Home > Grace, In Christ, Theology > 95 Theses for the Twenty First Century Church, Dr. James Fowler

95 Theses for the Twenty First Century Church, Dr. James Fowler

Dr. James Fowler (Christ in You Ministries ) has issued a 95 Theses for the Twenty First Century Church. It is a challenge to today’s church to a reaffirmation of its historic beliefs and a re-examination of its ecclesial practices and exhortations. This initial draft document was to see its way to a dedicated web site that would invite comment and discussion. Dr. Fowler states his objective as follows: “To attempt to rebuild upon the present crumbling religious superstructures by re-forming existing policies and ideological systems is to invite disaster. The situation requires a complete restoration of the grace dynamic of the gospel of Jesus Christ, whereby the “old wineskin” (Matthew 9:17) of the religious status-quo are discarded and the “new-wine” of the living Lord Jesus is allowed to fill Christian individuals and the collective expression of the Church.” Later he states, “These ninety-five theses for the twenty-first century Church are written with the sincere desire that the reality of the living Lord Jesus and the genuine manifestation of His life in His Body, the Church, might be allowed full expression by the power of God’s Spirit.”

The Theses has a 2009 copyright and a 2010 revision date so I do not know if this project proceeded as far as intended. The dedicated web sites for presenting the document and for discussion are not live.

Dr. Fowler is a Christian Philosopher with a mature and fresh view of the Christian faith. Christianity is Christ in you, manifesting through you. God’s character cannot be separated from God’s being. “God does what He does because He is who He is.” For us to have God’s character expressed in our lives we must have Him alive and active in us. Man has the capacity to be receptive to God’s activity. Only God has libertarian free will in that only God is independent and creative. Man is dependent and derivative. While man does not have libertarian free will, he does have the capacity to choose.

Dr. Fowler has written extensively on what Christianity is not. It is not religion, a belief system, prescribed morality patterns, a means to changing or improving behavior, identification with a church organization, nor practicing regular rituals of worship. Dr. Fowler takes a Christ centric view of the Christian faith with Christ’s resurrection and presence in us being a key element.

There are several of the 95 theses that I have problems with. His statement on Israel (#44) I find difficult. It is replacement theology. He argues that Israel is a designation for the people in whom God rules. That rule now lies in God’s Son who rules over those receptive to Him in faith. To identify Israel as having a divinely chosen status perverts God’s intent. Christ’s rule as Lord can legitimately be called “Israel.” Reference is made to Romans 9:6 and Galatians 6:16. I do not think Israel can be this easily dismissed. I get the point that only those in Christ will be saved including those of the Old Testament, but I do believe God has a plan for his people that will unfold dramatically as Christ returns. Israel has a special place in God’s plan.

Over all the Theses are a challenge to us to rethink the Christian dynamic and our Christian expression. Our doctrinal positions have grown old and are pressed beyond Scriptural support. We have lost the Gospel of Grace of the New Covenant and we have lost the dynamic of a resurrected Lord at work in our lives.

I believe this discussion is long overdue.

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Categories: Grace, In Christ, Theology
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