Thank you for calling attention to the oft-ignored “Art of Lament” (August 2012). During times of profound loss, this authentic expression of grief has allowed me to embrace my faith rather than walk away from it. What a compassionate God we serve who welcomes, and even encourages, our raw honesty.
After our second boy died from leukemia and I experienced seven years of depression, God broke through to enable me to grieve and lament persistently until he provided me with relief from depression and the peace of Phil. 3:6-7. My grief, however, included my expression and confession of my self-centeredness at wanting my plan instead of God’s plan for my life. God’s gift of the peace that transcends understanding enabled me to accept God's plan that allowed, but didn’t cause, Keith’s death.
Many thanks to Professor Wolterstorff (“The Art of Lament”) for sharing a much needed article with us!
—Rev. Bruce Leiter
I’m writing in response to one of the jokes in Punch Lines (August 2012). After she took Communion for the first time, the 4-year-old commented, “I should have saved some of my candy so I can have dessert.”
Today, when there’s so much discussion on children taking communion, you should do some hard thinking before you [decide to print something like that]. The Lord’s Supper is not something to make fun of.
—Alaine R. Knoll
I found it puzzling that pastor Vander Weit, in his answer to the question about the Roman Catholic church (FAQs, August 2012), did not mention some of the glaring differences between the Reformed faith and the Roman Catholic church.
We deny the infallibility of the pope, do not pray to saints, and do not place Mary above Jesus, who is our only salvation.
Adam and Eve
I agree with Rev. Van Ee about the historicity of Genesis 1-11 (“Did Adam and Eve Really Exist?”, August 2012). However, I do wonder how the Neanderthals, Cro-Magnons, and dinosaurs fit into this picture since they lived millions of years before Adam and Eve. Was there death before the Garden of Eden? Was there a double creation? Is this part of the “looking through a dark glass” as Paul refers to? I’m sure I’m not the only one who wonders how this all fits together.
Grand Rapids, Mich.
Bernard Van Ee’s interpretation of the beginning of Genesis as a historical account is one way many Christians understand early Genesis and the origin of humankind (“Did Adam and Eve Really Exist?”). However, although Rev. Van Ee writes that he believes in “true science,” to maintain such an interpretation one must discredit a vast amount of scientific evidence that counters this view. And when he writes that the Holy Spirit has “always led the Christian church to confess and believe that Genesis 1-11 is historical,” he is necessarily dismissing a rich history of theologians who interpreted early Genesis as non-historical based solely on the structure and style of the biblical text (long before conflicting scientific evidence emerged).
When a historical interpretation of early Genesis is presented as essential for Christian faith, at least two unfortunate outcomes result. First, we establish a litmus test for faith instead of recognizing and appreciating the richness of diverse opinions on this matter that are present within our congregations. Second, if presented with the false choice of either being a Christian or seriously engaging scientific evidence, many thoughtful young people today may unnecessarily choose against Christian faith.
Many Christians not only maintain their faith but find it deeply enriched by the most recent scientific discoveries. Furthermore, we can all benefit from open, respectful dialogue with other believers who integrate science and faith differently than we do.
Let’s continue to keep both books wide open (Scripture and creation) and not evade the hard work of understanding how they mutually inform one another.
Grand Rapids, Mich.
Bernard Van Ee’s very first sentence sets the tone of the article (“Did Adam and Eve Really Exist?”). This is another “science versus the Bible” argument. As Reformed Calvinists we must be “constantly reforming.” God has created science and provided humans with the Word. Discovering truth in each area comes to us in a different way. One shows us God’s creative power and unlimited abilities and one shows us his unfathomable love. We should not use one area to understand or interpret the other or think that one area “trumps” the other.
Instead of taking sides in the Bible versus science argument, we should open our minds and hearts to how both areas proclaim the wonder of God.
Grand Haven, Mich.
Bernard Van Ee (“Did Adam and Eve Really Exist?”) beautifully expresses how vital it is for us a Christians to affirm the historicity of Scripture from Genesis to Revelation. I thank God for his willingness to stand with all those who say, in unison with the Holy Spirit, “Adam was real.”
It is troubling when Scripture is misquoted. Rev. Van Ee’s article (“Did Adam and Eve Really Exist?”) uses the word “perfect” where Scripture says “good” and “very good.” The difference between good and perfect is huge. God is perfect—his creation is very good (Gen. 1:31).
—Neal Vanderwerff Shoreline, Wash.
I read your synod coverage, which touches on the Creation Stewardship Committee’s assertion that “97 percent of the international scientific community agrees that global warming is real and is likely to be caused by humans” (“Climate Change in the Church,” Synod News, July 2012).
I don’t doubt that a majority of scientists likely agree on this issue. But 97 percent? I find it unfortunate that our church has bought into this questionable figure that is based on a survey of a very small sample of 77 scientists, most of them in North America. That hardly qualifies as 97 or 98 percent of the international scientific community. Yet the misleading number is continually repeated because it fits the popular narrative of an overwhelming consensus. After a while, people blindly accept it as truth—even church leaders, it seems.