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What Luther Says

Dog Days of Summer Series: 95 Theses To The Modern Evangelical Church

In the well-known words of Will "The Fresh Prince of Bel Air" Smith:

"Summer, summer, summertime / Time to sit back and unwind" 

Summer. Perhaps this is as good a time as any to begin clearing out my Inbox which contains hundreds of emails dating back to 2012, and to share with you the Christian gems that I come across (or at least those items that could generate some good, thoughtful discussion here). 

I read that the "Dog Days of Summer" is the name for the most sultry period of Summer (from about July 3rd to August 11th). Yes, we're already well beyond August 11th, but we can't have just two entries in what's being called a "series," now can we? No!

So, we're going to continue with our next installment in what we're calling our "Dog Days of Summer Series" for as long as it takes to get that Inbox down to 0 emails. In case you've missed any of the previous entries, this should help you catch up petty quickly...

Does Singing In Church Matter?

Churchy Gimmicks -- Has The Church Sold Its Soul To Consumerism?

One important note. Obviously, I don't want to ever encourage a lackadaisical approach to Bible study and prayerful consideration, but since I'm likely to overwhelm you with one post after another (posts that are also automatically fed to the Lutheran Layman Twitter feed), I'm going to be creating a lot of "noise" as they say, which means I'm going to at least try not to to go too deep with the analysis of the content in this series. I'm gonna try.

Instead, I think I prefer to merely reference an item, maybe make a quick comment and observation or two, and then allow for all of you to chime in with your thoughts in the hopes of getting a friendly discussion going so I can learn more about the Lutheran perspective on things myself. So, whether you ultimately decide to go deeper with the subject on your own and in your own time this Summer is entirely up to you, my friends.

As always, please "test everything" (1 Thessalonians 5:21), always respond to whatever it is that you find here like the Bereans would (Acts 17:11), be sure to exercise discernment, and do let me know if you think my old "Evangelical Adam" is trying to reassert himself here.

This is actually from way back in 2011, but I didn't stumble upon it until late 2012, and am only sharing it here for the first time as I continue to try and get that Inbox of mine cleared out. 
Greg Gordon (Founder of SermonIndex.net) put this list together and it's an instant conversation starter if nothing else, IMHO. He wrote 95 Theses To The Modern Evangelical Church and then revised many of them so that they are of a size that will fit on Twitter and Facebook to easily re-post.In case you're wondering, "The mission of SermonIndex is the preservation and propagation of classical Biblical preaching and the promotion of genuine Biblical revival to this generation." As far as I can tell, Mr. Gordon is a "Lay Minister" and Non-Denominational too. Please keep that in mind when reading this list.

For instance, since this is an Open Letter of sorts to the contemporary Evangelical Church in America, it's written from someone who obviously sees truth and virtue in the Evangelical confession of the faith. After all, that's why you'll find a definite "revivalist" sentimentality and tone here, which is certainly something we Lutherans reject.

I'm curious what other Lutherans will say about this sort of list. As an ex-Evangelical, I've come to despise "lists" like this (especially when they're used in sermons) even though I once loved them, because I now see how they can so easily and so quickly lead to Works Righteousness if not Self-Righteousness regardless of one's best intentions.


1. The “church” at large has forgotten that the chief end of man is to glorify God. (Romans 16:27; 1 Corinthians 6:20; Matthew 6:9; 1 Corinthians 10:31)

2. Christians ignore most of the methods, practices and principles found in the book of Acts. (Acts 2:42,44; Acts 2:46; Acts 2:38)

3. Many treat “church” like any other social club or sports event that they might attend. (Acts 2:46; Hebrews 10:25; Acts 1:14)

4. We’ve made Christianity about the individual rather than the community of believers. (Romans 12:5; 1 Corinthians 12:12; 2 Timothy 4:16)

5. In most “churches” the priesthood of all believers isn’t acknowledged and the role of pastor is abused. (1 Peter 2:9; 1 Corinthians 12:12; Ephesians 4:11-13)

6. The “church” as a whole has lost the concept of their being grafted into the promises given to Israel. (Romans 11:15; Romans 17-18, 20, 25)

7. There needs to be a recovery of teaching the whole counsel of God, especially in expository form. (Acts 20:27; 1 Timothy 4:6, 2 Timothy 2:15)

8. We take it too lightly that we have the blessing and honor of having God’s Scriptures in our possession. (Psalm 119:16; Acts 13:44; Nehemiah 8:9)

