How about a comprehensive creation care audit of our denominational, congregational and personal practices and attitudes of entitlement or perceived necessity, not just to reuse and recycle, but to reduce environmental impact? 

August 13, 2012 0 4 comments
Discussion Topic

When churches start becoming experts on pipelines and ecology, does that mean oil companies can become experts on theology? or on missions?  or on church buildings?  or on ecclesiastical structures?  on Sunday school teachers?  Maybe we should reconsider Overture 3 of the last synod.      or on...

August 6, 2012 0 12 comments

Though largely respectful the debate and vote on creation care were not without their oddities. Four registered negative votes on three recommendations indicate that at least three decisions drew disapproval.

August 3, 2012 0 5 comments

This letter is written primarily in response to Overture 3, which requested that a study be conducted to determine “the difference between the mission of the church as institution and as organism” (Agenda for Synod 2012, p. 467), regarding whether the official church may take and proffer positions on certain matters or whether such matters should be left to individual members of the church.

July 25, 2012 0 5 comments

The Acts of Synod 2012, including decisions of synod and supplementary materials to the Agenda for Synod 2012, is now accessible in an electronic version. Hard copies of the Acts will be sent to the churches as soon as they become available in late August.

July 24, 2012 0 0 comments

Does “a rose by any other name” sound as sweet? Synod 2012 agreed with the Candidacy Committee that there is a more fitting name for those ordained via Article 23 of the CRC Church Order. The office formerly known as “ministry associate” is now known as “commissioned pastor”.

July 10, 2012 0 14 comments

In a few years, perhaps Belhar will have taken root in our hearts and minds, worked on our consciences and souls as it could not have had the advisory committee never daringly and faithfully followed God’s Spirit and decided to stay united. Remember my paraphrase of the old hymn: “God moves in a mysterious way—our blunders to reform.”

June 28, 2012 0 1 comments

After the event on June 8th, I was stunned at how many people aged 50+ came up to me with tears in their eyes, either mourning how their children had left the Church or overwhelmed by the purity in the exchange of the evening – generations interacting, worshipping and singing in unity. 

June 28, 2012 0 9 comments

The voice vote was unanimous and, apparently, enthusiastic. I (along with my committee colleagues) was a little stunned. After all this time and after the near rancor of last year’s discussion at Synod—now unanimity and applause? Whatever! And most of all, thanks be to God.

June 23, 2012 0 51 comments
Discussion Topic

 Does this ecumenical faith declaration category have legitimacy?   Might we see consideration given to adding other  reformed confessions and statements, like the three Westminster Standards, the Scots Confession, the Gallic Confession, the Second Helvetic Confession, the Barmen Declaration,...

June 22, 2012 0 1 comments

What are your thoughts on the new title we've been given? During the debate, it was mentioned that we haven't landed on a final solution, but a better one in order to elevate the position.

The video is Monday Afternoon from time 33:00-1:02:45 at the following link:

June 16, 2012 0 2 comments

How are participants (voting members) of synod validated? Does someone make sure they have signed the form of subscription? And if not (and I understand from an overutre that some members of the CRC are not willing to sign this form) what other procedure is used?  Just curious.

June 10, 2012 0 1 comments

So, what’s wrong with the name Christian Reformed World Relief Committee? Nothing’s wrong with it. It just doesn’t fit as well as it used to.  Sometime in the next few days Synod will be faced with a significant decision about Christian Reformed World Relief Committee...

June 8, 2012 0 5 comments

Weighing in at 114 pages, the Creation Stewardship Task Force Report is the physical heavyweight of all reports this year. I wonder if anyone else picked up the irony that the issue it carefully deals with also results in using more natural resources in its publication than any other on the docket.

June 4, 2012 0 7 comments

Jesus said the poor will always be with us. Ripping his passionate and compassionate observation completely out of context, it is tempting to say the “The Form of Subscription Revision Study Committee” will always be with us as well.

June 2, 2012 0 2 comments
Discussion Topic

"The BOT recommends that Synod 2012 adopt the salary grid as detailed below for

use in fiscal year 2012-2013. The Board is proposing a 3 percent increase over 2012"

This what I read in the  2012 Synod Agenda supplement. It goes on to list the upper and lower Salary ranges at the...

May 30, 2012 0 3 comments

The overtures display a wide range of well-argued thought surrounding Belhar. There does not seem to be any clear line-up of opinion following geographical lines within the CRC. The positions  argued are literally “all over the map.” 

May 28, 2012 0 35 comments

I was taken aback by how many first-time delegates were naively willing to serve as an officer. I know from my first few synods that I would never wish being an officer on a rookie. Experience does count.

May 28, 2012 0 2 comments

Over the past few weeks, as I have read through the Agenda for Synod, gotten familiar with Synod Website, practiced voting and roll call, I must admit that I’m looking forward to it. More than that-- I’m excited.

