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Inspired by the Herald

I’m so overjoyed at receiving the Herald in Chad. I really appreciate the effort to send it to this far corner of the world. It is a lifeline and spiritual inspiration. I’m always excited when they say, “Lori, you got some mail,” and it is the Herald. Thanks for your insightful one-page inspiration on the inside cover and, of course, all the news.

Lori Hildebrand
N’Djamena, Chad


Proper book review required

Re “Politics, peace, and making Jesus Lord” (Crosscurrents, October). The puzzling omission of anything about Paul Doerksen’s book Beyond Suspicion in John Redekop’s review exposes the assessment as obtuse – either deliberately inattentive to or obstinately ignorant of Doerksen’s basic argument.

Doerksen compares and analyzes Yoder and O’Donovan as two examples of Christians attempting “to relate discourse about God to political thought and social structure.” For example, because we say God is love, all our thoughts and actions should reflect this love. The book is a work of political theology as a contribution to conversations in which what we say about God matters for how we live. That is, to say “Jesus is Lord” affects how we address social issues such as video games, medical ethics, and responsible lifestyles.

Contemporary liberalism tries to relegate religious claims such as the lordship of Christ to the private life of individuals; religious belief is demoted to personal opinion and emotional devotion. Political liberalism institutes this constriction, arranging the social order in opposition to commitments of faith; justice, it is presumed, requires the suspension of religious convictions. Doerksen, through Yoder and O’Donovan, refutes political liberalism. He argues that just social arrangements – fair distribution of and access to goods, the equality and dignity of all people, virtuous economic practices – can be based on what we have seen and learned in the Bible about Jesus Christ, the image of God. What we call “political” and “theological” are not separate realms, but different words we use to describe our understanding of living in the redemption witnessed on the cross and in the empty tomb.

In short, Doerksen’s book thinks through God’s love for the world and how we can participate in that love through our lifestyles and relationships with our neighbours. Thus, loving as God loves is not an opinion or a mere emotion, but helps us think about how we run public charities, penal and legal systems, and even entertainment.

Doerksen’s book merits a proper review, which this letter cannot do adequately. Redekop’s appraisal is the scolding of a straw man. The “review” is the presentation of Redekop’s hobbyhorse, claiming that Yoder’s Politics of Jesus is “misinformed idealism.” Simply put, Redekop uses Doerksen’s book to smuggle his own brand of political liberalism into the MB church. He claims that the triumph of Christ is irrelevant to national governments, the church’s witness to secular society is naïve, and people of God “obviously” can’t be instruments of God’s justice. In short, Redekop presumes that religion must be left behind in the order of society – what we say about God has nothing to do with how we relate to one another socially.

Redekop categorically divides “theology” and “politics,” which makes Christ’s lordship irrelevant to politics and society. Redekop takes as his norm the standards of secular government, which marginalizes faith in order to arrogate to itself power and authority. Politics, according to Redekop and political liberalism, is merely the competition of wills. Ultimate power is in the hands of a few humans at the top of society rather than in the pierced hands of the resurrected Christ.

Even secular political theorists have begun to realize that faith claims can contribute to discussions of social justice and public policy. The assumption that the UN and Marxists are completely uninterested in religious issues is antiquated – 9/11 showed us that interpretations of God’s activity are political. Thus, Redekop offers a stale political science at best, and an idolatrous religious dualism at worst. Both pervert the true politics of God’s will that we love one another as we love God.

I encourage MBs to read Doerksen’s book.

Joe Wiebe
Hamilton, Ont.


Is our worship truly inspired?

Re “From education to encounter” (November). Does it matter whether there are 50 or 60 years of evolving worship styles? Do the changes increase godly fear, faith in the Word of God, mutual edification, and up-building? If not, the new ways seem to miss the mark.

The Israelites too missed the mark. They worshipped and sacrificed to God in the desert for 40 years, all the while grumbling, rebelling, unbelieving, and stubborn in heart. The consequences were that God vowed in his anger “they shall never enter my rest” (Hebrews 4:3).

