Letters October 2013

Transformation is possible

Re “It’s a new day” (Editorial, September). In regard to Laura Kalmar’s editorial on reparative therapy, I believe another side of the story needs to be told. It’s true the American Psychological Association has made statements against reparative therapy. However, former APA president Nicholas Cummings has gone on record saying the current APA statement on these issues is based more on ideology than science. He says the view that all homosexuality is “hard-wired” and same-sex attraction can never be changed is simply “not supported by scientific evidence.”

It’s true that Exodus, under the leadership of Alan Chambers, issued an apology and closed its doors. But many former Exodus members left the organization a year ago over concerns about Mr. Chambers’ leadership. They are now ministering as part of the Restored Hope Network, whose board issued this statement in response to the closing of Exodus: “Although the timing of the news was a surprise to many, the shutting down of Exodus is the not-unexpected outcome of a cheap grace theology that severs the confession of Christ as Saviour from the confession of Christ as Lord. While some falsely proclaim that a transformed life is optional for Christians, the united witness of Jesus and the writers of Scripture are clear: In God’s grace, true saving faith results in a life of holiness and sexual purity. Thankfully, God does not leave his people without a witness to the transforming power of Jesus Christ.”

The shift away from the possibility of change in the culture and in the church is not, in my view, a new day dawning, but rather the dusk of a new, dark night. I don’t think we need to abandon reparative therapy merely because it has become politically unpopular. It should be retained as one tool of many in the discipleship of Christ followers who have same-sex attraction.

I suspect it will be on this point that the church will begin to experience open persecution in the West. But, as attributed to Martin Luther, “If I profess, with the loudest voice and the clearest exposition, every portion of the truth of God except precisely that little point which the world and the devil are at that moment attacking, I am not confessing Christ, however boldly I may be professing Christianity.”

I share Ms. Kalmar’s desire that the October study conference will be a defining moment in our church. But I differ from her in that my desire is that we would reaffirm our commitment to offer the hope of transformation found in the gospel to all those struggling with any form of sexual brokenness.

Mark H. Friesen

50+ and still in church

Re “Why don’t young adults go to church?” (Viewpoint, August). I’m 54 years old and my generation isn’t far behind the 30-somethings as far as church attendance goes. I would add to the reasons why we don’t go: the hypocrisy and abuse of power we’ve seen through the years. I resonate with Peter Epp’s reasons for still attending, but my main reason for still going to church is that, even with its faults (for which I’m partly to blame), I’m convinced from Scripture that God’s plan to reach the world is through the church. My biggest fear in avoiding church is that my kids and grandkids (which I don’t have yet) will not know the love of God.

Harv Dick
Kelowna, B.C.

Not everyone has clenched fists

Re “Why don’t young adults go to church?” (Viewpoint, August). This is an open letter to Kate Baer, who was quoted in Peter Epp’s article: I’m writing to assure you that in all my adult years, I’ve never encountered a church full of people with clenched fists. On the contrary, I have encountered many, many people of all ages who are authentically open-hearted, welcoming, and caring. I have interacted with scores of people who desire community, and do what it takes to make it happen. People who desire deep and lasting friendships. People who talk openly about issues that really matter in the here and now. I am sincerely sorry about whatever you experienced that was problematic; it is for this reason I’ve chosen to share with you the truth of my own experience and observation.

Janice Johnson
Surrey, B.C.

Superman and Moses

Re “Does the church need Superman?” (Crosscurrents, August). I enjoyed this insightful article. I saw parallels between Superman and Christ more than 40 years ago and (being young then) thought I was the first to notice. Recently, my perspective was broadened by an article in the Jerusalem Post entitled “Is Superman Circumcised?” It explained that the real parallel is between Superman and Moses. This shouldn’t be a surprise, since Superman was created by Jerry Siegel (American) and Joe Shuster (Canadian) – who were both Jewish.

Like Moses, Superman was the last son of his people, was saved as a baby when his parents sent him on a dangerous journey in a tiny craft, and grew up to rescue everyone. Superman’s birth name Kal-El resembles the Hebrew for “God’s vessel,” and his secret identity Clark Kent reminds us of all the Jewish refugees who anglicized their names to hide their faith and fit in.

As Christians, we see Moses as a “type” of Christ, so in the end, it comes to the same thing. But it’s good to have the whole picture.

Alan T. Chattaway
Surrey, B.C.

Historical inaccuracies

Re “Vancouver church closes, bequeaths building to new plant” (Homepage, August). This article contained several elements of misinformation.

Killarney Park was founded by Fraserview Church in 1961, not Vancouver MB as stated in the article. (Fraserview had grown out of VMB in 1954.) And to state that Culloden MB was a VMB church plant is a misconception. The church was founded with the intention that VMB would no longer function. However, a group of people decided not to move with Culloden, primarily because of the German language. VMB did start Willingdon Church in 1961.

Pacific Grace has a more complex history than noted in the article. Pacific Grace Mission was started in 1950, directed by Henry Classen. A building was constructed in the late 1950s, and Pacific Grace Mission Chapel was accepted as an official member of the B.C. conference in 1964. In the mid-1970s, it became a Chinese congregation, known as Pacific Grace MB Church. Pacific Grace went on to found a number of other churches, as noted in the article.

I was a member of VMB when we decided to start Fraserview, and a member of Fraserview when we started Killarney Park (where I was founding pastor). I worked with Pacific Grace Mission from 1951–1961.

Herbert J. Brandt
Delta, B.C.

Back to the garden

Re “Were Adam and Eve real?” (Letters, May). This letter, while expressing a real concern, unfortunately shifts discussion from the serious to the trivial. I don’t know whether Adam and Eve were real. The story was written in a time when “historical veracity” hadn’t been invented (circa AD 1700). It does clearly explain the alienation of God and man caused by sin, which is its intention.

To argue that historical literalness is critical raises some troubling questions. If Adam and Eve are “absolutely crucial to our Christian faith,” then Christ cannot save unless I believe they are real people. Is this the determining factor in my salvation? Has God’s grace and power been crippled to ineffectiveness by my intellect (or lack thereof)? Were Christians born before the modern critical historical perspective not really Christians?

It has always been my belief that I am saved by my faith commitment to God’s love demonstrated when he raised Christ from the dead (Ephesians 1). Do I need to add Adam and Eve to the mix?

Bob Semple
Waterloo, Ont.

Letters to the editor 

Mennonite Brethren Herald welcomes your letters of 150–200 words on issues relevant to the Mennonite Brethren church, especially in response to material published in the Herald. Please include name, address and phone number, and keep your letters courteous and about one subject only. We will edit letters for length and clarity. We will not publish letters sent anonymously, although we may withhold names from publication at the request of the letter writer and at our discretion. Publication is subject to space limitations. Letters also appear online. Because the Letters column is a free forum for discussion, it should be understood that letters represent the position of the letter writer, not necessarily the position of the Herald or the Mennonite Brethren church. Send letters to: Letters, MB Herald, 1310 Taylor Avenue, Winnipeg, Man. R3M 3Z6, or by email to mbherald@mbconf.ca.

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