9. There has never been more access to the Word of God, yet so little reading of it. (1 Timothy 4:13; Nehemiah 8:1-3; Psalm 119:59)

10. Some read the Scriptures to attain knowledge, but do not practice what they read. (James 1:22; Matthew 7:21; 3 John 4)

11. Worship has become an idol in many “churches.” The music often resembles that of the world. (Amos 5:23; Philippians 4:8; 1 John 5:21)

12. The world is shaping the views of the “church” more than the “church” shaping the world. (Romans 12:2; Matthew 5:13; 1 Corinthians 1:22-23)

13. The “church” spends more money on dog food than on missions. (2 Corinthians 9:6; Luke 21:2; Acts 4:34-35)

14. We take lightly the cost of discipleship laid out by Jesus Christ and do not deny our lives. (Luke 14:33; Luke 14:26-27; Matthew 8:19-20)

15. There is a lack of true discipleship and making others to be obedient disciples. (Matthew 28:20; 2 Timothy 2:2; 2 Timothy 2:14)

16. Many subscribe to the error that parts of life are to be spiritual while others are to be secular. (1 Peter 4:2; Colossians 3:3; 1 John 2:6)

17. Modern Christians often find Jesus’ command to sacrifice and serve abhorrent. (Philippians 2:21; James 3:16; Romans 12:1-2)

18. Self disciplines in the Christian life such as fasting and praying are considered legalistic. (2 Timothy 2:21; 2 Timothy 1:8; Matthew 6:17)

19. Little thought and contemplation is put towards the lostness of men, the seriousness of the Gospel. (Philippians 3:8; Galatians 2:20; Hebrews 10:34)

20. We are living with an epidemic of cheap grace with flippant confession and shallow consecration. (Luke 14:28-30; Luke 14:26; James 4:8)

21. Since the inception of the Church, the Gospel had the requirements of repentance and discipleship. (Acts 2:38; Luke 14:26; John 8:31)

22. Now forgiveness is offered without repentance, discipleship without obedience, salvation without sanctity. (Hebrews 10:29; Hebrews 4:11; Luke 13:24)

23. Introspection, counting the cost, godly sorrow over sin, are all foreign to many in the “church.” (Acts 2:37; Psalm 119:9; Hebrews 6:1-2)

24. The modern church loves itself more than its neighbor. (1 Corinhians 3:3; Galatians 5:13; Philippians 2:3)

25. The church must repent of its idolization of personality, and of business principles. (2 Corinthians 2:17; 1 Corinthians 3:5; 1 Corinthians 12:23)

26. Many elders and pastors of the “church” sadly are fleecing the flock to supply their own wants. (John 10:12-13; 1 Peter 5:2-3; Revelation 2:15)

27. The qualities most in demand in today’s pastorate are frequently foreign to the Scriptures. (1 Timothy 3:2-3; 1 Timothy 3:5; 1 Timothy 1:5-7)

28. The professionalization of the pastorate is a sin and needs to be repented of. (2 Corinthians 11:13; Galatians 3:1; Galatians 2:6)

29. There must be repentance for the ambitious desire and idolization of the celebrity pastorate. (3 John 9; Jeremiah 17:5; 1 Corinthians 12:22)

30. Pastors must trust the Spirit, not statistics. (2 Samuel 24:1; 1 Corinthians 1:25; Romans 8:14)

31. Modern day prophets are being stoned by criticism and neglect. (2 Timothy 4:3-4; Galatians 1:10; Jeremiah 1:7-8)

32. God’s prophets are ill-treated and shunned by most “christians” who consider them too extreme. (Jeremiah 6:10; Isaiah 6:9-10; Galatians 4:16)

33. The prophets prophesy falsely, priests rule by their own power; and my people love to have it so. (Matthew 24:4; Matthew 11-12; 1 Corinthians 1:19; Jude 8 )  

34. There are many false gospels being preached from pulpits in our day. (2 Corinthians 11:4; Galaians 1:8-9; Jude 16)

35. There is an epidemic of a “mock” salvation message. It is correct in doctrine, but false in reality. (2 Corinthians 3:6; 1 John 5:11-12; Romans 8:9)

36. A salvation that does not make men holy is trusted in by a deceived multitude. (Jude 4; Romans 8:1; Romans 6:17-18)

37. There is a needed perseverance in the truths of the Gospel without unbelief. (Ephesians 1:1; Hebrews 6:11-12; Hebrews 10:26-27)