May 27, 2012 0 2 comments

ORDINARILY, four delegates are selected at the winter classis meeting with four alternates—four elders and pastors each. This does not appear to be an ordinary year.

May 23, 2012 0 2 comments

Grand Rapids, Mich. – The Board of Trustees of the Christian Reformed Church in North America met on May 3 and 4, 2012 at the denominational offices in Grand Rapids, Mich. During this meeting the Board:

May 18, 2012 0 0 comments
Discussion Topic

I spenf a fruitful evening going thru this lengthy and complicated (scientific) material. A lot of good work. The "italicized bold" comments are mine. What I was trying to do is match this material to what I understand the mission and vision of the CRCNA to be. You will note that I have some...

May 13, 2012 0 3 comments

I sat in the Brussels Airport with dozens of different nationalities and more languages. Soon we all boarded one plane, made in Europe, run by an Indian company, and headed to Toronto. Among us we are all able to communicate basically. If we had spent a long time together, we’d have to learn to live together deeply. That's what this year's diverse Agenda begs us to do ...

May 10, 2012 0 0 comments

I hereby solemnly pledge NOT to make this blog a soapbox for my own opinions about issues before Synod 2012--though opinions will not be entirely absent either.  I am glad to be back with you. I invite your attentiveness and comments, disagreements and invitations to dinner or free tickets to Tigers or Blue Jays games.

April 20, 2012 0 0 comments
Discussion Topic

Delegates from classis voting opposite from classis'  vote on an issue....   Briantebben mentioned this in another thread.  This was in reference to a vote on whether to accept the Belhar or not.  Classis voted no, but Briantebben said the delegates would vote yes.  My question is this, if the...

April 19, 2012 0 7 comments



There is much wisdom here, Norm. 

posted in: Long Goodbye

Thanks for the call to prayer, Loren. I will commit to praying for the interview aspect as well as the whole of Synod that all that is said and done, as well as what is not done, will honor God and edify His people. May all our plans be what God desires for His church.

thank you, Search Team, for the hard work of discerning and responding to the church's needs and bringing forward a wonderful candidate.



Just a (perhaps) minor correction. The RCA is a bi-national denomination, though it may be much less intentional about its bi-national identity than the CRCNA. Unless there is another Reformed Church in Canada that I'm not aware of, the one you mention in your post is not a denomination, but a regional synod within the RCA. 


Paul VanderKlay raises some important points above regarding the mandate given the Banner by Synod over the years in contrast to other writers who feel that mandate needs to be revised. The question that needs to be asked is whether there has been shift within the CRC "not" to a more conservative outlook on issues, but a shift from it's Reformed roots to realignment with North American fundamentalism.

Regardless, the Banner and it's editors are an easy targets for what are ongoing pastoral and ecclesiastical discussions on various topics at annual Synods. That these topics are on the table at all, is a reflection of what local churches are struggling with in ministering to their flock. If pastoral care is to be extended that means both dialogue and engagement with scripture and God's creation is required rather than mounting the ramparts. 

To anyone: Would John Calvin agreed that one should leave his "Reformed" denomination for the sorts of possible reasons listed above by John Zylstra? It has been a long time since I have read The Institutes.

I would also suggest that the banner withdraw from all magazine competitions regarding various article categories (I forget the name of the association or award committee), since review by such an organization has led to awards for some articles that I think should not even have been in the magazine, and such type of "peer" review can lead to a perversion of the intent and method of various articles and editorial content.  The only review that matters is what God has said about it, and that should be interpreted by the denomination, not by some outside organization which has standards outside of and not approved by crc confessions, nor by scripture.

David Feddes raised some very excellent points relative to the politics of selecting banner editors, editorial committees, synodical oversight, and the banner purpose.     I think the comment about Canadian vs USA staff is not so pertinent, since if all editors had been USA but equally provocative, the problems would have remained.   On the other hand, Ken Bakker's comments  are written in a barely acceptable fashion as has been pointed out, since they appear to defend the indefensible.   If this magazine goes to every home on the involuntary membership dollar, then it ought to uphold the confessions and scripture.  These two questionable articles clearly did not do so.  Furthermore, the ten years of editorship has not in fact been without "issues", as David pointed out with regard to the "don't be so sure" article.

While I have suggested that we forgive Bob DeMoor for his indiscretion in the two inflammatory articles, I was again put off by the title "where have they all gone?", relating again to the homosex issue.  It would be interesting to use the same title for an article on where the great majority of people have left for other reasons, including acceptance of women in office, crc apparent acceptance of homosex, acceptance of premarital sex, and questioning of primary doctrines from Genesis.  How many left because being upset with the statements made by John Suk?  How many left for other reasons related to lack of orthodoxy, and ignoring of scripture?   With a general decline since 1992, it is becoming apparent that many denominational statements and positions are driving crc people either to more orthodox reformed churches because they perceive a better correlation to scripture there, or to anabaptist churches because they sense a better committment to christian living there.  Traditional social crc members will likely remain because of their primary committment to their heritage, social situation, family relationships, but yet they will decline.   Only a primary commitment to scripture, to God and Christ above all, and to Christian living in both personal and communal aspects, will provide motivation to remain with the denomination.  Thus these types of banner articles serve only to drive people away, with no beneficial side effect, since they also separate people who remain, away from God and from His Will.

