100 Theses for the Evangelical Church

100 Theses for the Evangelical Church

 

Dr. John M. Hanna

October 31, 2017

Springfield, Oregon

 

Five hundred years ago today, October 31, 1517, Dr. Martin Luther nailed 95 theses on the Wittenburg Door of Castle Church in Germany protesting grievances he had with the state of the Roman Catholic Church at the time.

Five hundred years later to the day, I post an even 100 theses for the Evangelical church in particular, and the Church universal, to consider as we strive to be faithful witnesses of our Lord.

 

  1. In deference to Martin Luther and his first of 95 theses, I too declare that repentance is the key to enter into the fullness of life with Christ and all the benefits of a deep, rich life of faith
  2. That being said, the church has neglected the single greatest determining factor that precedes repentance. The essential verse is Romans 2:4b, “the goodness (χρηστς / chrēstos) of God leads you to repentance.”
  3. This reference to Romans 2:4b is not a proof text. Goodness is the very heart and nature of God, indispensable and foundational to His character
  4. That God is actively leading us to repentance should never be confused with worldly tactics used by churches that seek to coax and seduce people into their doors
  5. When the church is more concerned about numbers without genuine repentance, it is akin to Judas Iscariot negotiating how much to sell out Jesus for (Matthew 26:15)
  6. The only numerical indication of the strength and faithfulness of a church is how many people will attend a prayer meeting
  7. Prayer is the posture of humility and penitence and must be central in the life of the believer and the community of faith
  8. The church must repent of making “superstars” of its leaders, church growth heroes, expert communicators, musical practitioners
  9. The good virtues of servanthood, meekness, peacemaking, forgiveness, self denial, sacrifice, and reconciliation have all but been lost in modern Christianity today and must be revived
  10. The church must repent of worshiping worship, rather than worshiping Jesus
  11. The wealthy churches in any community must repent for overlooking the poorer churches in the same community
  12. Repentance is the awareness and response that due to the leading of God, we must, moment by moment, return to God who is the originating source of all goodness
  13. Repentance (change of mind which leads to change in behavior) is continuous active, not one time static. Renewal of the mind is ongoing (Romans 12:2)
  14. Repentance is both God’s leading and our response, the latter is the result of the former
  15. Repentance is both private and communal, it absolutely cannot be just one or the other
  16. Repentance is both faith and works, it unquestionably cannot be just one or the other
  17. The single greatest issue facing the church today is the obvious lacking of “good fruit” (good deeds [God deeds] from a pure heart) among professing followers of Jesus Christ
  18. Jesus spoke of the necessity of bearing “good fruit” (Matthew 7:16-20), a message sorely lacking and practiced today
  19. In the Gospel of Mark chapter 1, the first message of both John the Baptist and Jesus was a message of repentance. There is a dire need for the church today to demonstrate the good fruits of repentance
  20. If “good fruit” is so desperately lacking in the church today, it is an indication that true repentance is not properly understood and implemented
  21. May we repent of our apathy toward the things of God
  22. While Luther made the issue of salvation a matter of faith over works / salvation by grace alone, and rightly so, what got lost in the discussion is that the way of salvation is only predicated on the goodness of God which leads to repentance
  23. Luther revived the question, “How can we be saved?” – by grace through faith alone. I seek to revive the question, “Why must we be saved?” or “Why must we continually turn to God?” – because God is good
  24. The goodness of God is no trivial or incidental matter. It is not a secondary attribute among His many other attributes.
  25. The goodness of God is the single greatest primary characteristic of God from which all His other attributes flow
  26. All the other attributes of God, including His love and holiness, even His justice, etc., must be seen in light of the fact that God is good
  27. As the sole source of pure goodness in the world, it is impossible for God to harbor or engage in any evil (Psalm 92:15)
  28. What separates Creator God from all creation in a world that has fallen away from God’s ideal and intention due to sin is that creation has the capacity for evil, whereas God does not and cannot have the capacity for any evil
  29. What determines that God is good, and how “good” is to be understood, is outlined in the Scriptures
  30. Our conception of “goodness” will not always align itself with what God considers to be good
  31. In many churches today, we’ve substituted good music, good messages, good programs, etc. for a Scriptural understanding of the goodness of God
  32. The deeper our knowledge of God and the Holy Scriptures, the more enlightened we are “to distinguish good from evil” (Hebrews 5:14)
  33. If God were not good, He could not be loving, gracious, merciful, forgiving, redeeming, etc.
  34. That “God is good” is not simply the cliché we’ve made it out to be. It is the fundamental nature of God
  35. God is the emanating source of all goodness in the world whether we acknowledge it or not
  36. Any good in the world – deed, action, sentiment, etc., is because God is continuously actively at work in the world through His Spirit
  37. As ones created in the Imago Dei (image of God), however flawed that image is because of the sin, if there is goodness in us, it is because of Him
  38. “The Lord is good to all” (Psalm 145:9). God forgive us when we are not good to all, even the all who are so unlike us
  39. We were created by God to do good works (Ephesians 2:10), a much neglected teaching in our churches today
  40. When we do not do good works on behalf of others, we are not living as God intended
  41. When we are not good stewards of creation, we are not living as God intended
  42. The church must repent when pagans and people of non faith do more good in the world than we
  43. Certain people are naturally prone to being and doing good because their sensitives are more closely aligned to God than others
  44. Those who are not as naturally inclined to doing good and more resistant to seeking God are more hardened but just as redeemable
  45. All people, whether naturally closer aligned to God or not, need to diligently seek God