38. A great need is to see “christians” become saints in actual experience. (1 John 2:29; Colossians 3:5-8; Titus 3:8)

39. Many professors of religion are forbidding people to be a part of the holy body of Christ. (Matthew 23:13; Psalm 119:1-2; 2 Peter 1:3-4)

40. Preaching has become all about the happiness of man and not the glory of God. (John 6:26; Romans 4:20; 1 Peter 4:11)

41. Preachers give smooth words to entice men, yet very few give any words of correction or rebuke. (Jeremiah 6:14; Proverbs 1:23; 1 Timothy 5:20)

42. Run from gospels that focus on our success and prosperity in the name of Jesus Christ. (John 2:16; Acts 20:33; Jeremiah 6:13)

43. Run from gospels that focus on self-improvement. (1 Timothy 6:5; Hebrews 12:14; James 4:14)

44. Run from churches where men, and not Christ, are glorified. (Colossians 1:18; Jude 25; John 16:14)

45. Run from churches where there is no Bible, no cross, no mention of the blood of Christ. (1 Peter 1:18-19; Ephesians 3:13; Revelation 1:5)

46. Run from churches where the worship leaves you cold, where there’s no sense of God’s presence. (1 Corinthians 5:4; Psalm 80:14-15; Jeremiah 12:11)

47. Run from churches where you’re comfortable in your sin. (1 Corinthians 14:25; Hebrews 10:30-31; Hebrews 4:13)

48. Run from churches that use the pulpit of God for a personal agenda. (Jude 10-11,19; 3 John 9)

49. Run from those who preach division between races and cultures. (James 2:4; Galatians 3:28; Revelation 5:9)

50. Run from ungodly, spasmodic movements and endless empty prophesying. (Jeremiah 5:13; 1 Corinthians 14:33; 1 John 2:16)

51. Run from preachers who tell mostly stories and jokes. (Ephesians 5:4; Titus 1:8; 2:12)

52. Run from those that are only after money, who use one gimmick after another to get your money. (2 Peter 2:3; 2 Corinthians 12:14; 1 Corinthians 9:18)

53. The phrase “accept Jesus as your personal Saviour” is not found in the Scriptures. (Romans 10:9-10; Colossians 1:13; Acts 26:20)

54. Evidence of true conversion does not seem important to modern day Christians. (1 John 2:6; 1 John 4:17; Matthew 7:20)

55. Thousands of sinners think of God as having only one attribute: Love! But they continue in sin. (Romans 1:18; Acts 5:11; Psalm 2:12)

56. “God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life!” has hindered true evangelism. (Romans 3:19; Acts 26:18; Philippians 3:18-21)

57. A Gospel of love and grace only, without the law of God being preached. This is a doctrine of Satan. (2 Timothy 4:3-4; Romans 2:4-5; Romans 3:19)

58. There has clearly arisen a careless mixture of 20th century reasoning with God’s revelation. (Colossians 2:8; Romans 1:25; Galatians 1:6)

59. Decisionism and the “sinner’s prayer” has been a major cause of false conversions in the “church.” (2 Peter 2:1-2; Ephesians 2:4-5; 2 Corinthians 5:17-18)

60. Many will be surprised to hear Jesus say, “I never knew you, depart from me.” (Matthew 7:22-23; 1 Corinthians 6:9-10; Galatians 5:19-21)

61. Men have taken the place of the Holy Spirit in confirming men in their supposed salvation. (1 John 2:3-5; 2 Thessalonians 1:8; Galatians 6:12-15)

62. The doctrine of hell and eternal suffering is something little grasped by most professing “christians.” (Matthew 13:42; James 5:1; Psalm 9:17)  

63. The judgment seat of Christ is perhaps one of the most neglected topics in the modern pulpit. (2 Corinthians 5:10; Romans 14:10; 1 Corinthians 3:13)

64. The second coming of Christ needs to be re-instated as the church’s general thrust and burden. (1 John 3:2-3; Colossians 3:4-6; 1 Thessalonians 4:14-17)

65. The church has lost the fear of God and has over emphasized the love of God. (Hebrews 12:28-29; Luke 12:5; Hebrews 10:31)

66. The church has left evangelism to a few trained professionals. (Acts 8:1,4; Acts 4:29; Romans 10:14)

67. Repentance is considered a one-time act in modern evangelism rather than a way of life. (Revelation 3:19; Hebrews 12:17; 2 Peter 3:9)