Forgiveness for the publishing of two inflammatory articles implies repentance and a renewed sense of discretion with regard to the implications of titles, articles, and the way they are written.   Without that discretion well applied, crc members will often feel like prisoners of the system, implicitly maligned by perverse statements having the "apparent" blessing of an involuntary publication funded by their church tax dollars.

ok... just a break from sharing my thoughts to hearing from another perspective... here's a recent article (warning: it's long and a tough, heavy read, with possible triggers for those who've been abused, so read only when you are at a healthy emotional place/time) about Boz Tchividjian (Billy Graham's grandson) and the ministry of GRACE he's involved with...  and some of his thoughts on transparency in the church...

here's a quote from the end of the article:

 GRACE is challenging Christian institutions to live up to their teachings, to “expend themselves, even to the point of death, to demonstrate love for a very hurt soul,” as Tchividjian says.
“If you think about it in the Christian context,” he continues, “God did his most powerful work when Jesus, his son, was at his most transparent and vulnerable, on the cross. So why do we approach all these things differently? If I’m a Christian, why am I not driven by the fact that if we mess up as an institution, then when we’re most transparent and vulnerable, that’s when God can do his most powerful work? I’ve seen that in churches: When they do respond that way, it’s pretty powerful what results in the lives of survivors.”EOQ

so, CRC, something to ponder pretty seriously...



"This document, Confessional Commitments and Academic Freedom (CCAF) is presented at synod this year for information". (Bold is mine HB)

I made a comment re Calvin College in the context of Finances (Ministry Shares). The above quote is interesting because it raises a question in my mind of why Calvin College can not become totally independent just like e.g. Dordt College in USA and Redeemer and The King's in Canada.

Don't get me wrong, as mentioned by Dr. Le Roy, Calvin and the CRCNA have been a blessing to each other. Should we open this discussion or put it on a Synod agenda at some point?

significant clarification on:

b. "manifestly" and "obviously" used in Section 6.c regarding appeals

These are quite ambiguous terms and cause me to cringe more than I’m comfortable with.  What is obvious to one person, is not necessarily so for the next, that’s how come things get to the judicial code level.  The leaders of the proceedings are generally very smart, and if they think it’s necessary, they are smart enough to manipulate and cover things up for whatever reasons they feel it’s necessary, and so it will quite likely NOT be manifestly unfair or obvious that the evidence doesn’t support the conclusion, but it will be hidden, subtle, confusing and very, very difficult to prove, especially if it’s appealing something done in strict executive session.  Transparency does not seem to be a strong point in the CRC.

The charge of an unfair hearing will be met with much resistance from the leadership, and the leadership will spin everything they need to, to make them look good, and cover up.   Anyone who is good at manipulating will be able to make the hearing appear fair to the majority of people, but you have to dig to find how they are manipulating the process.  It will not be obvious or manifest, but will take peeling back layers of a tangled web, which most likely will include manipulation, deception, twisting, spinning, misunderstanding, etc..  That's one of the reasons the Catholic Church could cover things up for decades!!!  Things are not obvious and if they were, it would not have gotten to this point in the first place.  On top of that, often people are afraid to speak out, because they will be shunned, lose their friends/job, or worse…  and that is one of the tactics the enemy uses to keep evil from being exposed.

I see these terms as significant potential loopholes that can be used to manipulate the outcome, or give the perpetrator, or leadership, a way out.  Manipulators can twist the meaning of words to make it fit their situation, and use it to try to shut down a case based on some technicality.  As one example, per the church order article 84, “sexual misconduct” has a very narrow definition, basically “sexual abuse”.  However, sexual misconduct is generally understood with a much broader interpretation than how the CO defines it.  I would think that for most people, how the CO defines “ungodly conduct” is what most people consider “sexual misconduct” as well as “ungodly”.  It seems that sometimes something is decided on a technicality, instead of what is right and just.

I’m also very concerned about “manifestly” as that could shut the door on the prophetic.  When things are so hidden, secretive, covered up, God will use the prophetic to help expose it.  Often there will be manifest evidence as well, but it might not be obvious, and being a bit familiar with our traditional understanding of the prophetic, I have concerns that we might be shutting this door of the prophetic through using this type of word seems to me could technically exclude the prophetic.

Again, if something is at the point of judicial code/last resort, there are serious issues where someone isn’t taking responsibility, or being honest, or there is something fairly deep going on.  We cannot assume everyone is doing the righteous, Christ like response at this point, because then it would have been resolved long ago.

So would love to see these terms clarified or something as they are vague and seem to leave a large loophole for leaders to do whatever they want.

