A New Reformation
Bless your heart, preach it! (“We Need a New Reformation,” Nov. 2017). Thank you, Lord! I am laughing and crying at the same time . . . and thanking God that I'm seeing this in black and white in a CRC publication. I think this is amazing (if not a miracle!) and a huge answer to prayer. Yesterday I was just reading an article on God's presence, and one of the key things we can do is pray and ask God to pour out his Holy Spirit. So this is going to be our focus at a prayer gathering later this week based on Luke 11:11-13: ". . . how much more will our Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!" Oh, and someone shared with me that the first reformation with Augustine emphasized God the Father; the second reformation with Luther emphasized God the Son, and so I am thinking the third reformation will emphasize God the Spirit!
The conclusion of Chong’s October editorial was “right on” from my perspective as a follower of Jesus more than being a follower of myself (“We Need a New Reformation”). Indeed, the church needs its members to be fully reliant on God’s Spirit in all of our circumstances rather than our first reliance being on our limited wisdom, insight, and energy.
That conscious shift of how we live our lives will surely solidify/renew the biblical reformation in our churches. I’m delightfully beginning to experience it personally in my elderly years.
Chong had a very interesting editorial (“We Need a New Reformation”). I wonder if he would provide us with his 95 theses that might include such terms as risks; flexible; freedom; messy. It would be entertaining reading. And contain some pearls of wisdom, I am sure.
You said it well: "This internal tension was part of Calvin’s genius" (“We Need a New Reformation”). All good theology has an element of tension to it. Calvin is full of tension (Book III of the Institutes is one of the best examples), and this is what makes him such a preeminent theologian.
It is easy to pigeonhole churches as needing to be “more flexible/experiential” or “more rigid/ rational”; we all have a bad habit of doing that, both those of us on the right as well as those on the left. What Calvin is calling us to be is “flexible experiential rigid rational” all at once.
I'm not sure a “new” reformation is what's needed. I think it would be better to characterize our need as a “refamiliarization” with the tension evident in the teachings of the Reformation and our confessions, along with a recommitment to the true understanding of ecclesia reformata, semper reformanda.
Robed in White Apparel
Thanks to Gordon Van Zanten for the very real, tender, emotional, and authentic childhood story of the loss of his brother Roger (“Robed in White Apparel,” Oct. 2017). What an encouraging and uplifting story!
Right-Sizing Your Work
Thanks for the article “Right-Sizing Your Work,” (Sept. 2017). I'm a lawyer, having practiced for 38 years now. I've never doubted that it is a vocation (and one of several that I have).
I've had many clients over the years who are the same, even if of a different vocation. Some produce food, some homes, some education, some healthcare, some financing, some counseling, some pastoring. Indeed, our vocational choices are many, assuming our perspective as to the reason we do things is an obedient one.
Doug Vande Griend
Emotional Lives of Men
An interesting, well-argued article (“The Emotional Lives of Men,” Sept. 2017). I understand why the author has written it. However, he writes about "culturally defined gender roles, norms, and expectations in which boys and girls are raised. These role expectations can prove to be obstacles to our development."
Henry Higgins' song in My Fair Lady comes to mind: "Why can't a woman be more like a man?" Amusing answers, but containing an element of truth. Modern culture seems to posit a different question, "Why can't a man be more like a woman?" The creation/fall narrative clearly establishes the God-defined distinctions between the sexes and their intended relationship to one another. Such teaching, of course, is anathema to many, possibly the majority, in today's society.
While I don't agree with 100 percent of the points made by the author (“The Emotional Lives of Men”), I am grateful for a place to begin this conversation. It is vital. The question now is, "What are we going to do about it?" This isn't something for which we need to create a committee for further study. We need to take action. We are excellent as a denomination at studying and learning and discussing different ideas. Time for study is over. Let's step forward and act. I will. Today. Will you?
Aliens Among Us
A sad tale of man’s inhumanity to fellow humans (“Aliens Are Among Us,” Sept. 2017). If the perpetrator was a Christian, his actions were certainly not. We don’t know what drove this man to this deed. Or rather, yes, we do. The Heidelberg Catechism teaches us that it comes naturally to human beings to hate God and our neighbors.
I’d like to say I’m excited about the new name Resonate Global Mission (“A New Name for a New Agency,” Jul./Aug. 2017). The way to judge a Christian missions agency is not by the precise placement of the word “Christian.” It should be judged by how well it does the job of carrying out the Great Commission in culturally sensitive ways, something it will be even more capable of with its collaborative resources. Much of the good work believers are able to do on this globe comes by partnering with local and like-minded agencies, as I hear regularly in reports coming out of World Renew. I am reminded of a version of a traditional Jesuit proverb: “A great deal of good can be done in this world if we are not concerned with who will get the credit.”
I agree with synod’s decision to deny accreditation for CRC offerings to Operation Christmas Child (“Operation Christmas Child Denied Accreditation for CRC Offerings,” Jul.Aug. 2017). A few questions should be asked about these shoeboxes. What is the reason for sending gift boxes to other countries? Could more appropriate gifs be bought locally and distributed at a lower cost, thereby supporting the local economy? How does an influx of North American toys and school supplies affect local business? How do we know our gifts are appropriate for the local situation?
I agree that our children should learn about charitable giving, but shouldn’t we also teach them to give wisely? We used the World Renew gift catalogue to help our children learn about giving. Others support Free a Family. These programs focus on the strengths of communities around the world and work with local partners to provide needs that local people determine are required.