Category Archives: DFW Reformation Conferences

Martin Luther and the Ninety-Five Theses, part 2/3

Tension rises between Martin and his father. Luther takes his monastic vows, and is loyal to the Augustinian order until his excommunication from the church of Rome. Ordained after a couple of years, and faced with conducting his first Mass, he expresses inordinate fear at the thought of the presence of God as he performs what he believed would be the miracle of transubstantiation.He rises through the ranks due to exemplary dedication. He is rewarded by being appointed to take a pilgrimage to Rome. This trip proves seriously disillusioning for Luther, as he witnesses many corruptions among the clergy there. He also sees the faithful coming to Rome and being taken advantage of by the hierarchy. Other accounts corroborate Luther’s claims of the rampant corruption in Rome, so although his account is written after his excommunication, his account is not entirely to be discounted. Among Luther’s concerns was that when the laity seek to do penance, their spiritual concerns should not be met with a sort of spiritual-monetary transaction. Sin is serious, Luther believed, and the Church ought to treat it as such.

A few years later he earns his doctorate, and is invited to be a professor of theology at a new university in Wittenberg, a small town in northeast Germany, quite out of the way of the more influential centers across the German provinces. Luther becomes quite a popular figure, and some time into this new phase of Luther’s life, the scandalous abuse of indulgences reaches Wittenberg. While they were not allowed to be sold in Wittenberg by the local prince, Wittenbergers crossed the river to purchase indulgences from the charismatic indulgence preacher, Johann Tetzel, who marketed them in an excessively crass way which even Catholic authorities today admit were not based in any teaching or practice commended by the Church of the day.

Luther’s response was to post ninety-five theses to organize a formal debate among scholars on the power and efficacy of indulgences. Written in Latin, Luther posted his theses to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg on the eve of All Saints’ Day, October 31, 1517. Luther’s theology has not at this point changed, and his theses were no revolutionary stance, although he does make some valuable statements that reflect the teaching of Scripture and are rooted in sound logic.


Martin Luther and the Ninety-Five Theses, part 1/3

It may be January 2018 now, but I am finally taking time to post the videos I made of our 2017 DFW Reformation Conference at Mid-Cities Presbyterian Church (OPC) in Bedford, TX the weekend prior to the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation. The camera we used was borrowed from a generous member who did not attend the conference, and we were unable to prevent the camera from shutting off after about 15 or so minutes, so each lecture is uploaded in parts, with only a minute or so of material lost. Today, I am sharing part one of three of Dr. Jonathan Master’s opening lecture, “Martin Luther and the Ninety-Five Theses” along with my own summary which follows.

Background summary of church history.

Rise of Islam (7th-8th centuries) is the most significant event that changed the landscape of the church in history. All the most significant, influential churches, councils and debates, took place in the eastern half of the Roman Empire, centered in Constantinople in Asia Minor (modern day Istanbul, Turkey).

Rise of the Papacy With the fall of Constantinople to Islam, Rome in western Europe arises as the more prominent city among the five Patriarchates across the empire. It is only after this that the Roman Popes begin to assume and claim primacy over other bishops.

Rise of Purgatory Vague references in the ancient era of church history to an intermediate state develop in the Middle Ages to become the penitential system that deals with sins after death. Medieval papal pronouncements establish the teaching of a “treasury of merits” and offer “indulgences” by which the Papacy holds out the hope of a shortened time in Purgatory in exchange for acts of charity. By the time of Luther, this had degenerated to a crass exchange of spiritual benefits for oneself and his loved ones for money.

Background of Martin Luther

Luther’s Father a Successful Entrepreneur who intends to educate his son for a profitable law practice which will not only give Martin a comfortable life, but also benefit the family business. Luther wavers about this life plan before he reaches a crisis point during a lightning storm in a field as he walks one night, pledging to Saint Anne that if he survives, he’ll become a monk.

