A controversial article about participation by a Christian Reformed Church member in an indigenous new moon ceremony has been deleted from the CRC’s Do Justice blog.
In the explanation that replaces it, posted on April 18, 2018, it says, “The post’s continued presence on this blog has become a barrier to dialogue, and for that reason, Centre for Public Dialogue and Office of Social Justice staff have decided to take it down so that communal discernment and dialogue may continue in a healthy way.” It went on to say that they will continue to pose the question: “What if people of European descent . . . started listening for what God can teach us through Indigenous neighbors? Conversations about how the gospel takes on different shapes in different contexts are not easy conversations, but they are deeply necessary.”
The original article, published in December 2016, prompted a protest by Classis Minnkota (a regional group of churches) to the CRC’s annual general assembly, Synod 2017. Minnkota’s complaint was that the article promoted syncretism. Delegates discussed the issue extensively and required more oversight of the blog. This past February, a delegation of CRC staff met face to face with Minnkota leaders for further discussion.
Rev. LeRoy Christoffels was one of the Minnkota leaders at that meeting. “Removing the article about grandmother moon is a good beginning, but the articles that encourage participation in smudging remain. The smudging ceremonies too are more than a cultural expression but seem to reflect an accommodation to a spirituality not informed by the good news as taught in Scripture.”
Rev. Roger Sparks was also at that meeting. “I was happy to learn that the post regarding the full moon ceremony has been removed from the Do Justice blog,” he said. “I see this action, not as the end of the matter but as a positive step toward a broader dialogue on cross-cultural missions. The goal of Minnkota isn’t to strip anyone of their culture but to encourage the transformation (Rom. 12:2) of all believers from all cultures through the mind-renewing power of the Word and Spirit.”
Rev. Reggie Smith, director the Office of Social Justice, commented, “Trying to find common ground, keeping the line of conversation open and [being] willing to learn from each other is the way to deal with hard issues. I pray this decision will further the conversation.”