Resource, Website

In light of the recent spate of Article 17 terminations, this is an article worth wide dissemination. I see far too many pastors being pushed out far too quickly for often ill-defined reasons. 

September 13, 2017 0 2 comments
Blog

Someone recently asked me the question: How did I know it is God’s will for me to be an elder? The answer is intertwined with my story as an elder and the story of Hillside CRC.

September 5, 2017 0 0 comments
Resource, Website

This annotated bibliography includes many newer materials and resources, while keeping some old standards, such as Mental Health Ministries, Pathways to Promise, and NAMI FaithNet.

July 25, 2017 0 0 comments
Resource, Guide or Toolkit

“Ten Ways to Be a Caring Elder” from Faith Formation Ministries will equip elders to develop spiritual leadership skills and conduct helpful, warm visits with church members. 

May 22, 2017 0 0 comments
Resource, Job Description

View sample job descriptions for elders and deacons that can be modified to suit the specific needs, priorities and circumstances within your congregation.

May 1, 2017 0 2 comments
Q&A

Does anyone have a good suggestion for a simple and confidential database to track visits with members of their congregation? 

January 30, 2017 0 4 comments
Blog

My deepest regret during my service as an Elder is that I did not advocate more for, nor amplify the voices of, marginalized and ostracized minorities while in office.

January 12, 2017 1 2 comments
Resource, Procedure

There are a variety of ways that congregations go through the process of recruiting, nominating and selecting elders and deacons.  The attached documents are based on the process used by one particular congregation, and have been shared for your consideration, or to adapt to meet your...

January 1, 2017 0 0 comments
Discussion Topic

Our council recently received a baptism request from a "long distance" member that attends a church in a nearby town (that believes in infant dedications instead of baptisms). Any advice? 

November 14, 2016 0 4 comments
Q&A

I was wondering if the congregation has the right or ability to ask the current elders be removed and new instated?

November 10, 2016 0 2 comments
Q&A

The current board of elders at our church voted to dismiss our pastor without any say from the rest of the church. Can something be done to reject the elders' decision? Did they have the right to do this? 

November 8, 2016 0 3 comments
Blog

In discussing and teaching about the Lord’s Supper, we commonly give most attention to the bread and the cup. But let's notice something else about the Lord's Super from I Corinthians. 

October 11, 2016 2 0 comments
Resource, Policy or Guidelines

Most of us have never experienced the trauma of losing a child. And while we may not be able to show empathy towards someone who has lost a child, we can express sympathy.

August 10, 2016 3 2 comments
Resource, Story or Testimony

I was reading a Worship article in the Calvary CRC newsletter (Edina, MN) when the following headline caught my eye: Blessings in Service: Elder and Deacon Stories. 

May 12, 2016 1 0 comments
Blog

"Do not judge, in order that you are not judged." Scott Clark examines Matthew 7:1 as it is the "go to" verse for many people, Christians and non-Christians alike.

March 11, 2016 1 1 comments
Q&A

Can anyone provide a few compelling reasons to convince "adherents" who regularly attend and participate to become members?

February 15, 2016 0 3 comments
Discussion Topic

Our church leaders are wanting to listen better to the needs of our people in the church community specifically focusing on spiritual growth.

February 10, 2016 2 1 comments
Resource, Policy or Guidelines

The National Gathering is being held for the purpose of setting direction for the Christian Reformed Church in Canada.

February 3, 2016 1 1 comments
Blog

These models and word pictures have been proposed as ideas as how to strike a healthy balance in the church of being welcoming, being discerning, being a place of embracing brokenness and being a place of deep transformation both individually and corporately.

January 27, 2016 1 0 comments
Blog

One of the marks of a true church is _____________. 

If you answered this as:

Being willing to accept and tolerate behaviors and attitudes deemed sinful by the Author of the single Word of God, under the rubric of the "love of Jesus" and justice. Being willing to turn a blind eye to...
January 12, 2016 0 1 comments
Blog

In the book of Numbers, sins which were unintentional and those that were intentional were treated differently. Even with some who sinned intentionally there was the option for repentance, but with the flaunting deliberate "high-handed" sin the most severe punishment was meted out. This is why...

January 2, 2016 0 1 comments
Blog

In his lecture How the Bible Is Being Challenged in Our World Today, Michael Kruger of Reformed Theological Seminary suggests that behind every issue is the question of: "What is your ultimate authority?" He explores the common use of the critical pair of words "for you" as people no longer talk...

