He didn’t use a hammer or nail the message to a door at St. Mark’s. But Interim Pastor David Mueller offered “9.5 Theses for Modern Reformation (2019) — a “tithe” of Martin Luther’s 95 Theses more than 500 years ago — during worship on Reformation Sunday. Reformation Sunday, observed on the last Sunday in October, marks the day in 1517 when Martin Luther posted his 95 theses on the church door in Wittenberg, Germany. These statements, which criticized the Church for the sale of indulgences, launched what now is known as “The Protestant Reformation.”
Pastor Mueller’s 9.5 Theses are printed here for your consideration:
1. The Church, especially the Lutheran Churches, must return to a Biblical understanding and practice of EVANGELISM. Traditional forms of verbally and personally sharing the “Good News” cannot work. With many young people having left formal religions, there is a new and large mission field. Many, however, know the traditional language, forms of worship, moral priorities and have rejected them. Some other Christians employ the language and tone of fear, as if to scare the hell out of people. New efforts with new language and new approaches of a creative and compassionate kind must be developed and employed, not just by pastors and evangelism committees but by whole congregations. (Matthew 28:19-20).
2. “Be careful then how you live, not as unwise people but as wise, making the most of the time, because the days are evil. So do not be foolish but understand what the will of the Lord is.” (Ephesians 5:15-17). It is an incredibly unfortunate understatement to suggest that most Christians are Biblically and theologically ignorant and spiritually ill-equipped for the responsibility of living as Christians in the modern world. To obtain knowledge of the Scriptures and read an occasional theological book that is NOT spiritual junk food could take no more than an hour each day, about the same time as watching a typical television program and far less time than the standard sport telecast. At the gate of glory we will not be asked who won the 2017 Super Bowl, the 1962 World Series or the 1999 Emmy for best new show.
3. We confess either the Apostles or Nicene Creeds with frequency but go on to neglect the Third article about the Holy Spirit and Sanctification and totally ignore the First Article about Creation and God’s desire that we use faithful stewardship of creation and seek to preserve it. We argue about climate change politically but need now more than ever to address the issue of the care and preservation of the earth spiritually. “The earth is the Lord’s and all that is in it, the world and those who live in it…. (Psalm 24:1).
4. “Those conflicts and disputes among you, where do they come from? Do they not come from your cravings that are at ware within you?” (James 4:1). “For as long as long as there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not of the flesh and behaving according to human inclinations?” (1 Corinthians 3;3). Christian congregations are made up of fallen human beings and as Lutherans we confess that freely. Conflicts and tensions will arise among us, at times quite serious. We will handle them as cross- and Christ-centered Christians who address one another with truth shared in love or we will surely fall even more deeply into sin. That we surely wish to avoid.
5. “I am writing to you, young people, because you have conquered the evil one. I am writing to you, children, because you know the Father…. I am writing to you, young people, because you are strong and the word of God abides in you….” (1 John 2:13b & 14 a, c). Oh that it were the case with us! We are hardly alone in having far fewer children and young people in our midst, perhaps the greatest scourge of the Churches these days. If, however, that is to turn around, it must be our high priority and not simply an adjunct. Our love of the. Young can be shown in the time, money and energy we employ in reaching out and training them in the Christian way at home and Church.
6. “Oh God, from my youth you have taught me … so even to old age and grey hairs, O God, do not forsake me!” (Psalm 71:17a and 18a). It is quite possible for the Church to effectively minister to and with her youth and neglect her older ones. Balance among our ministries to all age groups must be sought. There are creative ways in which the young and old can minister to each other.
7. The Christian congregation must seek to become a “safe” place where any and every topic or issue, no matter how controversial, can be discussed freely and openly. I truly believe this is crucial and essential. I am truly sorry that we have failed in this in recent years. “Come now, let us argue it out, says the Lord.” (Isaiah 1:18a).
8. Networking with other Christian congregations near us is essential to the future health of the Church. We must seek ways to cooperate and not compete! We can and must do that without compromising our theological integrity. “Let anyone who has an ear hear what the Spirit is saying to the churches.” (Revelation 2:17).
9. “Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand; and we boast in our hope of sharing the glory of God.” (Romans 5:1-2). The Reformation of the early 16th Century sought to bring the Church back to her most precious belief. In our struggle to become an effective Church in the 21st Century, with all the changers in priority and style necessitated, we cannot and must not deny, discount or destroy the faith-full-ness from Jesus and in Jesus which more than anything else defines us as Christians.
9.5 “WE MUST OBEY GOD RATHER THAN ANY HUMAN AUTHORITY.” (Acts 5:29).