I found it interesting that the crc acknowledged our lack of justice through the following statement from Synod 2014:

BOQ: Synod 2010 issued a declaration confessing that the CRC has "not always justly and compassionately helped those who have been sexually abused" and has "not always justly or adequately disciplined church leaders who have been abusers" (Acts of Synod 2010, p. 867). EOQ

I'm thinking and finding that it's been more than an isolated incident here and there.


 "Why does citizenship in a nation state trump membership in the Body of Christ? Does civil religion take precedence to following Jesus Christ?"

Jesus reduced the entire LAW, OT and NT to "Love God and be a good neighbor" but the Devil is in the details. Our sin nature effects all human activities including the Church.

I am not certain that labeling things as left, centre or right is helpful to a fruitful conversation, let alone making the charge that "Canadian" Banner editors "liked" to be provocative. That individuals may disagree with the arguments laid out in some of the articles that were published is one thing and an opportunity for an ongoing dialogue, however, we always need to ask ourselves whether our comments occasionally slip into ad hominem attacks.

The comment, "It's also worth asking whether we should have such Canadian dominance of the Banner editorship when a large majority of CRC members are U. S. citizens," raises an important question. Why does citizenship in a nation state trump membership in the Body of Christ? Does civil religion take precedence to following Jesus Christ?

I don't assume that all CRC Canadians seek to be provocative. I'm just saying that all three Canadian Banner editors over the past 35 years liked to be provocative. It's also worth asking whether we should have such Canadian dominance of the Banner editorship when a large majority of CRC members are U. S. citizens.

The first sentence of the text of  

"The only form of marriage that existed before the fall was between one man and one woman." This is disingenuous because before the fall there were only one adult human  male and one adult human female in the Garden.

Second sentence, "The narrative trajectory of the Old Testament shows that all other versions were the result of sin." 

Isaac's example is arrangement by the tribal chief and ratified by sexual intercourse. Is this version more or less sinful than the CRC approved model? 


re: your statement that the Canadians consider it part of their mandate to be provocative... that seems a serious charge; what happened to "pursue the things that make for peace?" or taking with a drop-dead serious attitude Christ's prayer that we might all be one, that the world might know the truth? or the mandate to utter edifying speech that administers grace to the hearers? there was a time when the Banner only went to those who deliberately subscribed; now ministry shares are used to send it all over the place; do we give ministry shares to stir up controversy in our own family? if we want it to truly be a "kitchen table" in part so that the "family" can discuss serious issues, maybe we should return to a subscription only publication

David I hear you... further, it just seems like the CRC goes from one controversy, however important, to another; many have left the CRC and one reason I've heard more than once is that people are tired of all the fighting; couple that with the general lack of institutional loyalty, and, well, it just seems that the time for published controversies, in the popular publication, are over; many CRC people used to go home on Sunday afternoon and read Bavinck or Berkhof or Kuyper; not that I think they were the good old days, but CRC people were different than most are today; if the Banner has become a forum for questioning the historicity of Adam or the propriety of gay marriage... well, personally I cannot see any good coming from it; HOWEVER I do think these and other issues need discussion, just not in the Banner... my 2 cents... I fear we'll just give fuel to those with a bent for schism, like the debate over women in office... I wonder whether that could have been handled a bit more judiciously, instead of giving grounds for the fundamentalists in our family to pack up and leave

Paul, you observe that “discussions … of whatever editor we presently have will always be with us.” Since at least 1980, “whatever editor we have” has been theologically left of the CRC center, and objections to Banner content have come from those who resist its leftward leadership. Also, for 32 of the past 35 years, Banner editors have been Canadians who considered it part of their mandate to be provocative. (Full disclosure: I am married to a Canadian, have ministered in two Canadian congregations, and have preached in dozens more.)

This uniformly leftward choice of editors is related to the overall leftward slant of Board of Pubs/Faith Alive throughout this time period. For instance, Walhout was a longtime fixture there. If I recall correctly, when John Suk was nominated for editor, another finalist was Dr. Carl Zylstra, an eminently qualified person from the CRC’s center who had earned a Princeton Ph.D. and was later President of Dordt College. But the nominating body did not submit Dr. Zylstra’s name as part of a duo for Synod to select from; they presented the more liberal John Suk as a single nominee.

We haven’t had a Banner editor from the center or right of the church for decades. If the Banner continues to be published, maybe we ought to find out what it would be like to have an editor from the CRC mainstream who does not think that provocateur is part of his job description.

this always seemed like the bottom line to me; yet certain OT laws in practice seemed to not always follow that ideal; in spite of that, it appears that "one flesh" in its context "set up" a couple that they might fulfill the cultural mandate; but I guess this is far afield from the original question, what do we want, or expect, from the Banner; and I still believe that arguing over controversial questions ought to be done in more "scholarly" publications

My fear for Synod is my expectation of a comment discussion, that we will spend time wandering around debating sex, science and the worthiness of our present editor. Discussions of sex, science and the worthiness of whatever editor we presently have will always be with us, it seems to me foundational question is the question of this article, "What do we want from The Banner?"