Our Reformation Party

It’s been a busy October for our little church in the Mid-Cities area of the Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas Metroplex. A few months prior, I spoke with a fellow church member in theory about showing the kids of our church the old 1953 film, Martin Luther, starring Niall MacGinnis. Then, a couple of weeks out, the friend with whom I’d previously spoken asked if we were going to do it. Naturally, I was inclined to do so, but I recalled that in addition to this black and white classic, I also have the brand new Torchlighters cartoon, The Martin Luther Story, produced by the partnership of the Christian History Institute and Voice of the Martyrs. I suggested this video would likely be a little more enjoyable than the older film, and my friend, my wife and our pastor’s wife got to work planning a Reformation party for the weekend prior to our annual Reformation Conference, the DFW Reformation Conference.

DCD0693A-739D-4CE9-859D-E1F015661655The ladies put together a plan to host a VBS-style party, opening with my own original children’s song about the Five Solas of the Reformation, set to the tune of “Father Abraham.”

Martin Luther nailed, his Ninety-Five!
Ninety-Five Theses, did Luther nail!
I am justified, through FAITH ALONE!
So let’s reform the church!

I’m a sinner and, a saint am I!
A saint and a sinner, at the same time!
I am justified, by GRACE ALONE!
So let’s reform the church!

A believer-priest, that’s what I am!
I can boldly go before the throne!
My only Great High Priest, is CHRIST ALONE!
So let’s reform the church!

Only 66, books in the Word!
39 Old, 27 New!
The Good News is in, SCRIPTURE ALONE!
So let’s reform the church!

I’m unable to, keep God’s commands!
What he wants, he gives me in his Son!
GLORY goes to God, and GOD ALONE!
So let’s reform the church!

Martin Luther nailed, his Ninety-Five!
Ninety-Five Theses, did Luther nail!
I am justified, through FAITH ALONE!
“The just shall live by faith!”

B25CABEF-997F-49ED-AC5D-F5CD4A719EB8After the kids got the “wiggle worms” worked out of them, we sat them down and fired up the video projector (and yes, we laid down the $80 for a CVLI license to show my DVD publicly). Then the kids moved on to the stations! One station featured a simple game of shooting a nerf gun to knock down five cups representing the Five Solas, another game was a version of pin the nail on the Theses, for my station, my wife decided that I should teach the kids about the Gutenberg press, and how the printing press was so instrumental in popularizing Luther’s reforms. We tried to locate a good model of the Gutenberg press, but on such short notice, the complex wooden and metal model would arrive with only 24 to prepare it. Of course, I bought it anyway, I just wasn’t able to demonstrate it for the kids. I’ll probably build it during my Christmas break . 4A0709D5-7785-4CAF-BFB2-BF82F605181BMy wife did, however, locate a much simpler model of DaVinci’s modification of the Gutenberg press, and she also found a small, die-cast metal pencil sharpener in the form of the Gutenberg press. These I combined with my Playmobil Martin Luther figure to at least give them a nice arrangement for the children’s young eyes. I also laid out a few books with pictures of sixteenth-century print shops and summarized the process the original generations of printers went through to produce books and pamphlets. In a thrilling turn of providence, when shopping one day at Barnes & Noble, I encountered the Penguin publication, Brand Luther, by St. Andrews University scholar Andrew Pettegree. The first few chapters of this gave me a good grasp of the subject which I was able to boil down to a few salient points without going over the kids’ heads more than the subject matter otherwise would make it so easy to do.

AF110242-555D-4E7B-BCFD-B65BA29C75BCFinally, our pastor’s wife “voluntold” her husband to lead the final station, during which he donned a Geneva gown and spoke on the subject of the Diet of Worms, while the kids ate the ever-popular Diet of Worms cake—a dirt cake with gummy worms added. This they washed down with root beer, because, you know what a big advocate of the barley brew Dr. Luther was. Pastor Troutman summarized this council, read his famous “Here I Stand” speech, and also the Emperor Charles’ idle threat, the Edict of Worms, 2613CAFC-19E8-480B-A079-3F63D71FF820which called Luther “a notorious heretic.” According to some podcast which slips my mind at the moment, Charles hoped this edict alone would discourage Luther’s followers and end the spread of Luther’s teachings.

