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Ninety-Five Theses Revisited

Written by  Wednesday, 15 March 2017 05:11

Introduction 

I was asked by one of the Evangelical Theological College’s faculty to write an article commemorating the 500th anniversary of the day that Martin Luther nailed his Ninety-Five Theses on the door of a church on October 31, 1517, thereby becoming the spearhead of the Protestant Reformation. Because I had already written another article on the need for a viable reformation in the Ethiopian context, I hesitated at the beginning to concede, but after a few minutes, the idea of writing another ninety-five theses for the Ethiopian milieu came to me, and I thought it might be helpful. Though there are vital truths presented in Luther’s Ninety-Five Theses and his work ignited unstoppable movements in Europe and beyond, his focus on the church’s doctrine of indulgence is not a burning issue in the Ethiopian church. So it seems that the Ethiopian Church is in dire need of an updated and contextualized ninety-five theses—in fact, such a work is overdue.

 

In attempting to do this, the spirit of Luther’s theses is not abandoned at all but retained here in tact either implicitly or explicitly as a guiding principle. For instance, the authoritativeness of Scripture (Sola Scriptura) as well as biblical Soteriology (Sola Gratia, Sola Fide and Solus Christus) are reiterated to scratch where the contemporary Ethiopian church seems to be itching or when she is seen attempting to abandon Christian orthodoxy.  

 

It should be noted that Luther did not start out thinking of himself as a reformer. In fact, he wanted to remain in the Roman Catholic Church and proclaim the truth but he was not allowed to do so.

 

Though we are writing in the same vein, this seemingly audacious work presented here is not an attempt to be on par with Luther—who can compete with this prolific writer as well as preaching machine? On the contrary, I simply attempt to stand on the shoulders of Luther and other reformers of his time and remind us to come to our senses and return to the House of Our Father and say, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you” (Luke 15:18). This work is presented by a simple Bible and Theology teacher who cannot be silent when the truth of the gospel is exchanged for the “wisdom” manufactured by men. In fact, this is a creed and a reminder for myself as I teach the current and future generation to hold on to the truth of gospel that is not diluted or marred with anthropocentric theology. 

 

I am not trying to make excuses for what I have put here; I simply want you to see behind the scenes of how this work came about. Having said that, it is truly and sincerely my prayer that God would make us feel uncomfortable as we contemplate these ideas, that he would lead us to earnest prayer, and that he would help us seek the truth, repent of our sidetracked ways and proclaim true Christian orthodoxy from the revealed Word of God. May God help us to meditate on the cross of Christ, the gift of salvation, the narrow gate and the narrow road to the crown as explicated in the gospel. May God help us to get back to our roots, be on the right track—on the Way—both for our benefit and for the glory of the Only Triune God.    

Soli Deo Gloria!

 