  46. In seeking God with heart, mind, soul, and strength, we are able to more fully know what God’s good and perfect will is for us (Romans 12:2)
  47. We can be confident that long before we sought out God in faith, He has been seeking us out of His goodness
  48. The church must read the Holy Scriptures through the hermeneutical lens of goodness
  49. The goodness of God is definitely revealed in the person of Jesus Christ who “went about doing good” (Acts 10:38b). May this also be said of us
  50. Any religion, including Christianity, that does not seek to embody the goodness of God, cannot legitimately be considered a religion
  51. Any sect of Christianity that does not seek to fully embody the goodness of God cannot be considered “Christian”
  52. How can we as Evangelical Christians begin to recapture the goodness of God? I propose, to begin, we cease referring to ourselves as “Protestants”
  53. Since their inception, Protestants have been protesting. And while at the time their protesting had merit on certain issues, it seems that protesting is all that Protestants still do, protesting and dissenting even the most frivolous of issues which tarnishes the goodness, message, and mission of our faith
  54. Rather than protesting, let us find and celebrate the good in the world and the good in others
  55. Our incessant protesting over incidentals is just as tiresome as the grumblings of the Israelites in the wilderness
  56. Our calling should be to help others, by God’s enabling Spirit, to see the good in the world, in others, and in themselves
  57. Where good is, God can be found.
  58. Where God is present, goodness follows (Psalm 23:6)
  59. The good in our lives and world (Scripturally understood) comes from God (James 1:17)
  60. God is the initiator and sustainer of the good work He begins in us (Philippians 1:6)
  61. We must cooperate with God as we submit to His will and ways to stoke the good work He initiated in us
  62. Goodness is not the absence of suffering. Many Western Christians are blinded to God’s goodness due to an overabundance of comfort, material possessions, and wealth
  63. It is the goodness of God that can bring unity to the Body of Christ that is so currently fractured
  64. All professing followers of Jesus must rally behind the goodness of God as a point of unity
  65. All professing followers of Jesus must exemplify the goodness of God. This cannot be optional
  66. To not exemplify the goodness of God negates our professing faith
  67. To neglect special attention to the poor and disenfranchised in all cultures negates our professing faith
  68. Jesus was honored to preach Good News to the poor (Luke 4:18). Clergy friends and all who minister to the poor, through you get overlooked by your ecclesiastically hierarchy, rejoice, for you are the true servants of God!
  69. To give special deference to the rich and influential in church and culture negates a professing faith
  70. To neglect the poor and disenfranchised as leaders in the church simply for being such is an abomination
  71. To give leadership reigns in the church to wealthy and influential individuals and congregations simply for being wealthy and influential is an abomination
  72. Pay to play leadership in the church (local churches and ecclesiastical hierarchy) is a modern day form of indulgences
  73. Wealth and size of congregations should never be determining factors in how God and we view success
  74. Racism, sexism, elitism, and favoritism must all be purged completely from the church
  75. Churches that mirror a corporate, capitalistic culture are lovers of the world
  76. Churches that mirror an entertainment, spectator culture are just as lost as the culture
  77. The loudest and most vocal among us are not necessarily the wisest and most discerning. We must learn to listen to the voice of grace and truth in the Spirit
  78. Worship is so much more than mere sentimentality, emotionalism, and hand raising as we sing
  79. Worship ought to be the result of our good works. Jesus said, “Let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:16)
  80. Good deeds, that lead to praise of the Father, is at the heart of worship
  81. Liturgical / sacramental worship should always lead to an exemplary good and holy life
  82. A more causal worship should also lead to an exemplary good and holy life
  83. Good deeds should lead to worship, and true worship in spirit and truth (John 4:23-24) should lead back to good deeds
  84. As it is the goodness of God that leads us to repentance, it is the holiness of God that leads us to be entirely sanctified and made holy, set apart for God
  85. We cannot be holy without being faithfully immersed in a local community of faith
  86. Faithfulness and devotion to the things of God is an indication of a holy life
  87. Our concern should be to pursue a devout life of goodness and faithfulness (Matthew 25:23)
  88. Lack of goodness and faithfulness in the lives of professing Christians has done far more damage to the church than any exterior cause – repent!
  89. Without a devout life of holiness, no one can more fully experience the goodness of God
  90. The fullness of the Spirit of God in us as we are entirely sanctified is to propagate the common good (I Corinthians 12:7)
  91. “Taste and see that the Lord is good” (Psalm 34:8a) could very well foreshadow the Eucharist, the holy sacrament commemorating the sacrificial love of Christ
  92. So what about love? Isn’t God love? (I John 4:8b).  A resounding “YES” God is love!  Love (properly and Biblically understood) is the highest form of good
  93. The phrase “I love you” has becoming meaningless in today’s culture and a cliché among Christians. We need to properly understand Biblical love.
  94. I John 3:16 clearly defines Biblical love – “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us.  And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.”
  95. No Christian should ever say the words “I love you” to another unless they are willing to lay down their life for them
  96. Clergy, shepherd your flock and community to Christ and in the good things of God
  97. Clergy, it is not about the numbers game that our ecclesiastical leaders make it out to be, to grow the church whatever the cost. It is about making disciples.  A church of 30 good and faithful (holy) people is far greater, more effective, and a better witness for the cause of Christ than a church of 300 contentious people
  98. Christian, let your light shine ( – Jesus)
  99. Christian, grow in grace ( – St. Paul)
  100. Finally, “Let us not become weary in doing good…” (Galatians 6:9). If we all heed this, the rest (including the harvest and all eternity) will take care of itself according to the goodness of God

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