Board of Trustees Expresses Disappointment, Keeps De Moor as Editor of The Banner

The Board of Trustees of the Christian Reformed Church has expressed its disappointment with the situation that resulted from the recent publication of two controversial articles in The Banner, the official publication of the CRC.

However, it accepted the apology of editor Rev. Bob De Moor for what he acknowledged was an error in his editorial judgment for not more clearly indicating that the articles were intended to promote conversation, not be presented as official positions of the church.

The board declined to remove De Moor from the editor’s chair, despite requests from some church leaders. The decision came after several hours of discussion behind closed doors at the board’s meeting last week.

In recent months, The Banner printed two controversial articles: one on human origins by Edwin Walhout and another about Christians cohabiting by Harry Van Belle. The articles caused anger and disappointment among many church members. Many called or wrote to De Moor.

In addition, more than 120 communications were received by executive director Joel Boot, including 24 from church councils. Two classes (regional groups of churches) requested that De Moor immediately be dismissed from his role as editor.

In a conversation with the board, De Moor explained the steps that take place before an article gets printed in The Banner. He also pointed out that Synod 1998 mandated The Banner to “permit people of the church to voice their views and reactions even though some of them may be unacceptable to others in the church.”

But, De Moor said, he erred on the part of the mandate that says that Banner material should edify and educate the readers. “I think I should have gone back to [Walhout] and said ‘We think what you are doing is worth considering, but what you do need to do is set a better tone in this article, raise the issue in a more pastoral way.’” De Moor also expressed regret for the timing, running the two articles in two consecutive issues of The Banner (June and July).

De Moor printed an apology on The Banner’s website and in the August print edition.

Some trustees were not convinced, with one suggesting that De Moor should resign.

De Moor noted that synod has said that The Banner has a role in addressing challenging issues. “There are two ways [to deal with issues]: simply hide your head in the sand, [or] raise issues, get people’s attention, and then get people to answer in ways that are helpful.”

That said, the process for approving sensitive articles has been broadened, with a push toward more opportunities for review of articles, something De Moor agrees with. “It preserves the integrity of The Banner’s editorial freedom and responsibility as outlined by synod,” said De Moor, “[and] it recognizes that denominational leadership has a stake in what is published in The Banner, given the fact that many readers do not distinguish between the one and the other.” He also noted that a process like this would have helped him to make wiser editorial decisions “that would have prevented much of the backlash we received and would have served our readers much better.”

In declining to dismiss De Moor as had been requested by Classes Illiana and Minnkota, the board noted that “history has proven that [De Moor] is a capable editor, and this mistake is not a reflection of a pattern.”

The board also appointed a subcommittee to review and recommend measures to strengthen the mandate of The Banner’s editorial council, a group made up of three members of the Board of Trustees and three at-large members. That council is mandated to provide advice and support for the Banner staff and, if necessary, to resolve any differences regarding content that arise between the denominational leadership and The Banner staff. To date, the editorial council has never had to adjudicate such a difference.

That subcommittee will report to the board in February 2014.

“I am grateful for the [board’s] careful work in coming to a response that is both fair and helpful,” De Moor said in response to the board’s decision. “I have certainly learned from this painful experience. I pray that the Lord will use it for good: to allow us to have more edifying conversations as we ‘speak the truth in love.’”

About the Author

Gayla Postma is news editor for The Banner.

See comments (20)


Please know that if the editor's life is made an iota more difficult than it already has, I will not subscribe.


Popular culture does not define my theology but it does help me to explore what I believe.  I appreciate that the editor of the Banner presents new and sometimes controversial material.  The idea of using popular topics as a method to explore theology can help with conversations I have with nonChristian friends.  Sometimes straight catechism is boring and makes people stop talking.  


I'm so glad that Bob is still the editor.  However, I am deeply disappointed that the CRC is more interested in sticking its head in the sand and pretending the scientific world will go away.  Evolution is the truth of our ancestry; we need to deal with it or risk being just one more stupid fundamentalist church that lives in its own bubble of isolation, forcing its children to live a life of double truth: one scientific and the other theological where the two never meet.  That is just another recipe for driving more people from church.  The CRC needs to grow up and face the truth of the book of nature, the truth of the word of God in creation that pours forth speech day and night! 

