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Disagreeing Well

The Banner article “They Disagreed Well” (Jan. 2024) on the deliberations of a 2022 synodical committee puzzled me. The executive summary of the related report states, “All Jewish writings from the ancient world uniformly rejected gay and lesbian behavior. It is highly unlikely, therefore, that Jesus as a Jew differed from that view.” This remarkable assertion ignores the fundamental changes that Jesus introduced in Israel’s culture and religion. He replaced the temple as a center of atonement and mediation between God and humans. Well known are the gospel passages quoting Jesus: “You have heard it said … but I say to you …”. Jesus also asserted that new wine should go in new wineskins. True, there are continuities between the Old Testament and the gospels, but also substantial discontinuities. This issue is vital to the present topic.

John G. Cook // Russell, Ont.


Creation Care

Thank you for publishing Rev. Kyle Meyard-Schaap’s excellent article “Dust and the Divine” (Feb. 2024). As Christians, we have a holy calling to serve and care for the natural world, yet too much of the church in the West has vilified creation care, seemingly ignorant of the dire climate emergency rolling out. This is the crucial decade when a massive reduction in greenhouse gas emissions is imperative. Every action in that direction is important if our children are to inherit anything like a livable home on God’s good earth. Although the situation sometimes feels hopeless, I have come to understand that my own responses to climate breakdown (eating a mostly plant-based diet, switching to a climate-friendly bank account, reducing plastic use, planting native flowers, getting an electric heat pump and solar panels, and talking with friends about climate issues) are significant—both in God’s eyes and as part of the growing, needed social shift toward sustainability.

Julia Smith // Grand Rapids, Mich.



Thanks for your past two excellent editorials, “Peace” in December and “Unarmed Truth” in January. Thanks also for printing Paul Kortenhoven’s excellent “Reply All” letter about peacemaking. We need to get more serious about nonviolence in both actions and words, and you are helping us to do that. You quoted Martin Luther King Jr.’s Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech. You could also add his oft-quoted remark that “the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” It’s easy to point to violence and injustice, but despite what so many Christians believe, and despite what the media bombard us with, our world can become less violent and more just. We have the kingdom of God to thank for that.

David Stravers // Fountain Hills, Ariz.


In my reading of The Banner I always turn to the editorial first, not because it comes first but for its content, which is usually thoughtful and always thought provoking. The editorials do not avoid dealing with the challenges that face the denomination. This month’s editorial (Feb. 2024) urges us to use a kinder and gentler approach “if possible.” From there it steers us to speak with each other with the “unarmed truth” and in love. Fair enough; I too need to hear and heed that. But the Old Testament is not just a history of a loving God. There is always the warning of, “if you do not listen …”. We hear and read the same in Jesus’ earthly ministry. In the end of (not up front in!) our discourse over the differences among us today, there must be a place for strong words and actions.

Ed Grootenboer // Kitchener, Ont.


Thank you for your leadership as editor of The Banner. Your editorials have encouraged me to ponder and reflect on how I approach my fellow Christians and how I believe. I find your editorials to be filled with love, compassion and wisdom for us in the Christian Reformed Church. I appreciate you and your staff and love to read The Banner, both online and in print.

Janet deWinter // Barrie, Ont.


We are writing to express our appreciation to you for sharing your insight and encouragement as editor-in-chief of The Banner. These are challenging times for the CRC. We live in a society which changes rapidly, and the CRC faces both concerns with its governance and addressing different views on theological issues. For many of us, our trust in the leadership of the CRC and decisions by synod has been significantly reduced. In spite of this, we have been encouraged by your editorials. It is our prayer that the Lord will continue to bless you in this work.

Wilma &Martin Mudde // Ottawa, Ont.


Psalm 91

In regard to the “Cross-shaped Protection” article by Sam Gutierrez in the February issue of The Banner: I am a retired Bible teacher and biblical archaeologist. Having spent more than 40 years following God’s footsteps in the Middle East and working in 12 countries, I’ve had my share of bad encounters. After a particularly serious incident, people asked me, “How did you survive?” My response was, “Read Psalm 91.” My faith rests in the shadow of el Shaddai. Also, in my personal Bible, beginning with the psalm’s second verse, I have changed every reference to “I” or “you” to my personal name.

Neal Bierling // Ada, Mich.


Descended Into Hell

One of the discussion questions for Sam Gutierrez’ February article “Seven Miles Into Hell” is “How have you understood the phrase … ‘Jesus descended into hell’?” I believe it was on the cross, when God forsook him and Jesus cried out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matt. 27:46). Gutierriz says the catechism implies that, sometime between Friday and Sunday, Christ sank through the stone floor of that sealed tomb. The Bible says that while on the cross Jesus told the criminal, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:43).

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