Comment Stream

Staci Devries September 16, 2021

Thank you for sharing this opening! 

Staci Devries September 16, 2021

Praise God for this group that has been able to find creative ways to stay connected and grow in fath! 

Staci Devries September 16, 2021

Thank you for sharing this opening! 

Becky Jones September 15, 2021

I have a big recommendation for anyone planning to jump into this book - get the audio version! To hear the author reading it to you is like a lovely walk with her as she shares Indigenous wisdom. It has made this book very dear for me. I feel like she has brought me closer to God through her exploration of His creation. Highly recommend this book - especially if you are starting out on a long road trip. Download it and be prepared to want to find the nearest marshy area and take a closer look at the wonders of the earth at a microscopic level!

Joseph VandenAkker September 15, 2021

I understand the flow of reasoning in Smith’s article to go like this: 1) The current tendency for Christian America to fly into a rage over many issues -- forced vaccinations, the close loss suffered in the past presidential election, Covid-19 lockdowns -- is explained by the threat (fear) felt by many conservative Christians over the loss of white Protestant Christian cultural dominance in America.  2)  Faced with this devastating sense that theirs is a “lost cause,” Christian America is engaging in a practice common to those faced with lost causes: Creating and believing lies (“the election was stolen,” “the Covid-19 threat has been blown out of proportion to tank the economy and get Trump out of office,” “the vaccination is not safe”).  3) Instead of flying into a rage (as David initially did in response to the prophet Nathan’s story of the stolen lamb) or embracing lies, Christian America needs to acknowledge its sins of the past, admit the falsity of its face-saving lies, repent, and accept its humiliating ‘lost cause’ (as David did with respect to Shimei.) 

I believe that this article is correct in identifying the reason that many conservative Christians are currently short- tempered: we have lost our cultural dominance in America and are feeling threatened by this loss.  As a conservative Christian, I have no stomach for talk-show hosts or politicians (conservative or progressive) who make a living by stirring up people’s fears, dealing in the dingy gray atmosphere where half-truths thrive, and promoting unfounded conspiracy theories.  It is true that fear can provide fertile soil for planting lies that only add to the fear and increase the feeling of being under threat.  Where this is the case, repentance is called for.

What this article fails to acknowledge and pastorally address is that the underlying feelings of loss and threat are not baseless.  The underlying anxiety created by the successful efforts of progressives in government to force conservatives to accept, practice and fund (not simply tolerate) a lifestyle contrary to Biblically Christian beliefs is not baseless.  Nor are these feelings ones for which conservatives need to repent (while allowing the Shimei’s of our world to hurl humiliating insults.

While it has been coming gradually, America turned a cultural corner when President Obama’s position on same-sex marriage ‘evolved,’ the Supreme Court changed the definition of marriage that had been in place long before the days of the Christianized West, the LGB movement added T, Q and Z, and a progressive government began to force these perspectives/practices on the country as a whole through its public school policies regarding transgender sports, and government-funded healthcare provisions forcing all companies (initially) to pay for all forms of birth control and sex-change operations.  In addition, the lower courts supported attempts by same-sex couples to force religiously-opposed bakers to bake their wedding cakes (when many others would gladly have done so).

Pleas on the part of those seeking tolerance for views and lifestyles contrary to Biblical Christian values – once granted – turned into aggressive intolerance for those with Biblical Christian values.  These cultural changes moved from being disturbing to threatening when all the branches of government rapidly progressed (de-gressed) from endorsing a plurality of lifestyle options to enforcing non-Christian options.  President Trump was elected, in part, because he gained the support of those who were convinced that these cultural changes came too fast and went too far. 

I have no difficulty acknowledging that many conservative Christians are currently short-tempered because of feeling threatened by the loss of cultural dominance.  People seldom are on their best behavior when they feel under threat.  Improper behavior requires repentance.  Yet, in my assessment of the situation, the threat felt is not due primarily to the loss of cultural dominance but to the attempt of progressive branches of the government to forcefully impose the “new” values on the nation as ones we all must embrace, fund, and teach to our nation’s children.