  1. The Spirit is not some sort of force; instead he is the third person of the Trinity being equal with God the Father and God the Son in nature and supremacy.
  2. The Spirit cannot be reduced to gifts like tongues, prophecy, healing, etc., because these are gifts from him, and they are not the Spirit himself; they emanate from him.
  3. Men of God are not some special people from the tribe of angels, nor are they part of the Trinity; instead they are slaves of God who are installed by God to serve others, not to be served (Mark 10:45).
  4. Men cannot dictate to God or tell him what his will or ways should be, because they are men and God is God; therefore God is in charge and he is the one commanding them and setting their ways.
  5. Thus how can the so called New Creation and Faith Movements as well as success theologians strive to be on par with God when they are of dust while God is not of this world?
  6. Those who equate themselves with God and glance across the horizon in envy of God’s nature and throne are not Christians but are children of the serpent.
  7. Those preachers and lay members of “a church” who declare that they are spirit and their body is a mere container are servants of Satan who deceive themselves by declaring that they have received eternal life while they do not.
  8. Man is not a mere spirit being; rather, he is composed of body, soul and spirit or body, soul/spirit.
  9. We are sons of God because of and through the Son of God, and any attempt to insist that we are sons of God in the same manner as the Son of God—thus appealing to have access to God directly apart from the Son of God—is a doctrine of the devil that began in the Garden.
  10. When Moses states that we are created in the image of God, he is not saying we are gods or like God; instead, it is pointing out that we represent God in his creation and that we are God’s unique creation and are God’s unique handiwork in that we are the only ones of his creatures to have a relationship with him.
  11. “God is in heaven and you are on earth” does not show in the slightest that it is illegal for God to intervene on earth without our permission or involvement; instead it is a pointer that God is the authoritative, sovereign Creator who can intervene whether in heaven or on earth without our permission; it is to point out that man is not in charge, but God is.
  12. The so called “confession” among prosperity gospel charlatans is a symptom of their attempt to take over God’s seat as the Creator; nevertheless, God will never give his only prerogative as the Creator to mortal men.
  13. The church is fumbling with regard to prayer because she is told by the Faith Movement charlatans to “confess and create.”
  14. The Scriptures do not tell us that since we are in Christ we don’t need to pray about anything; instead we are charged to pray about everything because we are in Christ (Phil 4:6-7).
  15. The object of our faith in the correct Christian teaching is the Triune God; thus there is no such thing as having faith in faith because that is idolatry.
  16. The mouth pieces of the serpent nag us to have a “God kind of faith,” and in doing so they make God in their own image by subduing the Almighty LORD, saying that God—the Maker of all objects—can have faith in some unexplainable object which we can’t conceive of.
  17. If God has to have faith in something, he is not God—the uncreated Creator—for this reason we acknowledge this doctrine as demonic.
  18. True Christian faith is evidenced not by amassing worldly treasures like health and wealth but in sharing sacrificially with the poor of the world who are always with us.
  19. Indeed some “Christians” who are poisoned by success theology are seen giving not because their genuine faith is taking action but because they want to receive their hundredfold and prosper personally.
  20. And they do the giving publicly in a basket or on a mat in front of the podium breaking the command that the right hand should not know what the left has given (Matt 6:1-4).
  21. Indeed God does give back a hundredfold but so-called “success preachers” and their throngs intentionally leave out the subsequent phrase “with persecution.” (Mark 10:30)
  22. Faith is defined today as the key to our success in health and wealth, overlooking the fact that faith shall also bring suffering and persecution in the here and now.
  23. Christians suffer and lack not just because they lack faith but also because they have faith.
  24. In the Christian pilgrimage, taking a short cut is an attempt to escape the way of God and indulging in the way of the world.
  25. Those who deny Christ being fully divine while he was on earth are children of Arius, who served Satan and not God.
  26. Christ did not empty himself of his divinity during incarnation; instead, he added humanity on himself, and that is what is called “emptying”; thus we concur with Novatian that, “Whoever does not acknowledge him [Christ] to be God would lose salvation, which he could not find elsewhere than in Christ God.”[1]
  27. Those who deny that Christ Jesus was the Son of God during his incarnation and humiliation are ignorant of the pre-existent Son of God.
  28. Christ died not to make us healthy and wealthy as a primary goal; instead, he primarily died on our behalf to reconcile us with God, with people and with ourselves.
  29. Those who state that Jesus became Satanic are trying to make the Son of God join their own membership in the synagogue of Satan.
  30. Christ’s work was complete on the Cross and there was no other punishment he received beyond the cross, for it is written: “It is finished” (John 19:30).
  31. Thus, Jesus did not become Satanic and did not descend to hell, but having finished his decisive work on the cross, he descended to the grave, rose again and ascended to the right hand of God.
  32. Church pastors, elders and ministers who invite the mouthpieces of the Serpent into their congregation and feed their church members anti-Christ doctrine are hirelings who do not care for the sheep under their care.
  33. Church leaders who are silent while their sheep are snatched away and devoured by wolves in sheep’s clothing are not far from God’s judgment, for they have knowingly abdicated their pastoral responsibility.
  34. Prophets whose stomach is their god cease to be God’s messengers, instead they serve their body and Mammon.
