Readers write: September 1, 2014 issue

August 27, 2014 | Viewpoints | Number 17

‘Whatever happened to forgiveness?’

Re: Pastor’s credentials withdrawn,” July 7, page 23.

When I read the short release regarding Tym Elias, I was reminded of similar situations where church leaders have been put out to pasture without food and water. I fail to see how this judgmental way of dealing with persons in leadership who have crossed sexual boundaries reflects who we should be as a faithful church. The tone of the release seems to imply that there is a note of achievement, that everyone has washed their hands of Elias and the crucifixion is complete.

It is obvious from my comments that I am disturbed, having related personally  to several persons who have experienced this type of judgment and how destructive it is.

My question is: Whatever happened to forgiveness, reconciliation and restoration?

Waldimar Neufeld, Abbotsford, B.C.


When climate-change models don’t reflect reality

Re: “Climate change is happening” letter, July 7, page 14.

Most sceptics agree that the climate is changing and that increasing carbon emissions should result in an increase in the earth’s temperature. When debating climate science with a sceptic, providing a long list of climate-change examples only shows a misunderstanding of the issue.

The sceptic is concerned with the forecasting abilities of the climate models—more than 100 of them—which universally produce too much warming when compared with actual observations. Even worse, when the models are given actual data, they still produce more warming than what was actually observed.

The question posted by Stephen Kennel in his “Where is the global warming?” letter, May 26, page 12, is not to suggest that there is no climate change. Rather, this is a recognition that all of the models used to project global warming were not able to predict the current 17-year “pause” that has been observed.

Natural variability is now widely accepted as the reason for this pause. Shouldn’t this bring into question the ability of existing climate models to reliably project future trends?

There are Ph.D. climate scientists who question the assumptions used in the current climate models and the reliance placed on these models for developing public policy. Things like the earth’s climate sensitivity—which is the most important climate factor in determining how much warming will result from greenhouse gas emissions—is not well understood, and, in fact, there is a growing body of peer-reviewed research that this sensitivity is much lower than previously thought.

Here is the crux of the matter. Based on current climate models that over-estimate warming, completely stopping all carbon dioxide emissions in the U.S. between now and 2050 and keeping them at zero, will only reduce the amount of global warming by just over a tenth of a degree.

The social injustice of climate change might well be relying on existing climate models that don’t reflect reality, and spending trillions of dollars on existing technologies having little to no impact on climate change. Meanwhile, the poor among us will continue to suffer.

Matthew van Sintern-Dick, Chatham, Ont.


Embracing the Word of God is nothing like idolatry: B.C. pastor

Re: “Finding faith for an unknown season” feature, July 28, page 4.

David Driedger’s comment that “claiming to have the final revelation of God’s truth is something ‘like idolatry,’ ” is unsupported and dangerous. Believing that the Holy Bible is the verbally inspired truth from God is nothing like idolatry. Idolatry is the worship of something or someone in place of worshipping God. To embrace the Word of God is an act of worship of God. On the other hand, to reject it as the Word of God and truth, and launch out into embracing self-proclaimed modern men as superior purveyors of truth is more like idolatry.

As for the report from the Being a Faithful Church Task Force saying that most congregations want to be “more compassionate and welcoming of those individuals who are same-sex attracted,” our congregation believes in having compassion and welcoming all people to attend our service and hear the good news of Jesus Christ.

The Bible is clear in its instruction that, as Christians, we are to truly love all people and have compassion on them in their need. That love is expressed by seeking the eternal welfare and blessing of those people. The greatest harm that could come to people is to be judged by God and condemned to eternity in hell for their sin, while the greatest good is to be saved from their sin and to receive the free gift of eternal life by the grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ.

Therefore, we are to have compassion on all people because all people are equally sinners, and to invite them to repent of their sin and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ.

Steve Swires, Burns Lake, B.C. (online comment) Steve is pastor of First Mennonite Church, Burns Lake.


The real meaning of ‘Anabaptist’

Re: “Nerding out,” July 7, page 34).

I am confused. What does the ubiquitous word “Anabaptist” mean? I see it frequently attached to other words and phrases such as “tradition,” “conference,” “studies,” “resistance to Christendom,” “history,” “theology” and “convictions.”

In “Nerding out,” we had “Anabaptist MennoNerds!” Is this a cult within the Mennonite church?

The word originated in the Reformation. Roman Catholics who were infant-baptised were encouraged to be baptised again, hence “Anabaptist.”

Freeman Roth, Glen Huron, Ont.


Canadian Mennonite articles, letters, offer little hope of church reconciling

As much as it is good to hear the widely divergent views on some controversial issues from Mennonite church congregants across Canada, recent articles and letters leave me seeing very little hope for reconciliation for our national and area churches, and even in our congregations:

1. God’s Not Dead: Vic Thiessen’s review, “Film doesn’t prove ‘God’s not dead’ ” (April 28 page 27), and C. Neil Klassen’s letter, “God’s Not Dead is alive with gospel truth” (June 9, page 11).

2. Homosexuality: Connie Martens’ letter, “Homosexuality is ‘clearly’ named a sin in the Bible” (July 28 page 21), and Julie Bond’s letter, “Homosexuality not a priority of Jesus” (both July 28, page 21).