Do we only want to read articles with which we agree?
I am sorry to read that Bob DeMoor apologized as he did. In my view he had done nothing to apologize for.
A church should be a place where we can safely discuss issues of importance to our lives in this world.
Please, Bob, more articles of the type you have been disciplined for! Our path toward fundamentalism needs to take a u-turn!

Christians should be careful not to elevate science (man's fallible knowledge) above Scripture (God's Word) thereby making an idol of science.

Charles Spurgeon said: "We are invited, brethren, most earnestly to go away from the old-fashioned belief of our forefathers because of the supposed discoveries of science.What is science? The method by which man tries to conceal his ignorance. It should not be so, but so it is. ...scientists may boldly assert what they cannot prove, and may demand a faith far more credulous than any we possess.

Forsooth, you and I are to take our Bibles, and shape and mould our belief according to the ever-shifting teachings of so-called scientific men. What folly is this! Why, the march of science, falsely so-called, through the world, may be traced by exploded fallacies and abandoned theories. Former explorers, once adored, are now ridiculed; the continual exposure of false hypotheses is a matter of universal notoriety. You may tell where the learned have encamped by the debrisleft behind of suppositions and theories as plentiful as broken bottles. As the quacks, who ruled the world of medicine in one age, are the scorn of the next, so has it been, and so will it be, with your atheistical savants and pretenders to science."

Henry V thinks he has the right to suggest that the crc is sticking its head in the sand more than he himself is sticking his head in the sand by ignoring the influence of atheistic doctrines on scientific theory.  Continuing to promolgate the false dichotomy of science vs theology is pernicious, and supposing that theology needs correction while "science" is holy and infallible, demonstrates true allegiance not to God's word in nature, but to man's perception of a nature without God.   It is this false dichotomy and allegiance to things other than scripture and the Giver of the Word, that has driven people from the church in spades.   Those who believe in scripture tend to be faithful, while those who bend scripture to every human whim, whether to false science or to human feelings, tend to decline progressively in passion and in members. 

Thankyou to the board of trustees for this discipline of the editor.  Controversial topics yes.   But much better guidance and scriptural discussion of these topics is required.   The editorial judgement of the way these topics were addressed was sorely lacking, but the editor's apology is noted and received, and as Christians we ought to be willing to forgive.   This should lead to more appropriate editorial judgement in the future. 

For Eleanor, if the Banner is the only publication you ever read, I would suggest you have a very narrow focus and outlook.  I read a number of publications and listen to radio programs that I know ahead of time I will disagree with, but I do not expect to find such promoted by my church.   I do not expect the Banner to emulate the National Post, the Washington Post, nor the CBC, nor the Economist, nor CNN, nor Fox News.  

The fact that the CRC is still grappling with the topic of evolution and that its members possess such a poor understanding of the science (judging by most of the Banner comments) is strong evidence that the conversation through the years has not been direct enough. I found the tone of Walhout's article to be honest and respectful. As usual in the CRC, however, honesty and straightforward language leads to pitchforks. Sadly, the Banner editor has backpedaled.

If this is how the church reacts to challenging ideas and factual information, what does it say about the credibility of any of its doctrine?


I am not sure that Rev. Demoor needed to be fired over this matter, but some of the comments here concern me. Fundamentalism? More like Reformed Orthodoxy. Edwin Walhout was not simply questioning literal 6 day 24 hour creationism, he was denying Original Sin. The fact that this man taught at our denomination's school for several years ought to give us cause for concern. Dr. Van Belle's article is of similar concern. Humanism and fornication are not anything "new", they were widely accepted in pre-Christian times. Those who are not concerned with the apparent lack of enthusiasm for the Reformed faith in some corners of our colleges are the ones with "heads in the sand", imo.

The Banner is always met with caution in our home. Its kind of like spiritual junk food. I can't trust it to give me good nutrition for spiritual growth. Besides the news items, most of the articles lack biblical discernment. We have to go outside the CRC to get biblical truth.

