fact by majority vote and elevating political correctness to a par with Scripture, you convinced the delegates to Synod 2012 that global warming is an undeniable phenomenon and that it is anthropogenic (“Synod Calls Church to Take Active Role in Climate Change Issue,” News, July 2012). Now the denomination is about to expend vast quantities of time, energy and treasure to erect a monument to this egregious example of human hubris. Your perspective is wrong.
In an article entitled “Feel-Good Environmentalism at the U.N.” in the Wall Street Journal of June 21, 2012, Bjorn Lomborg notes that “even an extremely ambitious climate policy—aiming to cut global carbon-dioxide emissions by 50% below 1990s levels—would entail enormous costs but save very few lives. Inexpensive policy changes, however, could virtually eliminate pollution-related deaths. …”
Perhaps both the U.N. elites and the denomination should heed the words of Christ in Luke 14:28, counting the cost and weighing the alternatives rather than following the example of the know-it-alls of Genesis 11.
—Peter B. Schipma
Lockport, Ill.

Even though we agree with synod that we should be more careful in our use of the earth’s resources (“Synod Calls Church to Take Active Role in Climate Change Issue,” News, July 2012), we cannot agree with its conclusion that global warming is largely man-made. We have two strong reservations regarding the Stewardship Report that had synod reach this decision.
First, it ignored the fact that our use of these resources has clear political dimensions. Moreover, the science of global warming and its causes has often been obscured by political maneuvering. Oddly enough, the report assumed it could deal with the science without seeing it as part of a multifaceted issue.
Second, uncertainties remain with regard to science issues, such as past global temperatures and the validity of climate models. Such models were used to support policymaking on the floor of synod, even though many have pointed to their shortcomings. These uncertainties too were ignored in the report.
—John Ripmeester and John G. Cook
Ottawa, Ontario

Memories from Guam

A story in the June issue (“Old Banner Photo Reunites World War II Vets,” News, June 2012) brought back memories of the time I spent in Guam. I was stationed there from April until November 1945 as the bombardier on a B-29 crew that flew many missions over Japan.
I remember receiving the Young Calvinist magazine every month, and it was from this magazine that I found out about the monthly Young Calvinist meetings on Guam. I believe that a CRC chaplain would fly over from Saipan once a month for these meeting. I wish I could remember the name of the chaplain.
I really enjoyed those monthly meetings, although I was not able to attend every month due to our flying schedule.
Two of the men I remember from those meetings were Paul Mulder and Jake Tripp. The picture for The Banner must have been taken on one of the times I missed being there.
—Orley Van Dyke
Holland, Mich.

See comments (4)


Whether science has "proven" global warming (something of which I am not yet convinced), whether we are seeing climate change as a result of polar shift, or even whether we are merely part of a longer climate cycle than we can see or track, I believe our focus is in the wrong place. We should be less worried about jumping onto popular political bandwagons and saying the right things, and more concerned about doing the right things. We as Christians should be in the front of the line when it comes to taking care of our planet; not because it is politically correct, but because it is what God called us to do in Gen 1:28-30, and even Gen 2:15. This planet Earth is our home, and in Revelation 21:1-4, is the location of the Eternal Dwelling of God.  By extension, the Genesis command to "fill the earth and subdue it", calls us to take care of not only the planet, but everyone and everything on it. Thus, this command also speaks to the value of life, and the love--the passion--that God has for his entire creation. It is the first command in the Bible, we would do well to do everything we can, in our personal, daily, lives to follow it.

Nick, you said the gospel stripped of social justice is not good news.  I beg to differ.  Not that I deny we need to remember the poor, the widows and orphans, because yes, that is true religion.  But the good news of the gospel is not dependant or restricted to the widows and orphans.  It is embodied in the fact that even when there is injustice, even when there is persecution, Christ is still king, and we are still redeemed.  Social justice will not save us; it is just a result of our faith and gratitude.   NOr will social justice save those to whom it is given;  it might in fact make them place their trust in material things and earthly solutions.  The good news of the gospel is much more magnificent than that. 

Every time (almost) the Banner refers to a Classis (or Classes) the explanation is "a regional grouping of churches."  This is annoying to me.  I know that the Banner staff is trying to be sensitive to those who have not grown up in the CRC (Christian Reformed Church - just kidding), but please...  Why not put a glossary at the end of the Banner? Or provide a link to a glossary. 

Jim Bandstra

Friedens, PA


In response to John Zylstra.

Yes, you are correct good works saves neither the doer nor the recipient. But that is not what I wrote about. I wrote against the assertion that Church is about the gospel, not politics. The gospel is intensely political. How else are we to understand Jesus' statement that those invited to the Feast feed the hungry etc.?