This past Sunday Lutheran churches around the world observed the 505th anniversary of the nailing of the Ninety-Five Thesis to the chapel door in Wittenberg Germany.
Reformation Sunday, however, serves as more than a reminder of an event that happened five hundred years ago in a small German town. Luther restored Biblical theology to the center of Christian life by his action.
Biblical theology is a system of beliefs based upon scripture. Biblical theology argues God has revealed himself and his will for us in Jesus Christ. The system of religious beliefs by which we live our lives are determined by principles revealed to us in scripture.
The opposite of Biblical theology is secular ideology. Ideology is a system of beliefs derived from our secular culture and our own wants. The word ideology comes from two concepts. The id refers to our own inner self. Ology translates from the Greek and means word. Ideology, therefore, refers to that system of beliefs we use to guide our lives.
Ideology takes many forms. There are political, business, social and even personal ideologies. The problem with ideologies is that they become the guiding principles of our lives. We live and act based upon our personal and cultural ideologies. Ideologies replace or corrupt our Biblical theology.
Luther understood that secular cultural ideologies had become the central guiding principles for Christian lives. He wanted to restore Biblical theology to its rightful place in the center of Christian life.
The Reformation did not resolve the problem of cultural ideologies infiltrating Christian belief and practice. Instead that battle continues to this day. Let me give you several examples of what I mean.
Christ teaches us the church is the body of Christ and we are part of that body. Cultural ideologies tell us that the Church is not the body of Christ, but one organization among others. The church is no more than a religious version of the YMCA, or General Motors or the state legislature. In other words, it is simply a human organization.
We believe, however, that All Saint Lutheran Church is not simply an organization but is the living and mystical incarnation of Christ in this world.
Cultural ideologies argue that we are simply members of one organization among others. Our Biblical theology argues we are disciples of Jesus called by him to a way of life that follows Christian teaching and revelation.
Let me offer an example of how cultural ideology replaces Biblical theology. I know a couple who have bounced from one Lutheran congregation to another. They think of congregations as simply organization that they can switch their membership from if they get in a snit. Their discipleship means nothing to them. They do not see themselves called by Christ to be part of his visible body. Their cultural ideology guides them and not a Biblical theology.
Pastor Richard Pokora