John Z, now I get you, you like power and telling others how they should think, you love the fact that Bob was "disciplined," as a show of strength for your position.  I've only recently participated on the forum, and the only thing I think I've learned here that for you and others like Joy and Arnold, is that you have found a bully pulpit from which you swing out of context ideas and bible verses as weapons to dispact your foes.  Well if that is the kind of chruch that you think has to be affirmed then count me out completely.   When the church is all about power and control, it has already lost the faith, freedom, and hospitiality, and the gospel. Enjoy yourself!

Henry V, it seems you don't get me at all.  I don't like power any more than you or Bob DeMoor do.  I am sorry your feelings were hurt.  This is not about power; it is about who do we follow, Christ or the world?  scripture or our own human ideas?   Do we mean what we say when we promise to agree with scripture and the confessions, or are we easily willing to ignore, deny, confuse, or subvert them?   You accuse me of liking power... aren't you not only telling me what to think but also how I feel, and what I desire?  Aren't you now getting into generalities and ad hominems?  Are you denying myself and others the freedom and ability to speak the truth in love? 

Truth is that I thought Bob should have been replaced based on the evidence, but at a certain point it is necessary to respect decisions made by those who have the authority to do so.   You see, in some ways I like Bob, but its not about how likeable he is;  we need wisdom and scripture as our foundation.  So I hope for the best, and I hope you will also seek God's will and also hope for the best. 

Charles Beltman, since you asked the question, "what does this say about the credibility of its doctrine?", I will honor your question with a reply.  This incident says nothing about the credibility of its doctrine.  It says only that the church is still defending its doctrine.   Changing doctrines easily is what would reduce the credibility of its doctrine, since if it is easily changed, then it is more likely it was never formulated well in the first place.   However,  I think doctrines or customs can be changed, particularly those that involve ecclesiastical practices, (hymns vs choral songs, types of instruments, council authority, baptismal forms, installation of officebearers procedure, what is read, how many services, etc.).  But foundational doctrines of sin-salvation- service, or creation- fall- redemption, misery - deliverance - gratitude ought not to be cavalierly toyed with under the guise of "freedom".   We are free in Christ, but if we are merely evolutionary organisms struggling to evolve into something more than the image of God, perhaps we are simply trying to become gods ourselves, even if only in the  future of our descendants.  So I would say that if the church merely accedes to every challenging idea, rather than challenging the idea, then we probably don't need a church at all, since we merely need to follow whatever the world does, and we can let the world outside of the church formulate whatever doctrines it decides we should believe in. 

As far as factual information, I agree with you Charles that we cannot deny truth, and in fact as Christians we always ought to stand up for truth.  But that is not the issue in this case.  It is not the facts that we deny;  it is the interpretation of facts that differs.   It is our reaction to those facts that differs.  It is how we understand the implications of the facts that differs.  And we deny that there is only one possible interpretation of fossils, rock layers, genetic similarities, homologies, radioactive decay dating methods.  It is evolutionists that sometimes appear to be ignoring the facts that don't fit into their paradigm.   At the least, we ought to be able to discuss this as Christians without being generically attacked for supporting our doctrines and scripture. 

Here is a article about Bob from a Grand Rapis news paper.  Be sure to read all the comments, it puts this debate into a larger social context of a church that is failing to deal with the truth in a positive manner.

What's next?  Will I be reprimanded for reading (or forbid it, preaching on) the David narratives because he had three wives?  What about Solomon?  Or Abraham?  Has the Banner been reduced to denominational propoganda machine and literalistic confessional group think?  One's thinking is clarified (in some cases solidified and on other cases modified) by reading things with which one disagrees rather than constantly being spoon fed unchallenging drivel.  Rev. DeMoor did nothing that he should have apologized for.  On which of his duties did he default? 

The articles for which Rev. DeMoor was "reprimanded" are among the most thought provoking and courageous that have been printed during his tenure as editor.  He should be commended for encouraging us to engage the tough issues of our day from a faith perspective instead of parroting the party line and burying our collective head in the sand and pretending that if we ignore it the world will just go away.  Keep up the great work Bob and keep us thinking (and even disagreeing) and keep on printing articles like the two in question regardless of what the BOT says and what some think. 

