Letters to the Editor

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Noblesse Oblige
A couple of readers wrote in response to Bob De Moor’s “Noblesse Oblige” editorial to attribute the story to Queen Wilhelmina, not Queen Victoria. Either way, we think it’s a great story!

Promoting Dialogue
As a Christian psychologist, I am deeply troubled by the reactive stance of the Board of Trustees and their “disappointment” with The Banner’s decision to print the controversial articles by Van Belle and Walhout (“Board Expresses Disappointment”). Are we not supposed to be a Reformed denomination that engages with the world in a meaningful yet transformative way? By shutting down public conversation on these topics, the CRC sends a message that they are not truly interested in authentic Christian dialogue on these issues.

Personally, I send a sincere thank you to both Van Belle and Walhout for their courage to speak with intellectual integrity on these issues, and to De Moor for having the courage to print them.

—Michael Stolte
Edmonton, Alberta

Just a short note to say that I think that you are doing your job properly (“Board Expresses Disappointment”) and that there is no need to apologize about the two eminently defensible articles (written by Edwin Walhout and by Harry Van Belle) that have caused some controversy, because one of your clearly-stated responsibilities is “to stimulate critical thinking about issues related to the Christian faith and the culture of which we are a part” (Acts of Synod 1998, p. 370). If The Banner is to remain relevant in our day, the editor has to be free to pose timely and challenging questions to its readers.

Please keep up the good work.

—Gary N. Knoppers
State College, Penn.

I hope for every disgruntled letter Mr. De Moor received (“Board Expresses Disappointment”) he got one acknowledging his courage. It is time to get our head out of the sand and acknowledge that our reluctance to address or even discuss certain issues in the church is about fear. Why so much fear? Read Romans 8:31: “If God is for us, who can be against us?”

We all claim to know the will of God. I say that the very reason we need God’s direction in our lives is because we do not know.

—Nikki Rekman
Chilliwack, British Columbia

For too long we have failed to address the issues that the discoveries of the 20th and 21st centuries have raised. If the Scriptures are all we claim them to be, and if God is as faithful as we insist he is, why are we so reluctant to tackle the issues of the day, and why do we continue to undermine the scholars among us because we are afraid of what they might find out? (“Board Expresses Disappointment”).

If in our official church paper we are only allowed to read what we are already convinced of, what is the point? Let’s be courageous and engage those who dare to challenge us.

—May Drost
Sarnia, Ontario

I am happy to express my encouragement for the wonderful job you are doing as editor of The Banner (“Expresses Disappointment”). I have read the publication regularly in the past 57 years and still eagerly anticipate the news and views presented in each issue.

—Bruce Cooke
Holland, Mich.

It saddens me that it is necessary to apologize to the readership for publishing relevant, thoughtful articles. I am very frustrated with the CRC being afraid to discuss topics that are thoughtful and may, in fact, increase our understanding of the world we live in and how we are to relate to it and each other. The God I believe in is great enough to handle the questions and scrutiny. Keep the conversations coming.

—Anne Drost
Norton Shores, Mich.

Letting Your Light Shine
In thinking about Halloween, we agree that it is a good time to get to know neighbors and their children better (“This Little Light of Mine”). We also like to distribute tracts from The Tract League; they are an additional way to let our light shine.

—Mary Vander Werp
Grand Rapids, Mich.

Thank you for publishing “This Little Light of Mine.” It’s too bad that much of Halloween glorifies things dead, gory, and evil. But we can simply focus on the good things: pumpkins from our garden, the fall harvest, caramel apples, costumes, and kids having fun.

—Rebecca Roosma
Port Alberni, British Columbia

Inspired by Samantha
My compliments on the publication of the news item “Eleven Months in Eleven Countries” about Samantha Francart. This kind of reporting inspires young and old and brings into brilliant focus the central issue of the church: its mission to call people to the Lord and to display our allegiance to him through showing Christ's love.

The personal, dedicated association of young people with people who are as yet unaware of the call and concern of our Lord Jesus Christ is a profound inspiration and encouragement.

For years I have been privileged to see this dedication in our International Ministry to Seafarers, which has led participants to commit themselves to a life of service in countries where the hearts of people are crying out to our God.

Congratulations, Samantha.

—Hans Uittenbosch
Brampton, Ontario

See comments (8)


It saddens me to read the reader's responses about the Walhout and Van Belle articles.   The lack of discernment is appalling.  The logical non sequiters are disturbing.  I think most disturbing is that some people think that the only way you can address issues of the day is by giving in to them.  That is the opposite of transforming.  That is rather being transformed by the world. 

Of course every issue should be addressed, and no one anywhere said it shouldn't be.  Question is, how?   What is our foundation?  On what basis do we understand these issues?  And, if it is not necessary to even use our confessions and scripture as a basis, then what do we use?  And if not confessions and scripture, then on what basis does anyone have the right to enforce the church order or any other of the "traditions of men" on us?  

