20 Theses why the Reformation is Not Over – Michael Jensen

The Rev. Dr. Michael Jensen of Moore Theological College has 20 Theses on why the Reformation is not over!

Whereas: -
1. Continued division between Christians who hold to the orthodox faith is deplorable and regrettable and we should work to heal it;
2. Insisting on division based on mere prejudice against Roman Catholics, or cultural snobbery, or ethnicity, or sectarianism  is deplorable and should be repented of;
3. Hyped-up and largely loveless Protestant rhetoric and sabre-rattling for the love of mere aggression must be eschewed;
4. It is a matter of great rejoicing that Roman Catholic priests and lay people have discovered the Scriptures anew in recent years;
5. A person is not saved by assenting to justification by grace through faith alone;
6. Evangelical Christians have much to learn from the tradition of the Christian church over two millennia (as the Reformers themselves taught);
7. Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI are in many respects admirable, even extraordinary men;
8. We are increasingly needing to stand together with Roman Catholics on issues of social justice and religious freedom;
9. We have common cause with Roman Catholics against the New Atheism and the other forms of intellectual secularism;
10. I rejoice in a number of Christian friendships with Roman Catholics whom I happy to call brothers in Christ and from whom I have learnt much;

it is still the case that: -
11. The Roman Catholic Church still insists that the authority of Scripture is subject to the interpretation of the Church, and indeed is a creation of the Church;
12. The Roman Catholic Church still asserts the supremacy of the Bishop of Rome in the Church – however carefully this is nuanced – and his infallibility in matters of faith;
13. The Roman Catholic Church, despite lengthy and peaceful deliberations with Lutherans and Anglicans on the matter, still holds a semi-Pelagian view on the doctrine of justification – that is, the believer in whatever small way, still is able to co-operate with the grace of God and earn the rewards of heaven;
14. Roman Catholics still determine to define faith as ‘assenting to doctrines’ rather than ‘personal trust’, and therefore put the emphasis on love;
15. Justification by grace alone is in practice denied by a view of the sacraments as the operative vehicles of God’s grace;
16. Despite modifications to Roman Catholic teaching on the afterlife in recent years, purgatory is still an official teaching of the Church;
17. The Roman Catholic Church still affirms as dogmas several non-Scriptural (and I would argue, contra-Scriptural) teachings: namely, the perpetual virginity of the Mary, her immaculate conception and her assumption;
18. Devotion to and prayer to the saints is still very much part of Roman Catholic spirituality and teaching;
19. The Roman Catholic Church maintains that Christians who are not members of the Church of Rome are at best ‘separated brethren’ and are not admitted to the Lord’s Table; [On my reading of a Vatican II document, non-Catholics can be admitted to the Mass if (1) A minister of their own religion is not available to offer them the elements; and (2) If they assent to RCC document on the Mass].

And thus:
20. There is still need to maintain a separation between the Church of Rome and the churches of the Reformation.

I should say that Michael is not 75 theses away from the big time!

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  • Johnm

    Good post.

    The distinction between the Roman Catholic believer and the Roman Catholic Church and its teachings is crucial.

  • Johnm

    Good post.

    The distinction between the Roman Catholic believer and the Roman Catholic Church and its teachings is crucial.

  • Trevor

    It saddens and angers me to read this post. I attended Moore College twenty years ago. Coming from a protestant background in Ireland I was shocked at the teaching presented there in regards to Catholicism. I realised that the same teaching has been used to support an ‘Irish apartheid’ where for hundreds of years since the reformation religion was used for political ends and led to the oppression and deaths of many people. For me it reveals an isolationist view of the world; isolated from the present day and the issues and concerns of today. The use of ‘brothers’ and ‘separated brethren’ shows that this particular part of the Christian church is patriarchal in nature and views women as less than ‘men’. What is most revealing is what is not written; what is not included as an important theses. The only mention of anything feminine is the reference to Mary and virginity and conception. These references only highlight that just as it was hundreds of years ago, this part of the church is committed to its maintenance of patriarchy through the sexual control of women and the reduction of women to the role of child bearers. The reformation happened hundreds of years ago – it’s over.

  • Trevor

    It saddens and angers me to read this post. I attended Moore College twenty years ago. Coming from a protestant background in Ireland I was shocked at the teaching presented there in regards to Catholicism. I realised that the same teaching has been used to support an ‘Irish apartheid’ where for hundreds of years since the reformation religion was used for political ends and led to the oppression and deaths of many people. For me it reveals an isolationist view of the world; isolated from the present day and the issues and concerns of today. The use of ‘brothers’ and ‘separated brethren’ shows that this particular part of the Christian church is patriarchal in nature and views women as less than ‘men’. What is most revealing is what is not written; what is not included as an important theses. The only mention of anything feminine is the reference to Mary and virginity and conception. These references only highlight that just as it was hundreds of years ago, this part of the church is committed to its maintenance of patriarchy through the sexual control of women and the reduction of women to the role of child bearers. The reformation happened hundreds of years ago – it’s over.

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  • Russell
  • Russell
  • Frank

    You fail to mention the first Christian Church- the Orthodox
    Church and one of the fastest growing among the
    educated, especially among the evangelical.

    • Frederik Mulder

      Michael, by now everyone knows about the sometimes theological “tention” between you guys at the Bible College of Queensland in Brisbane, and Moore College in Sydney :)
      Why don’t you do us all a favour one day and spell it out in simple terms?

  • Frank

    You fail to mention the first Christian Church- the Orthodox
    Church and one of the fastest growing among the
    educated, especially among the evangelical.

    • Frederik Mulder

      Michael, by now everyone knows about the sometimes theological “tention” between you guys at the Bible College of Queensland in Brisbane, and Moore College in Sydney :)
      Why don’t you do us all a favour one day and spell it out in simple terms?


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