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Concerned about “common purpose”

Re “CCMBC addresses national-provincial drift” (News, March). While I’m pleased that CCMBC leadership remains committed to promoting evangelism as a central tenet of our MB identity, I doubt that championing a common purpose will adequately address our “national-provincial drift,” especially when that common purpose involves our understanding of the gospel.

The reason is simple. At best, there’s diversity within the conference as to what “the good news of Jesus” is. At worst, there is outright disagreement. For example, some churches understand the gospel to be mostly about having personal sins forgiven and the assurance of going to heaven after death. For others, it’s mostly about Christ’s defeat of the powers that keep humanity and creation enslaved to sin.

For a more practical example, some churches understand that the gospel restores human relationships to their intended created order, such as women submitting to men in the context of church leadership. Other churches, however, understand that same “good news” to mean, in Christ, women are no longer to be subjugated to men and are free to lead in any capacity.

For these reasons, I can only wonder what the proposed “radical steps of realignment” will be. For the sake of our unity, I can only hope that it will not, by default, promote one particular understanding of the gospel over others.

Michael VandenEnden

St. Catharines, Ont.

Words are key in gospel presentation

Re “Wor(l)ds that matter” (Viewpoint, March). High marks to Joëlle Basque for her article. Not only do the words we use divulge our view of the world, but also impact the accuracy of our gospel presentation. The way we frequently portray Jesus – as a separate deity, without identifying him as a manifestation of God’s love incarnate – suggests there’s no hope in the gospel message for the vast majority of people who have never heard or will never hear of Jesus. It might prove useful if Christian teaching focused more on whether the words we use actually convey the gospel accurately enough.

Jake Janzen
Abbotsford, B.C.

Don’t forget fasting

It was good to see Willy Reimer’s and Julie Wiens’ challenges to prayer in the March issue of the Herald. The Manitoba convention was also centred on that topic. The emphasis on prayer is good and needed.

However, we’re missing something – fasting. Many great moments of faith involved both prayer and fasting: Moses on Sinai, Elijah as he travelled to Horeb, Daniel and Nehemiah in the face of Jerusalem’s desolation, Jesus in the wilderness, the church at Antioch before sending out Paul and Barnabas… to name some of the more prominent examples. Aren’t we missing something by ignoring fasting?

Henry Bergen

Winnipeg, Man.

Church the answer to crime

I’m astounded by the crime rate in Calgary – it’s obviously out of control. There’s a continuous call for more police officers, and more jails/jail time. I don’t believe any of these will solve the problem.

At a Bible class in an Alberta jail where I volunteer, a prisoner made an amazing remark. He said, “Being in jail is like being on a holiday.” Afterward, a jail guard told me there was a fellow in Lethbridge who would board up the windows of his house and then commit a crime – just so he could be in jail over the winter.

Is there an answer to this problem? Yes. Jesus Christ made it plain that the church and its members are to be salt and light. We all know salt is a preservative and light gives direction. What happened to the salt and light? Should we conclude that churches have become shallow and need spiritual revival in order to once more be the salt and light?

Let us pray and act to that end. In 2 Chronicles 7:14, God promises, “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” Take note as to who has sacred responsibility to Calgary and to all of Canada – the church!

Dave A. Hiebert

Lethbridge, Alta.

Renew peace emphasis

Thank you for the February issue, Charting the evangelical Anabaptist current. The term “evangelical Anabaptist” has long seemed a bit redundant, since a proper understanding of Anabaptism includes everything that’s biblical about evangelicalism, while avoiding the militarism, super-nationalism, and other excesses often associated in the public mind with evangelicalism.

I was a little surprised by the underlying notion that the evangelical-Anabaptist blend is somehow unique to MBs. There are at least two other Canadian denominations who have officially acknowledged these influences – i.e., the Evangelical Mennonite Conference and Evangelical Mennonite Mission Conference. Indeed, I doubt there’s any Mennonite church in Canada today that would pretend North American 20th-century evangelicalism/fundamentalism hasn’t significantly impacted it.

And where, in the issue, was the call to a renewed and energetic embrace of what it means to be Anabaptist? Without that, there’s little reason for MBs to continue as a denomination separate from any number of evangelical groups in Canada.

I invite MB leaders to consider the following three ways of renewal to that commitment: 1) find a way to foster our historical commitment to the Jesus way of peace, so youth growing up in Canadian MB churches will understand our stance on militarism; 2) ensure that this Jesus way of peace permeates all we do in reaching Canada for Christ, as well as in our international efforts – surely it matters what the churches we plant teach about loving our/Canada’s enemies; and 3) demonstrate a genuine mutuality, i.e., a willingness to both contribute to and learn from our sister Anabaptist denominations in Canada.

Dave Dyck

Winnipeg, Man.


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