Christianity 201

November 1, 2017

Faith Alone

Yesterday was Reformation Day, and today is All Saints Day. With the former, yesterday was the 500th anniversary of The Reformation and there was no escaping the many articles which were written online concerning this.

Paul writes to the Ephesians (2:8-9)

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God–not by works, so that no one can boast.

To Timothy (2:5-6) he writes,

For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all people. This has now been witnessed to at the proper time.

As did others, we devoted a column yesterday at Thinking Out Loud to discussing Luther’s treatise, often referred to as The 95 Theses (or you could say propositions) which were contrary to the dominant teaching of the day by the Roman Catholic Church with regard to an added (non-Biblical) doctrine whereby the purchase of indulgences (literally certificates of indulgence) could exempt someone from purgatory.

C. N. Trueman has translated these into modern English, and we listed some of the central ones yesterday at the other blog:

1. When Jesus said “repent” he meant that believers should live a whole life repenting
2. Only God can give salvation – not a priest.
3. Inwards penitence must be accompanied with a suitable change in lifestyle.
6. Only God can forgive -the pope can only reassure people that God will do this.
20. Even the pope – who can offer forgiveness – cannot totally forgive sins held within.
27. It is nonsense to teach that a dead soul in Purgatory can be saved by money.
29. Do we know if the souls in Purgatory want to be saved ?
43. A Christian who gives to the poor or lends to those in need is doing better in God’s eyes than one who buys ‘forgiveness’.
45. A person who passes by a beggar but buys an indulgence will gain the anger and disappointment of God.
46. A Christian should buy what is necessary for life not waste money on an indulgence.
54. It is blasphemy that the word of God is preached less than that of indulgences.
58. Relics are not the relics of Christ, although they may seem to be. They are, in fact, evil in concept.
60. Salvation can be sought for through the church as it has been granted this by Christ.
61. It is clear that the power of the church is adequate, by itself, for the forgiveness of sins.
62. The main treasure of the church should be the Gospels and the grace of God.
77. Not even St. Peter could remove guilt.
79. It is blasphemy to say that the insignia of the cross is of equal value with the cross of Christ.
84. Evil men must not buy their salvation when a poor man, who is a friend of God, cannot.
86. The pope should re-build St. Peter’s with his own money.
94. Christians must follow Christ at all cost.
95. Let Christians experience problems if they must – and overcome them – rather than live a false life based on present Catholic teaching.

Our prayer today would be that anyone reading this would not be bound by a salvation of works, or the expectation that it is the church that saves, rather than Christ.

We have through Christ direct access to God the Father. This includes coming to him with our needs, confessing sins which only he can forgive, and simply communing with him in his presence.

Scriptures: NIV sourced at

August 10, 2010

I Belong to a Cult

The Diet of Worms

The All Worm Diet

I belong to a cult.

…But that word has taken on a rather pejorative meaning lately.   In my parents generation that was clarified by using the term “false cult.”   Maybe I should say, “I belong to a sect…”

I belong to a cult.

A 2000+ year-old breakaway group from traditional Judaism.   Our founders took their cue from a rabbi named Jesus who did more than just teach, but proved Himself to be one with God the Father; proved himself to be the long-awaited Messiah.

I belong to a cult.

A breakaway from the Church of Rome who were given the name Protestants.   We took our cue from Martin Luther who decided he’d had enough of taking what Jesus taught and twisting it into religion.   Jesus was probably one of the most irreligious people who ever lived.

I belong to a cult.

A breakaway from the Protestants that took their cue from a group called the Revivalists led by John and Charles Wesley and others, who emphasized personal holiness and personal faith.   Today they call us Evangelicals.

I belong to a cult.

I’m just not sure which one.   For awhile there, I identified with a breakaway group from the Evangelicals that began in the 1970s which rediscovered an emphasis of the gifts of the Holy Spirit.   We were called Charismatics.   I still believe in the unlimited possibilities of prayer and the empowering of the Spirit in the life of Christ-followers.   But I also identify with a movement that has re-evaluated the various forms and different kind of emphases that characterize the modern church, which sometimes goes by the name Emergent.

I like the fact that Christianity as a movement is always maturing, always rediscovering itself in light of fresh readings of the truth of scripture.   I like that we are not static.   I like that with each breakaway, we come a little closer to getting it right.   We might regress a little, but then we a spurred on to something greater.

Can you document your spiritual heritage in these terms?  Church history may not be your thing, but you should be conversationally familiar with a basic outline, such as I just provided.

Okay…about the pictures.    You can read more about “The Diet of Worms” — the upper one at least — which is an important part of the story of Martin Luther who founded the Protestant movement, by clicking here.