Dedicated to the devotional, exegetical and philosophical study of theological paradox in Conservative, Thoroughly Biblical, Historically Orthodox, Essentially Reformed theology . . . to the glory of God alone!

Friday, December 05, 2008

The Wittenburg Church Door

EDITOR'S NOTE: This is only a tongue-in-cheek bit of fun, based on my experiences and observations of theological trends. If you're offended by this, please try to lighten up. If you've abandoned sound doctrine in favor of modern trends and worldly fads, repent.
The year is 1517. In a historic act of Biblical courage, Martin Luther nails his 95 Theses to the Wittenburg Church Door . . .
Terrified peasants rejoice at the good news and run into the safety of the cathedral.
An angry Roman Catholic theologian rips down the 95 Theses and uses them to make a paper hat. He puts the hat on his head and stands outside the cathedral windows looking in. Later, Luther's friends put the 95 Theses back on the door.
A Calvinist goes through the door and tells everyone inside, "God sovereignly planned long ago for you to be here. You are here by His pleasure and will."
An Amyrauldian Calvinist stands up and says God made it possible for everyone outside to come in also.
A Hyper Calvinist opens the door and walks through it. He leaves the door open, waiting for God to close it for him. He turns around and tells the crowd outside they are probably not invited to come in.
A second Hyper Calvinist who is standing outside slams the door shut and boards up the church entrance.
An early Arminian takes the boards off the door and then cuts the door in half, beckoning everyone to enter. He takes the other half of the door to the local morgue and encourages the dead people to get into the church at any cost.
Later, a militant Arminian breaks the door down and stands on it, declaring that he is free to enter or leave the cathedral at will and no one can stop him. He then clarifies his meaning by saying this happens "by grace alone." He goes to the morgue to see if some of the dead people are just sleeping.

An Open Theist says God did not know about the cathedral or the door until they happened, but now He is glad they are there. He builds a robot and programs it to respond to every person's movements. He calls the robot "G.O.D."
A Universalist stands outside and tells bystanders that the Wittenburg Church door is no different from any other door in the world, but the important thing is to choose a door and go through it. He also assures those who want no door at all that this is a perfectly good option.
A "Free Grace" Antinomian stands on the church steps and tells everyone that they need only believe they are inside the cathedral, and they are. Anyone who says they have to actually enter the cathedral is a deceiving, graceless legalist.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer hits the "Free Grace" Antinomian over the head with a hardcover copy of his book, "The Cost of Discipleship." After that, Bonhoeffer disappears and everyone wonders where he went.
A Calvinistic Antinomian decides to go up the cathedral steps with a fire hose. He tells everyone inside to pretend they're in an amusement park. He then turns on the water and blasts every sacred thing in sight until it is completely waterlogged. He believes his insurance company will pay for the damages.
A Charismatic reads the first thesis and gets so excited he bursts through the door and dances around the cathedral shouting at the top of his lungs. He knocks over several candlesticks in the process. When someone tries to draw his attention to the other 94 theses, he declares they are unimportant and starts dancing again with his eyes closed.
A Reformed Charismatic walks to the microphone with the 95 Theses in hand. He shares a dream he had about the third thesis, and all of his friends start hopping and singing for sheer joy (with their eyes wide open).
A Pentecostal jumps over three pews and starts swinging from a gold chandelier. He appears to be completely unharmed when the chandelier falls to the ground and crushes him.
A Oneness Pentecostal notes that there are not three doors, but one. He ignores the three windows above the door.
An Independent Fundamentalist preacher stands up and delivers a fiery sermon about the fact that the door is wooden and rigid. Two of the three points in his sermon are about the splinters one might expect to get from handling such a door. In conclusion, he burns some "false doors" on the church steps.
A KJV-only preacher stands at the door demanding that everyone who tries to enter must use a secret password. The password is "Thou."
A Fundamental Baptist preacher tells everyone they must take a bath and wear nice clothes if they want to come inside the cathedral. He also convinces several bystanders to place one foot inside the door and assures them that they are now "eternally secure" inside the cathedral no matter what they do.
A Neo-orthodox theologian stands in the doorway with one foot on each side of the threshold. He declares that he is both "within" and "without" the cathedral at the same time.
Two Southern Baptists get into a shoving match with the Neo-orthodox theologian. One is trying to push him out of the cathedral, while the other is trying to push him in.
A Liberal Theologian sits on the church steps and writes a long article about the many possible interpretations of the word "door" as it is used in Scripture and church history. None of these interpretations has any resemblance to the actual Wittenburg church door, but they do sound quite scholarly and lead many intelligent people away from the door.
A Neo-evangelical pastor passes a survey around to everyone standing outside the church. He then places silver wallpaper over the door, sets a welcome mat in front of it and launches a full scale remodeling project using the survey as a blueprint. The sign over the church door now reads "Wittenburg Creek Community Church - home of the High-Bells."

A Postmodernist rips the door off its hinges and burns it in the town square. Later, the pastor of a prominent Emergent Church scoops up the ashes and forms them into a statue resembling Gumby. Several thousand seekers come to his "campus" each weekend to enjoy the image he has made. The pastor calls this "reinventing" the Wittenburg door and insists that this is what God had in mind all along. He goes to Starbucks and starts a long, confusing conversation with his friends in which they "imagine" a Wittenburg Church door that is covered with pink velvet and has a "doggy door." Afterward, they visit their favorite tattoo parlor to get the word "relevant" inked permanently onto their foreheads.

Meanwhile, a few bedraggled peasants, bearing old rugged crosses on a narrow road, flee into the church to find refuge in the living and true, eternal, gracious, sovereign God.


  1. Derek,

    Lots of fun. A great way to make friends, too. Those Ruckmanites must be lining up at the door. Though I doubt you'll lose a lot of hair over it.[/smile]

    By the way, where do the "Paradoxical Calvinists" fit in?



  2. Tony,

    One of the foundational premises of THEOparadox is that all good Calvinists ARE paradoxical Calvinists. Generally, the ones who aren't paradoxical are hyper. I recognize there are a few high Calvinists whow don't like paradox much, but this is a fruit of intellectual pride, not Calvinism. Oh boy, I've just made some more friends! Well, it's all in fun and done respectfully - I even made fun of my own "Reformed Charismatic" perspective. You'll notice the people in this story who are most faithful to Scripture are the plain Calvinists. And also the bedraggled peasants, who I believe should be one and the same. Blessed are the poor in spirit . . .

    Grace & peace,

  3. Derek, I was deeply offended by your comment that a dislike of paradox must be a result of intellectual pride. I take great pride in my intellectual humility, and there is nothing in the world that is even remotely paradoxical if you look closely enough.

    Seriously though--awesome post. Absolutely loved it.

    Keep up the good work, and blessings.

    Jesse Broussard

  4. Jesse,

    I knew it would only be a matter of time before I deeply offended someone.

    It is among the strangest of paradoxes that we truly CAN take pride in our "intellectual humility." Ore perhaps its just a testimony to the pervasiveness of our sin. Even though you were jesting, there is truth in what you said. Not only do we have to take the position of intellectual humility, we must also present that position in a spirit of humility. If we didn't have the Holy Spirit at work in us, there would be no hope of ever having any real Christian graces, but we're blessed by God to have the Comforter within. What a joy, and what wonderful hope that gives us.

    Thanks for stopping by, thanks for the encouragement, and many blessings to you.

    Grace & peace in Christ,

  5. It's been a bad grammar day already, and now I've even misspelled the word "or." This morning my first email of the day started off, "Here's is the script for the phone message..." Just another step on the path toward humility, I suppose.


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