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Insider Language

Melissa Kuipers’ article (“Being Missional Means Avoiding Insider Language,” Sept. 2023) reminded me of a discussion I had with an unsaved friend many years ago. She raised her irritation that someone had called her a pagan. I asked her if she knew what a pagan was, and she didn’t. We looked it up together, and the definition we found was “a person who is not a Christian, a Jew, or Muslim.” I then asked her if she was a Christian. “No.” A Jew? “No.” A Muslim? Again, no. We concluded that she was indeed a pagan. I hope that our conversation through her challenge with the word “pagan” helped her realize she needed to look more closely at her spiritual beliefs. Words have meanings.

Marilou Richardson // Merritt Island, Fla.


Reflecting sadly on recent divisive issues in our denomination, I find it interesting that God knew from all eternity that women in office would be a contentious issue, so he saw to it that there were examples in Scripture of women in leadership roles, including Deborah, the lead judge of God's people; Esther, who saved God's people; prophetesses Huldah (Old Testament) and Anna (New Testament); and Lydia in Philippi. God also knew that same-sex marriage would be a major divisive issue in the church, so why is there not one instance in Scripture of a same-sex marital relationship? Is that significant?

Laurie Deters // Grand Rapids, Mich.

Is Love a Salvation Matter?

First comes a knowledge of our sins, then knowledge that our only deliverance from our bondage is Christ's sacrifice for those sins, leading to trusting in him to deliver us. Faith is then put into action. We believe, leading to our justification, our release, our freedom, which then leads to showing thankfulness to God for that deliverance, which leads to obedience to Christ's commands: love, which is a result of salvation and obedience. 1 John 3:14 tells us, “We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love each other. Anyone who does not love remains in death. Anyone who hates a brother or sister is a murderer and you know that no murderer has eternal life residing in him.” So yes, love is a salvation issue (“Is Love a Salvation Matter?”, Sept. 2023). We can't have salvation without love.

Allan A. Stonehouse Jr. // Englewood, Fla.

Middle East Peace

The (online) news article “Churches for Middle East Peace Watch Conflict, Urge End to War” (Nov 2023) referenced the statements published by Churches for Middle East Peace since the Hamas attacks of Oct. 7. I was disappointed to discover that this organization makes no attempt at impartiality, which made me wonder why the Christian Reformed Church is a member of this group. For brevity, I’ll only list three examples of bias shown in recent CMEP statements:

1) Blaming Israel for the attack on al-Ahli hospital even after strong evidence, supported by official statements from the Canadian and U.S. governments, came out that contradicts this claim.

2) Listing many specific atrocities committed by Israel, but avoiding mention of the rape, kidnapping, indiscriminate killing of civilians, and use of human shields committed by Hamas.

3) Calling Israel’s response “ethnic cleansing,” which is simply inaccurate and unhelpful hyperbole.

Is it appropriate for the CRCNA to have membership in a group that claims to work for justice and peace while displaying such obvious bias?

Daniel Harder // Edmonton, Alta.

Reading Scripture

I read the article “Misreading Scripture Cross-culturally” (October 2023) and was disappointed. I agree that having cultural and historical knowledge can provide comprehension of a certain Bible passage. I have also personally found that referencing the original Greek and Hebrew language can provide even deeper insight. But, as Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 1:18-2:16, reading the Bible is foolishness to anyone who does not have the Spirit of God inside them. The Holy Spirit gives us knowledge and understanding. If we truly desire to know God's intended meaning in Scripture, our first act, before opening God’s Word, should be to pray for the Holy Spirit to give us wisdom, discernment, and understanding. After all, no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God (1 Cor. 2:11), so why not go directly to the source of understanding (Prov. 2).

Nicole Strampel // Sarnia, Ont.


The Apostles’ Creed is intimately familiar to members of the Christian Reformed denomination and requires us to profess belief in “the holy catholic church,” the universal church that is the same throughout all time and in all places. This seems counter to Rev. Aaron Vriesman’s support for keeping the Christian church broken up into denominations (“Is Nondenominational the Better Option?”, Nov. 13, 2023, online). One of Vriesman’s core arguments is that denominations provide more accountability, writing, “If my preaching goes off the rails or my actions become officially unchristian, my church council has authority to hold me accountable.” But he neglects to deal with the question of which rails—universal church [rails] or denominational rails? Denominational doctrine has in the past divided us (disagreement about issues like infant baptism has led to Christians burning at the stake other Christians) and continues to keep us apart. Even such close cousins as the CRC and the Reformed Church in America cannot come together. So, are all denominations part of the universal church, [so that] compliance with doctrinal differences becomes optional, or is only one the true church, leaving all others following false teachings?

Frank Barefield // Holland, Mich.

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