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The first 49 specially are spot on. I'd add one thesis to your 95 though.

"You shall not delve into politics like the pope does"

An example of evangelicals getting into politics and getting it wrong is this pathetic letter from James Dobson, where he raves and rants about what will happen to the US if Obama is elected. It is beyond believable what Dobson writes, check it out for yourself. Fearmongering and hate unbecoming to a christian abound in Dobson's writings.



Good job, Chris. ALL 95 are spot on. Thank you for your hard work, I'm sure it took a long time to do this.

You're wanting to do exactly what Dobson predicts: silence the conservative Christians and their values. How many conservatives are in the media spotlight? When do they get their voices heard? Who's going to do it? Certainly not Hollywood with its' legion of liberal "political activists." The Barbara Streisands and Oprahs are going to get their messages out to millions and millions. Who's going to give the Christian conservative point of view if it's not conservative Chritians?
I don't see what's all that "beyond believable" about Dobson's predictions. It's certainly not pathetic except for the fact that it could very well happen. Your words just proved it.

Michael the missionary

could you expand on 85?

Peter Hamm

My favorite is number 9.

9. They are enemies of Christ, who distort the Word of God by tearing verses from their original context in order to use them as proof texts for their self-help, pop-psychology agendas.

I'd add

9. They are enemies of Christ, who distort the Word of God by tearing verses from their original context in order to use them as proof texts for their uber-reformed, reactive theological agendas.

Peace (no really...)


You're wanting to do exactly what Dobson predicts: silence the conservative Christians and their values."

First off Christ was anything but conservative. Not just because he shook up the pharisees and the religious leaders at the time, but because christian values have nothing to do with the "conservative" values of James Dobson and Rush Limbaugh (whom Dobson mentions in his letter as an example of a good conservative, although Limbaugh is not a born again christian for all I know and has divorced several times). Dobson's values do not represent christianity. Let's check out where Dobson stands on his letter:

1) Defense policy that wants to prolong the war in Iraq. This war can not be defended from a christian perspective. It can not be defended from a secular common sense point of view either. Trying to establish democracy in countries that have been ruled by tribal leaders for centuries defies any type of logic. It is not only costly (both the financial cost and the cost of lost lives), but it is not impractical with no chance of success.

2) Guns, where does the bible talk about citizens that have to be armed, otherwise urban crime will go up as James Dobson suggests. Why is this a christian value? The United States has more guns per capita than any other developed nation and there's more violence than in any other developed country. Americans are violent by nature, the crime rate that involves firearms in the US is around 8 to 9 times higher than in Canada, Europe, or Australia. Regardless, Jesus and guns don't go hand in hand, and Dobson should know better.

3) Conservatives like to be tough on crime. Despite the fact that the incarceration rate in the US is the highest of any developed nation, they still want tougher laws. There are 1.5 million prisoners in the US, too many by the european, canadian or australian standards. Should it be a christian value to send more people to prison? Not in my view. Not to mention the death penalty, America is the only developed nation that allows capital punishment. The US is similar to Iran and China right now. Europe, Canada, Australia, and Japan have no death penalty and yet they have far less crime. Again being tough crime may be a conservative value, but it certainly is not a christian value.

4) The environment. James Dobson in his letter condemns environmental laws that an Obama administration would enact. Does James Dobson imply that christians should not care for the environment?

4) Health Care: The US is the only wealthy developed nation that does not provide health care for every citizen regarding of ability to pay. In all other developed nations whether you are rich or poor you will receive health coverage, the US is the exception right now. Obama will fix this problem that the US has, and yet Dobson in his letter attacks the canadian and british type of health care system that Obama would put in place. Again Dobson's conservative values clash with christian values. Having 40 million uninsured americans is not the christian way (especially for a wealthy nation like the US), although Dobson seems to think that way.

5) Dobson resorts to libel, lies and fear mongering in his letter. Saying that under an Obama administraion Israel will be nuked, eastern european countries invaded by Russia, the press muzzled, the deficit skyrocket (when in fact the deficit was created by the Bush administration), the price of oil go up (when in reality is heading the opposite direction right now) etc. All this is cheap unsubstantiated political propaganda.

This is exactly why christians should stay out of politics and it should be thesis 96. I don't care if it is Jeremiah Wright or James Dobson, a left wing or a right wing extremist. Christians are called to preach the gospel, and not get involved in politics which is not their area of expertise. Jesus and the apostles (Paul included) never tried to change the political not did they comment on it. We should follow their example.


