Beyond Our Fears
Church and state must be separate, but separating religion and politics is impossible (“Beyond Our Fears,” March 2017). Jesus is Lord of life, and politics is part of life. The pulpit must not tell the pew how to fill in the ballot; yet must equip [people in the pew] to walk in the ways of the Lord politically. Biblical teachings and allegiance to Jesus must shape our citizenship. Those biblical teachings are a confessional, therefore a church, matter.
Among Christians on both sides of the border, there is a growing divide on political matters. Unity does not lie with partisan agendas but in our common confession that Jesus is Lord. At this moment in our history, the Bible’s teachings on political discipleship must be the focus of denomination-wide educational efforts, including the content of The Banner. Thank you for not shirking that difficult task.
I’m so pleased that The Banner is addressing this issue (“Rape Culture and Christian Colleges,” March 2017). As the coordinator of Safe Church for Classis Grand Rapids East, I cannot emphasize enough the need for education on this issue. This must start in a child’s early years. We need to teach children what is appropriate touching and teens what are healthy dating habits so by the time they enter high school and college they are well informed on appropriate sexual behavior. Every church needs to have a safe church policy that people are familiar with. We cannot put our heads in the sand and say these problems do not exist within our communities. I pray that all who have experienced sexual, physical, or emotional abuse will be encircled with God’s love.
Grand Rapids, Mich.
Outside the Box
I want to give a shout-out to Sandy Swartzentruber for her great Just for Kids column (“Thinking Outside the Box,” March 2017). It’s a great reminder for all adults as well. As is often the case, it’s the little things that count.
Grand Rapids, Mich.
Is Scripture truly the only unquestionable religious authority in the Christian church? (“Sola Scriptura,” March 2017). It was the sacred tradition of the early church fathers that led to the selection of the books of the Bible. Then the Reformers eliminated seven of those sacred texts after they had existed for 1,000 years. Which came first, sacred Scripture or sacred tradition? The chicken or the egg? Scripture is truly an unquestionable religious authority, as is the sacred tradition of the Christian church. God speaks to us through Scripture and through the traditions of the church.
Grand Rapids, Mich.
Editor’s Note: The CRCNA’s official position on biblical authority can be found online here: http://tinyurl.com/k3tuvak
God’s Been There
Thank you, James Schaap, for “God’s Been There Somehow” (Feb. 2017). As a missionary kid, I was sent off to boarding school at the tender age of 5. “Orphans for Jesus,” we called ourselves. Even now, many decades later, my sister gets misty-eyed when we mention boarding school. And we got to speak our own language, sing our own songs, and listen to our own stories. I could still find God in all the rules and rigidity, but, sadly, some of my friends could not. History is rich with many lessons to teach us.
Maple Ridge, B.C.
I want to thank the authors of the article “Confronting White Privilege” (Feb. 2017) for reminding us how necessary, challenging, and hopeful it is to (1) listen humbly to those who have been discriminated against on the basis of ethno-racial, religious, gendered, class, or some other socially defined category of difference; (2) publicly acknowledge that all forms of social privilege are supported by unjust social arrangements that humans create and or perpetuate; and (3) recognize that we are called to love and live justly with all our (disadvantaged) neighbors, which requires naming/dismantling discriminatory beliefs, attitudes, and practices and also working together to cultivate new relations and social arrangements that welcome and privilege all of God’s children.
I am a white middle-aged man, and I find the article “Confronting White Privilege” offensive on a personal level. The term is equivalent to “lazy Indians” and many more examples of how groups of people are painted with a broad brush without taking individual experiences into account.
Your article does not take into account the fact that I grew up extremely poor and had to work for everything I got. We immigrated to Canada with no support from anybody. It brushes over the fact that I have been denied work at companies where my ethnicity would “impede productive group interactions,” according to the interviewer.
I had expected a much better-balanced article in The Banner.
Having lived through the civil rights movement of the 60s and been part of it in Chicago and through the South, I am deeply grieved that this article (“Confronting White Privilege”) has found its way into the dialogue of our denomination. Teaching white privilege is not only divisive, it is not consistent with building up the body of Christ for the glory of God. The church ought not parrot the slogans and philosophy that prevails in the world around us but rather be challenged to bring the gospel of peace, hope, and joy to that world through the living God and his right hand, Jesus Christ.