I think most of us will agree the denomination needs to be able to manage a number of missions at once:

1. Prescriptive Faith formation and doctrinal instruction. The assumption of the Banner for this mission and the felt betrayal by the two articles in question and the editorial decision to put them through is what is drawing all the heat. OK. but if this is the mission of the Banner then we should say so.

2. Space for exploration tolerating divergent even heterodox ideas. When I work with people, in and out of the church I encourage them to speak their minds and their hearts and I value honesty over correctness in this mode. Most of us get this as a necessary part of a process for individuals and communities to work out their faith and figure out how what they believe fits, or does not fit with the catholic church. Should The Banner be a space for this? Our current "mission statement" for the Banner seems to suggest it, and given the limited media modes of communal conversation in most of the 20th century it fits. The question is whether it fits the present realities of The Banner as print medium combined with its promotional mission (which is a separate mission from points 1 and 2 here).

When the matter of adopting the Belhar arose the most interesting question for me was how would our denomination manage a communal conversation and decision of this magnitude? My conclusion based not necessarily on observing the outcome as much as the process was "not very well".

Questions of sex and science along side the matters of power and privilege which the Belhar sought to address are large and broad conversations that the church must engage because society is engaging them. If the church wants to have both influence and a voice we will need to figure out how to do so.

James Schaap has been the CRC historian for the late 20th century. The piece he wrote for the 150th anniversary of the CRC noted that the reality of our place in our time is that we've lost the ability to control the question. CRC minds and hearts, of laity and pastor alike are shaped far more by voices outside the CRC than inside. No decision on the Banner will change this. We will not have the kind of voice in the Banner that we had in the days before TV and then the Internet took possession of the agenda. The question we must ask is how will we steward the conversations we are capable of. We will talk about sex and science and power and privilege but what we need to figure out first is how will we talk.

1 Corinthians 6:16

New International Version (NIV)

16 Do you not know that he who unites himself with a prostitute is one with her in body? For it is said, “The two will become one flesh.”


Thus the sex act was/is the marriage ceremony. 

I always appreciate your clarity, David.  

An Old-Testament colleague of mine at Calvin recently published a piece about Biblical understandings of marriage that might be helpful:  

The text says Isaac "married Rebekah. So she became his wife, and he loved her." I interpret these ever-so-complicated words to mean that Isaac married Rebekah and she became his wife and he loved her. What is ambiguous about that? What facts are not in evidence? Rebekah and her family had already agreed to the marriage before she met Isaac. She then made the journey and met Isaac. At that point, he married her. The text speaks of marriage, not mere cohabitation. How does this text clash with biblical teaching that sex apart from marriage is fornication?

>There is no similar ambiguity in Scriptural teaching about fornication,

How do you interpret Gen 24:65-67 without ambiguity or assuming facts not in evidence?

65 and asked the servant, “Who is that man in the field coming to meet us?”

“He is my master,” the servant answered. So she took her veil and covered herself.

66 Then the servant told Isaac all he had done. 67 Isaac brought her into the tent of his mother Sarah, and he married Rebekah. So she became his wife, and he loved her; and Isaac was comforted after his mother’s death.

You got this complementarian saying, "Preach it, sister!"  : )

If you ever get to Seattle we have a great pub a block away from the condo.  If everything I knew about the JWs I learned from The Watchtower that would be enough to keep me away from them. The web is a wonderful invention but seems to bring out the worst in some people. 

Not all issues are the same.  Throughout the debate on women's ordination, the CRC declined to define the issue as rising to the level of the confessions.  Those who were advocates for the ordination of women were not ever charged with violating the Form of Subscription as far as I know.  Precisely because this was not a confessional issue, it has been possible for the denomination to live with a local option on women's ordination.  The doctrine of original sin is not like this.  The condemnation of all unchastity is not like this.  These issues are explicitly addressed in our confessions.  On these issues, we have an authoritative, confessional interpretation of what Scripture teaches.  Those who have signed the covenant for office-bearers are supposed to exercise our theological and intellectual freedom within the bounds of the confessions.     

The debate about women's ordination was always about how to interpret Scripture on an issue that was not definitively settled by our confessions, and even in the midst of disagreement my experience of the CRC debate was that those who disagreed nonetheless recognized each other's genuine intention to honor Scriptural authority.  That's still my experience.  This is reasonable, because there are passages of Scripture that speak positively about women as prophets and worship leaders and images of God and other passages of Scripture that speak negatively about women as preachers and leaders in the church.  Which passages should control the interpretation of which?  That's a fair question, and even though I am absolutely confident in my interpretation of these passages, I respect those who reach different conclusions and honor their need to be obedient to Scripture as they read it.  There is no similar ambiguity in Scriptural teaching about fornication, and suggesting that a defense of fornication is somehow analogous to a defense of speaking God's word while female is rather offensive.    