I sooo don't have time for this at all but the Osama/bin Laden, oh, sorry Obama/Biden ticket is pro death (for abortion) and pro homosexual rights. Is Jesus so "non-conservative" to want that?
Go over to "A Little Leaven" and see how Obama is being called the "Messiah" and "God". He's not denying it, either. Oh, I'm sure he'll win, there's probably no doubt that he will.
And when did God tell you that Rush Limbaugh wasn't Christian? Do you know the facts of his divorces? So are you saying that divorced people can't be Christians? "Sorry, you're divorced, go straight to hell".
And didn't God call for war in the Old Testament? God never changes.
Go ahead and agree with the liberal left wing gospel of Oprah. It's going to kill us.

Bror Erickson

Pete Hamm,
You might do a little research and find that you are fighting a different enemy on this blog. Chris is Lutheran, definately not Reformed, neither Arminian. Lutherans are separate and distinct from both camps and share very little in common with either. So take off you "I'm reading reformed propoganda glasses" and listen hard to the arguments. You will find they are quite different.


"I sooo don't have time for this at all but the Osama/bin Laden, oh, sorry Obama/Biden ticket is pro death (for abortion) and pro homosexual rights. Is Jesus so "non-conservative" to want that?"

You chose to ignore the pro-gun, pro-war, let's-torture-at-Guantanamo issues that I brought up as disturbing in James Dobson's letter, as well as his apocalyptic predictions on foreign and domestic policy that James Dobson raised. Not to mention that Bush bankrupted the US economy and created the largest deficits in US history, and made the US unpopular everywhere in the world.

But it is true Dobson attacked Obama just like you did for being. "pro-abortion" and "pro-homosexual". and to answer this, let me say that first off these two issues are at the bottom of priorities for the average american voter when choosing a president. I will comment on both nevertheless.

1) Obama is against abortion and will take steps to reduce abortion that he outlined at the forum with Rick Warren. But he is not prepared to take away the right to choose from american women. The majority of americans favour abortion and Obama will govern for the majority of americans. Neither Abortion technology nor contraceptives existed during bible times and the bible is silent on this issue. Some believe that the command do not murder applies to the fetus, some argue that the fetus is not a person and is part of the woman's body. The bible is silent on this. Every developed nation in the world has abortion rights for women i.e. Europe, Canada, Australia, Japan, they all have abortion rights.

2)Homosexual rights, again the majority of americans don't want to go back to the times where homosexuality was considered a criminal act.

3) The way I see these two issues (abortion and homosexual rights) is that the government has to represent the values of the majority of the american people. And I believe Obama better represents the opinions of the american people than McCain on both issues. As a christian I may have my own views, but I it would be wrong for conservative christians to legislate morality against the will of the majority. The separation of church and state is the way to go, not building a theocracy. This is why Jesus or the apostles never talked about legislating christian values into law, they stayed out of politics and so should we.


Further to my last post just read in CNN the top 4 issues in this election, the economy, terrorism, iraq, health care. As indicated in my last post homosexual rights and abortion rights are not on the voter's radar screen.

"Sixty-two percent of voters said the economy was the most important issue. Iraq was the most important for 10 percent, and terrorism and health care were each the top issue for 9 percent of voters."

Steve Newell


Popular vote is the worst why to determine right and wrong. In the early part of the 19th Century, most Americans supported slavery. Also remember, Hitler was elected by popular vote in Germany.

Homosexuality is a sin as is murdering a child before he or she is born.

Sen. Obama's commitment to reducing abortion is non-existent. He has never supported anything that would limit abortion and he supports infanticide as a senator in Illinois. Sen. Obama doesn't have the moral courage to say when a baby has human rights.

Please stay focused on the 95 Theses listed.


1)"Some believe that the command do not murder applies to the fetus, some argue the fetus is not a person..." So do we automatically assume a fetus isn't a person because it's easier and fits the liberal agenda? I don't know where the verses are because my concordance isn't very good. However, I'm sure many people who read this site and post here could name book, chapter and verse off the top of their heads of the scripture that says we are fearfully and wonderfully made and the one that says that God knew us before we were knitted together in our mother's womb.
If all the developed nations of the world have abortion rights, then by all means we should. We would look ever so uncivilized if we didn't. Let's be another Amsterdam. (sarcasm ends) Just about everything is legal there. I know, I've been there.
2)"The majority of americans don't want to go back to the times where homosexuality was considered a criminal act." Going by what the majority of Americans want and don't want would be like having 20 wolves and 1 chicken voting on what to eat for dinner. (which, by the way, describes this election). What does the Bible say on homosexuality? A lot.
3) Ditto my comment on 2).

The majority of the American people are not the example of whose opinions we should strive to emulate. It should be Christ. Christ said little in the Bible about Roman government but He was establishing something much, much greater. We as Americans in 2008 have to live with what we choose for at least the next four years. God help us.

John from Down Under

RESPONSE TO THE 95 NEO-LUTHERAN THESES (patience required-1650 words long!)