December 30, 2015 0 3 comments
Q&A

About a month ago, we received an email from our Stated Clerk to discuss the 3 Synodical Study Committee reports. My question is: how do I best lead these discussions?  

December 29, 2015 0 2 comments
Q&A

At our elders meeting we were discussing the need to provide leadership training for potential elders or deacons that haven't yet felt qualified or inspired to serve. Do materials exist?

December 28, 2015 0 17 comments
Resource, Presentation

Veterans find understanding and encouragement from other vets. Because they have a shared experience, they can offer unique support in the face of adjustment problems. 

November 9, 2015 0 0 comments

Pages

RSS

Thanks Bill. I've updated the link in the body of the post as well. Appreciate it! 

The earlier link I posted has died. This one works

http://thomrainer.com/2017/08/before-you-fire-your-pastor/

Here's an easy and shortened link to copy and share the 2016 Form for the Ordination of Elders and Deaconsbit.ly/ElderDeaconOrdination2016   (the link to to the form in the job descriptions brings you to the 1982 Form)

Good questions, John Span.

You may want to use references to the 2016 version of the ordination form.

This verse is often used out of context.  Yet it does convey the truth, that we are judged by the same standards we judge others.  So when you judge the actions of others, be careful and ready to repent yourself as well.  

If this verse is taken out of context, then Jesus, the apostle Paul, Peter have all broken this command/advice.  Think especially of Peter's role in judging Annanias and Sapphira, or Paul's action in judging Peter for separating himself from gentiles, or Paul's command for the church to cast out or separate itself from the man who was committing adultery.  In context, judgements should be careful, loving, truthful, and humble, and more about the actions than about someone's heart.  

I just happened to stumble on this post today, and wanted to say thank you, David/Gary. As a mother who unexpectedly lost her 4-week-old daughter 5 months ago, I found the points in this post to be so accurate. 

I especially liked your point: "Bereaved parents can be parents who have lost children in utero, at birth, while an infant, while a youth, or even as an adult. The age doesn’t change things—children will always be sons and daughters of parents." 

While I know that everyone means well when trying to offer words of comfort, the words often have the opposite effect. As you pointed out, grief is a journey, and others' attempts to help us "move on" or somehow lessen the significance of her death are not at all what bereaved parents need. We will always grieve the loss of our daughter, and until we're reunited with her in heaven, there will always be a big part of us that's still actively hurting. I think these suggestions, though, are really helpful for friends and family looking to show compassion and care to bereaved parents.

 

That's a helpful link, Tim.  It addresses exactly the part of the End User License Agreement that I am concerned about.

Several comments to that post identify Word-encrypted attachments as a possible way forward. If we can do this simply, I may have found my solution.

 1. I don't see why the CRCNA would be immune to high-handed sin where other denominations aren't.  I haven't noticed that human nature was any different in our denomination than elsewhere.  

I remember reading in Philip Yancey's book Grace Notes about his meeting with a friend of his in a coffee shop because the other man was planning to leave his wife and family to marry another woman whom he found more exciting, and as this friend asked Yancey if he could be forgiven for this sin he was knowingly planning to commit, Yancey asked him if he would WANT to be forgiven knowing it would involve repentance.  Is there ANY man or woman in the CRCNA above lusting for someone else to the point of planning to divorce their present spouse and abandon their kids?

I haven't heard of concerns about this before. What part of the user agreement are you concerned about? Google Drive is widely used, and if they didn't take data privacy/confidentiality seriously it would undermine their entire business.

There are many articles online about the security of data with Google, and here's one that explains some of the wording in the user agreement. Personally, I'd trust Google Drive more than most other online tools because it's in their best interest to keep their customer data secure and private. And they're big enough to do it well.

Thanks Tim! That sounds like a straightforward and simple procedure.

I am still hung up on Google's access to the content of what we would write. Maybe Google wouldn't actually use the contents of our database as indicated in the user agreement, but I'd have to give them permission to do so if I want to use the Google platform. Any thoughts about this confidentiality factor?

Jack

Have you considered a Google Spreadsheet, Jack?

You can give access only to those who are authorized to see it. Those that are authorized can enter their contact as a new row. Having it in a spreadsheet allows it to be sorted, grouped, etc. People use their Google Account to log in (note that they do NOT have to use Gmail, a Google Account is simply a login and can be created with any email address).

When the elder's term is up, you can take them off the permission list and add the new elder to the permission list.

