October 31st is here—a sacred day for costume stores trying to justify their ongoing existence and dads looking to raid our kids’ plastic pumpkins for a sugar fix. It is also a very special day for those of us who love the Gospel. Why? Because October 31st is Reformation Day.
495 years ago on October 31st a young German theology professor carried a hammer and parchment to the door of the Wittenberg Church and hammered his 95 Theses into the wood. They were 95 points at which Martin Luther questioned whether the church of his day was living in synch with the Scriptures. With no Facebook or blog posts to get people thinking about life’s big questions, Luther, like many professors in his day, posted on the next best thing—a church door (Al Gore would not invent the internet for another 470 years!). Rather than opening an app and refreshing their News Feeds, people would congregate around Europe’s church doors to read and discuss the latest posts. Luther’s post got Wittenberg and (with help from the newly invented printing press) most of Europe buzzing with questions about where the 16thcentury church had veered off biblical course. The Reformation was in motion.
Here’s some samples from Luther’s world-altering post:
“Thesis 27: There is no divine authority for preaching that the soul flies out of the purgatory immediately when the money clinks in the bottom of the chest…” (In response to John Tetzel selling indulgences with the catchphrase ‘”As soon as the coin in the coffer rings the soul from purgatory springs.”)
“Thesis 36: Any Christian whatsoever, who is truly repentant, enjoys plenary remission from penalty and guilt, and this is given him without letters of indulgence…” (Signaling Luther’s shift from understanding salvation as something that could be purchased to a free gift from a gracious God.)
“Thesis 62: The true treasure of the church is the Holy gospel of the glory and the grace of God…” (Luther’s response to the Roman Catholic notion of a “Treasury of Merits,” a treasure chest in heaven full of the surplus good deeds performed by Jesus, Mary, and the Saints that the pope could allegedly reach into and credit to your spiritual account if you paid him.)
As we celebrate Reformation Day, let’s keep Luther’s tradition alive. He had the cutting edge, world-shrinking technology of his day—Gutenberg’s printing press—to help people seek biblical answers to church problems. We have an internet to do the same. He lived with a church in dire need of Reformation. We live with a church in dire need of Re:Reformation.
So allow me to welcome you to the Reformation Day Challenge 2012 to help fuel urgently needed conversations about God and His mission in the church world. Four quick guidelines:
1. Let’s come up with at least 95 Theses for the Re:Reformation.
2. The core question you should try to answer in whatever theses you contribute is: What ways has the 21st century church strayed most dangerously off course from God’s Word and how can we get back on course?
3. Please post your thesis or theses (you are NOT limited to just one) in the comments sections under this post.
4. Let’s keep ‘em biblical folks!
I’ll get our conversation started by offering a first Thesis of Re:Reformation:
RR Thesis 1: As Re:Reformers let’s strive by the Spirit’s power to make glorifying the enormously huge and incomparably worship-worthy God of the Bible our most fundamental and driving passion in all things! (See Ps. 96:8a; Eph. 1:3-14; 2 Thes. 1:12a; Rom. 11:36b.) We confess letting relevance to culture replace reverence for God at the center of our church systems.
Now it’s your turn. 94 Theses to go! I’ll close with the opening line penned by Luther over his 95 Theses. Luther began: “Out of love and concern for the truth, and with the object of eliciting it…” So out of love for truth and with the goal of eliciting truth in how we do church in the 21stcentury, post away!
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