The Christian Reformed Church has had a historic presence in western Michigan. But according to a recent story in Christianity Today, the Grand Rapidians are turning their cosmological gaze eastward toward Detroit.
First, there’s the Detroit Kingdom Enterprise Zone (KEZ), a church planting and community development effort empowered by the CRC and RCA’s Church Multiplication Initiative. Led by pastors Dan Jongsma from Dearborn Christian Fellowship and Jon Beyers from Crosswinds Church in Canton, the KEZ brings together 10 Detroit CRC and RCA congregations to evaluate, empower, equip, and expand ministry partnerships in the city.
Through the KEZ, local leaders are receiving funding and assistance from Grand Rapids as they begin the process of developing collaborative efforts to invest in the city and raise up local leaders to establish new Reformed communities of faith within in the city. The hope is that these church plants—which KEZ leaders hope include a Reformed campus ministry at Wayne State University, a city center church in the style of Tim Keller’s Redeemer Presbyterian in New York City and City Church in San Francisco, a Reformed African American church, and a more contemporary community church—will be able to reach out to Detroit with a new message of hope, redemption, and renewal; a vision that is thoroughly Reformed and thoroughly local.
Part of the theological rationale for this initiative is a commitment to shalom:
Reformed theology also includes the call for Christians to seek shalom. Mark Van Andel, pastor of discipleship at Citadel of Faith, is working with the CRC and RCA leaders to help them understand what it means to work for justice in Detroit. He points out that the comprehensive vision for shalom and commitment to justice, righteousness, reconciliation, and working for the common good that flows out of Reformed theology are key strengths of the KEZ.
Van Andel, whose first job in Detroit was working with Lisa Johanon at Central Detroit Christian Community Development Corporation, sees all of this as being a major part in how Reformed theology can speak to the Motor City. “Reformed theology belongs in a city like Detroit,” says Van Andel, “precisely because it offers this powerful message of shalom to the poor, destitute, and depressed.”
Somehow the author of this piece missed the work of Rabbi Brett who ministers in a CRC congregation almost halfway between Grand Rapids and Detroit, in the small town of Charlotte. He also actively promotes Old Testament teaching:
Jesus was theonomic. Paul was theonomic. Augustine was theonomic. Centuries later the Magisterial Reformers were theonomic (look at all the quotes on Iron Ink from them on theonomy), the Puritans were theonomic (look at all the quotes on Iron Ink from them on theonomy). Some R2K defenders have pointed out theonomy in the Kuyperian tradition accusing our Kuyperian brethren as being “soft theonomists.” (Oh the horror of it all.) Hence my pedestrian contention that the Reformed faith is indeed theonomic. Now, naturally, different theonomic men interpreting God’s law-word had different wrinkles regarding their theonomy and it is doubtful that the Church will ever be universal in how it understands that God’s law should be applied, but the Church throughout history — and especially the Reformed Church — has always been theonomic, and that is simply because that is what Biblical (i.e. — Reformed) Christianity is.
How the folks in Grand Rapids, Detroit, and Charlotte work this out is almost as mysterious as the NCAA Division I’s scholar-athletes.