Readers write: May 5, 2023 issue

May 4, 2023 | Opinion | Volume 27 Issue 9
(Graphic by Betty Avery)

Reader finds assurance in the Holy Spirit’s presence
Troy Watson has exposed us to the topic of the Holy Spirit among us as believers, in his April 7 column, “Many Christians do not believe in the Holy Spirit.”

The presence of the Holy Spirit gives us comfort, guidance, conviction and much joy. Let’s discuss it further. Questions quickly emerge:

  • Why are we hesitant to speak on this topic?
  • Might a witness of the Holy Spirit in my life be viewed among fellow believers as boasting?
  • Is there a difference between my sense of God’s presence in my life, and the presence of the Holy Spirit? We quickly see the work of the Holy Spirit with God’s voice in Christ’s ascension (Acts 1:11). We know the Spirit was present at Pentecost, or when an ill or dead person comes to life.
  • What is the guideline where this act is the work of the Holy Spirit? We know that our brothers and sisters in the South see the work of the Spirit in dreams in finding a marriage partner or a call from God to conversion. The Spirit is recognized in the casting out of demons.
  • Is it glib to speak of near-death accidents and hospital cures as the work of the Spirit? I can make reference to at least six of these near-death “savings.” Some believers view this as coincidence, even luck. But each experience has given me confirmation in later years that God is real, cares for me, and is with me.

—John Peters, Waterloo, Ont. (Waterloo North Mennonite Church)


Doubt and faith both need to be modelled
Within a shadow of doubt,” March 24.

This article is deeply appreciated. The tension between doubt and faith can feel disconcerting and troublesome, and the church does not always provide a welcoming or safe space for doubt.

My own journey away from pastoral ministry was largely due to a growing dissonance between what I was supposed to believe and what I could with integrity actually embrace at the time. I felt, perhaps mistakenly, that I needed to leave ministry to have the space and time to wrestle through a season of doubt.

Perhaps it would be a much more fruitful journey for everyone if leaders could more openly and honestly model and share the doubting side of the spiritual experience.

By the way, I have personally benefited from Brian McLaren’s books Faith After Doubt and Do I Stay Christian?
—Gary Horst (online comment)


Low-carbon food
I applaud Mennonite Church Canada for affirming climate action as a nationwide ministry initiative. However, I believe the six initiatives are missing something very important.

Why isn’t diet a key element of MC Canada’s work?

It is well documented that our current methods of food production, particularly red meat and dairy, account for a high percentage of both greenhouse gas emissions, as well as agricultural land use. I also recognize that all of us have complex relationships with the food we eat, from cultural patterns and family-of-origin expectations, to convenience and simply entrenched desires (as much as we don’t want to admit it).

However, if we, as a church body, are truly invested in sustainable climate action, I think we need to elevate the importance of a sustainable diet and take a hard look at our own fridges and pantries.
—Jason Yuen, Toronto (Toronto Chinese Mennonite Church)

(Graphic by Betty Avery)

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