[My original post was intercepted as spam possibly because of my URL links (I assume) on the listed organizations mentioned toward the end. I have re-posted without URL’s]

Dear Chris. I have only recently become familiar with your blogs. My prima facie impressions of your writings are, your obvious disdain for ‘biblical principles’, ‘life applications’, ‘guidebook for living’ (I’m surprised you left out ‘relationships’), any humanitarian efforts administered by Christians who want to show God’s love in practical ways, and your exalted reverence for Luther.

Let me say upfront that I may have misunderstood and misinterpreted the context of what you said. Therefore, for the purpose of this debate I have assumed the position of the lowest common denominator and am happy to be corrected where I am wrong. I offer my comments in good faith and with a clear conscience as a ‘layman’ (for a lack of a better description), not as a theologian. I don’t purport to possess all understanding in the mysteries of the Bible; I am just challenging basic beliefs in response to your open invitation to enter the debate.

Many of your points are valid but I can’t reconcile the teachings of the NT with points 5, 7, 10, 25, 44, 48, 72 and 76. (8 out of 95. That means I still agree with 92% of what you said) I understand that a lot of these statements are a strong reaction to the Warrenesque PDL movement, but it seems that we are throwing out the baby with the bath water.

To avoid confusion please allow me to clarify my position. Anyone who’s read the entire Bible and has even a basic understanding, ought to know that biblical principles, life applications and other broad biblical guides, are not a substitute for the doctrine of salvation (inclusive of, God’s judgment, forgiveness, atonement, promise of eternal life, heaven and hell etc). If seeker-sensitive preachers who want to attract crowds are substituting native gospel teaching with the above, I would agree they are obscuring the truth. All entrants into the kingdom of God need to go through the same induction that includes all the elements of salvation that you have outlined in your other writings. No need for me to reiterate.

But AFTER we become Christians, we need to know how to live in ways that honor God and don’t bring the gospel into disrepute. Any teachings of the Bible that have practical implications for us are to always be framed within a gospel context NOT apart from it. A careful study of the Bible makes it obvious that the Bible DOES NOT contain dot point formulae and 7 steps to a successful business plan that can be reduced to a PowerPoint presentation. But it DOES contain timeless moral and ethical principles and plenty of real life stories that give us direction and hope to go on living out our faith in a corrupt world. “For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope” (Rom 15:4) Conversely, those Old Testament stories that are bad examples, were written for us as a horrible warning. “These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the fulfilment of the ages has come.” (1 Cor 10:11)

Once we pass the salvation doctrine, we need all the help we can get to live lives befitting sons and daughters of God. Unless the term ‘life application’ has some deep scientific meaning, it basically means to apply what the Bible tells you in your life, EVERY AREA of it. So let me ask this naïve question: If we can’t apply what we read in the Bible in our lives, where exactly are we meant to apply it? What else are we left with? Let me ask a further naïve question: Who made up the rule that ‘life applications’ are a no-go-zone for Christians?

Let’s take your 10th point: “Injury is done the Word of God when it is used as a source book for practical, relevant “life applications.” Are you suggesting that other than the salvation doctrine the Bible is impractical, irrelevant and nothing to do with daily life? The entire appellant court system (triage and tiered escalation) is based on the principles of Exodus 18, even though it was never the biblical author’s intention. But guess what? It is the most efficient, fairest and practical way to deal with disputes. I’ve worked in Dispute Resolution in the banking industry for 8 years and I have not come across a better set of guidelines. There’s also a ‘rumor’ that the idea for the underground sewerage system came from Deuteronomy 23:13

Without any disrespect intended (and I mean that wholeheartedly), it is easy for a guy who debates doctrine for a living to scoff at ‘biblical principles’ and ‘life applications’. But for some of us who work in commerce, financial services, retail, legal profession, health care, education etc. we are very much interested in how to apply the teachings of the Bible to our profession in God honouring ways. If you work in the corporate world should you not know how God expects you to deal with superiors, subordinates, customers (greed, exorbitant profit etc), competitors or vendors? Are we to perpetuate the insane and unbiblical assertion that work is ‘secular’ and therefore we should leave all spiritual input and biblical teaching out of it?

If someone who recently became a Christian came up to you and asked, ‘I work in commercial enterprise, and want to know if there any ‘biblical principles’ I need to be aware of for the work that I’m doing’, what would you tell him? Sorry pal, you’re on your own here. Don’t you DARE turn to the Bible for any guidance, go buy some Dr Phil books or watch Oprah or something. I’m sure Barnes & Noble will have some business guru literature you can buy, but I warn you again DO NOT turn to the bible for guidance, you hear? (Yes, I am being deliberately hyperbolic to make a point).

