25 Theses for a 21st Century Reformation

1. The Triune God alone is Sovereign (Gen. 1:1-26; John 17:1-24; 15:26f).


2. The Triune God will not share His Sovereignty with any creature (Isa. 40:9-26).


3. Before the Triune God, the universe, the Church, the nation, and all Christian leaders pale into utter insignificance. All of them are merely “unworthy servants.”


4. The doctrine of the Sovereignty of the Triune God is by far the  most fundamental doctrine of the Christian faith. All other Christian doctrines are utterly and completely dependent upon the doctrine of the Sovereignty of the Triune God. The important doctrines of the incarnation of Christ and of the salvation of man, for example, are therefore definitely not of the most primary importance.


5. The doctrine of the infallibility of the Bible, and the doctrines of the virgin birth, miracles, blood atonement and resurrection of Christ are all fundamental doctrines of the Christian faith. But they are only true because the far more fundamental doctrine of the Sovereignty of God is true.


6. Were God not Sovereign, the Bible would not be infallible — and Christ would not have been born of a virgin, performed miracles, wrought a blood atonement, nor risen from the dead. The Bible is infallible; and Christ was born of a virgin, did perform miracles, did work a blood atonement, and did rise from the dead, But this is only so, because the Sovereign God caused it to be so.


7. Ecumenical Movements are gathering momentum today. This is true of the International Council of Christian Churches, the Reformed Ecumenical Council, the Vatican, the World Council of Churches, and also other bodies. However, the $64,000 question which all must answer, is this: “Do you believe in the total Sovereignty of God, and do you require all your members to subscribe thereto as the very first article of faith?”


8. A “Christian” movement which — either in faith or in practice — permits its members to detract from the absolute Sovereignty of God, is an apostate movement — even though it may insist on subscription to some or even all of the other (less) fundamental doctrines.


9. Separation from sin and apostasy is a command of God. However, total separation from all sin and apostasy is impossible, and Christians should always be anti-revolutionary in the method of their separation. Certainly Christians should always separate themselves especially from every explicit and tacit denial of the Sovereignty of God.


10.  Because God is Sovereign, everything and everyone else is not. But because God is Sovereign, He reflects something of His Sovereignty, however little, in everything and everyone that He has made. Accordingly, although none of God's creatures are Sovereign over against Him, all of them are (relatively) sovereign over against one another.


11. Because God created the universe, the state and society no less than He created the Church, none of them is Sovereign over against Him, yet each is (relatively) "sovereign" in its own sphere over against the other spheres. Each sphere is also "universal" in its own abilities. God should be recognized in all these spheres, and each sphere should promote the interests of the other spheres, especially where the latter recognize God.


12. When God had made the cosmos, He made man in His image and appointed man to rule over the cosmos for Him. Accordingly, man, as the ruler of the cosmos, is more important than the cosmos which is to be ruled by him. Man was more important than the rest of the cosmos before the fall, and man is more important than the root of the cosmos after the fall. So man's salvation is more important than the salvation of the non-human creation.


13.  However, man is not God.  Although he and he alone is the image of God, he is still only the image of God.  Although man is the crown of God's creation, he in still only the crown of creation, a part of creation, a creature. And man shares his creatureliness with the rest of creation. Man's fall from grace as the crown of creation therefore drags down with him the rest of creation too, and his principial redemption from sin also involves the principial redemption of the rest of creation too. So if we ignore the salvation of the whole cosmos we thereby ignore the salvation of the whole man as the crown thereof.


14. It is therefore impossible to separate man from the rest of creation, even though we may so distinguish him therefrom. Man's fall involves creation's fall. Man's redemption involves creation's redemption. Man's consummation involves creation's consummation – on the new earth. For this reason, man's task is always creative. His task remains the same after the fall, in spite of sin (Gen. 1:26-28; 9:1-6; Ps. 8). His task remains the same after his redemption from the fall (Matt. 5:5; 6:10; Acts 4:24; Rev. 4:11; 14:13). And his task remains the same on the new earth (Rev. chs. 21-22). For redemption does not involve creating something brand new, but in re-deeming — in "buying back" something that was originally good, and making it good again. And similarly, re-creation does not involve making a totally new creation, but in re-creating the original creation. and making it “very good” again.


15.  For this reason, though possible to distinguish, it is impossible to separate Gen. 1:28 from Matt. 28:18f, One implies the other. Both involve going into all the world; both involve working for the Triune God; both were commanded by the Word of God, the Second Person of the Holy Trinity. If men had not filled the earth in terms of Gen 1:28, they could not be evangelized in terms of Matt. 28:18f. When the Word of God commands the Apostles to teach "all things, whatsoever I have commanded you" in Matt.28:19, He includes whatsoever He the Word commanded them in Adam as the federal head of the entire human race when He said unto him: "Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth."


16. Gen. 1:28 and Matt. 28:18 must both be obeyed, but never be obeyed for man's sake, society's sake, the state's sake, humanity's sake, or even the Church's. They may only be obeyed for Christ's sake and to the glory of God, notwithstanding the fact that God also promotes both of them even through the unsaved by means of His common grace, though generally by means of His special grace through sinful Christians.


17. Gen. 1:28 and Matt. 28:18 now stand or fall together. Both of them have total implications. Both imply the keeping of the Ten Commandments in depth in all their religious, social, political and economic etc. ramifications (see: Westminister Larger Catechism, Questions 91-151).


18. Although on account of sin, no single Christian nor even all men can obey Gen. l:28 fully, all Christians are still required to attempt this. Exactly the same applies in respect of Matt. 28:18 and in respect of the Ten Commandments.


