95 New Theses for a Modern Reformation

95 New Theses for a Modern Reformation October 31, 2016

On this day, almost 500 years ago (and by almost I mean 499 years ago) Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the door of the Wittenberg church in Germany and sparked what came to be known as the Protestant Reformation, a movement in response to the excesses of the Catholic church at large and whose effects are still felt five centuries later.

In honor of Martin Luther and his revolutionary spirit, I offer a new set of theses for consideration by Christians everywhere.

    1. We as Christians in America have become like the religious leaders that Jesus came to rebel against 2000 years ago.
    2. Like the Teachers of the Law in the 1st century, we have incredible knowledge of the Bible with very little corresponding obedience.
    3. We are known today more by what we believe than how we live.
    4. We practice religion as if agreeing with the teachings of Jesus is an adequate substitute for obedience.
    5. Bible knowledge does not equal spiritual maturity any more than baseball knowledge makes you a Major League All-Star.
    6. God is not impressed with our Bible knowledge any more than Jesus was impressed with the knowledge of the Teachers of the Law.
    7. If we teach biblical truth in a way that does not call for application and life change, we are teaching it incorrectly.
    8. Like the Sadducees in the 1st century, we have sold our piety and spiritual authority for temporal power.
    9. We are too quick to compromise our morals at the slightest scent of power or political influence.
    10. We have placed our faith and trust in the judicial system rather than in the Kingdom of God.
    11. We have deluded ourselves into thinking that we can legislate morality through elected officials rather than through a moving of the Holy Spirit.
    12. We have become so consumed with electing our preferred government officials that we forget that God is sovereign and works his will regardless of the political party in power.
    13. God did some of His best work in Scripture when evil kings and despots ruled, and yet we fret as if the next presidential election marks the end of the world.
    14. We as churches have abdicated responsibilities such as caring for the poor and widows, forcing the government to step in and pick up our slack.
    15. We have convinced ourselves that if Jesus were alive today, he would a gun-toting, fire-breathing, die-hard Tea Party Republican.
    16. Like the Pharisees in the 1st century, Christians have become known by our judgmentalism and hypocrisy.
    17. Like the Pharisees, we look for biblical loopholes to justify our sinful desires and actions.
    18. We self-righteously condemn any hint of homosexuality while allowing pornography and sexual immorality to completely ravage heterosexual marriages.
    19. It is idiotic of us to judge and condemn the world for failing to live up to a moral standard to which they never agreed.
    20. We judge non-Christians for actually acting like non-Christians.
    21. We have allowed ourselves to be caricatured by society as judgmental, narrow-minded, racist homophobes.
    22. We have recreated the 1st century divide between Jews and Gentiles today with those who are “church people” and everyone else.
    23. We’ve moved away from the grace of God and live in the prison of performance, believing that our efforts will somehow make God love us more.
    24. Rather than celebrate what unites us in Jesus, we judge other Christians who don’t dogmatically follow our specific brand of Christianity.
    25. If Christians can unite around belief that Jesus is the Son of God and that salvation comes through Him alone, then all other theological differences are secondary in importance.
    26. The current debate between Calvinism and Arminianism in the evangelical church is an effective ploy by the enemy to cause dissension and disunity among our ranks.
    27. By and large we have adopted an Enlightenment mentality that rejects the supernatural in favor of the scientific, thereby eroding our dependence on the Holy Spirit.
    28. If the Holy Spirit left our churches, many of them would never notice.
    29. In reality, the Holy Spirit left many of our churches decades ago.
    30. We have neglected the work and person of the Holy Spirit to point where it has rendered us powerless.
    31. The Holy Spirit empowered the early church in the book of Acts yet a majority of churches don’t want Him anywhere near them.
    32. We think that the church is a building, an address, a location, rather than the assembly, the gathering of Jesus followers.
    33. Tradition is killing the church.
    34. Too many churches in America have become museums curating the past rather than a movement creating the future.
    35. Churches in America sit on hundreds of billions of dollars worth of assets while over 1 billion people on this planet live in extreme poverty (less that $1.25 a day).
    36. If every Christian in America began to tithe faithfully, the nation would be completely different in less than six months.
    37. The church in America is a sleeping giant, unaware of its own power and potential.
    38. The greatest thrust of the worldwide missions movement is happening outside of and bypassing America, and most American Christians don’t even realize it.
    39. Persecution of Christians is coming to America, and that’s not a bad thing as it will sharpen our faith and sand off the soft edges of our faith.
    40. Praying for revival has become code for those who are unwilling to change and therefore ask God to change America back to the 1950s.
    41. Instead of praying for revival we should pray for what the early church prayed for: boldness (Acts 4:29).
    42. Jesus hung out with people who were nothing like him. People who were nothing like Jesus, liked Jesus.
    43. The same cannot be said about the majority of Christians today in America.
    44. New church plants are needed because it’s always easier to give birth than to raise the dead.
