When I was a student in college, I took a class on the Protestant Faith. At that time (more than 20 years ago), there were over 3,000 christian denominations in the United States alone. This is overwhelming.
In truth, however, there are only two theologies in the entire world; the theology of glory and the theology of the cross. Martin Luther outlined the differences in the 28 theses (arguments) he made at Heidelberg, known as the Heidelberg Disputation of 1518. Although he was writing against Roman Catholic errors, these can also be applied to modern American church errors. The following are the first four arguments:
- The law of God, the most salutary doctrine of life, cannot advance man on his way to righteousness, but rather hinders him.
- Much less can human works, which are done over and over again with the aid of natural precepts, so to speak, lead to that end.
- Although the works of man always appear attractive and good, they are nevertheless likely to be mortal sins.
- Although the works of God always seem unattractive and appear evil, they are nevertheless really eternal merits.
For a full treatment (and an edifying, if not challenging read), please see Gerhard Forde’s, On Being a Theologian of the Cross.
Happy Reformation Day!