It does mean that all elders could see all contacts. If that's not OK, you could get fancier with a separate tab for each district, and then configure permissions so that elders can only see the tab that applies to them. But to do that you'd need to dig into the Google Spreadsheets help to get it set up correctly. It's a little more complicated, but still fairly easy once you figure it out.

That's just one option that comes to mind. Hopefully others can weigh in with thoughts about this approach, and other alternatives. I'm sure other churches have faced the same question.

Doug,

As I said in the post, I didn't think it was necessary for me to be more vocal. Maybe that's the bubble I live in, maybe it was naivety with how the parliamentary system of our denomination works. And while there is a lot I can still do and say as a member of a CRC, I cannot, for example, be a voting member of Synod as a non-office bearer.

If you want a more specific example, my Classis sent a rather mundane overture to Synod related to the Pastoral Guidance Committee report. It was not until I arrived at Synod that I found out you cannot serve on a Synod committee if your Classis has an overture before that committee. I would have spoken much more vocally at our Classis meeting had I known this. I assumed that since the "real" debate would be at Synod, there was no point in making a fuss at the level of our Classis. At least as a delegate to Synod, I was grateful I got a chance to speak on the floor there.

Jonathan:  I have to ask, and intend these questions respectfully:  So why didn't you?  And a second question: Why can't you now, even if not an elder?   And finally, What specifically do you believe you so failed to do?

   Seems to me part of the quandary is the way in which we in the CRC view church membership in these situations.  It tends at these times to look like a club membership rather than a living engagement with a local congregation.  Members move away or move on to another congregation/denomination and yet their  membership remains in the CRC of which they are no longer a part for all practical purposes.  Henry DeMoor in the suggested reference mentions the need to "maintain some contact from time to time" (CRCO Commentary p.314).  There's the rub for me.  Are they still connected in some way to your congregation?  If not, then I think there is a matter of integrity for the Council and the members in question.  If they are (e. g. occasional attendance, financial support, participation in some aspect of your church's ministry work, etc) you may wish to honor their request and continue your discipling work with them concerning the nature of being in the actual Body of Christ.  If they are not, and just have their names still on your membership list, and that's it, I think you need to have a conversation with them about that.  You do so graciously and patiently of course with pastoral tact but also with honesty about what membership is in the Body of Christ means.  I think these situations arise because we constantly wait for members to do something with their memberships after they leave.  I'm a proponent of being way more intentional and proactive as a Council if you know people are moving on.  Meet with them before they leave, or very soon after they stop attending and ascertain what their plans are.  Of course encourage them to re-engage or deal with problems if that is why they have moved on.  If they choose to be worshipping elsewhere, help them understand what that choice means as far as their place in the congregation they have left.  I have found that waiting for people to do something with their CRC membership often takes years of waiting as they have no need to care about that as they are already on to their next congregation, whether they join or not (many congregations don't have "membership" the way the CRC traditionally has).  What seems key to me in your situation is that they have already functionally joined the community church they have become a part of.  Unless they are planning to return to the CRC, seems they have already made their choice of which part of the Body of Christ they are joined to, formalities not withstanding.  They may just need to come to terms with that or make a change back to the CRC or some other denomination that practices baptism of infants also.  For what it's worth, that's my thoughts on your situation.

May the Spirit guide you.

Bill and Kathy - The Christian Reformed Church Order Commentary by Henry DeMoor is available to all CRC members, attenders, and councils for free in the new Digital Library. To read it online just log in (using the same account as you logged into The Network). Here's the link to the book.

Hi Kathy,

 Thanks for your response to my post. Yes, if you could send along those pages from the Church Order commentary, that would be very helpful.

Bill

 

 

The Christian Reformed Church Order Commentary by Henry deMoor provides an answer to your question on page 314-315. On those pages Henry answers exactly the question you are asking. Hopefully your church has a copy you can look at (if not, let me know, and I can scan those pages for you). If your couple has indeed retained their church membership with your congregation then you are in a "great position to baptize their newborn because formally they would still be members of your church."

Thanks for the question and good responses. As this is a public thread, please follow the advice above and let's avoid further discussion of the details of what I'm sure is a sensitive and difficult matter.   

Thank you I did notice that. However my question isn't how to keep the pastor (though I'm actively working on that as well) but how do we replace the current elders do nothing like this happens again?

posted in: Abuse of Power...

