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Reply All: June 2023

Someone left behind a copy of The Banner on a cruise ship, to the delight of one of our readers.
Contributed by Ellen van der Veen

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Cruise Ship Magazine

It was nice to see the January 2023 edition of The Banner in the library of our cruise ship when we were on a Caribbean cruise this month. I had left mine at home and was glad to be able to finish reading it on the cruise. I left it where I found it for someone to benefit from reading it.

Ellen van der Veen // Peterborough, Ont.


Surprised by Love

Thanks to Ray VanderWeele for his heartwarming article “Surprised by Love—Again!” (February 2023). He is so correct in stating: “Neither of us could comprehend how important it could be to embrace another (again) and not feel guilty about it. There are almost no words for that gift of companionship. Studies are beginning to illustrate that while diet, exercise, and genetics go a long way toward telegraphing how long and how well you’ll live, belonging to another is emerging as just as important.” It is my prayer that the Christian Reformed Church will also someday affirm, bless and celebrate this gift for our LGBTQ members and thereby (prevent) many tragedies such as the one reported on page 20 of the same Banner.

Grace Deunk // Leduc, Alta.


Romans Road

Are you expecting a lot of comments on Leonard Vander Zee’s “Rebuilding the Romans Road” (March 2023)? People love to discuss this topic, and I hope somebody wiser than me has something to say. But, in case it’s worth anything, I'll offer my take on it: … Viewing Paul’s purpose for writing as replacing a nationalistic covenantal nomism with an inclusive one is attractive in our context. With good reasons, readers might agree with both Vander Zee’s alternative and the “Romans Road.” It’s OK to talk about Jesus’ work using multitudinous biblical images. Perspectives are only sometimes mutually exclusive, as with Paul’s interpretation of “law.” In that case, a traditional Protestant view disagrees with Vander Zee. Still, John Calvin says, “We are justified not without, and yet not by works” (The Institutes of the Christian Religion).

Derek Kuyper // Grand Rapids, Mich.


February Issue

Thank you for your February articles in The Banner (“Tough Love” and “Reconsidering How the Church Communicates Love”). It has been disheartening to read about the recent struggles going on in the CRC concerning same-sex marriage, LBGTQ issues, and abortion. I have noticed a subtle narrative … that Christians who think more traditionally or who are more conservative on these issues are less loving, do not completely understand God’s grace, and are alienating the church from the culture. While there are always exceptions, I do not believe that narrative is true. And it’s probably doing more harm than good. I attend a nondenominational church. Over the past year, the influx of the more traditional/conservative members of the Reformed Church in America and the CRC into our church has been over the top. They are like refugees in search of a home. And we welcome them with open arms. But the comments from them are by and large the same: the churches they grew up in and love have marginalized them to the point that they have left. I pray for unity in the CRC. Thanks again for thoughtful articles that address the times we live in. 

Mike DeVries // Byron Center, Mich.


Tough Love

Thank you for calling out “tough love” (February 2023) for what it often is: an excuse for speech that too often lacks the minimal Christian virtues. Some sociological insight might also be in order. In his book Dealing with the Dutch, Jacob Vossestein devotes a chapter to “directness.” There he canvasses the Netherlandic reputation for language that is blunt, rude, and abrupt. The language of “tough love” is anchored directly in our ethnic heritage, I am afraid. In a piece on “ordinary aesthetic life,” Calvin Seerveld called us to up our game, urging those practitioners of “brutish rudeness” to aspire to a more Christian aesthetic. Emily Dickinson did Seerveld one better (as the good professor assuredly would concede): “Tell all the truth but tell it slant—Success in circuit lies … The Truth must dazzle gradually / Or every man be blind—.”

John A. Tamming // Owen Sound, Ont.


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