496 years ago today Martin Luther posted 95 theses exposing the ecclesial hypocrisy and compromise of his day.
By posting it on the door of the church in Wittenburg, he was posting for public debate.
In that spirit I post 9.5 theses exposing the ecclesial hypocrisy and compromise of our day.
That the Bible teaches its doctrines and practices for every church in both precept and example, and that they are the sufficient rule for all churches. Therefore, every church that holds to doctrines and practices that conflict with those deduced from Scripture alone are disobedient to Jesus Christ.
That the desire of all true Christians is to worship Jesus Christ, the Son of the living God and 2nd Person of the glorious Trinity. This desire, to gather together with each other in worship now, is evidence of the universal Church’s glorious destiny of eternal worship of the Triune God, together, forever.
That all true Christians who live near to each other yearn to be in Sunday fellowship with each other: not schismed nor separated, but being edified by each other’s gifts, that the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love (Eph. 4:16). This “whole body” is the local body of Christ, that is, those who are indwelt by the Holy Spirit and who live near enough to each other that they can worship together every Sunday.
That local churches are intended by God to be the visible expression of Jesus Christ to all in the present age, and that the only hope for visible unity among Christians in this world is to believe and submit to the teachings of the NT on the local church.
That to claim local church organization and local church polity is ambiguous, or otherwise not clearly defined in Scripture, is ignorance, agnosticism, or unbelief; that the clear form of local church organization and local church polity in the Bible are geographic churches (i.e., church of Philippi) led by a plurality of biblically qualified elders. Furthermore, Holy Scripture gives many instances of such elder boards (i.e., 1 Peter 5:1-4, James 5:14), gives examples and commands to make appoint such elder boards (i.e., Acts 14:23, Titus 1:5, 1 Timothy 5:22), and provides many examples of the same (i.e., Philippians 1:1, 1 Timothy 4:14).
That the only persons who may obediently serve in church leadership are men who are approved by all the qualifications of 1 Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:5-9; that the role elders are to have in the church is easily discerned in the NT, and is one of unhindered stewardship and ruling, as clearly defined in Scripture.
That no church in the NT ever participated in a regional presbytery, church courts, synod, or general assembly; nor is there any instance of such, command to make such, or example of such in all Holy Scripture; that no church in the NT ever had a single overseeing bishop either in the church or outside the church; nor is there any instance of such, command to make such, or example of such in all Holy Scripture; that no church in the NT ever had an overseeing group outside of it, unless it was the apostles as expressly delineated in the NT, but who all died in the 1st Century; that no vote was ever taken in any church in the NT, nor is there any instance of such, command to make such, or example of such in all Holy Scripture. All these are contrary to the revealed will of God but are acceptable to the fallen mind of man, inasmuch as they create, support, and promulgate schism in the local body of Christ.
That all local churches in a geographically close region should merge together under the oversight of biblically qualified elders. Further, apart from this merged unity the actual Christian witness to the world is one of division and schism and represents Jesus Christ to the world as disobedient to His Father (John 17:21-23); that such schism also misrepresents the body of Christ to Christians, leaving them vulnerable to false teaching, ignorant of basic doctrine, and distrusting of each other. Corollary to this is that all Christians and churches who wish to evangelize a region other than their own and where the gospel has already produced a local body of Christ should send in evangelists who submit themselves entirely to the elders of the merged church in that region.
That the propagation of the gospel in all the world should be initiated in all the regions of the world that do not possess the gospel or an obedient church, and should be underwritten and sustained only by churches governed by qualified elders (Rom. 15:24, 10:15).
That schism, that is the condition of true Christians in the same local region separated into different churches, is a gross sin to be corrected by qualified elders, and that those who resist to do so are either ignorant or unqualified to serve in church leadership since they do not “judge the body (of Christ) rightly” (1 Cor. 11:29-31).
Viva la Reformación
Reformation Day, 2013
For more on Luther and his glorious ministry, read Paul’s Reformation on Crete.