The article would have benefited by carefully distinguishing what requires Christian repentance and what does not, and by offering Christianly commendable approaches to handling feelings of loss.

Diane Dykgraaf September 14, 2021

Living Hope, by Phil Wickham;  When Peace Like a River (It is Well)

 

Albert De Jong September 14, 2021

I much appreciate Pastor Smith's thoughts on these matters that have made the term "evangelical" a dirty word in so many respects.   When journalists make use of the term, would that they prefaced every use with a phrase like "persons claiming to be" "evangelicals."  Perhaps generalizing such a characterization of the label would give pause to so many that might otherwise find shelter in, or take comfort from ideologies that might pit believers against one another for temporal reasons.

Pastor's Smith's conclusion that "rage doesn't have to have the last word if its received and absorbed into repentant action" is particularly instructive. 

In the temporal setting, imagine - just imagine - what would be different today, or how things might be different today, how the events of the last weeks might have been different - had we as a nation, driven by the salt and light provided by the nation-wide bride of Christ, had responded to the events of September 11, 2001 differently - if rage had not resulted in war.  And instead caused us U.S. to take stock, grapple with the "why," and intentionally apply use of the God-given tools of reflection, collaboration, diplomacy, etc to engage in more enduringly constructive ways to bring about justice.    Perhaps all that could be done to slow the stampede to war was done.   

Regrettably, the message of the gospel seems too remain too radical for today's world -  to the point where the  "evangelical(s)" is a mere label, useful as a rod(s) to stir conflict rather than a reference to a conflict-tempering collective, whose wise counsel is worth seeking in an effort to devise effective, repentant actions designed to absorb rage, death and destruction in the name of temporal national pride?  What if Christians embraced, rather than eschewed tools God has given mankind to douse rage, especially collective rage?  What if the "evangelical(s)" were revered and sought out for collective counsel as effective conveyers of how to find paths to justice through effective repentant activity rather than destructive warfare? 

Staci Devries September 14, 2021

Thank you for sharing this opening! 

Wayne Jones September 13, 2021

Great article, Eric. Thanks for sharing. As a Canadian faced with deciding which political party to vote for in a week, I find it disturbing that during the heat of campaigning, there is very little listening going on.

Staci Devries September 13, 2021

Thank you for sharing this opening! 

Staci Devries September 13, 2021

Thank you for sharing this opening! 

Staci Devries September 13, 2021

Thank you for sharing this opening! 

Vanessa Van V September 13, 2021

Children are not a risk group. But, if parents are worried, parents can keep their children at home. If you're immunocompromised, get vaccinated AND stay home. The world is not safe for you right now. Our churches and communities need to provide you support -- in your home. We are failing at this in most communities, I believe.

No, your church shouldn't require volunteers be vaccinated or reveal their vaccination status. If they choose to live by God's will, the church should support them in that choice. Sadly, it appears most church leaders are remaining silent instead of providing spiritual support and reasoned guidance.

Educate yourselves. The vaccinated can spread the virus. Those who pay attention have known this since Fauci announced it in Spring 2021. Back then, they thought the vaccinated were at low risk of virus spread. Now, we know that that's not the case. After 4 months, the efficacy of the vaccination wanes by as much as 84%, according to the Mayo Clinic. Time to do your homework, folks.

In the meantime, I recommend being kind to your volunteers and grateful for their generous and courageous support during these difficult times.

 

Pastor Church Resources September 8, 2021

Mister Bee,

Excellent observations. Perhaps I too easily assumed that members (or council) would practice a Matthew 18-style of reconciliation when possible or appropriate. Church Order (Article 80) does note the importance of following Matthew 18's instructions. 

I think many councils, upon hearing of an interpersonal concern, would be wise to direct the complainant back to the person with whom they have a disagreement. 

But there are situations where the issue is less about interpersonal conflict and more about disagreement in the church's direction or leadership, which are quite appropriate for a council meeting. Disagreements like that are much more of what I had in mind when writing this blog. 

