Key Features of Reformed Worship
In the editorial “Key Features of Reformed Worship,” Vander Zee says that in the worship service God reminds us of his commandments—and we seek his forgiveness. That’s about as legalistic as the Roman Catholic beliefs I walked away from years ago when I joined the CRC. The gospel message of new covenant grace assures me that the moment I was born again, my entire life’s sins were pardoned, and God “remembers them no more.” That’s past, present, and future sins.
Christians are not subject to the Ten Commandments God gave the Israelites through Moses. God’s moral law is etched on the hearts of believers. Thanks to Christ’s finished, saving work through the cross, believers’ sins are no longer counted against them.
It was painful to read a piece in The Banner in which the homosexual orientation seems to be repeatedly minimized as “mere sexual impulses” (“In My Humble Opinion: Real Love Lost,” Dec. 2015). We don’t reduce heterosexuality to such a bizarre notion. The various kinds of heterosexual promiscuity highlighted in the article should not be implicitly contrasted with the longings for genuine intimacy and companionship that motivate most homosexuals—and most heterosexuals.
Re News stories about refugees (Dec. 2015):
Terrorists use fear tactics to accomplish their mission. Politicians in our country are using hysteria and fear in the desire to keep refugees from our country. Thirty governors say they will refuse to settle refugees in their states.
Our President and others have shown compassion in their willingness to welcome at least 10,000 refugees (as Jesus would have us do; see Matt. 25). The vetting of these refugees should begin without delays.
Lawmakers, however, are backing legislation that will keep refugees from coming to the U.S. I believe this is against God’s will. We must ask the question, What would Jesus have us do?
Toornstra writes, “What remains to be heard is a positive argument for the historic view of marriage” (“Marriage as Covenant”). Absolutely. Every aspect needs to come under the microscope. Replace anemic premarital counseling with mentoring. Reexamine the ceremony: why are we able to affirm other covenantal vows (baptism, confirmation of faith, etc.) within a regular worship service, but a wedding demands its own day? Finally do we really mean it when we vow to uphold the promises we just witnessed? Or when the couple separates, do we sadly shrug, saying, “That’s between them”?
We can do better. We are called to do better.
Holy Catholic Church
We believe in one holy catholic church, so true (“Holy Catholic Church”). When born-again believing strangers meet, it is amazing how quickly they recognize their oneness in Jesus. The church is built on one foundation, Jesus Christ our Lord, and not on sinking sand. The firmer the foundation, the straighter the walls and the better equipped its members are to build the church. Not all churches build with the same mortar, and its buildings show it.
Jesus loves his bride, and that was why he tells us to watch out, be careful . . . and keep your eyes on the prize. Too many build their churches to fit the culture, and Jesus becomes a pleading bystander.
Fall is for Pumkins
Please, each person who was responsible for letting the racist cartoon on page 30 stand in this issue (“Fall Is for Pumpkins”): flip back a couple of pages and attend the “Blanket Exercise” as noted on page 26. Such cultural insensitivity has no place in The Banner and I was ashamed to see it there. We can do better, and we must, especially if our wish for reconciliation is to be anything more than empty words.
I would like to commend Len Vander Zee on the awesome job he is doing as interim editor of The Banner. I understand the difficulty of deciding what to publish in a church full of divergent views. I am happy to find the content [of The Banner] uplifting and edifying and less divisive. At the same time, difficult issues are being addressed and not ignored.
He certainly has my vote for the permanent position if he wants it!
Doctrine Still Matters
The Bible is enough (“Doctrine Still Matters”). I agree that other historical literature can be helpful in explaining the times and culture, but all that is needed to unlock the truth (the treasures) of the Bible is the desire to know the truth and the Holy Spirit.
We do not need more literature trying to explain the Bible; we need literature that asks the right questions: What does this story tell you about God? What does this story tell you about people? Now that you know this, what are you going to do about it?
We need to stop teaching religion and start teaching relationship. We cannot teach the Bible to our children like a subject at school. Children need to see and hear from their parents or someone they respect what Christianity is supposed to be: a close relationship with God, and the benefits such a relationship offers. The “theological key” is a desire to know God and live a life pleasing to him.