Dr. Mark Thompson - Theses for a new reformation in the Anglican Communion

Dr. Mark Thompson is the current Head of Theology, Philosophy and Ethics at Moore Theological College, Sydney. In a recent blog post he has set out what he sees as a new “95 Theses” (albeit only 12 new ones!) for the Anglican Communion which is receiving much comment around the traps.

I suspect nothing more is needed than the Jerusalem Declaration and the Thirty-nine Articles to which it refers. Here is a statement which, while certainly not perfect, forms a sound basis for authentic Anglican mission far into this century and beyond.

However, I was wondering what I would personally want to say if I was to follow the example of Martin Luther and nail theses for debate to the nearest church door. Of course, Luther had no idea he was igniting the Reformation when he wrote the 95 theses, while today Bishop Mouneer and many others are consciously and deliberately calling for a repeat performance. Those of us who long for vibrant evangelism, theological orthodoxy and personal godliness right across the entire Anglican Communion pray that God might take all of our feeble attempts to protest and proclaim, and use them to bring glory to his Son by the working of his Spirit.

So here is a shot at my top twelve (it is presumptuous enough to do this without attempting to get anywhere near ninety-five, and anyway each of mine is a little more long-winded than Luther's and so should by rights be called 'paragraphs' rather than 'theses'. However, they are like Luther's in one respect: they are by no means comprehensive and by no means present an outline of a complete systematic theology. Rather, they are focussed on the current situation or, more precisely, on the theological issues underlying the current crisis):

If the Anglican Communion is to be reformed again it needs to hear and heed these crucial truths:

1. It is impossible to take Jesus seriously without taking the teaching of Scripture seriously. Faith in Christ entails acknowledging Christ's Lordship. Submitting to Christ as Lord means being willing to conform our thinking and our behaviour to the words he has given us. Since he endorsed the Hebrew Old Testament (Lk 24:44) and appointed those whose mission produced the New Testament (Mtt 28:18–20; Acts 1:8), we cannot avoid the reality that faith in Christ manifests itself in obedience to the teaching of Scripture (Mtt. 7:24; Jms 1:22).

Hie thee hence and read them all…

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