19. Although God only calls some Christians to subdue specifically the earth and others to subdue specifically the sea, etc., all Christians should support the work of the human subjection of the entire cosmos for Christ's sake. Although God only calls some Christians to be specifically Apostles or Preachers and to go and baptize in His Name, all Christians should support the execution of the Great Commission.


20. Accordingly, all Christians are to support all the work done for the Lord, whether they are directly lnvolved in it or not. A Christian Biologist who will not support and encourage missions, is apostate. A Christian Missionary who will not support and encourage the Christian Biologist, is apostate. A Christian Lawyer who will not testify to his clients of the saving blood of Christ, is apostate. And a Christian Personal Worker who will not testify to his converts of their need to support Christian political action, is also apostate. Each of these are workers in God's Kingdom, and each needs the others. They are all in full-time service for their Lord, and each is (relatively) "sovereign" in his or her own sphere and (relatively) "universal" in his or her own abilities.


21. The work of the Christian Preacher or Christian Missionary is therefore not more important than the work of the Christian Biologist or the Christian Lawyer, nor vice-versa. Such attitudes are carnal, and reek of sanctimonious pride, and are in fact merely remnants of Romanism. The Church is not more important than the Christian state, nor vice-versa (see Rom. ch. 13). They are both parts of the Kingdom of God, and need each other. In the Church, the Christian Preacher is not more important than the so-called "Laymen" — nor vice-versa. Both are in “full-time service,” provided they serve the Lord with all their hearts. Neither are Preachers more important than Elders and Deacons, nor Blacks than Whites, nor vice-versa. They all need one another. There is, or rather should be, no such thing as “part-time service” of the Living God, Whose Kingdom is over all (Ps. 103). A "part-time service" of God is a backslidden service. All work of all kinds done to God's glory is thoroughly "sacred" (Rom. 11:33 – 12:1f). But even the work of preaching — when done in a shoddy manner — is thoroughly "secular" (i.e. thoroughly conformed to this world or saeculum). See Rom. 12:2.   And all "secularized" Christianity, is thoroughly backslidden.


22. It is utterly sinful for Preachers to neglect "all the counsel of God" (Acts 20:27) — which counsel includes Gen. 1:28, etc.! — and to limit themselves to the so-called "saving truths." This constitutes a tacit denial of the greater truth of the universal Sovereignty of God.


23. In Scripture, there is no such thing as “the ministry," but only “ministry.” All Christians are ministers of God, and there are also special ministries – such as governmental ministry in politics (Rom. 13), the female diaconal ministry in the Church (Rom. 16:1f), and the ministry of the Word (Luke 1:1-4). It is, of course, correct for Preachers to remind their congregations of the need for more Preachers and Missionaries, etc. There is such a need, and it is great! But, if this is done in such a way as to raise any suggestion that the calling of Preachers and Missionaries is a higher calling than that of other Christian careers, we have here a remnant of Romish priestcraft contrary to the priesthood of all believers (I Pet. 2:9). Actually, God tells us to remain in our callings (such as unmarriedness or slavery) until He calls us elsewhere (I Cor. 7). God can and does call some from the ministry of law (Rom. 13) into the ministry of the Word — such as Paul; but also calls some out of the "priesthood" into politics, too — such as Moses. Doubtless Paul achieved more for God as a Preacher than he did as a Lawyer, but doubtless too David achieved more for the Lord as a King than he would have as a Priest. And it must be remembered that all believers are called to be Prophets, Priests, and Kings.


24. Such Christians as claim that the Lord has called them to be Preachers, should remember that they are to be servants of God (I Cor. 4:1-10), and are not to lord over the flock of "Laymen" like Protestant "Popes" (I Pet. 5). They should clearly distinguish between evangelism of the unsaved and the edification of the saved. Many Christian laymen are of a starvation diet in their churches. They are sick and tired of being treated by their Pastors as if they were still unsaved. They long for the pure meat of the Word (I Pet. 2) — but all they get is milk, baby-food (Heb. 6). Perhaps this is because their "full-time" Pastors do not really believe that the preaching ministry is quite as holy as they claim it is. If they really did believe this, surely they would prepare their sermons in the sweat of their face, and then preach those sermons as if it were the last thing in the world they are doing before going to the judgment throne of Christ. The Church needs Preachers who can wake the dead and make the living tremble! Preachers who are pleasers of men — even of saved men — are an abomination to the Lord! One Luther and one Calvin truly called by God to preach, achieved more than thousands of mealy-mouthed pulpit fools before and after them. Today, we would achieve far more than we do by using only one-tenth of the Preachers we have, by using the real Preachers we have, and sending the other nine-tenths back into the other professions such as economics and politics where they belong, and where the Lord needs them.


25. For a twenty-first century Reformation, we need to get back to the sixteenth century Reformation and its great emphasis on the absolute Sovereignty of God, We need to realize with Calvin that “all human labour is of equal value. After all, all (Christians) are in the Lord's service, and contribute towards the maintenance of human society (Opera XXVII, 14); and that all craftsmen of whatever kind, who serve the needs of man, are ministers of God (Opera XXXVI, 83). We need to realize (as did Luther of his wife) that the Christian housewife working to God's glory In the kitchen is just as much a servant of God as is her husband, the Christian Preacher. We need to realize with Paul that whether we eat or drink or whatever we do, we are to do it all to the glory of God (I Cor.10:31).


Luther wrote ninety-five theses against the Romish heresy, and nailed them on the door of the church in Wittenberg. And later he declared at the Diet of Worms — as this present writer now also declares:


"Unless I am convinced by Scripture and plain reason — I do not accept the authority of popes and councils, for they have contradicted each other — my conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and I will not recant anything, for to act against conscience is neither right nor safe. Here I stand. I cannot do otherwise. God help me.  Amen!"