So could we please not confuse the conversation by appealing to women's ordination as if it is a precedent for every other debate in which the denomination engages? 


2) Words and phrases that need to have a very clear definition and understanding of the following terms or reconsider using these terms:

a. restorative justice

Restorative justice is a very broad term and needs clarity... Please include a clear, specific reference to a document, or include an appendix to what is meant by this term.  Looking back at Synod 2005, I could not find the definition in the acts of synod and needed to look in the 2005 agenda to find some idea of what we mean by this here, it was not a quick and easy search to find out what this means.  I read the 2005 overture related to this concept which states many of the same concerns I have about this concept.  Have those concerns been addressed anywhere?  If so, how, when and where?,  So, not seeing any definition in the proposed changes is concerning.

If the perpetrator is a master manipulator, the victim might be the one who ends up repenting and apologizing to the abuser.    Unbelievable?  Not unheard of, unfortunately.  I’m sure that’s not the intention, but I've heard about the victims where their spiritual leaders use their authority and tell them they are the ones in the wrong for a variety of reasons and that they are the ones that should be repenting and apologizing and asking for forgiveness.  (see above comment on timeliness and how some assume the person bringing the charge is at fault for making it drag on as one example).  I would like to see a clear, concise definition, understanding that can be quickly accessed either referenced or included here.

I agree that restorative justice is often not appropriate for charges regarding ungodly sexual conduct and any kind of abuse.  The Holy Spirit is the only One Who can ever restore the damage to the trust and innocence and other “intangibles” that have been damaged because of the situation.  I would love to see the prophetic and inner healing recognized as part of the process.  It seems that is recognized minimally in this process.

We want to make the assumption that whoever is leading will do so in a righteous, holy and godly manner.  I want to believe that too, and did for most of my life.  However, in the last several years, I have witnessed and researched multiple situations where that was not the case when it came to sexual immorality in leadership.  I have studied the Catholic Church and the sexual abuse of children that was going on for decades and how multiple levels including the Vatican were involved in covering it up, and protecting the reputation of the leader and the Church at the cost of the victim.  The code of secrecy that contributed to decades long cover up and keeping it hidden, again at the expense of those who were and continued to be victimized by leaving the priests in leadership positions, where they could continue to do their evil “deeds”.   I have researched the Sovereign Grace lawsuit, again, where sexual abuse against children by leaders was covered up for many, many years with leaders aware of it and left the perpetrators in positions of leadership, where they could continue to abuse.  I have researched Bill Gothard, a key ministry leader in the patriarchal movement, how he for years took advantage of teen girls who volunteered in his ministry, to date there have been over 30 that have come forward.  And most recently we have Doug Phillips, also a key Christian leader in the patriarchal and home school movement, in a lawsuit for sexual abuse, to mention just a few situations that have been publicized.   Along with that, in the last several years several women that have been in the crc, have shared with me their stories of abuse by leaders in the church, and that in all of their situations, the leaders were left in leadership.  Also, I have heard from others involved in a number of other abuse stories within the crc that had the same result: NO JUSTICE, and leaders protected.   Restorative justice would be wonderful, but in too many situations, we aren’t even seeing any JUSTICE at this point, unless it goes public, forcing leadership to deal with it in a more transparent way.

(there will be more words that I would like to see defined or clarified in a subsequent comment)


Rebecca... "deeply saddened"? how about angry!?

sorry for jerkin' your chain Bill; it's just that... well... 200 years from now the Lord's people will still be arguing....


I was a supralapsarian Calvinist, when John Calvin wasn't cool

Thank God for David Feddes' excellent commentary on Rev.Ken Baker's feeble attempt to appear neutral. He isn't. The Banner's board of trustees must be replaced by members committed to defend the Reformed doctrine and the CRC's Calvinist heritage. For starters, Rev. Bob DeMoor must go..   

I still cannot believe your response. The internet has brought great blessings. It has also provided a forum for, well, ... let's just say people still wet behind the ears. Lev 19.32. Oh, right. That's the OT. Give me a break. Hey Bill. if we ever meet face to face, let's sit down over a brew and have a go....

David ...maybe this seems completely inappropriate... how old is he? The older I get, the scriptures that put a premium on age seem so appropriate.

Your "clear area" is my "gray area." Many "clear" doctrines are logical constructs. It took 300 years and Constantine to settle the "Trinity" issue.  

Like "The Watchtower?"  Is the primary purpose of CRCNA to serve the needs of the member congregations or to serve the needs of the CRCNA? There is a big difference. Compare CRCNA with the US federal government?? If CRCNA wants/needs a publication for advertising purposes maybe it should be delegated to Home Missions. The common areas between advertising copy and a house organ may be the stories about current events at local congregations and CRC members in the news. 

