November 2011 Letters
Some things never change
Re “Changing times” (Intersection, September). I felt that some of James Toews’ views on changing times were out of balance. Toews showed how Jesus prepared his people for changing times. In three instances, Jesus tells his disciples how to understand changes relating to the future. How important that is! But, in comparison, Jesus taught much more about facts that don’t change, such as relationships between men and women, greed and generosity, loving God and your neighbour.
The church of Jesus must constantly change its structures. How true. The people of the kingdom are “guided in their changes by their mission to be the salt of the earth and the light of the world.” But how? Jesus states the mission in figurative terms. To be salt and light in changing times, we must know the unchanging teachings of Jesus: a clean, ethical life – sexually, financially, relationally – free from greed, and with love for one another. And when we fail in Christ’s teaching, he forgives and restores us.
John N. Klassen
A cowardly decision?
Re Gathering 2012 (September). It was fascinating to read the various reports from Gathering 2012. I think Terry Mochar’s prophetic word is awesome! He didn’t tell us anything we don’t already know, and it was more a reminder rather than something radical: it’s not about us – it’s about Jesus and the gospel message.
Jesus said to the paralytic in Matthew 9, “Pick up your mat and walk.” We’re also under that same authority to do something. In his Outfront column, Willy Reimer wrote that “we struggle to understand how to minister in our rapidly changing Canadian context.” We minister by action, not by fearfully sending an inspiring prophecy back for study and discussion.
As a denomination, we’re intelligent and successful in many areas of life. But we fail miserably when we hide behind our business success, brag about our musical prowess, or stay within the safety of our church walls. We need to become a people of action, trusting that God will work through every single one of us. We don’t need to wait for permission from our esteemed scholars to allow us to boldly put feet to our faith. Everything Jesus did was bold. Let’s not insult his actions by watering down and second-guessing every opportunity put in front of us!
Ready to listen
Re “A word from the Lord” (Outfront, July). Wow! Have you any idea how long the Lord has waited for this? Five years ago, during a moment of extreme impatience, I asked the Lord what to do with the information he had given me during the previous 30 years (via visions, dreams, and direct speech) concerning his church. He then instructed me to send letters to churches indicating what he had said. I prepared 15 letters to send to various congregations. The instant they dropped in the mail slot, the Lord said, “You won’t receive any response.” When I asked why, the Lord clearly, but sadly said, “They aren’t hurting enough.” Have we finally begun to hurt enough to consider that the Lord still communicates through prophetic speech and visions? “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding” (Proverbs 3:5).
Quill Lake, Sask.
Re “Hearing from the Lord at Gathering 2012” (Features, September). I understand that the role of good leadership is to periodically invite critical input and analysis to determine the health of an organization. And so requesting outside consultant Terry Mochar to assess the Canadian Conference of MB Churches would arguably be something consistent with good leadership. However, I read with incredulity when Mochar, in making a case for urgent response, stated with certainty that “the reality is that 31–33 million Canadians, at present rates, will be going into a Christ-less eternity.” I can only assume what he means, since I haven’t heard this term for a long time. It would seem important that those we invite to consult have the courage and capacity to speak the truth to us. But a statement like this, unfortunately, makes me question the entire message.
Consider context when interpreting Scripture
Re “Eldership and leadership not the same” (Letters, August). I’m a young woman studying at a Christian university, and found Paul Siemens’ reading of 1 Timothy (and Titus) to be inconsistent when he argued that egalitarian eldership should be avoided.
In 1 Timothy 3, Paul describes the high calling of an “elder” or “overseer.” However, isn’t it inconsistent to take literally that elders be male, while allowing women to teach and speak (1 Timothy 2:11–12)? If we follow 1 Timothy 3 literally, then we must also follow literally the verses prior to it.
Yes, historically elders have been males. But, from my understanding, women in the New Testament were generally uneducated. Women weren’t educated enough to speak in church, let alone be considered as an elder. Yet, Jesus invited women to learn (e.g., Mary and Martha), and he also first brought the good news of his resurrection to women. Jesus himself was subverting the status quo by raising up women.
1 Timothy 2:11–12, like all Scripture, was written for a reason. The tough part is finding out which Scriptures are cross-cultural and should be taken literally (e.g., loving our neighbour), and which pieces were written for a specific place and time (perhaps parts of Paul’s letters?).
Claiming that women should have equal opportunity in the church doesn’t signal disregard for the authority of Scripture. The issue isn’t about either following culture or Scripture. How we judge culture depends on how we read Scripture.