Grace in Times of Evil
In his powerful article “Grace in Times of Evil” (January 2013), Jim Boldenow refers to Dick Cheney. The Reagan administration was complicit in the injustice in Guatemala of the 1980s (remember Col. Ollie North?). Yes, Jim Dekker and James Boldenow and a few others in our denomination knew what was happening, but so many others were silent. I would like to quote a sentence from Herman Keizer’s online letter (January 2013) that fits well with Jim Boldenow’s article: “We should examine as a church just how much we are like the churches in Nazi Germany.” Remember Dietrich Bonhoeffer?
I would like to remind the denomination that the U.S. created the current chaos in Iraq and Afghanistan, and we created the severe damage to the Christian church in both countries (before the 2003 invasion, Iraq had up to 1 million Iraqi Christians; Afghanistan had some churches but all have since closed). Too many members of our denomination supported the invasions without considering the long-term costs to our personnel and the inhabitants of both Iraq and Afghanistan.
What am I to say about the torture of not only James Boldenow but all those who were tortured and murdered by Guatemalan military governments, the worst of which was Rios Montt’s (“Grace in Times of Evil,” January 2013)?
I could explain the nuances of my position and point to the ultimate success of policies I supported. But why should Boldenow or others let me paper over their pain with strategic debating points?
The CRC must encourage and accept political diversity because politics are fraught with unintended consequences and dilemmas. No political program or ideology can conquer all injustice. And the history of Christian political action is as bad as that of secular political action—apartheid was developed by good Dutch Calvinists.
As political beings, it is part of our calling from God to be lords of creation. Doing politics should drive us to our knees, praying for wisdom, forgiveness, and love for our enemies—those who are our political opponents and those who are dictators whose overthrow we seek.
—Raymond P. Opeka
Grand Rapids, Mich.
Small Groups Over Worship?
It grieves me to see a fellow Christian Reformed church [encouraging members to choose] small groups over regular worship services (“Texas Church Encourages Small Group Meetings,” January 2013).
It was bad enough when churches, new and old, discontinued evening services in favor of small groups. I am not against small groups but not at the expense of a worship service.
The need for two services with fellow believers is very important in my Christian walk and development.
Small groups should never be put ahead of the preaching of the Word. I hope we are not seeing a trend that corporate worship is in decline; it’s just way too important.
Grand Rapids, Mich.
God’s Belly Button
Thank you for Rev. Vander Zee’s excellent piece “God’s Belly Button” (December 2012). This essay had it all: a personal story, abundant Scripture references, quotes from revered theologians, and hymn lyrics, all carefully crafted into a terrific reminder of the season’s shocking truth: God with us; God as one of us. We should all find a child (or an adult!) this season and tell them who else has a belly button.
Living with Mystery
Joseph Brunsting asks if it’s necessary to interpret the first 11 chapters of Genesis factually and historically (“Living with the Mystery,” January 2013). I say yes for these reasons:
- The Bible must be interpreted according to its own assumptions, not an agnostic’s assumptions.
- All that precedes Exodus 20 is Moses’ historical prologue to the covenant renewal at Mount Sinai. In Genesis 1-11, inspired Moses gives our historical roots.
- Jesus is a historical figure. Paul assumes a historical parallel and contrast between Adam’s fall and Jesus’ resurrection leading to our future resurrection. The Bible thus assumes that Adam is a historical figure too.
- The “middle ground” Brunsting refers to must not water down the Bible’s history but instead must be God's unconditional love shining through us to unbelievers.
- I prefer John Calvin's method of letting the Bible be our lens to see creation correctly.
Mr. Brunsting’s logic is puzzling (“Living with the Mystery,” January 2013). He apparently accepts “the best well-accepted biological science of today” to propose that “it is not possible” that all humans descended from a literal Adam and Eve. That same logic/science would also label as not possible the virgin birth and the resurrection. We must all remember that the “science of today” by definition changes, while the Word of God is true and changeless yesterday, today, and tomorrow, starting from Genesis 1:1.
Regarding “Can We Be Good Stewards of the Economy and the Environment?” (November 2012): Economics (Oikonomos) can only be dealt with from a biblical point of view that humans are not just social and economic beings but above all spiritual beings. Our past and present economic policies are self-imposed and have led to self-interest and indulgence; they are in need of transformation to scriptural normalcy. We need a new vision confronting global crisis such as Bob Goudzwaard’s Hope in Troubled Times.
Langley, British Columbia