I was encouraged to find Edwin Walhout article, it was excellent and asks some questions that I too was asking. I find that the whole evolution debate seems be caused by placing the Bible in a paradigm that really didn't exist when the Bible was written.  Our modern (and post modern) way of thinking which seems to infuse all our logic. The logic that says scientific inquiries and reasoning  defines what is "true". We seem to have lost sight of the value that people previously gave to metaphor.  From what I have read it seems that for Jewish scholars of the day, Old Testament stories not only could; but would be expected to be understood in a multitude of different ways depending on the context of the situation.

To frame my point in different way I believe we need to move beyond a digital binary reading of the bible to one that more emulates quantum physics where context matters. As far as my personal reading and understanding of the Bible goes, I do not care an iota about evolution because  whether it is fact of fiction, that type of scientific "truth" operates on a different paradigm, it is irrelevant  to the truth that Love always wins, that strength can only be found in weakness, that Christ broke the power of violence and the devil and that if we follow his servant way we will be building kingdom of God.


Now as for the Harry Van Belle's article on Sex intimacy and the single person, here again we seem unable as a community to recognize that our understanding  what defines adultery / fornication is cultural.  I think that Harry's life experience gives him valuable insight into the reality of what being faithful to "do not commit adultery" really means in much of North America 2013. I am grateful The Banner shared his wisdom with us.

Tim B., I appreciate your comments and the way you expressed them.  But I have some questions for you.  You seem to state that scientific inquiries and logic does not define what is true.  Which is exactly what YEC or ID proponents also agree with as their starting point.  On the other hand, how we find the relationship between scientific inquiries and logic and nature as created by God, cannot be merely naively ignored, can it?  In what ways are they related, and in what ways are they unrelated, when it comes to discerning the truth.  One small example:  if scripture says the world was covered with a flood, and for that reason, people died, and for that reason animals needed to be brought into the ark, and if that is merely a metaphor so that most of the world was not covered, then isn't it rather a poor metaphor if it is untrue?   What is it a metaphor for? 

If you make a comparison to something... for example, if I was to say that someone was as "blond" as their hair, wouldn't you expect the color of the hair to be relevant?   The metaphor would make no sense at all, if I was implying that they were making "blond" decisions while they had dark hair.   So yes, the context matters very much. 

Is evolution irrelevant to truths of the gospel?   Doesn't that depend on how "evolution" is defined and understood?   Let me propose this:   If evolution was a process used by God to create everything, and if evolution is no longer in process, because God saw what He created and it was good, and if man was not created through evolution but separately, and if man is not evolving, because man was created in the image of God, then maybe you would have a point.  Maybe.  But if the theory of evolution holds that things spontaneously emerged from the primordial soup, which also somehow just eternally existed, and if evolution holds that there is no designer possible, and if evolution holds that there is no essential difference between man and microbes, since there is no image of God in view, and if evolution holds that all of man's present day activites, actions and desires are merely evolutionary outworkings, then don't you think that is relevant to whether Love always wins, and whether Christ broke the power of evil?  

For the other article, yes our understanding of adultery and fornication is often cultural.   But isn't that the problem?   How is culture formed?   What changes culture?  Is it possible that "culture" itself becomes our god?  Is it possible that culture has become perverted?   Does God want to influence culture, or does God want culture to influence us?   Is it possible that some cultures honor God, and other cultures do not honor God?   What do you think? 


Thanks for your questions, they seem to emphasize my point that we no longer know how to receive a story.  Your example of the flood is excellent. We could debate for days  about the fact that flood myths permeate all cultures, about various geological events (Lake Missoula lake etc.) that could explain this or that.  If we do that we are bringing the argument into the same realm as Richard Dawkins someone who in my view makes himself  sound foolish talking and debating about religion a subject which he clearly knows nothing about.  When Christians make arguments using the same type of logic as he, I fear they also don't know what religion is about.

