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Letters to the Editor: December 2015

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Holy Catholic Church

I so appreciated your editorial “Holy Catholic Church” and your statement that the beauty of Christ is refracted through the lenses of various Christian denominations. I will say, though, that only the Roman Catholic Church claims all the gifts that God wanted to impart to us.

The Roman Catholic Church has the Scriptures, it has the interpretive tradition, it has the Eucharist in which Christ is physically present, it has the sacraments in which Christ makes his life available to us, it has apostolic authority, and it has Mary. Other Christian communities claim some of these gifts, but only one has them all.

—Kenneth Horjus
Zeeland, Mich.

Doctrine Still Matters

I was sad to read the words “But the Bible is not enough” in your recent editorial (“Doctrine Still Matters”). God does not need our help to reveal himself to us. The Bible is God-breathed. It is a living, breathing document from which God invites us into relationship with him.

Doctrine is the way in which theologians use their own best human efforts to explain Scripture. We should never, ever confuse the two. I am not suggesting that the church give up on doctrines. I think they are useful for teaching and for helping us to understand the Scriptures, but to go so far as to say that the Bible is not enough is a gross overstatement.

—Sarah Boonstra
Erie, Col.

Thank you for your editorial “Doctrine Still Matters.” I am 83 years old and fear our young people are missing the great upbringing we had in our youth through the catechism teaching. Keep up the good work!

—Stan Brandsen
Holland, Mich.

After reading Leonard Vander Zee’s editorial “Doctrine Still Matters,” along with the headlining articles, I was left disheartened. As a catechism teacher of five-plus years, I have seen a pile of old and new Heidelberg Catechism curriculums rising two feet high from the council table while discussing the need for new material. From where I sit, if we can’t find it in the pile, we won’t find it in a new resource either.

How about making what’s old new again by discussing and understanding the beautifully crafted Heidelberg Catechism as it is, along with its history? In my opinion, the editor should not only give us the option to vote yes but to vote for alternatives as well.

—Nick Kinkel
Jarvis, Ont.

In response to the call expressed in the editorial “Doctrine Still Matters” for church education materials, note Frederick III, convener of the Heidelberg Catechism authors. In his preface, he wrote, “. . . some, indeed, being entirely without Christian instruction, others being unsystematically taught, without any established, certain, and clear catechism, but merely according to individual plan or judgment; from which . . . the consequence has endured that they have . . . grown up without the fear of God and the knowledge of his word, . . . or otherwise have been perplexed with irrelevant and needless questions, and at times have been burdened with unsound doctrines. . . .”

We need a viable model expeditiously.

—Shirley Roels
Grand Rapids, Mich.

What about the Belhar?

Since Synod 2012’s decision not to adopt the Belhar as a fourth confession, we have seen undeniable evidence of racism and injustice in Canada (Truth and Reconciliation Commission, murdered and missing Indigenous women) and in the U.S. (Ferguson, Baltimore, the Black Lives Matter movement) (“What about the Belhar?”).

If we had adopted the Belhar as a confession, we could have vigorously raised our collective voice to call for healing and reconciliation. We didn’t—and so we couldn't speak it with commitment and conviction.

We, the majority white community, should ask ourselves what our ethnic minority brothers and sisters in the CRC have to say about the Belhar. Does it speak to them and what they face? Does it resonate with their experience? Do they see it as relevant in North American culture? If they do, then we need to reconsider that 2012 decision.

—Jim Payton
Mount Hope, Ont.

Business Matters

The authors were spot on regarding the importance of businesses and how they can be used in God’s kingdom (“Business Matters”). Our workplaces can be the most important aspect of our Christian walk. Even secular environments can change lives.

Three companies were listed as examples of non-believers doing business right. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of companies who give back to their communities in powerful ways—a large pool to choose from. The inclusion of Patagonia is perplexing. I can appreciate the quality and function of their products and respect their passion for environmental causes. I cannot, however, understand how they can be referenced as a company that “works for the good of society” when their support for Planned Parenthood is widely known.

—Kevin Champion
Grand Rapids, Mich.


Your article on the CRC participation in the NIV (“The Continuing Connection between the CRC and the NIV”) neglects to mention that the leader and executive secretary of the original NIV was a CRC pastor, Dr. Edwin H. Palmer.

—Timothy Palmer
Bukuru, Nigeria

Confessions Are Important

Your layout of things we can expect as Banner readers was most encouraging (“Call Me Len”). I too am concerned that we may be losing some of our rich theological heritage. I realize that the mission of The Banner must include articles that weigh in on both sides of controversial issues. But I have often thought that The Banner should have a clearly designated segment that teaches what all CRC members profess—namely, our confessions. I am convinced, as you indicate, that such teaching must always come to us in fresh ways.

—Doug Aldrink
Racine, Wis.

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