    45. Churches who opposed new church plants are thinking of their own interests above the interests of the Kingdom of God.
    46. Churches quietly assume the growing church down the road must be watering down the gospel somehow, assuming that true faithfulness to the gospel equals dead and dying churches.
    47. Denominations by and large have become a hindrance to the movement of God because it divides us into camps and distracts our attention onto things other than God’s mission of saving sinners.
    48. Denominations will continue to lose effectiveness and impact in the 21st century, and that’s not a bad thing.
    49. Religious institutions will continue and train leaders that will prop up the religious establishment first and advance the Kingdom of God second.
    50. Christians by and large have become so insular that we’ve forgotten how to meaningfully interact with the world around us.
    51. The baptisms from biological growth (children) or re-baptisms from another denomination far outnumber baptisms from genuine conversions.
    52. On the issue of homosexuality, we have been asked to answer a no-win question similar to “Is it right to pay taxes to Caesar or not?” (Luke 20:26).
    53. Unlike Jesus, though, we’ve taken the bait and fallen into the trap to either compromise biblical truth or portray ourselves as narrow-minded bigots out of step with society.
    54. No one will ever be argued into the Kingdom of heaven.
    55. Many will, however, be loved into the Kingdom of heaven. So why do we spend all of our time rehearsing our theological arguments rather than loving people sacrificially?
    56. Miracles still happen today, and all the spiritual gifts are still valid. Just because we’re uncomfortable with some aspects of Christianity doesn’t mean they’re not biblical.
    57. If your theology doesn’t positively impact how you treat others, you have bad theology.
    58. Seminaries train ministers in methods and practices that only reinforce the ongoing decline of denominations.
    59. An uneducated man with a pure love for Jesus will have a more effective ministry than a seminary-trained pastor with no genuine love for Jesus.
    60. More Bible knowledge does not equal discipleship.
    61. Discipleship and evangelism are not mutually exclusive.
    62. Personal evangelism is the greatest form of and sign of true discipleship.
    63. Churches have made Christians so busy that it has actually become detrimental to the family unit.
    64. Christians treat the church like a cruise ship, seeking entertainment and comfort rather than a battleship, serving and sacrificing for a greater cause.
    65. The style of music you sing will determine the age and generation of people you attract.
    66. The typical way that a preacher preaches in a church is ineffective and powerless, relying on a preaching method designed only to educate the already convinced.
    67. The current divide between clergy and laity is unbiblical and reinforces job security for ministers while eroding the effective service of the saints.
    68. The new reformation is an uprising of disciples reconnecting with Jesus as the chief instigator and rebel of our faith.
    69. The new reformation will not be a rejection of the local church but a reimagining of the local church.
    70. The local church has been and will always be the hope of the world.
    71. The new Reformation will disciples of Jesus rising up and living lives that differentiate themselves from the twisted and tired institution of American Christianity.
    72. A Christian agrees with the teachings of Jesus while a disciple obeys the teachings of Jesus.
    73. A Christian lives in the prison of performance while a disciple lives in the freedom of grace.
    74. A Christian depends on self while a disciple depends on the Spirit.
    75. A Christian lives in spite of eternity while a disciple lives in light of eternity.
    76. A Christian values tradition while a disciple values transformation.
    77. A Christian maintains uncompromising dogma while a disciple celebrates uncommon fellowship.
    78. A Christian loves money while a disciple leverages money.
    79. A Christian gets discipled while a disciple makes disciples.
    80. A Christian practices their piety in public while a disciple pursues their piety in private.
    81. A Christian engages in the culture war while a disciple transcends the culture wars.
    82. A Christian withdraws from the messes while a disciple runs towards the messes.
    83. A Christian pursues a life of comfort and ease while a disciple embraces pain and suffering.
    84. A Christian lives by the Golden Rule (treating others the way they think they would be treated) while a disciple lives by the Platinum Rule (treating others they way Jesus has treated them).
    85. For any gospel we preach to be effective, it must authentically address racial issues that are dividing our country.
    86. A key to keeping and retaining teenagers in the church is to give them meaningful responsibilities and opportunities to serve.
    87. Casual dress at church is more effective than formal dress because it promotes authenticity and interpersonal connection.
    88. Lasting life change happens best when people sit in circles (small groups) rather than rows (worship services).
    89. Adults learn on a need-to-know basis and grow spiritually when asked to serve in a position at church that forces them to grow spiritually.
    90. Church mergers are an effective way to try and breathe life into struggling churches.
    91. The harvest is still plentiful and the workers are still few.
    92. People are still hungry for spirituality and hungry for God, whether they see God in our churches or not.
    93. Our greatest testimony to the world will be our supernatural love and devotion to all other believers (John 13:34-35), not just those within our particular brand of Christianity.
    94. One day we’ll all get to heaven realize who’s right and who’s wrong. We should save our judgment until then.
    95. A church should be a contagious community of hope.

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