Hi Julie, thanks for the question. It looks was also posted here with a couple responses. 

posted in: Abuse of Power...

I concur with the last comment by Jason DeVries.  It's time to get the Church Visitors involved in this matter.  A church council can't just dismiss a pastor on its own.  Classis and the Synodical Deputies have to concur with the decision. You can find the relevant information about release from ministry in Article 17 of the Church Order and about Church Visitors in Article 42 at https://www.crcna.org/sites/default/files/church_order_2016.pdf.  Councils tend to think they can hire and fire pastors as they wish, but it's not that easy within our denominational covenant.  It looks to me that in this situation our denominational checks and balances will bring some healthy accountability.  Call the Stated Clerk of your Classis, find out who the Church Visitors are for your congregation, call them and discuss this matter with them.  I'm sad for you and your congregation that it had to go this way.  God bless you.

Church Order has a system of a checks and balances for accountability set-up in order to prevent things like this from happening.  The elders do not have the authority to make such a unilateral decision.  The COUNCIL may suspend a pastor, but that suspension is then reported to classis who will ensure that the suspension is justified and that proper follow-up is taking place to resolve the conflict leading to the suspension.  Church order prohibits our congregations from "firing" a pastor whenever and for whatever reason they want.  If classis hasn't been brought into this yet, that MUST happen ASAP.  The situation is not healthy for the pastor, elders, council, or church.  Get help.  And even as a church member, you can contact classis personal yourself and ensure the ball gets rolling.  My heart breaks for you and the church at this difficult and confusing time.

Thank you so much for this. I have some dear friends who have recently faced this trauma and I find these ideas to be wise and practical. I especially like how you end: "Remember, the goal of the bereavement process is not to leave grief behind. The lost loved one will never disappear. The goal of the journey is allow the parents to become functional grievers."

Speaking of 'The Elders Handbook', starting today if you attend a CRC you can now read it - and hundreds of other Faith Alive titles - for free in the new CRC Digital Library.

Here's the direct link to the Elder's Handbook page: library.crcna.org/resource/elders-handbook

...and you can learn more about the Digital Library at this short link: crcna.org/Library

There's also a Deacon's Handbook, a Church Staff Handbook, and hundreds of other titles. Spread the word about this new library, made possible by Ministry Shares.

Thanks for the thought about the recorded webinars.  I've helped with orientation for elders for decades now... starting in years when I could not be an elder myself.  Now I'm looking for ideas to help a younger generation consider the role and and responsibilities... 

The materials we have seem to present the role of elder as a pastor sees that role, rather than as elders actually experience it.  I'm particularly interested in how good training for council members could help create an environment in which Pastor/Council tensions are resolved without major trauma.  We are in conversation with the Pastor/Church relations folks, too.

I've used "The Elders Handbook" in other years, but it felt like it best served the people who had already served as an elder for a year or more -- which in some years includes all the new elders, so that was good.  

Hi Virginia: 

The Office of Pastor Church Relations would have helpful resources (pastorchurch@crcna.org) or you could check out my book "The Elders Handbook" (available to order here through Faith Alive). 

Louis 

Hi Virginia--I'd recommend Lester Dekoster's Handbook for Elders

Shepherd Leaders by Tim Witmer is also good, as is Philip Keller's A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23

Hi Virginia! Did you check out the recorded webinars for new and/or experienced elders? In addition, the general Elders section is a great starting point. If you are looking for a specific resource or advice, you can always post your question to the Network community. Thanks for sharing!

 

 

The comments below suggest that there is a wealth of good training material available for deacons -- but it looks thin when it comes to elders.  Do people have any good resources to suggest for training elders?

 

The problem I have with membership is that it seems to create two levels of Christians.  I think that it also makes folks who have become members feel like the doctrinal classes which prepare folks to become members are no longer necessary for them.  They have achieved a full kingdom status.

Great post that raises some points to think about.  I have friends who have been together for years in a committed relationship, but remain unmarried because her income would cause him to lose valuable veteran benefits.  They've even made a public commitment in front of their families. I don't consider it my business to tell them what to do or not do, and we certainly can't know what is in a couple's heart or intentions unless we take the time to get acquainted and really listen. 

 

We haven't specifically done this, Scott. However, it seems to me that a lot of the principles and structure provided by "restorative justice" http://www.realjustice.org/, would possibly be really helpful for what you're talking about doing. 

Daniel, thanks for this. Great nuggets of wisdom here and I can distil from this a short list of compelling reasons. James vH

great resources, thanks!

