Letters to the Editor

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Membership totals for Classis Hanmi were reported incorrectly in the 2015 Yearbook, which led to an error in reporting the total number of CRC members for 2015. As a result, a recent column by Steven Timmermans, executive director of the CRCNA, was incorrect in stating that CRC membership has grown. It is more accurate to say that membership remained stable from 2014 to 2015. Dr. Timmermans regrets the error.

Don’t Walk Away

I applaud De Moor’s wise counsel in his editorial “Don’t Walk Away” (Jul/Aug 2015). We would do well to read this article before every council room “hockey game.” This fits so well with the wisdom of Solomon: “It is good to grasp the one and not let go of the other. The man who fears God will avoid all extremes” (Eccl. 7:18).

—Peter Stellingwerff
Abbotsford, B.C.

Our retiring editor’s last word “Don’t walk away” continues with pastoral advice to be a “daring Daniel” and not to sweep homosexualism, creation science, and other issues under the ecclesiastical carpet, [citing] synod’s decision to cede each council to deal with some of these contentious issues.

To suggest “local options” may not erode our biblical world and life view; however, it will definitely lead to congregationalism.

—George and Ann Lieuwen
Langley, B.C.

Re the discussion about homosexual practice (“Don’t Walk Away”):

To those who consider homosexual practice a sin, it might help to keep in mind that many young homosexuals kill themselves when they realize they are gay because for many that also means being rejected by their families and finding themselves alone in the world.

I’m not saying it’s not sinful; I’m just saying don’t be too quick to throw a stone at them. After all, Christ didn’t condemn the woman caught in adultery. And when we say, “Hate the sin, love the sinner,” many homosexuals hear, “Hate the sinner.” Maybe because our behavior doesn't seem very loving to them.

—Michèle Gyselinck
Montreal, Quebec

Re the editorial “Don’t Walk Away”:
Telltale signs that the denomination may be about to cave to gay pressures:

  1. A pastor delegate at synod stating, “You can’t stop this conversation” despite the fact that the denomination already has a time-honored stance on homosexuality.
  2. An elder delegate at synod gives credence to prominent authors who have betrayed the clear teaching of the Bible by compromising to changing cultural and legal pressures.
  3. The general tone of synod, concluding we can’t avoid our disagreements on whether homosexual practice is always sinful.

The basic question is not so much about same sex marriage but about the authority of the Bible and its grand narrative.

—Ivan Mulder
Pella, Iowa

It’s refreshing to learn that synod once again decided to face the issue of same sex relationships (“Don’t Walk Away”)—long overdue, in my opinion. People in the gay community who wish to remain with the church are ostracized, ridiculed, and, in general, made to feel persona non grata in most Christian Reformed congregations. [Are same sex relationships] sinful? Yes. But we all are not without sin.

The CRC needs to show compassion and love, thereby taking steps to eliminate discrimination and judgment against the gay community. Let those who are without sin cast the first stone.

—Tienco Posthumus
Oshawa, Ont.

In Bob De Moor’s “Don’t Walk Away” editorial he suggested a local option so that opposing sides in the same sex marriage (SSM) debate could remain in the CRC.

He went on to state that the Bible was very clear that leaving the church was not an option. We are to stay in the church family and keep the dialogue going. I disagree.

Particularly in this stressful time when the CRC is “evolving” in its position on SSM, it is important to be very understanding toward people who leave the church. They are often not the knee-jerk reactionaries that they are sometimes portrayed as.

Perhaps we can learn from the CRC’s change of heart on divorce and remarriage a few decades ago. Maybe we can begin to also show some of that empathy and support to people leaving their churches as well. When people have legitimate concerns they can leave with our blessing. We can wish them well and encourage them in their difficult time of transition.

—Dean Mc Rae
Oshawa, Ont.

Re the editorial “Don’t Walk Away”:

As parents, we have put a lot of energy into searching out God’s will for our family since our adult son came out several years ago. In our searching we came to embrace a “third way.”

Rather than debating the issue and its implications, the third way challenges us to accept the gray area and love each other in it. Don’t all of us live in a gray area between right and wrong? Homosexuality is one of many things gone awry since creation. Are any of our sins unreachable by God’s love? Certainly they add pain and tension to our days, but the Bible teaches that love can overcome a multitude of sins.

