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The Rapture

In his article “What’s Wrong With The Rapture?” Shiao Chong refutes common teachings on the millennium, rapture, and heaven (September 2022). I read with appreciation and affirmation what I have believed and taught. I am a retired Reformed Church in America pastor and a Christian Reformed Church member. I worked in a funeral home for 14 years after retirement. Probably none of the people leading any of the nearly 2,500 services, visitations, or burials would agree. Neither pastor nor priest delivered a teaching on God’s promise to renew heaven and earth as our eternal home. At my funeral home, every deceased person (was believed to have) gone to heaven. I have heard countless invitations to accept Christ so that “you may go to heaven when you die.”

Rev. Leon Draayer, Ph.D. // Mira Loma, Calif.

Thank you, editor and staff, for an outstanding September issue of The Banner. What

a wonderful combination of inspiring stories, helpful information about denominational matters, relevant feature articles, and another thought-provoking editorial. Lots of good “food” for the mind and the heart. The interpretation of 2 Peter 3:3-13 (“What’s Wrong with the Rapture?”) was a new and helpful insight for me.

Henry Admiraal // Grand Rapids, Mich.

A Polarized Culture

Stacey Weiland's “Covenantal Communication in a Polarized Culture” (May 2022) was enlightening and a call for better communication. … I do have more of a debate approach, trying to prove my point on an issue. (I) guess that comes from years in education, mostly in science and medicine. … I have to really fight myself to not be so “right”-seeking and divisive and to listen with loving respect to others’ views. Hopefully that will provide opportunities to have meaningful excavations to deeper matters and better relationships in the long run, even if disagreements still exist. We have to meet in the valleys of life where we live most of the time, maintaining our relationships and trusting in the Lord for guidance and discernment in those relationships. We shouldn't just avoid issues that can divide. This was a great article that encouraged this, my first response to a magazine.

Larry Kopta // Kalamazoo, Mich.

Church Music

While many of the reasons for retaining old, familiar hymns in our worship services have been explored, one point has been overlooked (“Inclusive Praise and Worship,” February 2022). Many of these hymns were critical to the faith formation of older members. We should not deprive them of these hymns at a time when reassurance is most needed.

Ed Gabrielse // Wheaton, Ill.

Editorial Reactions

Thank you, Shiao Chong, for your many insightful editorials in The Banner. Your May 2022 column (“Presenting and Underlying Problems”) was especially impactful and, I believe, a clear, well founded, and loving call for renewal for Jesus' sake in the denomination we love. I join those praying that we would unify around the primary motivation of being “for Christ.” Yours is a much-needed voice in a difficult time. No doubt speaking these truths has not made life easy for you. Thank you for wrestling with and for us.

Lydia Frens // Holland, Mich.

I appreciated the editorial you wrote in the May edition. You questioned, “But what if we have some serious, unaddressed underlying problems?” I suggest that the underlying problem is that we do not know the Bible. Sure, we focus on the Sunday school stories and grace, but when it comes to the Great Commission, we only focus on the first half of Matthew 28:19-20. While the church has been focused on how to attract more members, the second part of the Great Commission has been tossed aside: “and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” I wonder what would happen if we focused our attention instead on studying the Bible as it is written, verse by verse. Would we understand God and his Word better, deepening our relationship with him? Jesus said, “The mouth speaks what the heart is full of” (Matt. 12:34). Therefore, as we passionately learn more about what God’s Word says, wouldn’t we organically spread the good news to others?

Nicole Strampel // Sarnia, Ont.

Just prior to Synod 2022 I remember a colleague lamenting the divisive cloud looming over synod’s conversation around the human sexuality report. They were praying for a third way instead of having to choose “for” or “against,” between “yes” or “no,” between “right” or “wrong.” As I read your editorial (“Orthocardia: Having a Right Heart,” June 2022), I was drawn back to that conversation and blessed by your insight around “right beliefs” and “right behaviors,” and a third way around a “right heart.” Once again, you have written with insight, clarity, and grace. As we continue to walk through challenges and celebrations of life, thank you for inviting us to continue our journey as agents of God’s shalom. 

Sid Couperus // Owen Sound, Ont.

Mr. Chong’s most recent editorial, “Beware Loveless Orthodoxy” (July/August 2022), is yet another example of his willingness to remind others of the importance of expressing unconditional love despite the ongoing debate on issues related to church orthodoxy. I am extremely grateful for his openness in addressing the challenges and problems facing the Christian Reformed Church as well as the church at large. I am also thankful that he has helped to expand the platform at The Banner to allow others to express thoughts and opinions that might not fit within the traditional orthodoxy or doctrine of the CRC.

Jim Newhof // Caledonia, Mich.

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