Harvey,

Have you checked the resources at Faith Alive? 

Give them a call or order online - it's possible that they only take online orders. Also, you may call the classis Pastor for help with resources, or a church visitor - who is usually a pastor in your classis. 

http://www.faithaliveresources.org/AdvancedSearch/Default.aspx?SearchTer...

Grace, Daniel 

Some other reasons: 

If they participate in activities maybe one could be a study on what it means to be Reformed, and within that framework you take an in depth look at church membership as a faith commitment. One way to emphasize the membership step is by looking at what some liturgical forms used in profession of faith include, such as commitment to the Scriptures, to love, to the church, but also denying of self, renouncing Satan, etc. 

1. If they are baptized members, profession of faith is their response to God's promise in baptism. In the Reformation time baptism was a way of clarifying if this baby is a Catholic of a Protestant. Today the infant baptism initiates you into this covenant community and a response to God's promise is expected if the baptism is properly understood. 

2. In membership - which is a profession of faith - they are confessing their faith in a confessional church. The CRCNA is a confessional church and by joining the church publicly and officially they commit to abide by the faith commitments of this denomination. It is a privilege to know where you church stands clearly on a few important faith doctrines, etc. 

3. Becoming church members in a CRCNA also demands a responsibility from them - they make the same promises that the others in the covenant community have made. They will nurture others in faith and they would submit themselves to being nurtured and also held accountable for their faithfulness to God and the Word. 

4. Reading the NT is a great way to look at how the church grows. In Acts the church is exploding and expanding. It happens so quick that in Acts 15 there is an issue the church has to solve, related to doctrine and requirements - and there is a synod gathered in Jerusalem. If they are interested in how the church works as institution, invite them to participate in a classis meeting, or to sit at synod - these are open meetings. Or, invite them to look over some of the CRCNA materials, synodical records, etc. For some these may be boring for others interesting. 

5. Membership in the church in the USA is voluntary. You are a baptized member though, if you were baptized as infant - that's a great start. If not a baptized member, then the emphasis should be on baptism, as a sign of obedience to Christ - that can only be done - in a confessional church - in the worship service of the congregation. And that's another great connecting point. Ecclessiology is something that may be the last thing they want to look at, but that what they are weak in, in my view. Any way you can find to teach them about the church is going to help. Also, most of the former Christians in Western Europe started to doubt and disregard the need for the church. Today they don't go to church, maybe only 4%? and that's in most cases a state church, that is, not a voluntary church (like in the USA) where if you don't go and offer your worship and money the church closes its doors. The Eastern Orthodox Church is mainly the same - struggling with high nominalism - people don't go to church but the church continues to function as an institution. Here is not the same, the US is a voluntary church. If all people would follow their example - you can say that we assume they are right not to join - how would the church look like?

If they have already made profession of faith that should have granted them membership immediately. 

If not - you can revisit their profession of faith. I'm interested to see what happens with them, what moves them. I'm praying for you and for them.

Grace, Daniel 

Andrew, 

How did it go? 

We haven't discussed it but we did other things suggested in the email we all received from the CRCNA, regarding clarity of our position on this issue in the bylaws and articles of incorporation.

I wrote a 4 page summary of the report, left many things out, but that was more FYI vs for discussions. 

Grace, Daniel  

A lot of good resources and suggestions have already been shared here. The Network site for deacons itself contains a wealth of information, ideas and resources. Simply type in what you're looking for in the search box on the upper right corner of this page, check the "This Section" button and click the search magnifying glass icon. 

In addition to what has been mentioned thus far, I would be remiss if I didn't also mention the Holland Deacons' Conference (aka HDC) . . . the diaconal ministry of the churches and communities of Classis Holland. We too have a website (hdccrc.org) that provides resources and support for deacons including regular blog posts providing timely and relevant information and news that is diaconal in nature.as well as a page dedicated to Deacon Resources.

Finally, HDC is available to meet with local diaconates for consultation, planning assistance, training on a variety of diaconal topics such as Community Asset Mapping, Effective Benevolence Practices, Deacon Orientation, and more. 

 

Thanks, Darren, for this article.  It makes me want to come to your Gathering!  I'm thankful for the many wondering things God is doing through the CRC in Canada and look forward to seeing what is in store.

