November 08, 2012

Highlights from Luther's 95 Theses It's been almost 500 years since Martin Luther posted his 95 Theses on the door of the Wittenberg Church. Yet, there are many misconceptions about what he was trying to do and what he was upset about. First of all, Luther posted these as an invitation to debate and discussion (they were "disputations"), not as a declaration of war or separation from the Church. (His harshest words for the Pope would come later!) But secondly, what Luther objected most to were the expanded powers the Medieval Church had claimed, exploiting the ignorance and superstition of the people. For example, Luther argued that while repentance is indeed part of the whole of Christian life, the pope doesn't offer anything other than what God offers us in Christ. Moreover, it was not the sale of "indulgences" that got Luther riled up; it was the sale of plenary indulgences. What's the difference? Plenary indulgences offered blanket forgiveness from all penalties for all sins-- even for the dead. Read Disputations 1, 6, 20-21, and 27: 1. When our Lord and Master Jesus Christ said, "Repent" (Mt 4:17), he willed the entire life of believers to be one of repentance. 6. The pope cannot remit any guilt, except by declaring and showing that it has been remitted by God; or, to be sure, by remitting guilt in cases reserved to his judgment. If his right to grant remission in these cases were disregarded, the guilt would certainly remain unforgiven. 20. Therefore the pope, when he uses the words "plenary remission of all penalties," does not actually mean "all penalties," but only those imposed by himself. 21. Thus those indulgence preachers are in error who say that a man is absolved from every penalty and saved by papal indulgences. 27. They preach only human doctrines who...
How Advent Can Be Much More Than "The Christmas Season" For the longest time, I thought "Advent" was just a fancy word for "the Christmas season," a holier, maybe more spiritual-sounding word for an otherwise hectic and overly-commercialized holiday stretch between Thanksgiving and December 25. What I've discovered in the past few years of observing Advent is that it's not just a different word; it's an entirely different approach. Let me explain. Advent as a season is meant to make the journey toward Christmas full of meaning; it's meant to put us touch with our deepest longings and greatest hopes; it's meant to teach us to bring all our desires together on one object: Christ. While "Christmas" as a season (properly) begins on December 25 and goes twelve days (yes, there's a song about that!) until January 6th, Advent is all about the build-up to it. It begins on the fourth Sunday before Christmas and takes us right up to the glorious celebration of the incarnation. When you journey through Advent to Christmas, you begin to see Jesus more fully. You recognize that His incarnation was the beginning of the redemption of the world and that His return is the completion of it. Advent pulls those two moments together. It overlays the joy of His arrival as a helpless babe with the hope of His appearing as conquering King. Both arrivals are anticipated in celebrating Advent. But changing an approach to "the holidays" is a daunting task. So here are three simple suggestions for how to make the switch from simply "celebrating the holidays" to journeying through Advent and on to Christmas. 1. Focus on the Longing. It has been said that at the bottom of human personality is the fundamental question of what a person is living for. What do we set our hopes on? What, in an ultimate...

Glenn Packiam

Lead Pastor, new life DOWNTOWN, New Life Church, Colorado Springs, CO. Author and songwriter.

The Typepad Team

Recent Comments