Frowning on denominational divisions
Re “Pilgrim in process” (Features, January). Thank you, Walter Unger. Your pilgrimage is a reflection of mine, except much better expressed. Jesus pioneered the worldwide church by focusing on the spiritual foundations of a way of life that can never be repeated by various restrictive, evolving denominational pursuits. Thank you for focusing on the way Jesus went. Those who follow in his steps are not bound to earthly membership lists.
In celebration of women
Erika and I have been missionaries for 23 years with MB Mission. We’ve worked shoulder to shoulder all this time, as do most missionary couples. Numerous times, one of us has had to take up responsibilities when the other has been ill or had to travel. There has always been a division of labour according to gifts.
As far as preaching goes, we both enjoy it. However, during a special time of revival when I gave an altar call, only a few responded. The next Sunday, many more responded when Erika preached. It was a no-brainer to realize that Erika was God’s primary instrument in this area, not I.
Had it been culturally appropriate, I would have consulted with the church council to see if they discerned this as well, and then taken the matter to the church body. If they had agreed with me, I would have been happy to no longer be the primary preacher. (Billy Graham’s daughter, Anne Graham Lotz has an incredible ministry. Billy considers her to be the best preacher in their family. It makes you wonder: How many Annes are there in our churches, just sitting in the pews?)
It’s not that I’m a wimp. Latin America, with its machismo, required that I be the pastor, and I enjoyed it. But there’s no way I could have done it by myself. Rare is the missionary who hasn’t said his wife is his rock, the one who keeps him on an even keel. The overarching principle for us is Ephesians 5:21, where we submit to one another out of reverence to Christ.
In any event, I will have to answer to the Lord not only for the gifts I had, but whether I allowed Erika to exercise all of hers. When all is said and done, before the cross, we’re all on level ground.
How about “BC” armbands?…as in “biblical Christians”
Re Navigating the waters: Charting the evangelical Anabaptist current (February). For many folks sitting in the pews, the evangelical Anabaptist discussion is confusing and irrelevant. History, tradition, and experience are very important aspects of our faith. However, anytime our primary focus is not based on Scripture as the absolute foundation, we end up with relative opinions and disunity in the faith. My own experience in numerous North American evangelical organizations has brought me to conclude that the lack of “biblical Christian” doctrinal consensus is gradually eroding even the hope of “unity in the faith.”
Secular relativism is so rampant that it sometimes appears we’re choosing our favourite flavour of ice cream, instead of the principles of our faith. The more shallow our doctrine becomes, the more respectability it gains, the less biblical it becomes, and the faster it grows! As Willy Reimer says, “we often prefer ignorance to clarity, as ignorance can create an aura of unity, while clarity may open the door for disagreement.” My prayer is that biblical Christians will recognize that repeating the 200-year history of mainline Christian denominations will not contribute to actually building God’s kingdom.
Don’t sideline seniors
Re “Satisfied” (Text Message, March). Marvin Dyck’s account of the last phase of his father’s life was poignant, but I was saddened to read his father’s words: “I guess it’s time for the old people to get out of the way.” This thought may be far from uncommon, but surely it’s not the way. A church that wants to be like Jesus cannot afford to allow such thoughts to develop; if it does, the body of Christ is poorer for it, and will suffer as a result.