In addition to my book, Not Just a Soup Kitchen: How Mercy Ministry in the Local Church Transforms Us All, I have a video on The Role of the Deacon  which is broken up into small sections. Go to https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLdVuoO90C3zc_Tn3ZUWCZSn50jgUPusVa

ServiceLink's website has a section under the Engage menu with 'Helpful Information and Job Descriptions for Elders and Deacons'

Direct links to the webinars for new elders and deacons can also be found on the same page.

 

Greetings Andrew:

  In no particular order, here are a few pointers for reading a report.

a. Have a few people read the same report.

b. Have them compare notes.

c. As they read they should ask, with dependance on the Spirit of truth:

    1. What is the report trying to help us decide, or predispose us to accept? Is that good, bad, or indifferent?

    2. What are the author's trying to address, change, or reveal? Is that good, bad or indifferent?

    3. How do the authors view the Lord of the Church, His Word, and His world? [the hints might be subtle and this takes close and careful reading]

    4. Ask how much the author's are influenced by historical Reformed confessions and global orthodox theological positions, and how much are they influenced by the spirit of the age?

   5. Ask if they are proposing a trajectory that will bring the church closer to Reformed interpretations of the Bible, or are they leading the church away from it?

   6. Ask if they are actually representing all points of view with intellectual integrity.

   7. Ask why a minority report might have been created, and what is it saying?

   8. Are there smokescreens or Trojan horses embedded in the report that might not be seen at first flush?

   9. Is the report out of balance either in the material covered, the suggestions it is making, or what it is not saying?

 d. Have the readers compare notes with other readers of reports. For instance it is possible to find two responses from the Young Adults Leadership Taskforce to a current Synodical report at the following link. They are not Gospel, but they might help to form an informed opinion.

http://weareyalt.org/the-young-adults-guide-to-the-crcs-new-same-sex-mar...

 

Hope that helps.

John

 

  

 

Thanks John for the reply.  I did look at Kruger’s talks from the Gospel Coalition, but not in their entirety.  I haven’t got the time to read everything a blogger or author suggests needs to be read.  But I did notice a basic flaw in Kruger’s arguments.  He’s assuming that whoever he is addressing in his Biblical arguments also believes that the Bible is true.  But if he’s arguing with anyone outside of the Christian persuasion, then his argument carries no weight because this other person doesn’t believe the Bible to begin with, so why would he give any credence to a book most people put in the same category as the Koran or the Book of Mormon or the Hindu Scriptures.  They all make the same claim to be God’s inspired word and all endorse teachings that cannot be objectively verified.  Whether it’s the Bible, the Koran, or the book of Mormon, the teachings of each are acknowledged by faith, apart from verifiable evidence or objectivity.

To most people it is not logical to claim that Jesus is very God come down from heaven to earth and was born in human form as a human baby, who grew up sinless to the age of 33, was crucified, died and buried but rose from the dead in three days and now has ascended to heaven from which he will come to earth once again to set up his finalized kingdom.  That’s not logical teaching but is a teaching that can only be acknowledged by faith.  The Bible’s teachings are no more logical than that of other religions.  So Kruger’s teaching at the Coalition may have made sense to you because you recognize the Bible’s authority, but to anyone else his argument carries no weight.  Just because the Bible claims to be true, doesn’t make it so.  All religions make the same claim.  So Kruger’s arguments may have made sense to you and other Christians at the Coalition, but not to others.  His argument (or apologetic) is meaningless to most people.

Kruger’s argument, in regard to God swearing by his name as opposed to the Muslim God swearing by created things like mountains or stars, makes no logical sense either.  If God is truly God, it doesn’t matter what he swears by.  What he swears by doesn’t invalidate whether he is God or not.  If the God of the Bible (the Christian God) swears by his name, or a star, or a mountain, it doesn’t change the fact that God is God.  Nor does it change the reality that the Muslim God is truly God for the Muslim.  Is Kruger trying to say our God is a better God because he swears by bigger and better things?  His argument falls short of proving anything.  And, of course, Islamic theologians will propose their own arguments to demonstrate why their God (Allah) is the one true God.

Then you suggest, John, that the Bible is the voice of the Living God.  Muslims and Hindu’s make the same claim.  They would never entertain the ridiculous suggestion that the God whom they worship is dead, and would just as persuasively suggest that the Koran or the Book of Mormon is the very voice of the living God.

