Dubito, ergo cogito, ergo sum.
I am an ordained minister in the CRCNA. I work in the publishing world. So, technically my work is read by millions, which scares me the heebie jeebies (in the apprehensive sense of the word).
Posted in: CRC Pamphlet on Theological Streams in CRC
I agree with James' observations about the so-called streams. It not only pigeon-holes people, but in my humble view, how can we possibly have a clear taxonomy of people in the CRC? When in reality, the CRC is composed of a steady flow (in waves, that is) of immigrants from the Low Countries since circa 1850s. Logically, we would be inclined to think that the most recent waves of immigrants are probably the ones who have more influence in the affairs of the church, that is, the post-WWII immigrants, namely, the Canadian side of the church. And, with the same logic we would suspect that the pietistic stream, the oldest, is no longer influential since it is over a century old.
The closest "timing" of such waves that I can think of is divided in eras: 1850s, 1880s, 1920s, and Post-WWII. For me, the era that interests me the most is the fourth one (Post-WWII) for it is in that era that the church began to open just a little to other ethnicities (1950s).
Also, the Kuyperian model is problematic, especially for people of color.
Posted in: Timothy Institute
Guillermo, yo también estoy familiarizado con el TLT. Me encantaría conocer las opiniones de los demás pastores de la CRC ya que tengo un sinnúmero de interrogantes. Y, me gustaría que abordemos este tema con una mente abierta a toda crítica constructiva porque el TLT tiene el potencial de ser útil en nuestro propio contexto estadounidense (no sé si hay iglesias hispanas CRC en el Canadá). Algunas de las interrogantes que yo personalmente tengo son las siguientes:
1. Con TANTOS programas de entrenamiento de «líderes» por todo el mundo y en especial, en América Latina (realmente excesivo), ¿por qué el TLT debe ser nuestra opción a elegir?
2. Tengo entendido que el TLT se enfoca principalmente en entrenar a líderes laicos, pero nuestra tradición teológica, por su ADN religioso, forma líderes profesionales (en el buen sentido de la palabra). ¿No es esto una especie de estándar doble? ¿por qué no formar a pastores con los mismos requisitos y calidad de formación profesional que se recibe en América del Norte? A mí me parece que esto es como «echarle agua a los frijoles».
3. La gran mayoría de expertos en el tema de la educación teológica en América Latina concuerda que se necesita una mayor y mejor formación profesional del clero protestante frente al avasallador avance de las sectas falsas y los distintos movimientos semi-ortodoxos. ¿Por qué, entonces, queremos hacer lo contrario?
4. Me hace recordar la inmemorable cátedra que Roger Greenway dijera una vez en el CTS refiriéndose a la obra misionera en la década de los 50: «las estadísticas demuestran que la población está migrando a las ciudades en cifras geométricas... nosotros, en cambio, enviamos misioneros al campo, a las zonas rurales... ambos grupos se cruzan en el camino».
Posted in: Timothy Institute
Concuerdo contigo, Guillermo. Has mencionado puntos muy importantes que el TLT podría ofrecer a las congregaciones hispanas de la CRC. El desafío es cómo hacer que «cuaje» en nuestro contexto, que es bastante sui generis. Yo creo que un buen paso práctico sería mayor divulgación de parte de los dirigentes del TLT.
Ahora que ando pasando tiempo en el sur, me he podido reconectar con esa «realidad» que es difícil (o imposible) vivirla en nuestros castillos de invierno.
En cuanto a lo que mencionas acerca de las metas más «creíbles» o realistas que otros programas más triunfalistas, me parece que se ajusta mucho más a nuestra demografía hispana de la CRC (aprox. 1,500 miembros en total en toda la denominación... contando a todo lo que respira). ¿Te acuerdas de los 300,000 para el año 2000? ¿o de tantos plantadores de iglesia que hemos visto ir y venir y que con la ilusión generada por HM y por el propio entusiasmo quedaron varados en el camino y el tiempo se tragó sus recuerdos?