  35. Christian leaders who allow heretics to use their platforms (like TV stations, blogs, magazines, etc.) are flirting with the devil and serving the god of Mammon by proxy.
  36. Prophets who do not rebuke, reprove and correct misguided, sin-ridden and world-loving church members have lost touch with God, his word and their calling.
  37. Pastors and church members who forget the Great Commission and focus on counting down to the eschaton are slipping into the doctrine of cults.
  38. Preachers who ignore the doctrine of hell and expound on health and wealth are not true preachers, for they exchange the eternal for the temporal.
  39. An individual Christian or a congregation that is ethnocentric and tribalistic has not experienced the gospel of grace and is found breaking the two great commandments.
  40. Suffering for Christ’s sake is the gift of God bestowed upon true believers on their reception of the grace to believe, thus it is not a curse or a sign of lack of faith but a sign of deliverance (Phil 1:29).
  41. The Spirit distributing gifts of any kind has not ceased or the gifts aren’t confined to certain periods or to certain people, for the church of the past and the church in the present are both in the same period, sandwiched between the two Advents of Christ.
  42. The word of God shall be studied, read, listened to, taught, preached, meditated on and hidden in the heart by any true follower of Christ; as such, the word of God is not left for only special “men of God” to read and then deliver to us.
  43. Christians are commanded to study the Word, obey the Word and proclaim the Word instead of preaching about their suit, their trip outside of Ethiopia or their two story residence.
  44. Everyone is a theologian and the charge that one does not need theology is a sign of ignorance and a choice not to dig deeper in the Word.
  45. A church who neglects proclaiming the gospel to the lost and that just merely preaches “blessings” within the four walls of the sanctuary is a disobedient and selfish church.
  46. A theology that minimizes the cross of Christ and his suffering by stating that we need to obliterate the word “cross” or “crucifixion” from “the black Book” is far from Christian theology.
  47. We are adopted sons of God—again, I say, adopted sons of God!—through the Son of God; as a result, we have been transferred from being the sons of disobedience, the sons of the devil, to be the sons of God.
  48. When we declare that we are sons of God, we are not saying we are sons in the way that Christ Jesus is the Son of God.
  49. Jesus is “the unique Son of the Father,” “the unique God”; thus no one can be the Son of God in the manner of Christ Jesus—no one! (John 1:14, 18).
  50. Those who denounce “traditional theology” in favor of “recent theology” do not have roots just like the Gnostics did not have roots.
  51. Those who trace the Sonship of Christ to his incarnation and baptism are the children of the old Adoptionist heretics, and they have erred like their predecessors.
  52. Concurring with Tertullian, heretics in the Ethiopian Church should not use the Bible if they love to twist Scripture and undermine its truthfulness and authority.
  53. In the end, Scripture twisters will remain ignorant and unstable, leading to their utter destruction by the God of Truth (2 Pet 3:16).
  54. Prophets who merely prophesy about America and Europe, visas and villas are not God’s prophets but prophets of Mammon who have forfeited their souls to gain the world.
  55. Christ suffered on the cross and left us a pattern to suffer in this same manner (1 Pet 2:21).
  56. But those appointed for eternal damnation proclaim that we have the same DNA with Christ so as to indicate that men are divine and can’t suffer, while ignoring passages of Scripture calling us to partake in his suffering.
  57. Faith is not a denial of reality but is acknowledging the deficiency, trouble or difficulty in life while trusting in God and his deliverance and sovereignty.
  58. We have received salvation by grace alone through faith alone, not because of our speech or “positive confession.”
  59. Those who insult the Church Fathers and the heroes of the faith (i.e. Job) are blasphemous false teachers, for Jude tells us: “But these people blaspheme all that they do not understand, and they are destroyed by all that they, like unreasoning animals, understand instinctively” (Jude 10).
  60. Poverty is not sin and our possession or lack of possession of materials is not a sign of true piety.
  61. Justification by faith alone does not guarantee a poverty-proof, sickness-proof, or difficulty-proof life in the here and now.
  62. We are not the righteousness of God as some claim—Christ and Christ alone is the Righteousness of God.
  63. We cannot create “when we release words from our spirit”; rather, creating through speaking is reserved only for the Almighty God (Gen 1; Isa 55:11).
  64. Whether we call it orgies, zefen, kōmos or secular music, they all point to the inclination of man to worship money, sex, country or their fellow men rather than God, and those who worship idols through kōmos “will not inherit the Kingdom of God” (Gal 5:21).
  65. Both the Bible and true and humble science indicate that God created male and female and that the idea that a person can be transgender is fallacious and deceptive (Gen 1:27).
  66. Homosexuality is a sign of atheism, or rejecting God. It is an outright rebelliousness and thus it is unbiblical, unnatural, unscientific foolishness (Rom 1:18-32).
  67. The modern man is a liar when he fights for children’s rights in one sense yet commits genocide with forceps behind the closed doors of abortion clinics, thus exposing his real father, the devil.
  68. God is independent, thus he does not need our approval, our affirmations or our persuasion, for he has dwelt for eternity past without humanity.
  69. We are told to “repent of poverty” instead of repenting of our sins and trespasses, thus devaluing the heart of Christian orthodoxy by shifting believers’ focus from the Kingdom of God to the Kingdom of Mammon.
  70. Those preachers and teachers who assert that we should stop rebuking and casting out demons have indeed gone to bed with the spirit of enlightenment and naturalism so as to allow the devil to sit comfortably in our midst without fear of opposition.