Getting back to the flood story, I think the story could be retold in ways to make it more meaningful in the context of the world situation in 2013.  I think some key components to the story are; how both  humans and creation have become corrupted, how a little bit of good (Noah's righteousness) can put things toward a path to renewal, how renewal often comes at great cost to the innocent, how  God always restores his creation and provides a clean slate for us whenever we are ready to follow him.

So imagine now a story about a woman named Terra, "Now the earth was corrupt in God’s sight and was full of greed, God saw how corrupt the earth had become, for all the people on earth had ignored the wellbeing of their parents and their children and thought only of themselves. I provided the people with plenty so that all people could live in comfort and yet multitudes starve, and those with plenty squander the creation I trusted them with.  So God said to his servant Terra, I am going to put an end to all people,  for the earth is filled with fear and is lacking in justice. Not only that but because of the peoples selfishness I am going to destroy them and the earth. Behold the sun will continue to rise and the rains will continue to fall, but the sun will beat down on humans and animals with a ferocity that no one can withstand, and their crops will be swept out to sea by sudden rains. There will be a famine in the land such as  never has been seen before.  So build yourself a spaceship, of titanium and ceramic, make rooms in and provision it for a long journey.......   And so on...

In this story does Global warming have to be a fact for the story to be true or is the truth in the story  that disobeying God's commands causes bad things to happen. I would argue the latter.


With respect to VanBelle , I agree that not all cultures honour the intent of the commandments equally, remembering that  love  summarizes the law. I think that many would agree that the polygamist cultures that permeated the bible times actually provide a very poor model for this.   My view is that  a Christian, with Harry VanBelle's experience in is in a better position than most of us to make a comment on how the  love command would best be understood as it concerns sexual intimacy and faithfulness to God, again.  The point I was trying to make in my original post is that correctly defining what adultery is may seem simple at first , but consider the case of a previous President of the US and his definitions and how they might vary across the population of just one  country.

Tim, I appreciate how you have made your perspective clear.  This is how I understand what you are saying.  Please correct me if I have mistaken it.  When you say "how to receive a story" it seems you are just regarding it as a story, and that it doesn't matter whether it is made up or fabricated or real.  But it would be hard for me to base my life on a fairy tale like snow white and the seven dwarfs, or ali babba and the 40 thieves.  The only extent to which those fairy tales are helpful, is the extent to which they replicate real life possibilities.  But they could not be a basis for understanding God, nor my faith, nor my response to God.   To me there is a big difference between "what religion is all about" and a personal relationship to God who reveals himself in history, in scripture, and in creation. 

God is not a story.   Nor did God just tell a story.   God actually did things.  He related and worked with people, with creation, and with angels and demons.  When you change the story of how He did that, you end up changing God.   But God doesn't change.  He tells us the story; we don't tell Him His story.  We could make imaginary stories which are similar to the original, in order for us to understand the original story better.  But if we think the original is imaginary, then that conviction becomes our version of the story, and that changes the message. 

I won't address global warming, because that story still remains to be revealed.  But whatever happens, it will not be a fairy tale; it will be real.  However, you ask whether the truth in the story is that disobeying God causes bad things to happen.   I would say that depends on whether  bad things  actually happen as and when God says they will.  

With regard to sexual immorality, there have been many variations and perspectives over the ages.  My view as a Christian is that scripture should be our first guide since human beings throughout time have had many various perspectives, interpretations and moral standards.   Human beings and personal feelings have been unreliable since the time of David and Bathsheba, Solomon and his many wives, the case of the son sleeping with his father's wife (I Corinthians 5), the prostitutes in Baal worship in the time of  kings Jehoichim and Mannesseh, homosexual relations at the time of the epistles of Paul, etc.  It is possible that Harry Van Belle is unduly influenced by the pleas and statements of his clients, and thus by pagan culture, rather than by God's will as described in scripture. 