Re. "putting it in writing," I think the ideal is to both put it in writing AND have a conversation. The two together are most helpful for reducing miscommunication. 

-Sean

Mister Bee September 7, 2021

I respectfully disagree that the first place a member should raise serious concerns is to the council.  In many cases, the "serious" concern has to do with the pastor or perhaps some other committee member.

First of all, Matthew 18 stipulates that a concerned member should go directly to the person deemed at fault and seek to resolve the issue face to face.  Going directly to the council first disrespects the person deemed at fault by spreading what may be gossip.  Trust is often broken because the person deemed at fault is blindsided in that he may be unaware of any dispute or concern.

Second, while it may be true that sometimes complaints or concerns are shared in ways that are too obscure to make meaningful response possible, this is less likely to be true if conversations are face to face.  Consider all the misunderstanding that occurs on social media.  Putting it in writing rather than speaking face to face actually increases the risk of being misunderstood.  Meeting with the person deemed at fault allows him to clarify the issue and may even make contacting the council unnecessary.

Finally, if a church member has to hide behind written communication rather than seek to resolve the issue face to face with the person deemed at fault, the concern or complaint is not important enough to bring it to the council's (or anyone else's) attention.  This is almost as cowardly as writing an anonymous letter.

As stated in the article above, "Henry DeMoor is clear that church members should deal directly with their councils and not go 'over their heads' by going to classis or church visitors without the council’s knowledge.  In the same way, church members should deal directly with the person deemed at fault and not go "over his head" by going to the council without the person's knowledge.

Mister Bee September 7, 2021

I respectfully disagree that the first place a member should raise serious concerns is to the council.  In many cases, the "serious" concern has to do with the pastor or perhaps some other committee member.

First of all, Matthew 18 stipulates that a concerned member should go directly to the person deemed at fault and seek to resolve the issue face to face.  Going directly to the council first disrespects the person deemed at fault by spreading what may be gossip.  Trust is often broken because the person deemed at fault is blindsided in that he may be unaware of any dispute or concern.

Second, while it may be true true that sometimes complaints or concerns are shared in ways that are too obscure to make meaningful response possible, this is less likely to be true if conversations are face to face.  Consider all the misunderstanding that occurs on social media.  Putting it is writing rather than speaking face to face actually increases the risk of being misunderstood.  Meeting with the person deemed at fault allows him to clarify the issue and may even make contacting the council unnecessary.

Finally, if a church member has to hide behind written communication rather than seek to resolve the issue face to face with the person deemed at fault, the concern or complaint is not important enough to bring it to the council's (or anyone else's) attention.  This is almost as cowardly as writing an anonymous letter.

As stated in the article above, "Henry DeMoor is clear that church members should deal directly with their councils and not go 'over their heads' by going to classis or church visitors without the council’s knowledge.  In the same way, church members should deal directly with the person deemed at fault and not go "over his head" by going to the council without the person's knowledge.

Rob Golding September 7, 2021

This is beautifully put! We have an abundance of programs to treat sin but, in so doing, we forget that there is only One cure. Programs can actually distract us from the cure which is repentance and humility over our own sin. 

Anthony Sytsma September 7, 2021

For readers who are interested in listening to our radio recordings, our website recordings are not working at the moment, but we hope to have them fixed soon. 

Thank you for this article Stephen! 

Staci Devries September 7, 2021

Thank you for sharing this opening! 

Staci Devries September 2, 2021

Thank you for sharing this opening! 

Philip Aggen September 2, 2021

Hello,

I don't quite understand why the CRC and other churches don't talk about and stress the root cause of racism.  As Christians we have a unique perspective on the root cause of racism that we can share with everyone and begin to build ways to decrease the amount of racism in our society.  Until we do that, I don't think the usual programs will have much influence in the post Christian culture.

Philip Aggen

Staci Devries September 2, 2021

Thank you for sharing this opening! 