68. The Lordship of Jesus Christ is something that is not taught in many pulpits. (Acts 2:36; 1 Corinthians 12:3; Romans 6:18)

69. Many in “churches” are not open to correction, church discipline or rebuke. (1 Corinthians 5:5; 1 Corinthians 11:31-32; Hebrews 12:7-9)

70. Some preach salvation as a theory instead of persuading men to come to Christ. (John 5:40; Colossians 1:28; 2 Corinthians 4:5)

71. There has been a loss of the fullness and majesty of the gospel. (1 Timothy 1:11; Jude 25; Romans 15:29)

72. There is little mention of sin or the depravity of man from “church” pulpits. (John 3:20; Galatians 5:19-21; Ephesians 5:5)

73. Covetousness, consumerism, and coddling of the world’s goods does not appear wrong. (Jeremiah 22:17; 1 John 2:15-16; 1 Timothy 3:3)

74. Little is made of the resurrection of Jesus Christ in churches or in evangelism. (1 Corinthians 15:14-15; Acts 4:10, 33)

75. The “church” has relied more on technology than God. (Zechariah 4:6; 1 Corinthians 1:21; 2:4)

76. The prayer meeting is considered one of the least important meetings in the “church.” (1 Timothy 2:1; Acts 4:31; Philippians 4:6)

77. Pastors have never prayed less than they do in the “church” today. (Jeremiah 10:21; Philippians 2:21; Ephesians 6:18-19)

78. Very few are waiting on God for His direction and purpose for His Church. (Ephesians 1:11; Psalm 37:7; Isaiah 40:31)

79. The “church” has many organizers, but few agonizers. (Philippians 3:18-19; Romans 9:1-3; Jeremiah 9:1)

80. We need to have the gifts of the Spirit restored again to the “church.” (2 Timothy 4:2; 1 Corinthians 14:39; 1 Corinthians 12:31)

81. A serious, sober, self-controlled Christianity is very seldom found or preached. (2 Peter 3:11; 1 Peter 4:7; Jude 3)

82. The “church” at large has forgotten how to pray. (1 John 3:22; Acts 6:4; 1 Thessalonians 5:17)

83. Many “churches” are more dependent on tradition than the leading of the Holy Spirit. (Mark 7:13; Acts 16:6; Acts 13:2)

84. Multitudes of professors preach and teach: that you cannot be freed from sin. (Romans 16:18; Romans 6:1-2; 2 Peter 2:1)

85. The Apostles and Christ always preached the possibility to walk free from the bondage of sin. (Titus 2:11-12; 1 Peter 1:14-16; Romans 6:19)

86. Sinners are not saved to sin, but rather, saved to holiness and good works. (Romans 6:13; Ephesians 2:10; 2 Peter 3:14)

87. Cheap grace means the justification of sin without the justification of the sinner. (2 Timothy 2:19; 1 Peter 4:17-18; 2 Timothy 3:12)

88. A baptism of holiness, a demonstration of godly living, is the crying need of our day. (1 Tim 6:3; 2 Thessalonians 3:6; 2 Thessalonians 2:13)

89. Many are confused about obedience and the good works that are readily mentioned in the Scriptures. (Titus 3:8; John 10:32; Revelation 3:15)

90. Little emphasis is put on the plan of God to make us like Jesus Christ in “churches.” (1 Peter 1:14-16; 1 John 2:6; 1 Peter 4:1)

91. Christ did not die on the cross to obtain a worldly “church” but for a “glorious Church.” (Ephesians 5:27; Titus 2:14; Colossians 4:12)

92. Christ does not come into an unregenerate and impure heart as many contemporary theologians say. (2 Corinthians 5:17; Matthew 5:8; Ezekiel 18:31)

93. A holy Church is God’s blessing to the world; an unholy “church” is God’s judgment upon the world. (Matthew 5:14,16; Ephesians 4:1; 1 Thessalonians 2:12)

94. If Christianity is to make any headway in the present time, it must be proved to be more than a theory. (2 Thessalonians 3:6-7; 1 Thessalonians 4:1,11-12)

95. Unbelief has gagged and bound us as risen Lazarus! We need release in this final hour! (Hebrews 3:12-14; 1 Corinthians 3:21-23; Hebrews 11:6)