Otro asunto que me viene a la mente es el del sustento económico de los líderes laicos o incluso de los líderes ordenados. Porque me parece que este asunto siempre ha sido un tema álgido en nuestro contexto y condición de inmigrantes (la gran mayoría). Tú y yo sabemos que el bivocacionalismo ha sido una de esas modas a las que se le ha dado como al cántaro, pero una cosa es recomendar el bivocacionalismo desde una cómoda silla Herman Miller en una oficina bien amoblada y otra cosa distinta es darse cuenta que la chamba, la pega o el jale no alcanza para pagar las cuentas de fin de mes. Me parece que el TLT da por sentado un bivocacionalismo tácito en su filosofía de ministerio. ¿Estoy en lo cierto o me equivoco?
Aún sigo con ansias de escuchar las opiniones de los demás.
Posted in: Saludos
¡Hola a todos! y un afectuoso saludo desde Lima, Perú. ¡Qué bueno que podamos ventilar nuestras opiniones en un foro oficial como éste y hacerlo en nuestro idioma! Solo quiero recordarles un detalle importante, que cuando discutamos asuntos de nuestro interés y al mismo tiempo deseemos influenciar o concientizar las estructuras denominacionales en sus distintos niveles (consejo, classis y Sínodo) que debemos hacerlo en el idioma del poder, ya que oficialmente nuestra denominación (y nuestro país) no es bilingüe. Aunque... pensándolo bien, técnicamente sí lo es ya que la CRCNA es una denominación binacional (USA y el Canadá) y por ser también canadiense, debe por ley comunicarse en inglés y francés (aunque en la realidad no suceda).
¿Creen Uds. que veremos el día en que el Director Ejecutivo de la denominación se dirija al Sínodo --así como el Papa-- en varios idiomas, en especial en español?
…I am going to name one of the elephants in the CRC living room
the reason why the CRC was "succesfull" in the past is very simple, and it has more to do with anthropology and sociology than with faith and religion: racial solidarity
those who grew up in the bosom of the CRC know very well what I am talking about
Posted in: Intentionally Diverse and Unified
I partially agree on this one with aguilla1, and it is a very important subject. The use of the noun/adjective "Dutch" in the CRC is plagued with stereotypes of all sorts (good ones and really bad ones), there is also a great deal of ignorance about history and the migration of people. By the way, I am not insulting anyone, I am just saying that there is ignorance (lack of information or knowledge) on both sides, the "Dutch" side and the "Non-Dutch" side… if I may use those unfortunate polatisations.
It is also somewhat anachronistic —as aguilla1 has rightly pointed out— to refer to a third or fifth or tenth generation American or Canadian or any other nationality, as "Dutch" in the sense to highlight their racial/ethnic/cultural identity. It is like the Italians who left "Italy" during the first half of the 19th century. There was no modern "Italy" back then, only a collection of rival Italian nations, with their own cultures, dialects, foods, traditions and people, until their unification in 1861.
Nevertheless, for our own purpose, I suspect the term "Dutch" is used more to illustrate the solidarity and privileges that people with ancestry in the Low Countries have enjoyed in North America, in contrast with other ethnicities that may not have had such privileges.
So, if we want to be more specific, as aguilla1 is requesting, perhaps we should start refering immigrants from the Netherlands as "Bible-belt Netherlands" people, or Frisians, or Belgians or Batavians or how about Surinamese, but that would be utterly impractical and non-sense even for people of Dutch ancestry.
So, the one hard fact we have about this subject is that we live in a racialised society, divided by skin color, cultural origin, and all sorts of other evil things… we have a loooong way to go as a church and as a society.
Dear David, you have inadvertedly uncover one of those sneaky "blind spots" that the CRC has about herself (every human group has them).
I will reveal to you and to your readers that secret or blind spot. I can do that not because I might be super smart or have a special channel of divine revelation or have a brain the size of those aliens from Star Trek (the Talosians). I can do that simply because I can observe the CRC from an "outsider" point of view (after all, I am sort of a Hispanic/Latino immigrant, Reformed-convert, CTS-graduate, adopted into the CRC).
Here it is: the truth is that the CRC "is" an ethnic religious group. I know that most people in the church see themselves as "average" American or Canadian, but looking it from a socio-religious-cultural perspective, the CRC is an ethnic enclave.
Let me anecdotally illustrate this. Many years ago, I was doing an intership in a large metropolitan city way south (but still in the U.S.), far away from the brain wave signals of Grand Rapids and its cultural influence. The church was "average" American, namely, it represented the sort of diverse population you might find anywhere in the country. Nevertheless, it had a susbtantial majority of people from Michigan to the point that some of the other White folks asked "why is there so many people from Grand Rapids in this congregation, and why do we talk so much about Michigan and Grand Rapids?"
