Monday, July 7, 2008

Nailing it to the door

Those of you fans of church history have probably already guessed the reason for the title, but for the rest:

In 1517, a Catholic priest named Martin Luther realized through his study of the Bible that the current doctrine in his church was messed up--so messed up that some pretty central teachings of the church flew completely in the face of the God he saw in the Bible. For Luther, the issue was the way the church saw repentance and forgiveness: to make a (very) long story short he realized that nobody but God (and certainly not a priest or the Pope) can accept a person's repentance and forgive their sins. Luther drew his "line in the sand" on these teachings by writing up 95 "theses" or propositions for debate, and nailing them to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenburg, Germany (see this wiki for a nice summary).

The events set in motion by Luther's declaration and subsequent study/teaching/debating (as well as the work of others) grew to become what we today call the Reformation. While the Reformation was in many respects political as well as ecclesiastical, it represents a fundamental re-examination of basic, deeply-held beliefs about God and the church. A great deal of the teaching that Christians (Catholic and Protestant both) hold to be indisputable today stems from the Reformation, and would have been considered heresy by the church before that time. In short, it was a "soup-to-nuts" re-examination of some basic beliefs of the faith.

I believe that we need a similarly radical re-examination today. I am not so arrogant as to claim anything remotely like Luther's mantle. Heck, I don't think I could come up with 95 issues if I tried. But I'm growing increasingly convicted by several really basic differences with conventional Christianity that I believe desperately need to be rethought. In the following posts, I hope to nail a few of my own theses to the door, and invite your debate as Luther did.

Let me say at the outset that I welcome constructive dialog (whether you agree with me or not) on these issues. However, this is not a place for screaming matches about who's right and who's a heretic. If you aren't willing to consider that you may not have the handle on all revealed truth, save your breath and mine by finding somewhere else to shout. But if you, like me, have this inescapable feeling that there's more to the way of Jesus than His church has allowed people to experience in centuries, by all means come along for the ride!

In the meantime, Pax Christi vobiscum (may the peace of Christ be with you)!

Dan

1 comment:

Kevin Kompelien said...

Well said, Dan. I look forward to reading more. You know how much I enjoy some good healthy debate that leads us to more clearly rethink our commitment to living as genuine followers of Christ.