Apart from the commercial sphere what about Christian stockbrokers, lawyers, policy makers, doctors? Should we send them to go fend for themselves? The workplace today is so ethically complex; ambiguities of contract language, laws and products that promote unbiblical practices, situational ethics, copyright law, legally permissible but morally problematic advertising practices etc. If there’s any time in history where we need clear biblical guidance on how to live as Christians, it is today, and you’re suggesting not to bother with ‘life applications’?

“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Tim 3:16-17). Is ‘every good work’ a blanket statement that includes every sphere of life or only limited to doctrinal debates?

Is the following a hint for life application you think? “Slaves, obey your earthly masters with respect and fear…Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not men…And masters, treat your slaves in the same way. Do not threaten them…(Eph 6:5-9 Ellipsis dots added)

Or what about this as a ‘biblical principle’ for dealing with debt? “Give everyone what you owe him: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor….Let no debt remain outstanding…” (Rom 13:7-8 Ellipsis dots added). Is it better to leave Christians clueless to the traps of materialism so they ‘buy now and pay later?’

In closing, if we were to follow your thinking all the efforts by the following bodies should be regarded as futile and redundant.
• The Redeemer's Center for Faith & Work that aims to help Christian professionals apply the gospel in their respective industries.
• The 2008 Christian Lawyer Global Convocation that took place in Washington DC last month, facilitated by The Christian Legal Society and Advocates International to unite legal professionals to advance the cause of Christ through their profession.
• Peacemaker Ministries who teach Christians biblical principles on how to deal with conflict, and also arbitrate in disputes to keep Christians out of courts and expensive litigation.
• The Oxford Declaration on Christian Faith and Economics issued jointly in 1990 by ‘over one hundred theologians and economists, ethicists and development practitioners, church leaders and business managers who come from various parts of the world’.
• Christians Against Poverty that provides a debt counselling service to financially illiterate and desperate people (I have dealt with them at a professional level and I’m glad they exist to help people)
• Doctors without Borders where both Christian and non-Christian doctors volunteer their services to war torn and famine ravaged countries to provide relief and emergency medical assistance.
• Cure International that helps children in developing countries who are suffering with disabilities. (A doctor from our church is involved with this one)

Now none of the above can earn salvation, but they show God’s love to a miserable self-destructing world.

The conclusion on ‘life applications’. In the area of help, we can’t help everybody but we can help somebody. Jesus went into a public pool to heal only one person (John 5) not the entire crowd, although he could have. It’s ok to help one person at a time. We’re not meant to, nor can we solve the world’s problems. To believe otherwise is indicative of biblical illiteracy, naiveté and utopian ambition. But WE CAN make SOME difference SOMEWHERE to express the love and mercy of God that is in our hearts.

A faith devoid of any life applications is merely a cerebral and intellectualized ideology, dry, one dimensional and incapable of fulfilling Matthew 5 to be the salt of the earth and the light of the world. It is also in direct disobedience to ‘loving your neighbor as yourself’ which was Jesus’ second highest command after loving God. You can’t love your neighbor intellectually, it requires some ‘life application’. Jesus did not give an eloquent discourse on servanthood. He wrapped a towel around his waist and gave a ‘practical’ demonstration. Jesus concluded the message with these words. “Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them” (John 13:17). Does the good Samaritan parable qualify for the ‘life application’ category?

Thoughts???? [I have already ordered my bullet-proof vest so I’m ready for the ‘Christian’ firing squad that will no doubt blog after this post. Nevertheless, peace in Christ and may the Lord bless you all].

Peter Hamm


I didn't mean to be on the attack or fight at all! And I also recognize that Chris is not the author of those Theses. So my comment stands. You can proof-text Scripture for your own agenda from more than one "side".

Chris Rosebrough

John from Down Under,

You've written a lot here so I am going to be limited in my ability to respond to what you said. One of the central things that you said was:

But AFTER we become Christians, we need to know how to live in ways that honor God and don’t bring the gospel into disrepute. Any teachings of the Bible that have practical implications for us are to always be framed within a gospel context NOT apart from it.

The problem is that in seeker-sensitive / purpose-driven churches, which is what these theses are written against they strip mine the scriptures for principles and applications and do NOT frame them within a context of the gospel.

The reason for this is because they are Semi-Pelagian. They believe that you preach the gospel to an unbeliever so that they can make 'a decision' to accept Jesus in their hearts. After that the gospel doesn't have much relevance so they focus on piety and pleasing God through their actions.

Christian pastors and churches are to preach the full council of God's word. That mean preaching God's law to condemn and convict people for their sins and drive them to repentance and the gospel to comfort sinners through the promises of mercy and forgiveness won by Christ on the cross. This approach requires that pastors preach Christ from all the scriptures.

But that is NOT what is happening today in American Evangelicalism.