They were also inadvertedly probing that blind spot. So, every time I read comments about "ethnic" groups in the CRC, I smile. Now, to be clear, some people love to say that we are growing in diversity and that things are changing for candidates so that it is hard to find a church. But, if we really look at statistics, the CRC is still very ethnic and very little has changed. So, if you are an "average" CRC candidate, you shouldn't really fear anything because a church is waiting for you somewhere.
I didn't miss the point. I just did not want to be too "wordy" and take up too many lines of this blog (research tells us that when web surfers see too many lines of text, they scroll down or click away of that page).
Yes, the candidates are waiting, that is obvious. Some of them wait for so long that they lose sight of their "vocatio." But, churches are also waiting, and taking their time exploring, searching, enjoying congregational life, cruising along with local retired ministers, et cetera. There is neither a single cause, nor a single solution.
Now, implicit in David's article is the answer already. Don't you think? Many candidates are in the waiting room because they are not fully prepare (due to multiple reasons) to take any call into any place. But, I am still conviced that under "normal" and "average" (poor word choice on my part indeed) circumstances, the candidate should be able to link with a church.
Now, another one off course: why is it that Anglo pastors can always serve ethnic churches and not always viceversa?
Posted in: Did You Notice How the World Has Changed?
Thanks, Joel, for this inspiring blog series.
I was struck by George's comments: "I think one of the biggest blessings we have to share with the church world wide is the education many of us have been priveleged to receive in North America and in most of Europe but this is also our biggest stumbling block."
I partially disagree with that perception about North American education. Some of the statistical data of recent decades and empirical observations may support my disagreement. I remember embarrasing moments when a Spaniard friend of mine visited Grand Rapids, and we toured some churches. He was asked several times, by intelligent and respectable people, if Spain was near Mexico. Another friend of mine, born and raised in the island of Puerto Rico, was asked also how long does it take driving to Puerto Rico, to which he replied: "not too long, but you might need a James Bond-type vehicle."
I fully understand what George infers about the fact that we have a more egalitarian and accesible education system in North America (and I am thankful for that), but we must strive to be careful about our comments because, whether we realize it or not, these venues are read by everyone in the blogosphere.
I think, Joel has shared what it might be a hope and a key to help us be less culturally arrogant, and more Christ-like: "Frankly, many of our young adults grasp this much better than does my generation."
We must strive to work WITH others, and ALONG SIDE them. I think the imperial era of working "TO" and "FOR" might be over, although I had been overseas for the last three years and sadly I still see that arrogan spirit among some Evangelical missionaries.
I also like Joel's dream: "I imagine North American Christians sitting at the feet…"
Posted in: What is a Reformed Charismatic?
I was overwhelmed by so many comments in favor of a so-called "Reformed Charismatic" label. For me, as a convert to Reformed Christianity, who flirted with Charismatic Evangelicalism for a while, I cannot disagree more with such stream. I apologize for being so blunt by I think we are being too naïve about the Charismatic movement and its benefits for our tradition. Yes, we need to change. But, that's what we have been trying to do since the Reformation (ecclesia reformata semper reformada…) and even before that.
The amount of heresy, arbitrary interpretations, lack of accountability, moral failures, prosperity gospel, abuse of power, apostles and prophets, latter-rain superiority, plain money-making schemes, and many other evils are more patent in the Charismatic movement than in any other segment of the Church. I can boldly say this because many, many years ago I had the "privilege" of working in a Charismatic television station, and had the chance to see first hand the lives of people who claim to be superior to other Christians who lack the fullness of the Spirit and its supernatural gifts. I've seen people who would make Bishop Earl Paulk look like a kindergartener as far as moral failures. I could go on and on, but for the sake of sanity, I am done. Please, take another look at things before jumping into a bandwagon that might look like one of those cinnamon rolls at the pastry shop, so delicious, so enticing, so sweet, so jummy, and so bad for your health.
Posted in: Should we Plant More Churches?
The irony of this topic is that in the CRC we have now more churches than ever, but our membership continues to decline. Could we draw some correlation between these two elements?
Perhaps, on the one hand we have an agency-driven obsession to "plant churches." And on the other hand, we have congregations that need to boost their commitment to reach the "outside" world, and take command of their God-given duty (and Church Order duty) to evangelize.