Theologian nails 95 theses for a new Reformation
Crowds gathering at the famous Wittenberg Cathedral (Schlosskirche) have witnessed the nailing of 95 Theses for a New Reformation, by American theologian Matthew Fox.
Like Martin Luther in 1517, Fox believes that the church is in trouble and in need of a drastic change.
Fox has taken it upon himself to write an updated version of the 95 Theses for this millennium.
While Luther's protest was against indulgences and corruption in the administration of Pope Leo X, Fox's beef is more attuned to what he sees as the injustices and power abuses currently in the Vatican under Pope Benedict XVI and the apathy epidemic present in Protestant Churches.
"I have great respect for what Luther achieved when he protested against corruption. I also believe the church needs a reformation more today than it did 500 years ago," Fox said.
Matthew Fox, a former Dominican priest and author of 26 popular religious and theological textbooks, is the founder of Wisdom University in Oakland California.
His concern about the Church's corruption apparently reached a turning point after the election of Joseph Ratzinger to the position of Pope.
Fox's new book "A New Reformation!" lays down a challenge to the new Pope Benedict XVI and exposes what he see as part of the corruption of the papacy.
Fox and the new Pope are old opponents who had intensive debates on theological issues in the 1980s.
Fox and 100 other prominent theologians were allegedly silenced by then cardinal Ratzinger. A year later, Fox says he was forced to leave the Dominican Order by Pope John Paul II and subsequently converted to the Episcopal church.
Fox's new book calls for a new awakening for Christians. The book's premise is that we are confronted with two versions of Christianity: one that is fundamentalist and is characterized by a Punitive Father God, a rigidly hierarchical church structure, a belief that we are born of original sin, intolerance of gay lifestyles, and a fear of science. The other version of Christianity which is expressed by a loving God of justice and compassion, is earth centered and eco-conscious, is interfaith and lifestyle tolerant, embraces the feminine, believes in original blessing and encourages scientific thought.
Some of Fox's new takes on the 95 Theses include: "God is both Father and Mother;" "Religion is not necessary, but spirituality is;" and "Jesus said nothing about condoms, birth control or homosexuality."
Fox believes it is time for Christians to choose whom it will follow: an angry exclusionary God or the loving God who opens the path to wisdom.
Hailed as "the New Reformer" by the German media, Fox and his quest for a new reformation was supported by over 500 attendees in Bad Herrenalb while his nailing of the 95 Theses on the Schlosskirche in Wittenberg drew new crowds and interviews from various magazine and television journalists.
Fox noted that the Cathedral today was mainly a tourist stop, much like his analogy in his new book, where he refers to today's institutionalized churches as "museums" rather than active spiritual centers.
"The traditional purpose of a thesis is to open up constructive debate in the search for truth," says Fox.
"At this critical time in human and planetary history, when the earth is being ravaged by the violence of war, poverty, sexism, homophobia and eco-destruction, we need to gather those who offer a future that is one of compassion, creativity and justice to stand up and speak their conscience together as never before. Religion ought to be part of the solution, not the problem."