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No Stereotypes, Please!
As a 17-year-old girl, I enjoy browsing Punch Lines. I am writing to explain my disappointment in the cartoon selected for your May 2014 issue. It depicts a woman holding a wrench with a bow on it, saying to a man: “I know it’s the thought that counts—what were you thinking?”

My mother and I both very much enjoy working with tools. Since I can remember, my mother has done all of the handiwork around the house. I plan to pursue a career in engineering. We both love to receive tools as presents.

Seemingly harmless jokes and comments like this perpetuate the entrenchment of gender roles and prevent progress in the realm of equality. The stereotypes in the comic serve as a poor representation of our stance as a denomination.

—Christina Wyngarden
Grand Rapids, Mich.

Ed: You’re absolutely right, Christina. Thanks for calling us on this one!

Old Testament God
I don’t believe that our Old Testament God is scandalous at all (“The Scandal of the Old Testament God”). Our just God gave the Amorites or Canaanites 400 years to repent. Even after his miraculous signs in Egypt to free Israel, they failed to turn from their extreme wickedness. God is just in punishing sin, but he is extremely patient with his rebellious creation. He is also merciful to repentant sinners like Noah and Lot.

If the Old Testament God is scandalous, then the New Testament God is also just as offensive. For example, Paul in Romans 1:18-3:20 says that God’s wrath considers everyone guilty and worthy of condemnation. However, we cling to his amazing love in Jesus to deliver us (Rom. 3:21ff).

—Bruce Leiter
Hudsonville, Mich.

Moving On
Just read your May 2014 Editorial “Time to Move On?” with its suggestion for improving the minister calling process. When we retired to the Outer Banks of North Carolina there was no CRC, so we joined a Methodist church. Their selection process involves the bishop, who decides when a pastor should move, with input from a church committee that establishes what that church requires from a new pastor.

We were there for two of those pastoral changeovers. We dearly loved our first pastor and couldn’t believe the new pastor would be able to fill the vacated position. We were wrong, as we loved the new pastor and the one that replaced him when he left. The process is much better than the CRC process.

—Ken and Melva Greenwood
Grand Rapids, Mich.

Facing Our Fears
Looking ahead into uncertainty often produces anxiety (“Facing Our Fears”). This article reminds us of our assurances, not only in uncertainty but also in rebirthing from events that seem to be an end, not a possible beginning. Thanks to Parchment Church in Kalamazoo for rebirthing many other ministries as they closed their own doors. God can use unusual events in our lives for his kingdom.

—Scott Wagner
Kentwood, Mich.

When a Church Closes
After reading the article “When a Church Closes” and your editorial (Apr. 2014), I was inspired to send you the following. Having been a CRC member for over 25 years [until the folding of the local CRC], and then having attended for the past 20 years United Brethren and United Methodist churches, my family seems to have a background similar to the 10 lost tribes of Israel.

I find myself wondering what I might do to keep a CRC connection and, just maybe, what the CRC might do to keep the connection with me. Lacking such effort, is the CRC relegated to smallness by not somehow including those of the “diaspora”?

—Jon H. Ringelberg
Clare, Mich.

New Mandate?
A “beefed-up” Banner council for ongoing and improved communication, collaboration, and coordination should exist, but to do this in part because of concern about articles that may potentially cause fear and dissension is insufficient (“New Mandate for Banner Council”).

I welcome in our denomination open discussions and debates about issues in our society that challenge us while maintaining the solid foundation of Christ on which our faith is built.

—Henry Numan
Vancouver, British Columbia

Progressive Christianity
Mr. Berghoef’s effective description of the “social gospel” in his answer about “progressive Christianity” (FAQ) may sound pluralistically attractive. But just as moralism is not the gospel of Christ, this social gospel is also not the gospel of Christ. Only from a proper doctrine that results in the regeneration of a sinner’s heart can good works arise that truly please the Lord. God’s elect throughout the history of the church have sacrificed immensely for such doctrine.

—Wesley Kwong
Portland, Ore.

Reimagining Faith Formation
My church too has opted for this latest theory of doing and being church (“Reimagining Faith Formation”). I agree that faith formation, modeling, and practicing are vital aspects of attaining Christian maturity and that they should take place intergenerationally.

Traditionally that has been seen as the role of the family, not the church. The church is charged to teach and preach so that families will be empowered to act as living centers of faith formation.

It’s not either cognitive training or faith formation, as the article implies—it’s both. The family and the church need to work hand in hand to bring people to full spiritual maturity—something that cannot be achieved by faith formation only.

—Ed Grootenboer
Waterloo, Ontario

Health Care
Thanks for the well-reasoned Christian perspective on U.S. health care reform (“Health Care: A Moral Imperative”). It’s a good antidote to the toxic rhetoric and political propaganda that have often driven rational discussion from the public square since the Affordable Care Act became law, and it reminds us that biblical principles must have preeminence over political ideology.

—James Leunk
Rochester, NY

The article “Health Care: A Moral Imperative” states that John Calvin spoke freely of the government’s obligation to ensure the basic needs of the poor are met. Are you serious? The government is not my savior, it is not my supplier of all my needs. It was created because Israel wanted a king to rule them instead of God.

The Affordable Care Act is not an attempt to provide health care for the poor; it is about the government controlling everything I do.

You may put your faith and security in our government, but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.

—Randy Langeveld
Jenison, Mich.

New Theology
Thank you for printing the article “A New Theology?” Could we have more articles affirming the benefits of conforming our lives according to the directives of the Almighty loving God who knows what is best for us instead of the speculations of scientists and society?

—Anne Tameling
Hudsonville, Mich.

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