Letters to the Editor

Encounter faith at Calvin
I am writing to commend you on your measured response to the letter titled “Second place?” in the Spark (summer 2009). The editor is to be commended for such a gracious and truly Christian response. The response reminds me of the rich Christian heritage that surrounded me during my years at Calvin. It is a heritage and a faith that one encounters; it is not one that attempts to beat one over the head as if faith or belief is indicated by sheer force or volume. Indeed, I truly believe that the editor’s response to the letter writer is sufficient to demonstrate that point. Well done.

I was fortunate enough not only to attend the college, earning my BA in 1982, but also to attend the seminary for a year in order to complete my MA in theology from Fuller Seminary. In my time at Calvin, I was always impressed (and challenged) by the deep faith of my professors as well as my fellow students. Coming from a non-CRC (and non-Dutch) background, I was not sure what to expect when I first began attending Calvin. I have to say that my experiences while there, as well as since then, do not even come close to how the author of the “Second place?” letter describes the college or the seminary. Calvin is a place where one encounters a deep and vibrant Christian faith, and the editor was correct simply to offer anyone the opportunity to experience that for him or herself.

Robert Postic ’82
Dearborn Heights, Mich.

Summer SparkJohn Calvin's reputation questioned
I truly hope that sometime this year, which commemorates Calvin’s 500th birthday, someone in the church or the college will have the candor and the courage to publicly acknowledge and denounce Calvin’s inhumane execution of Michael Servetus on doctrinal grounds. This unspeakable act was as morally unjustified as the atrocities of the Inquisition and left an indelible stain on Calvin’s reputation. It is about time that Calvinists stopped sweeping this inconvenient fact under the rug and come clean.

John Beversluis ’56
Fresno, Calif.

Thank you for your correspondence regarding John Calvin and the execution of Michael Servetus in 1553 in Geneva.

Servetus’ theological beliefs included denying the existence of the Trinity. In the 16th century, he would have been put to death in Catholic areas as well as Protestant ones. In fact, had he remained in prison in France, where he was first arrested, he would undoubtedly have been burned there, too—he was burned in effigy after he carried out a successful jailbreak.

So Geneva and Calvin were not crueler to Servetus than other locations or individuals at the time would have been. That does not of course excuse the behavior of our early modern ancestors, who thought it was perfectly all right to execute people for what they labeled as blasphemy and/or heresy and torture them in a variety of ways. But perhaps singling Calvin out for particular criticism would be somewhat unfair. He was a man of his times, and the 16th century, much as we might like it to have been different, was not an age of toleration.

Karin Maag, director of
the H. Henry Meeter Center
for Calvin Studies

You can read Ms. Maag's essay about John Calvin, "The Legacy of John Calvin," from the Summer 2009 issue of Spark.

Summer SparkLess Calvin needed
The summer Spark has been sitting on my end table for a few weeks. Every time I look at the cover, and the caption: “John Calvin at 500,” this thought comes to my mind: If Calvin College and the Christian Reformed Church want to be a lasting force in the Christian community, they need to begin to put less emphasis on what John Calvin said and did and more on what Christ said and did. They need to be less focused on their theology and more on the Bible. They need to be less threatened by Bible-based Christian churches that are not Christian Reformed.

Pam Vander Jagt Reitsema ’70
Englewood, Colo.

Alaska nursesNursing degree is possible
I read the letter in Spark (summer 2009) regarding the “inaccuracy” of an article about the Alaska nurses. Perhaps the ladies did what my Calvin-Blodgett classmates and I did: We returned to Calvin after our graduation from Blodgett in 1947 and received our BS in nursing in 1949. That may be how the ladies graduated from Calvin’s nursing program.

Eleanor Miner Teat ’49
Grand Rapids, Mich.

CheukBlessed by trailblazers
I was surprised but pleased to open the Spark (summer 2009) and be greeted by a handsome photograph of my aunt and uncle. The surprise was further blessed by your gracious words of delight in finding trailblazers before my time at Calvin. Thank you so much—there is much to praise God for as Calvin grows into “From Every Nation.”

Peter Szto ’77
Omaha, Neb.

joustShield, sword or lance?
In the article “Good Knight!” (spring 2009) you write: “We had surveys that allowed students to choose things like the helmet type, tunic or no tunic and the accessory: shield, sword or lance. Each design was then passed by a full student senate vote.”

Nowhere in the article do you state which accessory was selected: shield, sword or lance. It is also not shown in the picture which accompanies the article.

Elaine Geelhood Olson ex’71
Orland Park, Ill.

Joust carries a shield and occasionally wields a sword. —Editor

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