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Fox’s 95 Theses

Fox’s 95 Theses

I first read the theologian-priest Matthew Fox as a graduate student in philosophical theology and ethics at the University of Iowa. He is perhaps one of the most controversial religious figures of our time. He’s a bit wacky in some ways (see techno-cosmic mass) but I tend to agree with much of what he says. My friend Grateful Bear recently discovered that Fox not only has his own blog, but that it includes a Luther-inspired “95 Theses” on it – in English and German!

In case you don’t know, Martin Luther nailed his own 95 Theses (don’t get it confused with “feces”) to the door of the Wittenberg Church on Oct. 31, 1517. The 95 Theses of Luther attacked papal abuses and the sale of indulgences by church officials – and argued for a return to the Gospel. It was a pivotal moment that led to divisions in the church – from the Protestant Reformations, to the Catholic counter-reformations.

“Since your majesty and your lordships desire a simple reply, I will answer without horns and without teeth. Unless I am convicted 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 go against conscience is neither right nor safe. Here I stand, I cannot do otherwise, God help me. Amen.” – Luther, in Defence of his 95 Theses, April 18, 1521

Fox describes his version as “95 faith observations drawn from my 64 years of living and practicing religion and spirituality. I trust I am not alone in recognizing these truths. For me they represent a return to our origins, a return to the spirit and the teaching of Jesus and his prophetic ancestors.” Here are a few that I particularly like, but it is worthwhile to read and meditate on all of them – if nothing else, it will certainly help you focus your own belief-structure. My own view of authentic Christianity shares many traits with this. No – I am not an agnostic or an atheist. I just don’t believe in most of the standard doctrines and mythologies.

4. God the Punitive Father is not a God worth honoring but a false god and an idol that serves empire-builders. The notion of a punitive, all-male God, is contrary to the full nature of the Godhead who is as much female and motherly as it is masculine and fatherly.

6. Theism (the idea that God is ‘out there’ or above and beyond the universe) is false. All things are in God and God is in all things (panentheism).

7. Everyone is born a mystic and a lover who experiences the unity of things and all are called to keep this mystic or lover of life alive.

8. All are called to be prophets which is to interfere with injustice.

20. A preferential option for the poor, as found in the base community movement, is far closer to the teaching and spirit of Jesus than is a preferential option for the rich and powerful as found in, for example, Opus Dei.

23. Sexuality is a sacred act and a spiritual experience, a theophany (revelation of the Divine), a mystical experience. It is holy and deserves to be honored as such.

27. Ideology is not theology and ideology endangers the faith because it replaces thinking with obedience, and distracts from the responsibility of theology to adapt the wisdom of the past to today’s needs. Instead of theology it demands loyalty oaths to the past.

33. The term “original wound” better describes the separation humans experience on leaving the womb and entering the world, a world that is often unjust and unwelcoming than does the term “original sin.”

36. Dancing, whose root meaning in many indigenous cultures is the same as breath or spirit, is a very ancient and appropriate form in which to pray.

38. A diversity of interpretation of the Jesus event and the Christ experience is altogether expected and welcomed as it was in the earliest days of the church.

40. The Holy Spirit is perfectly capable of working through participatory democracy in church structures and hierarchical modes of being can indeed interfere with the work of the Spirit.

54. The Holy Spirit works through all cultures and all spiritual traditions and blows “where it wills” and is not the exclusive domain of any one tradition and never has been.

70. Jesus said nothing about condoms, birth control or homosexuality.

Matthew Fox 95 Theses – or Articles of Faith for a Christianity for the Third Millennium

(Thank you thank you Grateful Bear!)

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