“I have been writing this volume while residing in Germany for a teaching trip. I am humbled by penning these 95 theses in the same country as Martin Luther did many years ago. I submit these to the evangelical church of our day and pray that God would allow anything of truth in these pages to bend and change men’s hearts back to God.” – Greg Gordon –
It is useless for large companies of believers to spend long hours begging God to send revival. Unless we intend to reform we may as well not pray. Unless praying men have the insight and faith to amend their whole way of life to conform to the New Testament pattern there can be no true revival. – A.W. Tozer
I am currently reviewing and commenting on 95 theses to the modern evangelical church “revised” by Greg Gordon. The following concludes the series.
As I mentioned in my previous post, I read a book which I believe has opened my eyes to a number of very important, profound truths… and did so quite unexpectedly. I cannot wait to write more about how, exactly, it has done so. However, having recently finished my detailed thoughts on Brother Greg’s 95 Thesis to the Evangelical Church, I feel that I should first summarize my conclusions on that study before moving forward to new ground.
To many Americans, faith in God and religion is synonymous with going to church. We all agree with the New Testament’s lesson that we, Christians, ARE the church. However, because of our culture, in our hearts, we tie our cultural definition of church (including the building, pastor, etc) into the definition, as well. This, in turn, has tarnished how we read and interpret scripture, especially the epistles.
In and of itself, this fact alone may cause few concerns. However, we have followed this ideology for centuries, ever since the rise of the Catholic church in the Dark Ages. Certainly, some of our core theologies have changed for the better, but the format, building and framework have remained relatively unscathed. This approach to religious gathering permeates not only Christian religion, but many of the other major religions as well.
A cursory study of the subject of traditionalism in the Bible reveals that it rarely works out well. Jesus reprimanded the Pharisees, warning them that they violate God’s Will for their traditions. God’s anger burned against those Israelites who refused to move with His Holy pillar of fire, casting their gaze back on the lands of Egypt.
The traditions of the evangelical church so saturate our faith and way of thinking that we cannot see the problems they cause. We preach for others to deal with the plank in their eye while we have a beam sticking out of our own. We break God’s heart as we stubbornly cling to liturgy, hierarchal structures, expensive buildings, and more that have little to no spiritual value… all while our sisters and brothers die of hunger, disease, and while lacking the knowledge of God’s Truth.
While the Epistles are clearly not designed to function as a blueprint for modern church structure, we cherry pick verses to support our church traditions, while conveniently ignoring or hand waving those passages which could challenge the way we gather and worship. We spend so much time and money dividing and fighting over minor theological differences while the Devil rejoices over our waste of God’s resources. We punish ourselves by leaving so many of God’s blessings on the table, ignored, while we pursue man driven projects and ideals which mostly serve to prop our egos and pride rather than elevate Jesus in our lives.
Those who take the time to study can clearly see the challenges of our current structure. Many noteworthy leaders outside of Greg Gordon have also expressed their concerns and sounded alarms. Yet, no one has a clear vision of what to do next.
Jesus illustrated the heart of the problem with the parable about new win and old wineskin. He said, “And no one pours new wine into old wineskins. Otherwise, the new wine will burst the skins; the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined.” Paul further cautions us to exercise our liberties in Christ carefully. In Romans 14 he warns us not to fight over disputable matters with those of weaker faith. He uses a few examples and shows us that people can do all manners of things unto the LORD… even having special rules and regarding certain days as special. Clearly, what we do from faith, even if not theologically based in God’s Word, may bring God glory. And to act out of a lack of faith results in sin. He then concludes that we should not judge our brother or sister.
I find this interesting because, in the past, I have had brothers ask me to consider going to a traditional church, and attempt to affect change from within. I have not done so because I do not feel that God has called me to do so. Aside from that concern, Jesus and Paul’s words also spur me to consider with caution which brothers I share these convictions with. Clearly, Paul put the highest concern on peach with one another. We should focus on spurring each other in our faith in Christ, not seek to engage in debates on these types of matters.
So, if I do not attend a traditional church myself, and cannot effect change from within, why did I do this study? First, it helped me to better understand where traditionalism and other forces strongly influence our current attitudes in evangelical culture and how they currently differ with key scriptures. Second, and more importantly, I learned a few key areas where my own attitudes fall short of the mark. In particular, the points on antinomianism made me pause and think, as I have allowed that theology to seep into my own way of thinking.
If you have read through this and wish to have further discussions, as brothers in Christ, please contact me. I would love to “reason together.”