There are lonely and hurting children and adults in our midst struggling with their homosexuality, whether they are practicing or not. If there needs to be discipline, let that be God’s decision on Judgement Day. Today let our energies be spent on loving God and loving our neighbor.
Our family lives in “the tension between truth and grace.” It is a place where we strive to love unconditionally as God loves us.

—Isaac and Sylvia Van Geest
Grimsby, Ont.

The editor recommends “the local option” to let every congregation decide for themselves, as was done with the issue of women in office (“Don’t Walk Away”). Not a good comparison based on what the Bible teaches. Women in office was never considered a sin. But the comprehensive 1973 study committee report concludes that “explicit homosexual practice must be condemned as incompatible with obedience to the will of God as revealed in holy Scripture.” It goes on to say the homosexual needs the loving support and encouragement of the church. Only when we come to God with a repentant heart can we say with David in Psalm 51, “Purify me from my sin and I will be clean.” Only then can God bless our beloved Christian Reformed denomination.

—Hans Visser
Taber, Alta.

When I read the editorial “Don’t Walk Away”, it was like the story in Genesis 3: “You will not surely die.”

I believe the holy Bible and you leave people no choice but to walk away: “The wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God” (1 Cor. 6:9). This is the Word of God. We can not pick and choose. He is God.

This is not leadership; this is sowing dissention and confusion. I’m disappointed that our magazine is not upholding the pillars of the Reformed faith. I hope and pray that we will se a desire to go back to our first “love” and therefore obey Christ and not man.

—W. M. Vanden Brink
Grimsby, Ont.

When postmodern attitudes subtly invade the church (“Don’t Walk Away”), unity crumbles and the power of Scriptural truth pulverizes. Your “local option” solution will alienate those who regard homosexual practice as sin from those who interpret Scripture differently. Today the spirit of this age ingeniously influences our reinterpretation of Scripture. That is the reason why “many no longer agree with the position of the CRC that homosexual practice is always wrong,” as the editor stated. I’m convinced that this reinterpretation would not happen at all if the world around us considered homosexuality as aberrant. In other words, the spirit of this age shrewdly convinces some of us that the truth of Scripture is to be changed. And in order to make such a change palatable to the denomination, Scripture is cleverly reinterpreted and the “local option” is cunningly invoked.

—Wybe Bylsma
Cobourg, Ont.

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Comments

In re: Don't Walk Away

If you are a true believer you accept God's word as His truth. We may not understand it all because God's word is infinite, but we believe in it by faith as God's authoritative word, His truth. By the power of the Holy Spirit you repent of your sins (an ongoing process). You want and yearn to be true to His word, to be all God wants you to be and to live the life He wants you to live. 

All of that said, if we do not stand strong for God's word what does that say about our faith? Sin in sin, whether we like it or not, whether we want to engage in it or not. If God says it is sin, then it is sin. Our goal should be to try to get all sinners, not just homosexuals, to realize this and by the power of the Holy Spirit to repent of their sins, turn their hearts to God and serve Him with all their hearts. Is this hard? Yes. Will some give up? Yes. Will some refuse? Yes. Does this mean we should back down? No. Is it loving, kind, tolerant to watch a person condemn themselves to hell without trying to turn their hearts around? No. And if we do nothing then, as scripture says, we will be held accountable as well. Do we really want this? No. 

The biggest question is: Do we truly believe in, worship and serve our God. Do we really believe in His word as truth? If we do, then the battle belongs to the Lord and He has promised that His Holy Spirit will enable us to persevere to the end.

I believe "Don't Walk Away" violates our polity both in its publication and in its content. 

First, the avenue for a proposals such as this is through Rev DeMoor's council, then classis, then synod. What good is our church order if our members (especially our denominational leaders) aren't held accountable to it?

Second, the "local option" is antithetical to our polity in matters such as this (i.e. definitions of what constitutes a sin). We have cross-congregational accountability through church visitors, classis and synod. Permitting individual churches to change definitions for sin is to sacrifice denominational purity in the interest of a superficial and even unReformed unity. The "local option" would require members, pastors, seminary professors, classical officers and synodical delegates to violate their own consciences as they would be expected to approve of (and serve under) people who are living in what they (accurately) deem to be living in open rebellion against God. The locality of this issue within a Reformed ecclesiology would be a short-lived illusion. 

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