3. The Bible: Artur Esau’s letter, “Christians must continue to call all sins ‘sin’ ” (May 12 page 9), and Mark Morton’s letter, “Bible can’t be ‘crystal clear’ when it’s self-contradictory” (June 9, page 11).

Victor Huebert, Leamington, Ont. Victor attends North Leamington United Mennonite Church.


‘Global caliphate’ a Muslim goal, not a myth

Re: “Deconstructing Muslim myths,” July 28, page 10.

I read with great interest the summary that Dick Benner made of the workshop led by Donna Entz. I certainly applaud the efforts that Entz makes in Alberta to reach out to the Muslim immigrants.

As followers of Jesus, we need to reach out to Muslims. What better way to do it than in our country, where we have rights and freedom. Most Muslims come from countries where Christian missionaries are not allowed and Christians are persecuted. People gifted in reaching out to this rather closed culture need the support of all Christians. I hope that Entz receives a lot of support from fellow believers in Alberta.

Having said that, I still have a concern with one of her comments: “[The] fear that they are wanting to take over with a global caliphate. ‘Nothing could be further from truth,’ she said.”

I don’t know how any informed person could make such a statement. Just observing the latest situations in Iraq and Syria with Isis should be an eye-opener. The new rulers are committed to erasing national borders and forcefully converting all the inhabitants, including all Christians, to Islam; if they refuse, they face death or having to flee.

This has been the normal procedure throughout history. Islam recognizes only two types of people: the faithful and the infidels. The faithful ones have the duty to convert all infidels or kill them. This pleases Allah.

The large majority of Muslims are peaceful and very ignorant of the teachings of Islam. It is the fundamentalists that cause the concern, but they are peace-loving in countries where the Muslim population is a minority. As soon as they are in a majority, the picture changes 180 degrees. Sharia law and dictatorship by a few become the norm. Can you find one Muslim country where real democracy and freedom exist?

Let us be faithful in carrying the gospel of Jesus to the Muslims as we have opportunity. Only love will conquer these people enslaved by their religion.

Isaak Eitzen, St. Catharines, Ont. Isaak attends St. Catharines United Mennonite Church.


Israel/Palestine conflict must be viewed through the lens of history

Most of the public opinion seems to assume Hamas as the aggressor and Israel as the victim who has to defend itself. On the surface, any sane person would agree.

But it is difficult to understand the situation without the historical perspective. This is an ancient part of the world, inhabited by humans since they migrated out of Africa (about 200,000 years ago).

Generally, the people of the Eastern Mediterranean are considered Semitic. Eventually Abraham and Moses showed up about 4,000 years ago and most of the people living there became followers of the Jewish religion. Two thousand years ago, Jesus showed up, and some of them became Christians. Fifteen hundred years ago, Mohammed showed up and some became Muslims. Since then, many of these people migrated to other parts of the world, taking their religion with them. They lived together everywhere—including the Eastern Mediterranean—more or less peacefully.

Fast forward to the Second World War (1939-45) and the terrible Holocaust against European Jews. Worldwide sympathy resulted in European Jews moving to Palestine after the war and establishing the “Jewish State of Israel.” Most of the people living there at the time were displaced, either forced out or ending up in refugee camps. These are considered Palestinians and they resent Europeans moving in and displacing them.

In my opinion, this historical information is critical to being able to begin to understand what’s going on there now.

Richard Penner, Calgary

--Posted August 27, 2014

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This is in response to Mr. Waldimar Neufeld's question: "Whatever happened to forgiveness, reconciliation and restoration?".

With God's grace, repentance can pave the way for reconciliation and restoration. My question is: Was there repentance?

The Canadian Mennonite has an ethical and legal obligation, I think, to reject letters to the editor that contain claims purporting to be “facts” but which are actually hate-provoking untruths. I refer to the letter from Isaak Eitzen (“Global caliphate a Muslim goal, not a myth,” September 1, 2014), in which he claims that “faithful [Muslims] have the duty to convert all infidels or kill them. This pleases Allah.” As my mother used to say, Eitzen is talking through his hat. I have dozens of Muslim friends, and have worked with hundreds of others in Saudi Arabia. All of them are “faithful” Muslims, and yet none of them have tried to kill me. In fact, I know that my Saudi hosts would give their life for mine, if mine were threatened in any way while in Saudi Arabia. Eitzen also claims that “the large majority of Muslims” are “very ignorant of the teachings of Islam.” This, too, is a ridiculous claim. The truth is that a far greater percentage of Muslims have read the Koran many times than the average Christian has read the Bible. It is the goal of many Muslims, in fact, to memorize the entire Koran. I think that if someone had written a letter to the editor claiming that it is “the duty of every Mennonite to kill unbelievers,” the Canadian Mennonite would not have published it. By the same token, the magazine should not publish fear-mongering mistruths about Muslims. They are our brothers and sisters in faith, and are as committed to peace as we are. The few who espouse violence and hatred are no more Muslims than Reverend Fred Phelps – the pastor behind the “God Hates Fags” website – was a Christian.

Mark Morton
Kitchener, ON

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