Reformation Day Challenge 2013: Help Write the 95 Theses of the Re:Reformation

Posted on: October 31st, 2013 by Thaddeus Williams 14 Comments

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.

(You can watch my short video on Reformation Day HERE).

496 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 471 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 21st century, post away!

Viva Re:Reformation!

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  • ryanbarrios

    We need not subject the inexplicable works of our Lord in those records of him which are divinely inspired to any manner of reason which is positivistic or subject to any kind of justification that is only scientifically or mathematically legitimized. For the divine authority and power of our God is not contingent upon the philosophical or theoretical practices of the 21st Century. Neither are his divine qualities conditional on our own finite reasoning proficiencies, proficiencies which in fact were designed and bestowed upon us by the all-knowing, all-powerful, entirely and uninhibitedly capable One himself.

  • Anonymous

    Truth is not relative. All truth is through God, because he is the Truth.

  • Cami

    Hi Thaddeus! Thanks for tagging me on Facebook with this post. I love this! Here’s my first RR Thesis:

    As Re:Reformers, let our standard of truth be the Bible more than any dogma, thought, emotion, or cultural inclination we may have. We do this understanding that all parts of Scripture are authoritative (2 Tim 3:16), that all Scripture is profitable (Prov 6:23), that all Scripture is eternal and unchanging (Isa 40:8, Matt 24:35) & that all of Scripture is completely and fully the Word of God (1 Thess 2:13).

  • Anonymous

    The 21st needs to feed the hungry, something to drink to the thirsty, be kind inviting to strangers, clothe the ones who need it, help the sick and visit those in prison.

    For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in,36I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’37″Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink?

    38When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you?39When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’40″The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

    The Church of the 21st Century (America/Commercialism)Don’t chase after stuff ie; wealth, food beautiful clothes, etc.. seek His Kingdom 1st!

    “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?26Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?27Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life#
    27 Or single cubit to your height
    ?28″And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin.
    29Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these.30If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith?31So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’32For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.33But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.34Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

  • Yara The Heathen

    I hope it’s ok for an atheist to leave a comment! I might not believe in god, but there are plenty of religions/faiths I admire, if not accept as true. Sadly, Christianity is not one of them because of how much of it has, once again strayed from the simplicity of love. I would love to see it reform, whether or not I’m a part, simply because American society could use more loving acts from the largest religious group in the nation.

    (Ahem) My RR thesis:

    Jesus overturned the tables of the merchants of the church. I drive by palm tree-clad resort churches like Saddleback, or see Joel Olsteen getting filthy rich off god and it’s off-putting to the rest of us. Jesus said it is nearly impossible for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. He told a rich man to give all his wealth away. And yet the American church seems to pimp out its god, profiting like a gluttonous, commercial mass. If the Jesus you worship didn’t like trinkets being sold in his father’s house, why do so many do it today? God shouldn’t need marketing. If he is all-loving and all-good like you claim, then let the simplicity and beauty of that message speak for itself. Spread the message through loving relationships, not promotional materials.
    Thanks! Awesome idea! :)

  • Rebecca

    Well, we’d have to have something on sexuality, which didn’t seem to be an issue for the 16th-17th century Reformation. Perhaps tying sexuality and marriage into a statement on its cosmological/soteriological place and significance.

  • Josh

    Revivalism, Biblicism, pragmatism, and One-ism.

  • Kent

    Not heeding Machen, and the over-reaction to Liberalism which embraced Arminian Dispensationalism with its complete rejection of Covenant Theology (IMO).

  • Charles L. Baker

    Worship is, in its very nature, Creedal, Sacramental, and Liturgical. Worship is properly the function of the whole Church. If we are to read the Scriptures in communion with the historic Church, shall we not also use the ancient Collects? Re-reform will involve the recovery of this. Say the Creed every Sunday, with weekly Communion.

  • Sterling Richard Pounds II

    My thesis is this:

    We, as Christians aught not shy away from the doctrine of Heaven and Hell. It is crucial for three reasons. The first being the justice of God. In order for his justice to be true and perfect there must be both reward and consequence. The second is for the glory of God. If everyone goes to heaven, then there is no need for a personal God to come save us from death. In rejecting Hell, we also make the dangerous mistake of rejecting the Cross. Finally, if we shy away from the doctrine of Heaven and Hell we will fail to grasp the urgency of missions. We will be jaded by our own optimism and real human souls will suffer. Therefore, it is crucial for all that we as Christians, we embrace the doctrine of Heaven and Hell for our sake and that of others.

  • William

    The church’s association with right-wing politics. Tax exemption. Indoctrination. Hate speech. Theism in general.

  • Brandon Hurlbert

    Christianity, the Bible, and the Gospel are not about us. They are about Jesus.

  • tw

    test post here

  • Josue Vasquez

    Hey great work Thad on the Exchange, both you and Yara are way smarter than me so I just try to read along to ya’lls arguments and understand what I can. (I can’t see anybody’s older posts so forgive me if I’m posting a comment that has already been posted, and I know this is an old post but seeing how there are no comments, well thats sad for reform :/) Here are two that I have;
    #1 Nowhere in the Bible does anybody pray a superstitious prayer to be saved and receive the Holy spirit, that is pure hogwash, instead we read a number of people in Acts who believe repent and then are baptized (except in a few cases where the Apostles lay their hands on believers to give them the spirit.)
    #2. To the church in America ( a la revelation style) God did not send his one and only Son to die so that you could have your sins forgiven and then live a moralistic comfortable life in America. We are are the wealthiest people alive right now and some of the most richly blessed People to have EVER walked Gods green earth. God in his plan has put you right here right now for a reason, I don’t know what it is specifically but it’s probably not to have 3 52 inch T.Vs, 2 cars, a dream house and a good little nest egg (I can stand to be corrected, that could be Gods plan, I don’t know what he knows). It’s much more than that.
    That’s all I got, hope to get some feedback :)