“Luther, the Cross & the Word” | DFW Reformation Conference 2017


Martin Luther

Martin Luther (1483-1546)

On October 31, 1517, a German monk and professor of theology by the name of Martin Luther posted a notice proposing a public debate to discuss abuses on the part of his Church by which she was taking advantage of the poor, distorting her teachings, and potentially endangering the souls of the faithful. Little did he know that this simple act would spark one of the great historic movements in world history which played a role in bringing the Western world into the modern era, and plant the roots of what would come to be known as the Protestant branch of the Christian Church.

Your neighbors at Mid-Cities Presbyterian Church, along with Protestant churches around the world, are commemorating this event which happened exactly 500 years ago as of this October 31st, by hosting a conference presenting the life of Martin Luther, his posting of the famous “Ninety-Five Theses,” his teachings on the Cross of Christ, and the power of the Holy Scriptures in shaping the Christian life of the believer. We cordially invite you to join us at this special observance of our annual DFW Reformation Conference Friday through Sunday, October 20-22, 2017.

Jonathan Master

Dr. Jonathan Master

Cairn University Professor of Theology, Dr. Jonathan Master will introduce us to the historic life, theology and spirituality of the Father of the Protestant Reformation, Dr. Martin Luther (1483-1546).

Dr. Master teaches theology, church history, and New Testament at Cairn. He also oversees Cairn’s honors program, part of Cairn’s Center for University Studies.

Dr. Master also serves as executive editor of the online magazine Place for Truth, as well as host of the podcast Theology on the Go (both sponsored by the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals). He has authored the book A Question of Consensus (Fortress Press) and a number of articles, in addition to editing The God We Worship (P&R). Prior to teaching, he served in pastoral ministry for ten years.

Conference Schedule

Friday 10/20 7:00PM “Martin Luther and the 95 Theses”

Saturday 10/21 9:00 AM “Martin Luther’s Theology of the Cross”

Saturday 10/21 10:30 AM “Martin Luther and a Life Shaped by the Word”

Sunday 10/22 10:30 AM Dr. Master preaches “A Mighty Fortress” in morning worship at Mid-Cities Presbyterian Church


Engaging Worldviews Video…well, most of it. 

Dr. Bill Dennison speaks at Mid-Cities Presbyterian Church (OPC). Click image for AUDIO!

On a lark, as soon as the DFW Reformation Conference kicked off on Friday night, October 28, 2016, I figured I’d see how this new-fangled Facebook Live thing works. It works so well, it killed my phone battery the first night, filled my storage and shut off during the first Saturday morning lecture, but if I recall correctly, I may have gotten all of the second Saturday lecture. I know this is old news, but those of you who were not in attendace will still benefit greatly from Dr. Bill Dennison’s detailed interaction with classical apologetics and philosophers ancient and modern in these three lectures on our most common natural worldviews: Reason, experience, opinion and naturalism.

Lecture 1: My Mind is Absolute; My Experience is Absolute.”

Lecture 2: Nature is Absolute.”

Lecture 3: My Opinion is Absolute.”

RefCon 2016 | “Engaging Worldviews”w/ Bill Dennison


Engaging Worldviews: DFW Reformation Conference 2016 | Register Today!


Friday, October 28 and Saturday, October 29 at Mid-Cities Presbyterian Church (OPC)

Join us this year as we engage the worldviews which compete for the position of absolute authority in our lives. Human reason, personal experience, nature itself and subjective opinion all claim supremacy over what we believe.

  • Human reason has placed the Christian God and his revelation on trial.
  • “Unless I experience something for myself, it cannot be necessarily true for me.”
  • If God is removed from the creation, then where do humans turn? By using their reason and experience often they will turn to Nature as their absolute guide in life.
  • “That’s just your opinion!” Opinion  has become the sign of relativism in our society since everyone’s opinion has equal value.

How do Christians respond to such pervasive subjective authorities surrounding us each day? How do Christians respond to the sovereign status of Nature and its confusing message in our day? In this world of relativism, do Christians have a basis for the truth of their assertions?

Reform your worldview as we commemorate the 499th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation.

Conference Schedule

Friday 7:00 PM–“My Mind is Absolute; my Experience is Absolute”

Saturday 9:30 AM–“Nature is Absolute”

Saturday 11:00 AM–“My Opinion is Absolute”

bill-dennisonSpeaker: Dr. William D. Dennison, Ph.D.