Generally speaking, it does not appear that the majority of believers have come to any amount of rest because sin still abounds in various forms. Many hurry to and fro and scarcely have time to hear God speak through the Word in their daily lives. How can anyone imagine that with a weekly worship performance God is honoured and appreciative of the programmed public spectacle? Many sullenly participate because it’s the thing to do. No wonder plans by worship committees evolve from one borrowed attraction to another to get congregants to be outwardly involved.

The best way for congregants to be involved would be for committees and leaders to step back and let individual believers, with their own mouths, praise, thank, and glorify God. This could be more contagious than the flu. Sadly such freedom is, in most places, not desired, or curtailed by appointed leaders.

Max Woerlen
Fenwick, Ont.


Immaculate Conception a false teaching

Re “A traditional calendar of Christmas” (Homepage, December). The Immaculate Conception is a false teaching and has no place inside the MB church. Jesus’ conception was most assuredly immaculate, but the Immaculate Conception does not refer to Jesus at all. The Immaculate Conception is the belief that Mary was protected from original sin, that Mary did not have a sin nature, and was, in fact, sinless.

The Bible does not even hint that there was anything significant about Mary’s conception. If we examine this concept logically, Mary’s mother would have to be immaculately conceived as well. How could Mary be conceived without sin if her mother was sinful? The same would have to be said of Mary’s grandmother, great-grandmother, and so on.

The Bible teaches the miraculous virgin conception of Jesus Christ, not the immaculate conception of Mary. So the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception is neither biblical nor necessary.

Bertrand Ouimet
Chilliwack, B.C.


Our leadership models put us at risk

Let’s step up our discipleship game” and “Help our youth pastors” (Letters, December) identify symptoms of gross neglect in teaching the whole counsel of God. In 2 Timothy 3:16–17, St. Paul instructs Timothy, “All Scripture is inspired by God…. God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work.” Then some tough stuff to brood over: “Teach these things and INSIST that everyone learn them” (1 Timothy 4:11, NLT, emphasis added). This is a huge challenge since we are tempted to “buy in” to the values of a very narcissistic culture. The evidence of that even in our MB churches is abundant.

A leadership model we have morphed into is a commercial model. Just check the “Church Staff” vacancies on page 27 of the December Herald. These are clearly commercial models of leadership in which we sign up the appropriate applicant, and then we are free to pursue our own “commerce.” Yet “rented pastors” are expected to generate energy and crank up the local saints for the Great Commission.

This is a far cry from St. Paul’s instruction to Timothy, “Now teach these truths to other trustworthy people who will be able to pass them on to others” (2 Timothy 2:2, NLT). And how “safe” is it for such pastors to teach the “whole counsel of God”? Can a pastor teach on stewardship without people thinking, “This guy wants a higher salary”?

When St. Paul bade farewell to the Ephesian elders, he said, “I declare today that I have been faithful. If anyone suffers eternal death, it’s not my fault, for I didn’t shrink from declaring all that God wants you to know” (Acts 20:26–27, NLT). The area of mentorship is where we need the most help as Canadian MBs. To sublet this task to a hireling is to put the saints at risk. We cannot leave the individual member off the hook because when the jig is up, we will all stand before God with no one else to blame, and no way to sublet responsibility.

George H. Epp
Chilliwack, B.C.


Angels are for real

On the cover of the last MB Herald there is a picture of an angel (December). The morning of July 12, 2010 was going well. I decided I’d go outside and spray my one cent coins. There was time to wait for a second coat, so I wandered over to the garden gate to greet my neighbour.

I went back to my job, but as I reached out to my project I was on the pavement. I tried to get up, but it didn’t work. While lying on my back I saw two angels coming toward me. They grabbed me under the arms and lifted me up. They then put my project under my arm and asked, “Do you think you can walk home?”

I answered, “Yes.” With that the angels were gone, leaving me with a piece of pavement on my clothes and a sore hip.

There are real angels that came to help me up.

Norman Fehr
Kelowna, B.C.

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