95 Theses : Considerations for WLLC in 2017
You may have passed right by it on Reformation Sunday 2017 - but in preparation for the festivities, one of our members imitated our faith founder, Martin Luther. He posted 95 Theses on the door of the church - not with a hammer and nail, but with tape! Many others came through those doors, noticing the list, but not stopping to read it.
These theses - or statements for discussion and debate in the church - were written by Matthew Sobolik, who joined our church last year. Matthew came, knowing that we had written and approved a Welcoming Statement. So he felt welcomed to come and bring his ideas, beliefs, and values. And he wants to talk about them with you!
Matthew's theses challenge us to wrestle with what it means to say we are welcoming, and to act in just and welcoming ways. How do we understand theological concepts like sin, repentance, blasphemy, and justice in today's world? He is listening for, and advocating for the Church to have a voice in the issues of today. We may not all agree on the specifics of how the Church does that, but speaking and serving in the power and mercy of God is our calling! "Discomfort is not an excuse for lack of service." (#54) I encourage you to read Matthew's thoughts here :
1. The Bible in no way advocates for discrimination against any member of the LGBTQ community.
2. The Bible in no way advocates for discrimination against women.
3. The Bible in no way advocates for discrimination against racial or ethnic minorities.
4. The Bible in no way advocates for anything other than a loving relationship with those practicing other religions.
5. To use the Bible to spread hatred against any particular group is to blaspheme the Word of God.
6. The Church must acknowledge the ways it has hurt members of the LGBTQ community.
7. The Church must acknowledge the ways it has hurt women.
8. The Church must acknowledge the ways it has advocated for racial discrimination.
9. The Church must acknowledge the ways it has broken relationships with different religions.
10. Repentance requires action, words alone do not constitute repentance.
11. The Church must repent for blaspheming the Word of God, and the ways it's blasphemy has hurt the people the Church is supposed to serve.
12. Saying “all are welcome” does not constitute repentance.
13. Being “Reconciled in Christ” does not constitute repentance.
14. The Church must actively welcome those who have historically been harmed by the Church.
15. The metric to measure the success of this redemption must be reconciliation, and the reconciliation must be defined by those who have historically been harmed by the Church.
16. The Kingdom of God celebrates diversity of races, ethnicities, sexualities, genders, abilities and others, the Church must actively strive to reflect this diversity.
17. The Church cannot claim to be an extension of God’s Kingdom on earth if it lacks diversity.
18. Jesus’ ministry was political.
19. The Kingdom of God is a political term.
20. God does not desire a Christian theocracy in this nation, however He does require that Church leaders speak out against injustice.
21. The Church cannot claim to care about injustice while not discussing politics.
22. The Church cannot refrain from discussing politics in order to keep from offending members of the Church.
23. The Church must never preach bad doctrine for the comfort of their members.
24. The Church must never temper God’s zealous pursuit of justice for the comfort of their members.
25. The Church must not accept false teachings from its members in order to avoid arguments.
26. Strict adherence to, and zealous pursuit of God’s work of doing justice and spreading mercy will always increase church membership.
27. However church membership should not be used as a metric to determine the health of the church.
28. The Church must repent for its complacency in allowing an unjust administration to rise to, and maintain power, in this country.
29. This repentance must come from the pulpit.
30. This repentance must come in the form of advocating for specific political goals.
31. The Church must advocate for more gun regulations.
32. The Church must advocate for LGBTQ protections.
33. The Church must advocate for criminal justice reforms.
34. The Church must advocate for justice for victims of police brutality.
35. The Church must advocate for environmental protections.
36. The Church must recognize that the purpose of a government is conservation of life.
37. The Church must recognize that life in this context does not merely refer to biological life.
38. Life in this context is a maximally free life.
39. The Church must therefore advocate for policies which allow the government to open further freedoms.
40. The Church must not advocate for policies which limit freedom.
41. The Church must recognize the ways it has contributed to a society which accepts sexual assault and harassment as normal.