I discuss and review these pervasive seeker-sensitive / purpose-driven sermons on my radio program frequently. Here are links to shows where I do that.



I also recommend that you catch up on the resources on Christless Christianity that Mike Horton from the White Horse Inn is producing.

Chris Rosebrough


Proof-texting is a technique whereby you begin with YOUR conclusion then hunt for scriptures (ripped from context) to support YOUR conclusion.

Neither Reformed nor Lutheran theologians accept that technique as a valid hermeneutical method. Furthermore, I would rebuke anyone who calls themselves Lutheran or Reformed who engaged in proof-texting.

The problem here is that the Seeker-Sensitive / Purpose-Driven movement abandons proper hermeneutical methods and as a RULE wantonly proof-texts the scriptures to support their pop-psychology and self-help / felt-needs sermons. This technique is evil and wrong.

akira Kurosawa

And at no time did you answer any of John's questions, Chris.
All you did was spout the "party line" of why "seeker-sensitive / purpose-driven churches" are bad. Pretty broad brush you are using there, brother.

Are there churches that your allegations could apply to, yup. Are all seeker-sensitive / purpose-driven churches that way, nope.

"The reason for this is because they are Semi-Pelagian. They believe that you preach the gospel to an unbeliever so that they can make 'a decision' to accept Jesus in their hearts. After that the gospel doesn't have much relevance so they focus on piety and pleasing God through their actions."

It has been mentioned many times on here, that you are interpreting their theology incorrectly and with what I would call a Lutheran bias, Chris. Others have interpreted their focus to be very different than "piety and pleasing God through their actions" and to actually be

"Now none of the above can earn salvation, but they show God’s love to a miserable self-destructing world." ( I hope you don't mind the quote, John ) is the way many people interpret their focus.

John, loved your post gonna down copy it to my palm pilot for further study.

Peter Hamm

Chris writes

"Neither Reformed nor Lutheran theologians accept that technique as a valid hermeneutical method." I wouldn't doubt that. But how they actually DO use scripture in practice might be another story... And more to the point, for both parties, is how often people ignore some scriptures to use others to make a point that Scripture might not really make.

Chris Rosebrough


Since we both agree that proof-texting is not a valid hermeneutic and that ignoring some scriptures to use others to make a point that scripture might not really make is wrong regardless of who engages it in it. We have some common ground.

The problem here is the fact that the Seeker-Sensitive / Purpose-Driven movements promote and practice proof-texting in the extreme.

Visit the links that I posted for John For Down Under. I can and do produce example after example after example after example of purpose-driven preachers and leaders, including and especially Rick Warren who engage in this distorting and twisting of God's word through the use of proof-texting.

(Akira, you may want follow those links too. I'm not towing a party line. I, along with many others, are Biblically rebuking those who twist God's word in this way and calling them to repentance, especially Rick Warren. It is an undeniable fact that he twists God's word in this way and teaches others to do so.)

John Yeazel

Let me offer a quote here that will probably take this controversy one step further. Akira, Peter Hamm and now the man from down under are digging their feet in the dirt and are bound and determined to fight until the end. We have not progressed at all from the debates of last week.

During the reformation in the 1500's the leading reformers in the early days of the reformation (between 1517-1523)believed that those who were opposing them would eventually change their positions when the Gospel was explained properly to them and the points of controversy were clearly spelled out. However, it did not turn out this way. As time went on the battles got more fierce and nasty. It eventually ended in the counter-reformation with the Catholics taking contrary postitions on all controversial issues. The Anabaptists (which is the position of most of those who take counter postions on this blog site are coming from)also split and separated from the reformers. They eventually went through a long period of war together. They were over the very same issues we are talking about today.

Here is the quote I want to put out there for discussion. I think this goes to the heart of the matter. "I must shrink from what I consider the religious idealism which assumes that conversion makes bad people good and good people better. Sinners are always more sinful than not, even justified ones being sanctified." This is our continual problem. How do we deal with this problem is what is being bebated here.

Let us try to really determine what are the main issues here. Why all the heat over what we are to do? We all know we have to act in our lives- getting doctrine right seems to always be our last priority. Paul and all the great reformers in Church history made doctrine the top priority and then practice easily followed from that. You deeds over creeds folks want to reverse the priority. That is basically all we are saying. When deeds take precedence over creeds then Church's become more activity centers then places where Christ is exalted and Word and Sacrament are given their proper place in the life of the Church. It makes a huge difference.


To clarify (perhaps a typo?) Thesis 51:
A synod IS merely...(not is NOT)?

Peter Hamm

Chris writes

[The problem here is the fact that the Seeker-Sensitive / Purpose-Driven movements promote and practice proof-texting in the extreme.] This seems truer when they're quoted out-of-context and misquoted by their "opponents", which in my experience happens more often than not. Sorry, I've seen what I think is "proof-texting" from all sides.

