Readers write: January 29, 2018 issue

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January 24, 2018 | Viewpoints | Volume 22 Issue 03
Various contributors,

 

When community discernment leads to a golden calf
Re: “Recognizing potential in an uncertain future,” Dec. 11, 2017.

When I read, at the very end of the article, that “the church is experiencing a shift away from the Bible as authority, to community discernment,” curiously a picture of Moses coming down the mountain came to mind. Upon comprehending what is going on before him, Moses smashes the tablets and tears into Aaron (Exodus 32). Now suppose, in response, Aaron had said something like, “Now, take it easy, Moses. The people and I have been conducting lengthy sessions of community discernment here.”
—Harry Harms,  Kitchener, Ont.

 

Two writers weigh in on the future of Israel and the Middle East

As most civilized people, I cannot appreciate the manner in which Donald Trump exercises the power of his current office. However, I respect that extremes are sometimes necessary to avoid an eventual revolution, when a large bureaucracy like that of the U.S. government is stuck in a morass, as seems to be the current situation.

I have travelled to the Middle East regularly throughout my business career over the last 45 years. In the euphoria of democracy winning over totalitarianism after the Second World War, Israel became a state. There was also the Jewish vote and influence in the U.S. that played a role. The Arab countries of the time were still in their more primitive “tribal” state. This situation is mainly at the core of all the trouble happening in that part of the world.

I think the U.S. recognition of Jerusalem being the capital of Israel is a step in the right direction and long overdue. However, this recognition did not go far enough. Jerusalem is also considered the capital for Christianity and Islam. No one would argue that the Jewish people have done an outstanding job of administering their country since its inception.

Along with the acknowledgment that Jerusalem is the capital, the West should also insist on the following two additional changes:

  • Israel be managed as a true democracy with full equal rights to all people living there.
  • Israel should be called “the State of Israel” and not the “the ‘Jewish’ State of Israel.”

With some obligatory sabre rattling, I think the Arab countries would eventually accept these changes, and a large excuse for the current violence in the Middle East would be “off the table.”
—Richard Penner, Calgary

In the spring of 2008, my wife and I had the opportunity to visit Israel. On the first day of the tour we came to Mount Carmel. From the Carmelite monastery’s viewing area we could see some of southern Galilee and the plains of Esdraelon, a beautiful panorama to behold.

As we began our descent to return to the bus, two Israeli military jets rose up from the airstrip below the promontory. They were high overhead within seconds. All at once the Lord got my attention and these are the exact words I heard: “There is power there, but I have infinite power and I fight for Israel.” Scripture affirms God’s stance in II Chronicles 20:1-30 and Exodus 17:10-13. A large number of miraculous events in the 1948 and 1967 wars would also confirm that God has a special place in his heart for Israel.

Some months later at home, as I was praying for a specific fellowship, I heard the following: ‘If you don’t soon have a heart for Israel, I will pass you by.” I knew I had a heart for Israel, so this must have referred to the people for whom I was interceding. I think the admonition to have a heart for Israel is applicable to all Christians, especially those who want to be neutral or have taken a stand against her.
—Andrew Sawatzky, Calgary

 

Final print responses to Maple View’s paid supplement on sexuality
Re:Honour God with Your Bodies” insert, Sept. 25, 2017.

My Canadian Mennonite subscription is due, which I pay out of my own resources as a resident of the Bethany Manor seniors home in Saskatoon. Do I renew or reject this one-or two-year offer? It’s not the money, but the power of the cross, that is at stake.

But most radical Mennonites—normally followers of Christ—have forgotten their heritage of true martyrdom. In Matthew 22:37-40, Jesus said: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind; this is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbour as yourself. All the law and the prophets hang on these two commandments.”

Also, we need to “honour God with our bodies,” as described and outlined by Maple View Mennonite. Thank you for their honest and true interpreted facts of biblical reference. God does not make mistakes.

Read the “Salvation in Jesus alone” letter (July 24, 2017, page 11). We all need to have an intimate relationship with our Lord Jesus Christ! He is available 24 hours a day. It is good to have peace with God at my age. Right? No more riding the pretentious waves of life. It’s heaven or hell. Your choice.

The turmoil in this world today spells the beginning of the end. Are we all prepared? Mennonite Church Canada’s constitutional change may not be necessary if we follow in Jesus’ steps. Keep the faith. Be intimate and humble, not proud.
—Hans G. Nickel, Saskatoon

I commend Canadian Mennonite for publishing the insert from Maple View Mennonite church, not because I agree with it—I don’t—but because I think the present discussion has the potential to be groundbreaking in the Mennonite community. As Mennonites, we tend not to “do” conflict well; we have a tendency to avoid it, or separate and leave.

Not for a long time have I experienced a dialogue in our community that has had so much life and has engaged so many readers, so I am disappointed that some readers have indicated they plan to cancel their subscriptions. This dialogue is much too important to short circuit or to localize.

I also believe that this dialogue has the potential to influence members in our community. After all, I was once a staunch supporter of the anti-LGBTQ community, but research and personal relationships with LGBTQ people have influenced me to totally change my position.

Generally I think the dialogue we have engaged in has been quite respectful. Where I do get uncomfortable is when some writers have used their “construction” of God or the Holy Spirit to judge LGBTQ people. As a family therapist in my former life, I have always been very uncomfortable when a spouse uses his/her particular “construction” of God or their interpretation of the Bible to judge or attempt to control the other. How can you argue with “God”?
—George Enns, Saskatoon

 

Web-exclusive letter on the Maple View insert

I agree with the Maple View Mennonite Church statement on human sexuality and for paying the cost of the centre page. Otherwise, the blame on them and Canadian Mennonite would be endless.

I attended the 1986 Saskatoon assembly and had my reservations on the resolution “to remain in loving dialogue” with a lifestyle that God hates and excludes from heaven (I Corinthians 6:8-10). How can one love God and the world at the same time? (I John 2:15).

One word missing in all the ensuing correspondence was “repentance.” Christianity began with a call to repentance. “Then Jesus began to preach, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of Heaven is near’”(Matthew 4:17). Jesus came as a light into the world to save and to change people’s lives. But people loved the darkness more than light. By his sacrificial death and glorious resurrection, everything was changed forever. He sent the Holy Spirit to live and abide in believers, to renew their hearts and minds, and to transform their lives to live in holiness and righteousness as children of God.

While the Mennonite church is growing under persecution in Africa (the Congo has 235,000 members), the church in North America seems to be disintegrating, trying to accommodate the culture of society and the media, while losing members and churches, cutting staff and recalling workers.

I plead the LGBTQ community to read Hebrews 12:12-17. Don’t be like Esau, who found no place for repentance. Try the Jesus way of blessing, of hope and a future.
—C. Neil Klassen, Rosemary, Alta.

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