As a former president of the CRC's publishing arm and as a current member of the CRC's Board of Trustees, Rev. Ken Baker is not a neutral observer merely asking some questions. He is a powerful denominational leader who has been directly involved in these matters. He evidently still isn't convinced Bob DeMoor was wrong to publish the articles. He wonders, "Did they cross the line?" He still doesn't know the answer to that question. No wonder Rev. Baker and his fellow members on the Board of Trustees gave such an inadequate response to The Banner's blunders. No wonder Synod itself needs to address the matter.

Rev. Baker should acknowledge that Edwin Walhout isn't just another CRC member with some opinions that push the envelope. Walhout was a longtime leader at CRC Publications (later Faith Alive, of which Rev. Baker was board president). After retirement, Walhout declared in print that the Reformed confessions are no longer normative for him and wrote that Reformed doctrines would topple like dominos under the force of evolutionary theory. This is the man whose assertions Bob DeMoor decided to spread to every family in the CRC.

Rev. Baker should acknowledge that former Banner editor John Suk left the CRC after affirming homosexual marriage and expressing disbelief in Jesus' Second Coming. Suk published a book titled "Not Sure." This title was echoed in Bob DeMoor's editorial "Don't Be So Sure," published shortly before he published the articles exalting evolution and cohabitation.

Rev. Baker appeals to the editor's "ten years of faithful and edifying service." Picture a pastor who has served in a CRC congregation for ten years. The congregation has recently been shaken to learn that its former pastor has renounced key doctrines and joined an ultra-liberal denomination. Around this time, the current pastor preaches a sermon titled, "Don't Be So Sure." A month later, he knowingly invites a guest preacher to proclaim to the whole congregation that Adam never existed and that Reformed doctrines must fall like dominoes. The next month, he invites a guest speaker to tell the youth group that sex before marriage is fine if two people feel sort of mature and committed. When many people from the congregation express outrage over these things, the pastor says he's sorry they got so upset, and he explains that he was just trying to stimulate discussion. Most CRC congregations would not continue to employ such a pastor. Even if some Council members still liked him and still thought he was not really trying to undermine  confidence in biblical, Reformed truth, they would recognize that he had brought division and had lost the confidence of too many people in the congregation to continue serving the whole church effectively.

Back to Rev. Baker's question: What do we want from The Banner? For starters, we want it to be trustworthy. We want faithfulness to the church's doctrinal and ethical standards. We want a magazine with content that every CRC household can trust to be biblical and Reformed, or else we want to stop using ministry shares to send that magazine to every CRC household. We want an editor who firmly rejects and opposes the direction taken by Banner/Pubs predecessors such as Walhout and Suk, not an editor who publishes Walhout and echoes Suk's call to be unsure. We want more than an editorial apology for "the manner and timing of publishing these articles"; we want an editor with the wisdom not to publish such articles at all.

And we want real accountability. The Banner Editorial Council was of no help at all; they unanimously approved the editor's decision to print the articles. The Board of Trustees was of little help. Trustee Baker still doesn't know if the articles crossed the line, and evidently others on the Board were equally indecisive. They called the editor to Grand Rapids for a conversation, issued some damage control press releases, and continued with business as usual. The Board of Trustees, after further study, called for stronger oversight--and then gave the editor veto power in choosing half the members of the committee that is supposed to hold him accountable. Synod must do better than that.

Just to weigh in again... here in the NE, the CRC is not doing well, a trend which I, for one, will do all I can to reverse. We need some kind of magazine that can be left in offices, and in other public places, that will present a positive, uplifting message that is at the same time faithful to the sovereignty of God. Our own "kitchen tables" are quickly dwindling in size, and in many places disappearing.


What is contrary to Scripture's clear teaching relating to the offending articles is heresy. "Did God really say 'you must not eat from any tree in the garden'?"(Gen 3:1). 

Good point on the print vs. online nature of all this, Paul.  That's an element that will continue to develop.  In some ways it may be that in this day and age a site like the Network is better suited for being the "kitchen table" of the denomination than the Banner.  Also, because of it's highly democratic nature, open discussion in this format is less likely to be seen as "pushing an agenda".

I agree to that Bill

I agree, Paul. The question is an excellent one.

I read many of the author's concluding questions as rhetorical. They seem more like statements than actual questions. In the second-to-last paragraph he seems to be saying that the CRC lacks a clear position on certain issues so The Banner should explore what our position should be. We don't truly lack a position on some of the issues that have been raised by The Banner (I'm thinking particularly about the VanBelle article there, as the catechism states our official position on cohabitation). When we do need to explore new theological terrain it seems best to follow the processes prescribed in the Church Order. Councils create overtures. Classes forward quality overtures to Synod. Synod decides if the overture should be normative. I'm not sure where The Banner fits into that process. I'd be willing to hear thoughts from others on that matter.

The subject of the published written material which generated the complaint does not seem to involve matters of salvation and do not seem to rise to the level of possible heresy.

Hey, we all know it's tough in the world. Unemployment, sickness, discouragement... why can't we have a magazine that will be edifying? And use other venues to wrestle?