John writes [Paul and all the great reformers in Church history made doctrine the top priority and then practice easily followed from that.] If you mean that my active living faith produces works of righteousness, as I think James makes clear, I can buy that. But I would rather say "faith" is the top priority. Just believing the right list of things? For too many folks that seems to be the whole essence of Christianity. Faith is more than just a mental assent to a list of doctrines. WAY more... Early in Timothy, Paul explains that "...the goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith." (NASB) That, to me, is far more than just a right list of distinctives.

Deeds over creeds? Heavens no. Deeds coming from a heart full of faith in Christ? yeah!

John Yeazel


This is where a lot of the confusion lies. Mental assent to sound doctrine is not reformational faith. Deep trust and reliance on what Christ did for us which is what doctrine is supposed to explain is what we are talking about. This is not cold orthodoxy. This is our life and what we depend on to sustain us. What Christ did for us gives us the ability to serve others and produce good works in our vocational callings.

Let me ask you this Peter- what do you do when your actions become less than righteous? Us reformational types claim this happens on a daily basis- that is why we continually have to feed on the Word and Sacrament. This is what Church is supposed to minister to us.

We read the Sermon on the Mount not as something to be obeyed but that which convicts us of our sin. Christ made the demands of the law much more severe than Moses did- it not only applying to our actions, but our thoughts and words also. No one has come close to obeying the Sermon on the Mount. We disobey it everyday. This is why we call Church a hospital for sick people and reject Church as the gymnasium meant to "pump you up" so you can work harder and try harder to keep the impossible demands of the law.

We also read 1Corinthians 13 in the same way. No one has obeyed this except Christ himself. I Cor. 13th is the most severe expression of the law in the New Testament. We fail at this continually. This is what we mean by distinguishing between the law and the Gospel.

akira Kurosawa

I would also say that alot of the confusion lies in the use of different words or phrases to mean the same thing, but because we are not saying it the same way, confusion arises.

For example John, continually I am asked the question "what do you do about your sin problem" or "what do you do when your actions become less than righteous?"

And I think everyone on both sides of the issues always answers, the same way, "Jesus took care of my sin problem long ago, so I don't have to do anything" and truth be told I couldn't even do anything if I wanted to.

See, none of us preach works righteousness here, but yet the accusations of it, continue to fly. Which kind of brings me to the next point, if we are basically (yes there are a few minor differences) saying the same thing (and in most cases, but not all, I think we are), why are we even arguing?

The answer is, in my opinion, because some people have so much emotionally invested in the argument (and I am not pointing a finger at either side) that they have moved to a level of emotional agitation where reasonable dialogue is no longer possible. Listen or read how agitated some people get in their critique of others and you will see what I mean.

Kind of sad, really, because I think basically we are all on the same side, but we keep dividing ourselves...

John from Down Under

Chris your response (if I understood correctly) leads me to believe that you are NOT opposed to ‘life applications’ and ‘biblical principles’ in themselves per se, but how they are used and misused at the expense of pure gospel preaching. If that’s the case then we’re on the same page.

John Yeazel


Okay, so how do we know for sure if we are saying the same thing? This is why the reformers carefully wrote down confessional standards to make sure they were on the same page and that there would be no confusion. Try reading some of the confessional standards- I would suggest the Canons of Dort and Concordia- the Lutheran Confessions. Blood, sweat and tears drip from the pages of these confessions and the price they paid for the truths found in them are mind boggling. You will find a deeper respect for them if you actually read them and understand the history involved in how and why they were written. Google the Canons of Dort and Concordia- the Lutheran confessions- that is a good place to start. A unified Church centered in on the person and work of Christ is a much stronger Church and becomes a much saltier light to the world.

I think we have made some progress here- can we seek to unify Christ's Church? The reformers, who thought they were following after Paul, sought to unify the Church through confessional standards. These standards sought to hone in on critical issues of doctrine- in other areas they agreed to disagree. A unified Church centered in the person and work of Christ is a much stronger Church and a saltier light to the world.

John Yeazel

Sorry about the redundant sentence- I hit the post button before I corrected it.

akira Kurosawa

See, John that's my point exactly. If we disagree on something, immediately, the accusation flies "you don't understand doctrine", or "my theology is right, yours is wrong, unless you are in my denomination". Most of the people blogging on this board have very similar doctrines that they believe, if you check out their web pages and blogs and such. There are some differences to be sure but we all pretty much profess the same thing... yet we rip and tear at each of a few perceived differences, because of slightly different word usage...sigh, I think Satan laughs when he Christians divide themselves like this.