Staci Devries September 2, 2021

Thank you for sharing this opening! 

Lubbert van der Laan September 1, 2021

Though Sean's last comment is duly noted, it would nonetheless appear that the article is advocating a shift away from the principles of "deliberation" and "discernment" imbedded in CRCNA reformed polity. [see Church Order 2020, pages 7-8; and Articles 34 & 39]

Staci Devries August 31, 2021

Thanks to the advocates and all who are involved! This is hard work (and at times quite discouraging). So glad for people working together, we cannot do this alone. 

Staci Devries August 31, 2021

Thank you for sharing this opening! 

Staci Devries August 31, 2021

Thank you for sharing this opening! 

Ronald De Young August 31, 2021

Thank you Sean. 

I am very grateful to hear that you and the COD will be encouraging us to move away from "winning a heated debate" toward a "prayerful, Spirit-led listening to God's Word."

Ron De Young

Pastor Church Resources August 31, 2021

Ronald,

The truth is, I don't much enjoy conflict or debate, either. But I know that our polity is such that there will be much debate in the months ahead. My hope with this somewhat tongue-in-cheek blog is to encourage folks to have a more edifying debate. 

But please keep an eye on the network. I think you'll see many versions of the blog you're hoping for (including from me). There are many who share your vision for a more prayerful, humble approach to the challenges facing our denomination (myself included). I'm grateful for the COD's leadership in elevating this need and opportunity. https://www.crcna.org/news-and-events/news/denomination-calls-year-prayer

-sean

Eva Aboagye August 30, 2021

I love how simple the process for posting a job add is. Thank you.

Staci Devries August 30, 2021

Important topic! Thanks for hosting this conversation. 

Staci Devries August 30, 2021

Thank you for sharing this opening! 

Staci Devries August 30, 2021

Thank you for sharing this opening! 

Hi Tony - we agree!  Thanks for commenting and sharing that resource.

Lorraine Grypstra August 29, 2021

 Thank you for the opportunity to post on your forum!

Staci Devries August 29, 2021

Thank you for sharing this opening! 

Staci Devries August 29, 2021

Thank you for sharing this opening! 

Staci Devries August 29, 2021

Thank you for sharing this opening! 

Worship Ministries August 27, 2021

Thanks for this suggestion, Mavis!  I am not sure we have titles for each of these sermons but I can include a few sentences about each so people have an idea of what each sermon is about.  Thanks!

Kim Volsteadt August 27, 2021

Thanks for posting our need for a new pastor...keep up the good work.

Tony Sneep August 26, 2021

For another very good election resource check out the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada website and click on the EFC Election Engagement Kit. The CRC is a member of this organization.

T. Sneep

Ronald De Young August 26, 2021

I am not one to enjoy conflict or debate and I seldom offer criticism publicly.  But I found this Blog to be disturbing. It seemed to delight in us having a big debate and it seemed to suggest that debate will lead us to the right conclusions regarding the HSR.  I was put-off by the following phrases in the Blog:  "Ready to Rumble?"  "Bring on the debate."  "Some of us are itching for the debate."  "Let's debate... and may the best arguments (mine!) win."   "I'm glad that we have these 10% of leaders confident enough to put their ideas out there in the midst of heated debate."  "The debates of the next months and years will be essential."  These many references just do not feel right.  I would have valued much more a blog that said something to this effect:  "May all of us be fervent in prayer, humbly study and listen to God's Word and with the help of the Holy Spirit discern God's will/truth as we together consider the HSR coming to the Synod of 2022.  And may our denomination find 'Shalom' (and cease useless debate) after the Synod of 2022 discerns and declares God will/truth regarding human sexuality."  I would have been so delighted to read such a flavor in this Blog.  

Staci Devries August 26, 2021

Thank you for sharing this opening! 

Staci Devries August 26, 2021

Blessings in your new role, Tim! 

Climate Witness Project August 26, 2021

Thanks so much for sharing these additional resources!

Staci Devries August 25, 2021

Thank you for sharing this opening! 

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