Dr. Bill Dennison is an ordained minister in the OPC’s Presbytery of the Southeast, Professor of Interdisciplinary Studies atCovenant College, author of In Defense of the Eschaton: Essays in Reformed Apologetics (Wipf and Stock, 2015), A Christian Approach to Interdisciplinary Studies (Wipf and Stock, 1985) and other books, contributor to still other books, not to mention numerous journal articles.

With All Your Heart | DFW RefCon 2015!

Click here to register today!

Click here to registe

Dr. Craig Troxel, pastor of Bethel OPC in Wheaton, Illinois, will be speaking on the biblical meaning of the heart. He’s working on a book on this subject, so this conference will be a preview. The conference will take place at my church, Mid-Cities Presbyterian Church in Bedford, Texas (1810 Brown Trail, Bedford, TX, to be exact)

The subject of this conference is specially related to a major theme underlying this blog. There is a distinction assumed by fundamentalists and evangelicals between the head, where one supposedly only crams facts about the Bible, and the heart, where it is said, that knowledge of the Bible must move before one genuinely benefits from his knowledge of the Bible. Dr. Troxel will explain how this is a fallacious concept. I look forward to being enlightened on the biblical teaching on the heart, and passing it on to you.

If you live in the Dallas/Fort Worth area, I highly recommend you join us by registering by first clicking at the link in the sidebar. If you live outside this region of north Texas, I hope some of you will make the effort to come.

Event Details

“With All Your Heart:” Thinking (again) about What You Know, Love & Choose

If you are going to get at your real motives; if you want to grow in repentance and faith; if you desire true Spiritual renewal; if you are going to pursue sincerity and avoid the pitfalls of hypocrisy; if you need honest communication in your marriage; if you want to encourage believing friends with more clarity; if you long to pray and examine yourself with greater transparency—then you need to know what the heart is and where it is in your relationship with God. Interested? You should be. If you want to love God, obey God, seek God and know God, you must do so with “all your heart.”


  • Friday 7:00 p.m. #1 – Knowing: The Mind of the Heart
  •  Sat. 9:30 a.m. #2 – Loving: The Desires of the Heart
  •  Sat. 11:00 a.m. #3 – Choosing: The Will of the Heart
  • Break for Lunch 12:00–1:30 (Free BBQ grilled on-site!)
  • Sat. 1:30 p.m: #4 – Keeping: Preserving & Protecting the Heart
Bethel OPC Wheaton Pastor and Author Craig Troxel

Bethel OPC Wheaton Pastor and Author Craig Troxel

Speaker Bio

A. Craig Troxel was born and raised in rural western Nebraska by the sixth generation of immigrants from Switzerland.

He is a graduate of Anderson University (B.A.), Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary (M.A.T.S.), and Westminster Theological Seminary (Ph.D.).

He has served as the pastor of Bethel Orthodox Presbyterian Church in Wheaton, Illinois since 2007. He is Adjunct Professor of Systematic Theology at Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia and an Adjunct professor of Ministerial Studies at Mid-America Reformed Seminary in Dyer, Indiana. He also serves on his denomination’s Committee on Christian Education. In addition he served as moderator of the 81st General Assembly of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church.

He has published scholarly articles in Trinity Journal, Calvin Theological Journal, Westminster Theological Journal, Fides et Historia,Presbyterion, and in popular publications like Ordained Servant, New Horizons, and Modern Reformation.

Pastor Craig’s interests lie in preaching, spirituality, the doctrine of the church, and he is currently writing a book on what the Bible teaches about the heart.

He and his wife Carolyn live in Wheaton together with three of their five children, Phil, Tommy and Maggie. The Troxel family enjoys playing all sports, taking excessively long road trips, reading books and growing the ingredients for salsa in their garden.

Lastly, and most relevant to this blogger, Pastor Troxel was my pastor’s pastor when he attended Westminster Theological Seminary! I am very much looking forward to learning from him on this much-misunderstood topic. Register today and do so along with me!

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