Loving God and neighbor is the summary of the law.   But how do you know you love your neighbor?   By loving God and keeping his commandments.  2 By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and [e]observe His commandments. 3 For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome. 4 For whatever is [f]born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith.   ( I John 5:2) 

Some have been saying that sex outside of (before) marriage is a social sin, and not a scriptural sin affecting the commandment against adultery.  However, in I corinthians we hear this:  "In the name of our Lord Jesus, when you are assembled, and [d]I with you in spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus, 5 I have decided to deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of his flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord [e]Jesus."   This does not appear to be addressed as a social faux pas, but as an endemic serious faith-affecting sin, along with "an immoral person, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or a swindler—not even to eat with such a one...".   Again, it is very important to understand and distinguish between our faith affecting our culture, and our faith being affected (adversely) by our culture.   I have found it useful as a rule of thumb to sound the alarm within myself whenever someone tries to use present cultural conditions, definitions and moral standards as a way to base their morality or faith.  The fact that a former president may have been obfuscating his definitions has no impact on me, nor on God's commandments, nor on our relationship to God.  It has no impact whatsoever on a Christian's understanding of scripture, or at least should not.  King David probably justified his adultery and his murder of Uriah in all kinds of ways, but that did not impress God at all.   I doubt that our prevarications impress God either. 

I want to clarify a leap I made in the last paragraph (wish I could pull it back and edit it...).   What I meant to say was that some have said that the incident in I Corinthians 5 was a social sin, and therefore that some sexual immorality is only a social sin and not to be treated with the seriousness of I Corinthians 5, because social conditions have changed.   I merely pointed out that scripture does not treat it as a culturally determined sin, but rather in the same line as idolaters and swindlers.  Although I Cor 5 does mention "immorality of such a kind as does not exist even among the Gentiles,"  this is clearly only to add disgust and context, but not to be the basis for the admonition.  It seems the epistle is saying that they should be above that kind of thing as christians, but in this case have become even worse than the pagans and gentiles.   

John,  I will give you a definition of religion is meaningful to me, it comes from an interview with Mark Taylor on CBC.  "Religion is story,  a network of  symbol, ritual and myth which on the one hand structures society, gives life meaning and purpose, and on the  other hand  allows society to change, it disrupts and dislocates every stabilizing structure."

It seems to me that you are confusing fact with truth.  The idea that the story must be "real" to be valid or "a basis of understanding God is not how I view the world.  I have much more trust that  a story teller  will be able to present me with truths than someone who needs to tell me "the facts". The Bible is so full of paradoxical stories and mystery I feel you are doing yourself a disservice of you search for truth in the way the you seem to be approaching it.

 I am going to have to profoundly disagree with your statement "When you change the story of how He did that.... changing God".   Of course God does not change nor can we fully know God so it is in the story retelling that we can actively participate in the relationship with God. 

John,  while I don't think that existence (or not) of biological evolution is relevant to understanding the bible, I do see the bible story as an evolutionary tale. Not that God is changing but that he is continuing to reveal himself, and through the life, death and resurrection of Christ the full meaning of the word can be made known.  Our knowledge of God is continuing to evolve, I believe even in 2013.


 I do not think it will be fruitful to continue this in this format, I am encouraged by your strong desire to defend God's word, I hope that you will be able to "let go"  in ways that allow you to even more fully enjoy the depth and breadth of meaning that can be found.

Tim, I am afraid we are just too far apart.  Mark Taylor may have defined his view of religion.  There are many views.  Scripture says that true religion (as opposed to false religion) is to care for the orphans and widows.  You suppose that you can change the story without changing God.  But if you change the story so that Jesus did not die for our sins, so that we will certainly all go to hell, that changes who God is.  If you change the story to say that God created evil because God is both good and evil (as some religions do), then you are changing who God is.   You say that you cannot change who God is, but that is just your story.  The only reason that you cannot actually change God, is because you cannot change the fact that God is bigger than us, and that there really is something such as real and unreal, true and false, good and evil.  These things are not merely stories, nor are they based on mere changeable stories. 

The reason this discussion is not so fruitful, is because you seem to distinguish between facts and truth as if they were mutually exclusive.  But the fact is, that no truth can be based on an unreality.  Nor can truth be based on falsehood.  Nor can truth be based on imagination, or imaginary events.  It just doesn't work.