Greetings Roger:

              I hope you listen to both of Kruger's talks as they are very enlightening, esp. his talk at the Gospel Coalition. One area he talks about is the idea that the Triune God of the Bible swears on his own name, that what He says He will do, what he does He has said. Compare that to Allah of Islam who swears 27x in the Koran. Each time it is on a created thing like a star or a mountain or even a pen. Bring both before a judge and try to find out whose word is more trustworthy and I think you would agree with me that the one who swears on his own head or his own name is the one to be believed.

            Kruger also mentions that the Bible is the voice of the Living God. Not some dead deity who is a creation of someone's over-heated imagination, but a living One. It is this Living God who speaks today through a living Word. This makes it a different genus and species from all the religious texts that you cited.

             It seems that you are having a hard time with this authority thing. As Christians we care about the Bible's authority as we care about the authority of its Author. See the Grudem article for a lot more on that. 

            Blessed New Year.

John

Thanks John for an interesting article that addresses the issue of authority, especially the authority of the Bible.

Is the Bible as authoritative as Kruger or you make it out to be?  The only people who recognize the authority of the Bible are Christians, and by their commitment it is doubtful if many of them really recognize its authority either.  You must recognize that there are a multitude of religions and sects that have their own sources of authority, just like Christians.  For instance Muslims believe the Koran was given to Mohamad by God through the angel Gabriel. Therefore the Koran is the absolute authoritative word of God.  Like Christians, Muslims believed that their Scriptures are absolutely inspired of God and are without error.  Mormons, likewise, believe the book of Mormon (initially the twelve golden plates) was given to Joseph Smith by the angel Moroni, and therefore is also the inspired word of God and capable of giving correct interpretation to the Bible.  All religions have their so-called inspired and authoritative Scriptures that represent ultimate authority.  

And yet we, as Christians, discount the authority and validity of their Bibles, just as the adherents of other religions discount the authority of our Bible.  So which Scriptures are really authoritative or are any?  When reading a history book of recorded events, historians may record the actual existence of Jesus.  But history books do not record his miraculous birth and ascent from heaven to earth, nor do they record his miraculous resurrection from the dead and ascent back into heaven as historical fact.  Nor do historians record any of the miracles of other religions as historical fact.  Such miracles, whether found in the Bible, Koran, the book of Mormon or any other Scriptures are considered “faith knowledge” and not historical fact. They are subjective truth rather than objective truth or empirical truth.  It is only Christians who recognize the Bible as carrying any authority. What are the grounds by which we discount other religions and their authoritative Scriptures?  It’s the same grounds by which they discount the Bible.  So what makes Kruger or any Christian think that only the Bible is authoritative?

The person who is not a Christian looks at the account of Jesus in the Bible as an embellished account of history, much in the same way that Santa Claus is an embellished account of Saint Nicolas. The same could be said of the key characters found in the Scriptures of other religions, an embellishment of a historical character (such as Mohamad) or historical facts.  So when so few people, worldwide, recognize the Bible’s authority, over the authority of their own religions (or no religion) why would anyone acknowledge Kruger’s comment in regard to the Bible’s authority?

Beyond all this, recognize that there are thousands of Christian denominations today.  All may claim the authority of the Bible but all interpret it differently, even on key issues.  When the Bible teaches that the Holy Spirit will lead his church in all truth, it makes me wonder what has happened to the Spirit’s leading.  When churches and individuals can make the Bible say almost anything they want it to say, who is to say who has the final and authoritative word on any issue?

Thanks John for making us think.

Other resources should include Tim Keller's Ministries of Mercy and Resources for Deacons, Randy Nabors' Merciful, Chris Sicks' Tangible, and my Not Just a Soup Kitchen: How Mercy Ministry Transforms Us All. The latter includes excerpts from a CRC out of print resource Servant Leaders.

Try Diaconal Ministries in Burlington.

Volunteers In Service coaches and trains deacons. They facilitate a deacon orientation training annually in August and has had very positive feedback on that training. VIS also is taking a more active role in facilitating council retreats. VIS staff meets with deacons to actively listen to what deacons are facing in today's world and responds in helpful and supportive ways. VIS works with deacons from the CRC church as well as other denominations. On the VIS website are blog positing on topics requested by deacons. For more information check the VIS website at www.visgr.org or email Bernita Tuinenga at btuinenga@visgr.org  We welcome the opportunity to hear from you!

Pages

Members

this section to get email notifications of new posts
Matt Bulthuis
K Smith
Jolanda Howe
Rand Hedman
Tim Postuma
James Kelley
Network Admin