1 November Solemnity of All Saints
In praise of all the Saints (named and unnamed) who are now “turned full face to the sun”…
“AND THAT WILL BE HEAVEN
and that will be heaven
at last the first unclouded
to stand like the sunflower
turned full face to the sun drenched
with light in the centre
held while the circling planets
hum with utter joy
seeing and knowing
at last in every particle
seen and known and not turning
never turning away
This interesting list of theses is something to think about after the Reformation anniversary. I rather like some of them. Anyone wanting a discussion, please contact me!
As we come to the end of this week where we have seen the commemoration of 500 years since The Reformation, here is my paltry crack at following the example of Martin Luther. It is in no way as comprehensive as his 95 theses, but it is my attempt to name what needs reforming in our Church which is increasingly unable to engage people effectively in faith and discipleship. At this stage I am thinking of blu-tacking it to the door of our Church building this Sunday.
- Sola Christus. Christ is the focus of our faith. Christ is the Word of God who comes to us in human form.
- Sola Theos. God is the source of all being. It was God whom Christ revealed and whom Christ discipled people to and for and whom we are in turn called to disciple others.
- Sola Spiritus. It is through the Spirit that we can engage and know God. It is through the Spirit that we come to know Christ Who is the Word of God
- Christ is the source and means of our redemption.
- The sacrifice of Christ lies not only in the cross, but began in his incarnation. This is the beginning of the climax in the story of our salvation as told through the Bible.
- Salvation from our sin is from God. It is the gift of grace which cannot be earned and is seldom, if ever, deserved, but is bestowed freely on all – we just need to accept it.
- The forgiveness of sin is not limited to or dependent on Christ’s death on the cross, but is wholely demonstrated by this act of self-giving love, thus proving God’s love for all.
- The doctrine of grace is preeminent. The doctrine of sin lends perspective to the doctrine of grace.
- Grace was preexistent before Salvation. God’s grace is a foundation of the loving act of creation and preexisted any fall of humankind into sin.
- Faith without works is dead. Any doctrine of salvation that does not lead to one participating in loving service as well as work for justice and the common good for all is empty and incomplete.
- We saved by grace through faith in God, manifested in Christ, not by any work of thought or deed. However, any profession of faith that does not result in an embodying of the love of God for others, demonstrates that we do not really know God or Christ or the Spirit and have no real faith.
- The Gospel is more a relational truth than a propositional truth. That is, the Gospel is more about an ongoing and developing relationship with God who is love revealed in Christ and mediated through the Spirit.
- Conversion is a life-long process of transformation and redemption, not a one-off profession of faith.
- The doctrine of Substitutionary Atonement, however valid, has become falsely prioritised and whilst not in word, but in culture has led to a culture of salvation by adherence and profession of a doctrine. This is, if not in actuality, nearly functions as a salvation by works of belief.
- The doctrine of Substitutionary Atonement, however valid, with its emphasis on sin has resulted in a culture of judgemental dogmatic moralism in the Church.
- The preoccupation of Christians with sexual morality is a sad misdirection of passion and purpose away from the core tenets of the gospel announced by Christ in the tradition of the prophets of old.
- The teachings of Paul and the other writers of the New Testament, however inspired by the Holy Spirit, are secondary and subservient to the teaching of Christ who is the Word of God witnessed to in the Gospel.
- Discipling others is a turning their minds to God revealed in Christ through the Spirit. It is not an enculturation into a theology or a denomination. We are not called to make religious clones of ourselves, but to connect people with God so that they can experience the love and grace of God and be led into redemption, salvation and transformation.
- It is Christ through the Spirit who makes disciples, not us.
- Discipling people as disciples less about a transmission of doctrine, but more about engaging people in loving service to others in the name of Christ who commissioned us to do so.
- Discipleship should involve a practising of a discipline of practising discomfort. If we claim to follow Christ on the way of the cross then we should take up his example more literally, or as least as literally as we interpret other passages in the Bible.
- The Bible is not the Word of God, Christ is. Through the Scriptures we hear the Word of God through the Spirit and it thus the primary starting point for any listening and discerning of the will and call of God to us and others.
- All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that disciples of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work (2 Timothy 3:16-17)
- True worship has little to do with religious gatherings or Christian music. It is the living of the co-comission of Christ – being disciples and discipling others and loving God with our whole life and being and loving our neighbours as ourselves.
- The purpose of gathering as communion of faith and disciples has the primary purpose of renewing and reenergising our faith and discipleship so that we may be sent out once more into the world to live God’s love that we know in Christ. Praise, prayer and preaching are simply tools which help us reconnect and become more mindful of God and to listen for and further discern God’s call to us into ministry with Christ through the Spirit.
- The emphasis on emotive engagement in worship services is an addictive faith placebo which incapacitates real discipleship.
- Prayer should be more transformative than transactional. Prayer should be more about an honest expressing of feelings and patient listening for and to God, rather than a list of petitions we expect God to comply with.
- The Church is us the people and is independent of any institution or building for we are constituted by Christ alone as his metaphorical body.
- The Church should be a lived people of grace and encouragement where we can honestly share in our flaws and failings in order to be built up in faith without judgement and share in a redeeming communion of loving service to Christ, with Christ and with each other into the world.
- Science is not the enemy of faith. Science cannot disprove faith in God. Science is in itself an act of faith and a seeking of the truth and this has a place in the formation of the thinking of believers.
It is something to think about. God bless.
– Jon Humphries