And for the record, John I am very familiar with the Lutheran Confessions, the Canon of Dort and have read extensively, the Book of Concord, Luther's Table Talk, the Small and Large Catechisms, etc. See, you have no idea of my LCMS background, yet because we differ on opinion you assume I am ignorant. I was Lutheran for a very long time and very active in a very conservative Lutheran church but now attend a non-denominational church because of just the divisiveness that I am talking about.

I am just going to repeat myself, It is very sad how Christians rip and tear at each other over what basically boils down to denominational vocabulary differences.

Steve Newell


I don't know about you, but the only thing that I can do about my sin is that repent of my sins. I cannot change the fact that I am a sinner and that I sin in my thoughts, words and deeds and by I do and what I do not do. God doesn't want me to sin less but not to sin at all. The standard is perfection. What I need to do is to hear God's Law and God's Gospel.

Just as our justification is completely God's work so is our sanctification. If we sin less, it is due to God's work through the Holy Spirit in our lives. I don't know if I sin less, but I am more knowledgeable about my sin since God shows me how sinful I really am.

Every Sunday at Worship, I hear the forgiveness of my sins through the words of absolution spoken by the pastor. I taste the forgiveness of my sins in the bread and in the wine. I see and remember the forgiveness of my sins when I see another being baptized.

akira Kurosawa

Steve, I am not sure what that had to do with anything I said, but I can say 100%...

me too, brother, sounds like we go to the same church. :)

John from Down Under

Chris, one of your other comments was that after salvation “they focus on piety and pleasing God through their actions”. This statement worries me as it is fraught with problems if you don’t explain it properly. If I may say so respectfully, because you’re somewhat of a celebrity in the ODM space (like it or not), your opinions matter as they influence people, those who look up to you and hang off your words. A cursory read of several blogs makes it apparent that you’re building a fan base. You probably hate this characterization but it’s true. As such, (in my opinion) you have a duty of care and an ethical obligation to clarify your statements properly so people who are not as biblically educated as you, are not mislead. If you present yourself as a ‘teacher’ you are accepting that God calls teachers to a higher standard. “…you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly”(James 3:1)

[Sidebar: having read some different blogs on this site, regardless of the topic it always somehow comes back to a creeds vs deeds debate]

Let’s forget the word ‘piety’ which is not a biblical term and let’s use ‘holiness’ or ‘sanctification’ to be more accurate. Does God expect us to progress in this area AFTER we become Christians? “For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life.” (1 Thes 4:7). Biblical sanctification has very practical implications (actions!) it is neither an emotional nor an intellectual process. “ It is God's will that you should be sanctified : that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control his own body in a way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust like the heathen, who do not know God; and that in this matter no one should wrong his brother or take advantage of him. The Lord will punish men for all such sins, as we have already told you and warned you” (1 Thes 4:3-6)

Paul makes it clear in the same breath (in the sense where the Bible was not written with chapter & verse divisions, it’s a continuous train of thought), that while we get saved by God-given faith alone, afterwards God has laid a trail of good works for us to do. “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works , so that no one can boast. For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do ” (Eph 2:8-10)

“And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God…” (Col 1:10)

“And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices GOD IS PLEASED ” (Hebrews 13:16)

Paul instructed Timothy to tell the rich folk “to do good, to be rich in good deeds , and to be generous and willing to share.” (1 Tim 6:18)

“Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.” (1 Peter 2:12)

Paul educated an ignorant king Agrippa that works should follow repentance “I declared……that they should repent, turn to God, and do works befitting repentance ” (Acts 26:20 NKJV)

God instils his will in us ‘to want to do good’ so at the end he still gets the glory. “for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose” (Phil 2:13)

And let us please stop insulting each other’s intelligence with the arguments that ‘we are sinful, flawed, can never attain perfection, that’s law-based etc’. God knows all that (I think!). On this side of eternity we are a work in progress. That means we will screw up, struggle with sin and will inevitably do things we’ll later regret. If we fall we get up again, we don’t stay down! “for though a righteous man falls seven times, he rises again ” (Prov 24:16)

Failure and weakness are no excuse to stop trying! If we wait till we get perfect to do something, we never will, ever! The Bible assumes that in our current state we will stumble and feel guilty but nonetheless encourages us to keep going. “Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth. This then is how we know that we belong to the truth, and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence whenever our hearts condemn us. [the guilt factor] For God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything” (1 John 3:18-20). If you follow the linear thought process of this verse backwards, it basically says “(1) when you feel guilty, (2) you can rest in God’s presence, (3) knowing that you belong to the truth, (4) because you love with actions and truth and not just words”.

Our works still need to be a result of our faith (faith-based works) since we know that “without faith it is impossible to please God”, but we do them because of what Christ has done in us not because we are driven by a sense of duty. Can we perhaps simplify it this way then: Creeds for salvation, but creeds + deeds afterwards.