  71. Academia should not replace the place of God’s word by the works of sophisticated prodigal sons like Schleiermacher or Ehrman or Bultmann or Tilich.
  72. Academia should know that its footnotes and bulky bibliographic information alone can’t save the lost, but the gospel of grace preached and proclaimed and lived out among the unreached can.
  73. God does not have special children and useless children in his Body, the Church; instead, all Christians—whether clergy or lay church members—are bought with the “once for all blood” of Jesus Christ.
  74. Thus, no minister or “man of God” is exempted from rebuke, reproof and correction when found committing error, and correcting them is perfectly in line with Scripture (Gal 2:11-14).
  75. The spiritual blindness of the Church in Ethiopia has created confusion, and the wolves have used this opportunity to import their twisted doctrines to sway many from orthodoxy.
  76. In order for the Church to regain her sight and to discern truth from error, going back to Sola Scriptura is necessary or else the Church will keep walking in theological darkness.
  77. Following Christ requires denial of self and carrying the cross daily, but those who strive to amass the blessing of Mammon are far from the Way, for instead of denying themselves, they have become self-centered.
  78. Just because a minister says “Christ” or mentions Christ in his teaching or doctrine, it does not mean he is for Christ.
  79. The wolves use the name “Christ,” but their use of his name is just a form lacking the content of Christ himself (just like Muslims’, Hindus’ or Atheists’ usage of his name); as such we can’t call them true Christians because they are followers of cults with anti-Christ doctrine.
  80. Those who declare that they are not from the devil or that they are not false teachers while teaching heresy forget that the devil does not come out and state that he is the devil but appears as an angel of light.
  81. Slaves of God should give glory to God when God uses them so mightily by saying: “We are unworthy servants” (Luke 17:10) instead of indulging themselves in affirmations and glorification of other mortals via statements like “When the man of God does this and when the man of God does that...” as if the healing, the superb teaching or the prophecy emanates from the slaves of God rather than from God himself.
  82. Ministers should know that the same people who want to almost worship them when they see miracles or signs of wonders may turn around to stone or crucify them tomorrow (Acts 14:8-20).
  83. As a result, ministers of God should put their eyes on Christ and preach the Word and employ their God-given gifts faithfully for the glory of God regardless of public opinion.
  84. Church leaders should encourage, nurture, guide and allow the youth to grow in Christ instead of despising their youth and frequently aggrandizing their errors.
  85. Otherwise, the church will be filled with numerous gray haired people who will not have the passionate and energetic youth to uphold, encourage and lift them up.
  86. The Church should not muzzle her ministers, leaving them and their families to starvation and utter poverty and making their children hate their parents’ call and ministry.
  87. The Church should build her ministers up by sending them either to short term or long term biblical and theological training instead of being afraid of educated ministers.
  88. This can be carried out by ceasing to buy the expensive musical instruments or the fancy buildings so as to build the body through well-equipped ministers who handle God’s Word competently.
  89. The Scriptures don’t prescribe that gifts are hierarchical, for we see that some think that they can grow out of their offices through time: from being an evangelist to being a pastor then to being a prophet then to being an Apostle then to being a Major Prophet or Apostle.
  90. This practice is done because some ministers desire to lord their power over others instead of becoming a servant of all (and they have devised a system that pays more as the hierarchy increases), and also because they are ignorant that the gifting is distributed according to the will of the Holy Spirit, not according to the will of man.
  91. In the past, the world used to watch, learn and copy from the church musicians; now the opposite is true, with some Christian singers plagiarizing, stealing and infringing upon worldly singers’ works as if God had run out of excellent, creative and inspiring rhythms and lyrics with which to inspire them.
  92. God despises those who render to him mediocre worship in their preaching, teaching, singing, giving, learning, writing, etc., for he desires the best, the par excellence, the first undivided devotion, instead of the crumbs of our activity.
  93. God will eventually declare at the eschaton that he never knew those who just called his name but failed to obey his commands, hiding behind Christian activism and the idea of Christianity without personally and corporately adhering to the teaching and life of Christ.
  94. Christian growth can’t just happen merely through large gatherings, tent meetings and revival conferences, for we also need small gatherings where we can wipe one another’s tears through confessing our sins to one another, through devoting ourselves to the study of the Word and through one-on-one prayers.
  95. A true Christian should never blink his eyes but should keep watch, for the wolves in sheep’s clothing are waiting for that blinking second to smuggle their man-sourced, demon-sourced and anti-Christ teaching into the church with plausible arguments.

 

[1] Gregg R. Allison, Historical Theology: An Introduction to Christian Doctrine (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2011), 368.

Seen 879 times Last modified on Wednesday, 15 March 2017 05:52
Abeneazer Gezahegn Urga

A graduate of Columbia International University, is a member of Equip International and teaches Bible and Theology at the Evangelical Theological College (ETC) in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. He is the author of six books including: The Dangers of Seminary: A Call to Avoid the Pitfalls of Academic Theology and The Normal Christian Life in the Book of Daniel: A Guide to Theology, Mission and Spiritual Formation in the Everyday Life of Pilgrims. 

 

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