At first glance, you might think this is exceptional stuff since each and every point that he made seems to be backed up by multiple references in Scripture. Ah, but therein lies the subtle deception (Genesis 3:1)! 
As an ex-Evangelical, there was a time not so long ago when I would've been drooling over a list like this and printing it out to share with family members, friends, and strangers alike (read: "beating my loved ones and neighbors over the head with nothing but the Law, Law, Law!"). 
Sure, some of them are right on point, but a majority of them miss the mark entirely and that's what makes this list dangerous. 
Plus, let's not forget that Mr. Gordon presupposes that it's the American Evangelical Church that is the "true church" or that is truly demonstrative of "the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints" (Jude 1:3) and that's why he needs to remind those within that body of believers that they need to return to that from which they have strayed. 
One small problem though. I can see right through this list! It's nothing more than the whole "YOU For Christ" style of preaching and teaching than "CHRIST For You" as it should be. 
I mean, where was a single mention of Baptism or the Lord's Supper? There wasn't any. Instead, it was all about "What We're Not Doing" or "What We Need To Stop Doing" or "What We Need To Do Better" and so I ask you: How does any of that glorify and exult our risen Savior who has already done -- and continues to do -- what's best for me? 
On top of that, I found many statements that contradicted themselves if not many others that simply needed more clarification because they were too obscure. 
As mentioned, Mr. Gordon's intentions may have been noble, but this is Exhibit A as to why I am so grateful that the Lord drew me to Himself and helped me escape Evangelicalism when He did (1 John 1:9; John 6:44).

So, what do you think about all of that? Please feel free to share your thoughts in the Comments Section below.

In a Lutheran layman's terms, yes, sadly, there are times when we feel as though Christ's Church could use a modern day Reformation complete with a whole new set of 95 Theses to go with it, but the above is certainly not the kind of "reformation" we should be desiring.

NOTE: As you know, I am a newly converted Confessional Lutheran who recently escaped American Evangelicalism. That being said, please contact me ASAP if you believe that any of my "old beliefs" seem to have crept their way into any of the material you see published here, and especially if any of the content is not consistent with our Confessions and Lutheran doctrine (in other words, if it's not consistent with God's Word, which our Confessions merely summarize and point us back to) so that I can correct those errors immediately and not lead any of His little ones astray (James 3:1). Finally, please be aware that you might also discover that some of the earlier pieces I wrote on this blog back in 2013 definitely fall into that category since I was a "Lutheran-In-Name-Only" at the time and was completely oblivious to the fact that a "Book of Concord" containing our Confessions even existed. In addition, there are some entries that are a little "out there" so-to-speak since the subject matter was also heavy influenced by common Evangelical concerns/criticisms that aren't that big a deal for us Lutherans. I know that now and I'm still learning. Anyway, I decided to leave those published posts up on this website and in cyberspace only because we now have this disclaimer and only to demonstrate the continuing work of Christ and the Holy Spirit in my life (Hebrews 12:2; Philippians 1:6). Finally, please know that any time we engage in commenting on and/or interpreting a specific portion of the holy Scriptures, it will always follow the verse-by-verse notes from my Lutheran Study Bible unless otherwise noted. Thank you for stopping by and thank you in advance for your time, help, and understanding. Grace and peace to you and yours!


About JKR

Christian. Husband. Father. Friend.

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Thank you for visiting A Lutheran Layman! Please feel free to leave a comment or a question since we do not exercise censorship. We've seen a similar policy with other blogs and it's worth repeating: Please act as if you're a guest in my home, and we'll get along just fine. I think anyone would agree that the kind of back-and-forth that is characteristic of blogs/chat forums and social media is becoming tiresome for all of us. Still, we should confess, edify, and love (and contend and defend when needed). Bottom line? Search the Scriptures! Apply Acts 17:11 to anything and everything you find here and, if you do happen to disagree with something you find here (which is certainly ok), or think I'm "irresponsible" and "wrong" for writing it, then please refute my position by supporting yours with Scripture and/or the Confessions. I don't think that's an unreasonable request, especially for those who identify themselves as "Christians" here, right? Besides, Proverbs 27:17 tells us "Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another" and 2 Timothy 3:16 says, "all Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness." If you have an opinion that's great, I welcome it, but try to support it using God's Word. I mean, if the goal here is to help us all arrive at the truth of God's Word (myself included), then it should be easy to follow through on this one simple request (I'm talking to all you "Anonymous" visitors out there). Grace and peace to you and yours!

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