Akira you may be right that we’re all talking about the same thing at the end, in which case this effort has probably been a waste of time!

Have a good weekend guys (it's already Friday afternoon down under)

John from Down Under

Guys, while you were asleep I had another read of previous blogs and the more I read the more I agree with Akira, he's dead right. WE ARE talking about the same thing at the end, we just approach it from different angles (with a demoninational bias perhaps.) SORRY to have wasted everyone's time with my diatribes. I bow out graciously!

Peter Hamm

John writes

[Mental assent to sound doctrine is not reformational faith.] I understand this and where you are going with the rest of your remarks, but I have to ask why is it that I never read, on sites such as this one, anything about putting our faith into action. Why is it always about what we believe as if what we do isn't an outgrowth of that?

How many of the 95 theses above address how we live in the world rather than merely what we mentally assent to? Really...

Steve Newell


What we believe, teach and confess is far more important than how we live. I can live the most moral life, but die in my sins. Salt Lake City is full of very moral people who will die in their sins.

What we believe determines what we do. What we do reflect what we believe.

Nancy A Almodovar

maybe before releasing a new 95 you should have checked to see that one was published in June 2008 by Wipf & Stock.

"A Modern Ninety Five: Questions Todays Evangelicals need to Answer" covers most if not all of the above and was written over 5 years ago and published this year.

Not that I mind, but they've been on blogs for years.
nancy (Author of A Modern Ninety-Five)

Nancy A Almodovar

I think a little plagerism is going on here:

41. Injury is done to the Word of God when preachers spend the majority time of their sermons huckstering prayer cloths, miracle water, holy land oils that will bring blessings to the home that sends in their “tithes”, instead of preaching the unadulterated Gospel of Christ and the free forgiveness of sins.

From A Modern Ninety-Five

compare with
9. They are enemies of Christ, who distort the Word of God by tearing verses from their original context in order to use them as proof texts for their self-help, pop-psychology agendas.

10. Injury is done the Word of God when it is used as a source book for practical, relevant “life applications.”

John Yeazel

Akira, Peter, John from Down Under,

Okay guys- I do not think we are that far off from each other. I was not ripping, I was trying to get clarity and discuss. Lets keep the dialog going in the weeks and months ahead. I am sure other issues that need clarity and discussion will come up. You guys are smart and know what you believe and why you believe it. When we do not agree with each other we can make our points and then agree to disagree. Lets keep this on a rational level and not stoop to mean spiritedness.


John wrote: "A unified Church centered in on the person and work of Christ is a much stronger Church and becomes a much saltier light to the world."

Sadly most mainstream Christianity is centered on the person and works of "me":

Your Best Life Now. Look Great, Feel Great. the secret to the satisfying life. a strategy for managing stress. the first step to happiness. learn to laugh. learn to love yourself. your best sex ever. how to this, how to that.

When we teach stuff like this, we reduce the Bible to a string of helpful sayings (systematic self-help) rather than the revelation of the person and work of Christ that it is: that God created the earth, the fall into sin in Genesis and throughout the Old Testament, how God reconciles sinful men to himself through the death and resurrection of Jesus in the New Testament, the coming judgement and the new creation and the glorious victory of the Lamb in Revelation. You know - Biblical theology?

Do you see the difference?

Do we need more helpful advice or do we need a clearer vision of Jesus - the One by whom all things were made, the One for whom all things were made, the One who takes the punishment we deserve, and the One who is returning to judge the living and the dead?


Hi, Chris!

I may be interested in accepting your invitation to debate, but I at first want to be sure that I am portraying your position correctly. I started my first blog at the start of the New Year (blogspot.lutheryan.com), and I am eager to dive into serious theological discussion. However, the introduction to your Theses makes this task extraordinarily hard to "engage in vigorous debate" on this topic. In saying that you are not "addressing any particular church body or person," you've made it difficult to either agree or disagree with anything you've written. I see darts everywhere in your Theses that appear to target at Rick Warren and the LCMS leadership, but your opening statement leaves me no opening through which to offer a defense or join in you critique. In short, in order to for the "spirits [to be] tested and the truth [be] revealed," more context is needed.

If you will permit me to read your Theses as a critique of a perceived intrustion of neo-evangelicalism into the Missouri Synod at the expense of traditional Lutheran doctrine and practice, I will eagerly engage you. Otherwise, I'll sit this one out, for there wouldn't be anything that you have written that I would find use in debating.

Peace in Christ to you!

Benjamin C

This is very good, just a question on #33.

33. Scripture clearly teaches that the means by which God grants faith are the the hearing of the Word of Christ (the Gospel) and the water of Holy Baptism.

When it says "the water of Holy baptism" is that talking about the spiritual water of regeneration mentioned in passages such as Ezekiel 36?

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