42. Jesus does not condone the idea that women have the mandate to control the sexual urges of men.
43. Jesus in no way condones the idea that a woman is responsible for men sexually assaulting or harassing her.
44. Jesus in no way condones the idea that woman’s entire purpose is for her husband.
45. The Church must strongly rebuke any such suggestions.
46. The Church must raise men to take responsibility for their sexuality.
47. The Church must not avoid discussing sex because it causes discomfort.
48. The Church must not raise men and women who are uncomfortable with sex and therefore refrain from friendships with the opposite sex.
49. The Church must actively invite women into leadership positions.
50. To zealously pursue justice the Church must care for the poor in their community.
51. The Church must repent of the ways it has failed to serve the less fortunate in their community.
52. The Church must actively engage with the houseless population, and instruct their members to actively engage with the houseless population.
53. Discomfort is not an excuse for lack of service.
54. However discomfort is not a metric for quality of service.
55. Jesus speaks to us through community, creation, His actions, the Holy Spirit, and the Bible, all must be viewed as legitimate words from God.
56. None of these alone is sufficient to understand the word of God. The only sufficient way to understand the word of God is with a combination of all of these.
57. The Bible cannot be understood without a community guiding each other through it.
58. Attempts to understand the Bible without the context of community easily leads to blasphemy against the word of God.
59. Therefore the community has a profound responsibility to engage each other in personal moral issues.
60. If God speaks through creation then science must be viewed as an investigation into the word of God, and respected as such.
61. Science shows the beauty of God.
62. The Church must not dismiss science, or advance theological positions which are in direct conflict with accepted scientific fact.
63. The Church must repent for the ways it has harmed scientific progress.
64. This repentance must come in the form of actively advancing scientific research.
65. The Church must recognize the ways that society is changing, and the ways the church can change with society.
66. The Church must be willing to adopt new songs, liturgy, and teaching methods to better fit with current society.
67. This does not imply, and should not be promoted as, a critique of more traditional practices.
68. The Church must also recognize practices which cannot be changed.
69. This recognition must come from the word of God.
70. Therefore the sacraments of Baptism and Communion must remain an integral part of the Church regardless of changes in society.
71. Baptism should not be understood as a choice on the part of the one being baptized, but as an anointment directly from God.
72. Communion should be an integral part of every weekly liturgy, as a reminder of our baptism.
73. However those who have not been baptized must not be denied communion.
74. This is because all persons have already been chosen by God regardless of whether they have been baptized or not.
75. Any person who is not attempting to dishonor the sacrament must not be denied communion.
76. Therefore any christian, regardless of denomination, must never be denied communion at any church.
77. Denying a person communion when they desire it is literally keeping a person away from Jesus, the Church must never do this.
78. While confession is not a sacrament, it too must be an integral part of every weekly liturgy.
79. Communal confession is necessary.
80. Communal confession requires vulnerability.
81. Communal confession requires love and acceptance of all sins.
82. Saying “all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God” is not sufficient for confession.
83. All confession requires a redemptive action.
84. Merely confessing sins with vulnerability in a community, without any plan to actively repent of these sins is not sufficient for confession.
85. Sin is that which moves us away from a loving relationship with God, redemption is therefore an activity which repairs a person's relationship with God.
86. This does not mean that God ever stops being in perfect relationship with us, however through sin we prevent ourselves from fulfilling the relationship.
87. Redemption should never be punishment.
88. Redemption therefore cannot be considered in the general for a particular sin, a community must consider the best redemption for each individual.
89. General rules for the redemption of sins is the same as indulgences.
90. The Church must not state that American Christians are persecuted.
91. Such statements diminish the actual persecution of Christians around the world.
92. Such statements also diminish the extent to which Christians have persecuted other groups.
93. The Church must refocus on the love and mercy of Jesus.
94. Everything the Church does must be centered around proclaiming His love and mercy.
95. The Church must not make any decision without consulting the word of God.
Brief History of Luther's 95 Theses
Popular legend has it that on October 31, 1517 Luther defiantly nailed a copy of his 95 Theses to the door of the Wittenberg Castle church. ... The 95 Theses, which would later become the foundation of the Protestant Reformation, were written in a remarkably humble and academic tone, questioning rather than accusing.