Again, I believe the CRC would be better served by a magazine that is edifying, positive, and useful as a tool for outreach. I am glad that we continue to ask hard questions, and seek to understand the ongoing work of the Spirit of God in the world. But I think there are other forums. Why can't we have a magazine that can be left in public places that is gospel oriented and, yes, a bit simple? People in the world are not as thoughtful as many in the CRC would like to think. They tend to repeat slogans.


IMHO, The CRC would best  be served by a magazine that is winsome, edifying, clear, and useful as an outreach tool. Controversial issues can be dealt with in other publications.


I think there are a variety of issues we need to weigh if we are to answer the question about the mission of The Banner.

1. When the CRC decided to use The Banner as a vehicle for promoting the work of CRC agencies and informing CRC members about that ministry, did we undermine it's ability to act like "a kitchen table" for more debating open ended, free flowing ideas? In other words when we use the publication for promotion of ministries, do we set up an implicit message that the ideas presented in other articles are also being promoted? The heart of the protest seems to be the assumption that however one construes the "voice" of the CRC (ED, Banner editor, etc.) that anything that comes along side report and celebration OF agency work carries with it an implicit message? Maybe the Banner is too narrow a channel to process multiple functions and for that reason has caused confusion and anger.

2. Who reads the Banner? My assumption is that the MOST faithful CRC members and contributors to CRC agency ministry are its core audience. My guess is that this audience in the US tends to skew conservative. My guess is that in Canada it's more mixed. Again, these are all guesses that may be way off. If the Banner knows who is reading maybe they should share some of this data. Readership should also impact content. It's always tempting to try to expand readership by trying to speak to another audience, but if you do this you'd better let your base know exactly what you're doing. Given the protests I think this was also a fail if that was what was being tried. 

3. The Banner is one of multiple CRC entities that try to stimulate conversation. Another is of course "The Network". Paper vs. online also impacts readership, mission and purpose. Evaluation of The Banner's mission should not be done in isolation to the other assets the CRC possesses. It is a part of the overall package. The question is "what part should it play" given history, paper vs. online, readership, etc. 

4. "Disruption" is a word used to describe how the Internet has changed many industries, print media not the least of these. The world has changed since my grandmother wrote "Women's World" in the Banner in the 60s. The Banner has changed since the Kuyvenhoven era with wooden shoe burning. John Suk former editor wrote "Not Sure" and left the denomination because he wasn't. Navigating change requires wisdom and kindness. We'll need both for this conversation. pvk

Whatever you imagine may be on the mind of the author, Ken Baker, I didn't read those words in the text. He's asking the question "what do we want from the Banner" which I would paraphrase "What is the Banner for?"

I think that is the question, and is the right question to ask. While we're in the busines of mind reading I interpret most of the protests assume the job of the Banner is to promote the perspective of the CRC on a variety of issues. That's a fine mission and if that is the mission of the Banner then clearly the two articles failed and protest is appropriate. Is that the mission of the Banner? Should that be the mission of The Banner? It's a fine mission, and maybe it should be. If that is the case then we should clarify that mission, the boundaries, give the staff time to evaluate if they wish to participate in this mission, make adjustments and proceed. I think that is exactly what Ken in this piece is asking. It's a good question.  


I would be deeply saddened if Synod were to overturn the decision of the Board of Trustees to keep Editor DeMoor in his position. Editor DeMoor's public apology ( states his commitment to our church and our beliefs, as well as communicating an understanding that his role carries great responsibility. The board's decision included a note that that these articles may have indicated a lapse in judgment, but not a pattern of irresponsibility.

From my perspective as a reader of The Banner and a church member, I had great appreciation for the way this was handled. In this situation, as in so many situations, I feel that if there is to be an error, it must be on the side of grace and forgiveness. What becomes of us - ANY of us - if a momentary lapse of judgment is that on which we are judged?

I appreciate very much the thoughtful articles in The Banner. I think it is important to be challenged, and when we are, we must have faith that God's truth will prevail in the discussion. If we stop asking hard questions and engaging in difficult debate, then we will have lost one of the wonderful things I have come to greatly appreciate about this tradition of which I am a part.

When this article compares The Banner's offensive articles on same-sex relations with debate on women in office,it clearly reveals the CRC leadership's misguided intent to keep our magazine's liberal agenda on track.    

I interpret this article as a defense of Bob DeMoor and the publication of the two articles. It seems to me the defense is often built on a false dichotomy: either The Banner tows the denominational line with rote, stale answers to important issues or we allow its authors to push us outside our existing theological framework so that we might find new answers. I propose a "third way" where The Banner challenges the church to think critically and creatively while remaining true to the Bible and our confessions. Unfortunately the Walhout and VanBelle articles do not fulfill those requirements. For examples of thought-provoking articles that accomplish this, check out the blog of Kevin DeYoung, a pastor in the RCA. Our own Forum magazine produced by the seminary also does a good job of meeting those goals.