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Charismatic Puritan

Right doctrine leads to right thinking, and right thinking leads to right living.

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Location: Gaithersburg, MD, United States

Jealous for the truth, beauty and majesty of our glorious risen Savior.

Thursday, April 28, 2005

95 Theses

Brad Hightower is a pastor in Artesia, California. His blog is 21st Century Reformation. He is asking the questions: “What are the most vital areas that we the church are in need of change?” and “ How can these vital few areas be expressed in a series of theses in much the same way as Luther presented his call to reformation?” He is initiating the 95 Theses Project. I have been eagerly watching and will now share some ideas. I have not researched this and apllied links to articles as Brad has, though I will be in the near future. Despite that, from what I have read, heard on Christian radio and ministry programs and what I have learned from people in the church, I think I speak with some accuracy.

This clearly will not apply to every church body. I have been blessed by God to part of a congregation that holds the Word of God to be the only standard and does an excellent job of living that out by His grace. I also know we are not the norm.

4. Despite that much of the church confesses Scripture to be the Word of God, inspired and even inerrant, she does not regard Scripture to be the source of all morals, ethics, principles and ideals for the congregational as well as the secular life.

5. Because of this lack of normative biblical morality, the church either does not know it is to be profoundly distinct from the world, or does not know how to live a life that is profoundly distinct from the world.

6. Because of this lack of normative biblical morality, the church is filled with people who confess Christ as savior with their mouth yet confess Satan as master with the rest of their lives.

7. Because of this lack of normative biblical morality, our congregants, and in particular our children, are religious in sentiment but without doctrinal foundation and so, in most regards, are indistinct from those in open rebellion to God.

8. Because of this lack of normative biblical morality, the church has embraced heretical doctrines and the errors of natural materialism and secular humanism into its religious life rather than being salt and light to a dark and dying world. This is most easily seen in regard to Christian opinions regarding such things as psychology and psychotherapy, homosexuality, abortion, euthanasia and infanticide, and perhaps most dangerously, the use of human life and human genetic material as a commodity.

9. There has been a general failure of the clergy to hold itself or its congregants to biblical standards of morality and to impose appropriate church discipline for those who violate the Word of God as a matter of habit or course and not just part of the ongoing sanctification process.

10. This is of exceptional grievousness in the realm of marriage and divorce, where the church has not instilled biblical concepts of marriage, either to its youth before marriage or its adult members in marriage, nor has it applied biblical principles of divorce and remarriage. In this matter, the church is today no different from the world that is careening towards hell.

11. The clergy does not teach, nor is it held accountable, to the biblical standards of marriage and divorce such that divorce, while a confessing born-again believer, should be disqualification for pastoral ministry and church office except perhaps in the most heinous circumstances of unrepentant sexual immorality or abandonment on the part of a spouse. Yet even these should have occurred far distant from a man's seeking church office and even then must be weighed heavily against clear demonstration of sanctification since that divorce, with particular attention to the realm of marriage, personal relationships, and sexual morality.

12. The church has failed to hold Paul's teachings on qualifications for leadership as the absolute requirement for serving in a church office. Rather than divorce and sexual immorality or the rebelliousness of a leader's children being disqualifications for church office, they are now considered an unfortunate but expected part of family and church life, such that pastors and ministers who have been divorced, committed sins of sexual immorality, or who have had children that have abandoned the faith while under their parents’ authority are not removed from office but are allowed to continue in defiance of God's Word.

As always, your comments and criticisms, and especially your biblical accountability is appreciated and encouraged.

Soli Deo Gloria

13 Comments:

Anonymous brad said...

I will make extensive comment on our approach to coming to a solution. I really like the first thesis (#4( "we hold the bible to be true with respect to immutable truths (who Jesus is etc) but not with respect to moral behaviors.") is basically the point. If someone says "Jesus is just a man" he is a heretic but if someone says in their heart "I need to find myself and so I need to find a new spouse" we do not consider this equally a denial of the Lordship of Jesus. Here is the issue. We need a reformation of how we use the bible to guide our morality as well as our creedal beliefs. Why are all the creeds only focus on theology proper (who is God) and not Christian practice.

The next step is to make sure we understand how to "do" our faith.

BUT!!! I warn you about having legalistic solutions. I do not believe the real root is in church discipline or but in discipleship processes.

Are we Taliban authority is anti-christ. So think deeply on this.

That is why I say lets not jump to solution. Any statement starting with "because" is claiming to know causes. i do not think I know the cause until I can prove that out in practice.
God Bless,

28/4/05 12:47  
Blogger Charismatic Puritan said...

Brad,

First, thanks for reading and commenting. None of what I write below is out of anger; by rule I don't get offended, so don't sweat it. This is just vigorous debate (which I LOVE!), iron sharpening iron and all that, roger?

Comments and questions to comments:

1) Is not discipline part of discipleship? perhaps I'm already moving into solutions but I think that lack of church discipline promotes sinning by congregants, or at least allows them to go unchecked. WOuld removing "Beacuse" statements and simply declaring it be better?

2) If a behavior is clearly opposed to biblical morality, should we not consider a lack of biblical morality as a cause?

3) I hope I didn't sound legalistic, my intention is to apply the biblical stanards for leadership to the church and its leadership.

4) I'm not sure what you mean by "Are we Taliban authority is anti-christ." This is a gramattical question. Is there supposed to be a period after Taliban? If so (reading "Are we Taliban. Authority is anti-christ." I would disagree completely. Pastoral authority in the church is necessary and mandated by scripture. We are to be in submission to our church leaders (Heb 13.17). If you meant something different, let me know. And as far as Taliban, c'mon, man, that's harsh. I'm not saying drag people in the street and shoot them, but when a person is rebellious and unrepentant in their behavior (i.e., child-abuse, lying, pornography, fraudulent business dealings) and is not seeking counsel, they need to be held accountable and the church needs not only to know, but to get involved. Again, I may be moving to "what to do" statements, but Luther offered prescriptions in his theses.

I am praying for you and you heart and mind in this.

28/4/05 15:45  
Anonymous brad said...

Dana,
Yes, I am sure discipline is part of the solution. Yes, sorry for being to controlling there.

As for the Taliban statement. Yeah a typo.."Taliban authority is anti-Christ." is what I meant to say. Point discipline and punishment is to me something we need to do because of a failure to follow the program. BUT the fact is "we don't currently even have an effect discipleship program" that has any statistical effect. Law isn't the method to make folk walk in righteousness. So, the question is "how do we actually produce a program to make them walk out their calling?"
I hope that helps. great dialogue..
God Bless,

29/4/05 00:25  
Blogger Charismatic Puritan said...

Yes, thanks for the clarification. I may have recommended this previously, but the Biblical Counseling Foundation (http://www.bcfministries.org/) has a Biblical Counseling Training Program with rich materials. THe Self-Confrontation manual is an excellent resource for discileship. Having said that, we need our churches and our congregants to be serious about discipleship. We need to have men, especially husbands/fathers that make their personal discipleship serious and then bring that into the home. We, as humans, can only take it so far. The Holy Spirit must work in the heart and mind of the individual, but we as the church must have the machinery in place to tak ethose who are eager and feed them.

The command of the great commission was not to make believers or converts, but to make DISCIPLES, "teaching them to observe." Write on, brother.

Dana

29/4/05 08:01  
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