To put it plainly, if the confessions are not our basis for understanding scripture, then on what basis or right can anyone insist that only classis and not the local church can ordain a minister of the word?  or that elders terms must be temporary?  or that pastors must be seminarians?   Isn't that rather out of date?   Isn't that an anachronism that we should discard?   Especially since even some ministers cannot defend the confessions anyway? 

Bob DeMoor has apologized.   Please don't cheapen his apology. 

The positive letters selected regarding the articles by Walhout and Van Belle give the impression that the readership is not concerned. However, it seems that a significant number were, sufficient for the editor to apologize.

Romans 12 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. 2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. 

Note that this clearly states that we are NOT to be conformed to this world. Whether it's regarding our origin or sexuality we must NOT confirm to the world and disparage the Word of God, e.g. by stating nonsense such as evoluton descending from monkeys etc. 

The Monkeys Disgrace

Three monkeys sat in a coconut tree
Discussing things as they’re said to be.
Said one to another, “Now listen, you two,
There’s a certain rumor that cannot be true,
That man descends from our noble race –
The very idea is a disgrace.

No monkey ever deserted his wife,
Starved her babies and ruined her life;
And you’ve never known a mother monk
To leave her babies with others to bunk,
Or pass them on from one to another
Til they scarcely know who is their mother.

And another thing you’ll never see –
A monk build a fence around a coconut tree
And let the coconuts go to waste,
Forbidding all other monks to taste.
Why, if I put a fence around this tree,
Starvation would force you to steal from me.

Here’s another thing a monk won’t do –
Go out at night and get on a stew,
Or use a gun or club or knife
To take some other monkey’s life;

Yes, Man Descended – That ornery cuss –
But, brother, he didn’t descend from us!”

I agree with John Zylstra. The articles essentially built on ideas that liberal mainline churches dealt with in decades past and precipitated their decline. Unfortunately, the authors and the Editor are now viewed as "victims" by some for what was little more than a slap on the wrist.

So if the Banner is to "stimulate thinking," and if sex outside of marriage is relevant because it happens a lot these days, and those are the reason the Banner should print articles like Van Belle's -- that propose the CRCNA bless sexual relationships outside of marriage -- should the Banner perhaps print an artcle suggesting taking a new look at father/child sex relationships?  Certainly, that would stimulate thinking, and certainly, that happens a lot these days (ask any prosecutor).

To suggest that opponents of the Banner printing articles like Van Belle's suffer from not wanting their thinking stimulated is disingenuous, unless of course those who so allege would also encourage Banner articles that revisit whether father/child incest is really so wrong after all.


To follow Doug's comment, in agreeing with it, I would add that Michael Stolte is greatly mistaken in his.  Neither Walhout nor VanBelle approached these topics with sufficient intellectual integrity, since they ignored many aspects, and particularly ignored scriptures which are pertinent.  Michael's comment was also not intellectually credible, since he made a statement which I regard to be patently untrue, which is that by condemning these articles, that all discussion on these topics would necessarily be shut down.  This has not happened either before nor after. 

Doug, I was going to respond that most people would find predatory sex between parent and child far more objectionable than sex between consenting adults outside of marriage. But then I remembered you're supposed to be guided by the Bible, not your own understanding, so I guess you're right. The Bible doesn't favor one over the other. For Banner readers and other Bible-believing Christians I guess there is no distinction.

I assume that's the basis for your comment, and not the possibilty that a lifetime of spoon-fed morality has stunted your ability to think for yourself.

Charles: You might be surprised at how many of those who do engage in father/child sex -- done "right" of course -- do not consider it predatory (as you assume it is univerally regarded in your comment) but rather loving.  Quite the opposite of enduring "a lifetime of spoon-fed morality," I've spent 34 years -- my adult life -- practicing law, including over 10 years of criminal defense, in a non-reformed, even predominantly non-Christian part of the country where the majority are neither Christian nor particularly "Dutch CRC moral."  

I've actually represented men accused of incest who did not believe father/child sex was wrong, let alone predatory.  You?  Let us know how the sum of your life's experiences have not  "stunted your ability to think for yourself."

There are individuals and organizations who argue that Christians -- based on that silly book called the Bible -- are ridiculous to argue that 13, 14 or 15 year olds shouldn't have adult sexual relationships, including with "loving adults."  And that parent/child sex -- and incest generally -- is simply another religion created taboo that will eventually be discarded -- just as other taboos have.

Among his other arguments, Van Belle suggested that the existence of modern day birth control methods make it possible for "emerging adults" to have non-marital, sexual relationships that perhaps at an earlier time should not have been "blessed" by the church but perhaps now should.  Hmmm.  Would that same argument not apply to father/child relationships?  I've listened to that argument seriously made. You?

In the ongoing debate about science vs creation, it seems to me that many people have lost sight of the fact that God performs miracles that cannot always be explained by science. Discovered, yes. Fully explained, not always. Even the best scientists are merely humans whose minds are constrained by their limited understandings of time and space.