A Writer‘s Theses

Fifteen hundred years after Christ died, resurrected and started the Christian church with a group of rag-tag disciples, the church had become a culturally, politically and socially dominant force, involved in all aspects of life.  Prior to the start of the Protestant Reformation, many felt the church had strayed quite a bit from its original roots and needed a course-correction.

Martin Luther, a German Catholic Priest started a movement of introspection and change, which carries through to today.

And it started on October 31, 1517. Five hundred years ago today, Luther nailed a written document listing 95 grievances and clarifications on the church door in Wittenberg, Germany (pictured above). This act triggered a process, which continues to this day.

For a list of those “95 Theses,” click here.

A Christian author should keep a list in front of them both of Bible passages and appropriate quotes, which should serve as reminders and course-correctors for their work. Whether they are nailed to a door, pinned to a wall, taped to a computer or propped on a desk as reminders, some thoughts should be ever-present during the writing process.

Consider these which follow as seeds and you can grow your own list.  Some reminders from the Old Testament.

By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done. (Genesis 2:2-3 NIV)

But Joseph said to them, “Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God? You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. So then, don’t be afraid. I will provide for you and your children.” And he reassured them and spoke kindly to them. (Genesis 50:19-21 NIV)

Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates. (Deuteronomy 6:4-9 NIV)

“Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation? Tell me, if you understand. Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know! Who stretched a measuring line across it?
On what were its footings set, or who laid its cornerstone—while the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy?” 
(Job 38:4-7 NIV)

Hear my prayer, Lord God Almighty; listen to me, God of Jacob.
Look on our shield,
O God; look with favor on your anointed one.

Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere; I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of the wicked.
For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord bestows favor and honor; no good thing does he withhold from those whose walk is blameless.

Lord Almighty, blessed is the one who trusts in you.        

(Psalm 84:8-12 NIV)

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the Lord.

“As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.

As the rain and the snow
come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.
You will go out in joy
and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands. 

(Isaiah 55:8-12 NIV)

And one more from Martin Luther himself:

“So when the devil throws your sins in your face and declares that you deserve death and hell, tell him this: “I admit that I deserve death and hell, what of it? For I know One who suffered and made satisfaction on my behalf. His name is Jesus Christ, Son of God, and where he is, there I will be also.”

15 Responses to A Writer‘s Theses

  1. Avatar
    Rebekah Love Dorris October 31, 2017 at 5:08 am #

    Amen! Isaiah 55 is such strength when I wonder if it’s worth it. His word will not return void. Actually, each of those passages is precious. Obviously.

    Here’s one that’s been tugging at me lately: Galatians 6:14
    But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.

    Excellent post! Love it!

  2. Avatar
    Andrew Budek-Schmeisser October 31, 2017 at 6:50 am #

    Great job today, Dan.

    To me, the most important “writer’s thesis” is John 11:35 – “Jesus wept.”

    I believe that our writing has to be informed and guided by compassion;many of our readers come to us from a place of hurt and broken-ness, and we have that golden chance, when they pick up our books, to make the world a little bit brighter for them, and to help them open the door to the Healer who waits patiently, heartbrokenly outside…in tears for our suffering.

    A God who cries for us, and whose Heart we can break; the Bible summed up and tied with a bow in the two most powerful words in the language.

  3. Avatar
    Bob October 31, 2017 at 7:22 am #

    Thanks so much for posting these theses from Martin Luther. From Psalm 27:4: “One thing I have asked from the Lord, that I shall seek; That I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord and to meditate in His temple.” No indulgences required.

  4. Avatar
    Carol Ashby October 31, 2017 at 7:52 am #

    Wonderful set of verses, Dan, and Martin Luther nailed it.

    Here are three verses that I included in my “prayers to start each writing session” Word document.

    Ephesians 6:19-20―Pray also for me, that whenever I open my mouth, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.

    Ephesians 5:16-17–So be careful how you live. Don’t live like fools, but like those who are wise. Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days. Don’t act thoughtlessly, but understand what the Lord wants you to do.

    Proverbs 16:2-4—All of a person’s ways seem pure to them, but motives are weighed by the Lord. Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and he will establish your plans. The Lord works out everything to its proper end.

    • Avatar
      Judi Clarke October 31, 2017 at 9:44 am #

      Carol, I love these verses as ones to keep before us when we sit down to write. Thanks for sharing them.

    • Avatar
      Linda Riggs Mayfield October 31, 2017 at 2:53 pm #

      Oh, Carol, these particular passages really resonate with me, as well! Thank you for sharing them. I need some more sticky notes.

  5. Avatar
    Judith Robl October 31, 2017 at 7:56 am #


    You have my undying gratitude for this post and the link to Martin Luther’s 95 Theses.

  6. Avatar
    J.D. Rempel October 31, 2017 at 9:02 am #

    I felt like God gave me a verse yesterday.

    Revelation 3:8 NIV
    “I know your deeds. See, I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut. I know that you have little strength, yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name.”

  7. Avatar
    Judi Clarke October 31, 2017 at 9:43 am #

    Really good verses to keep in mind. I love how this agency encourages us to press in and maintain a right focus on our work. Thank you.

  8. Avatar
    Damon J. Gray October 31, 2017 at 9:56 am #

    This was really an exceptional blog posting. Thanks for sharing.

    A few that are above my desk:

    “They are overwhelmed with dread, for God is present in the company of the righteous.” – Psalm 14:5

    “In the absence of clearly defined goals, we are forced to concentrate on activity, and ultimately become enslaved by it.” – Chuck Coonradt

    “Fail fast.
    Fail often.
    Go with what works!”

  9. Avatar
    Michael Torres October 31, 2017 at 12:17 pm #

    Thanks, Dan. Again, timely. I’ve boiled these down, probably too much and not well, but nonetheless to snippets:

    Beware of the Idol of “work”

    Let naysayers nay…

    God first in all

    You worry. You doubt. Do you know Me?

    Commune with God always for His favor

    God’s got this

    God’s ways of effecting my dreams are better than mine

    Thanks again for the post.

  10. Avatar
    Linda Riggs Mayfield October 31, 2017 at 2:51 pm #

    Thank you for the post and for including the link! By following it, I read the entire 95 Theses for the first time–EVER. As a Christian and a student of– and writer about–history, I had known about them and the credit Luther is given for launching the Reformation with them from my youth; but I confess, I had never actually gone to the source before. They were not what I expected!

    To commemorate the 500th anniversary last Sunday and next, our pastor invited other learned pastors to join him in each briefly preaching the scriptural foundations for one the Five Solas — the Latin phrases used to summarize the Reformers’ theology: Sola Scripture (Scripture alone), Sola Fide (Faith alone), Sola Gratia (grace alone, Solus Christus (Christ alone), and Soli Deo Gloria (to the glory of God alone). Based on their historical fame and the respect traditionally accorded the 95 theses, I expected to see all of the solas in them, but I didn’t. The emphasis of Luther’s challenge appeared to be on the sale of indulgences to fund the completion of St. Peter’s and the widespread false teachings regarding the worth of the indulgences. The belief in purgatory seemed unquestioned. Now I need to carefully read them again, then follow with more Reformation writings. Great post–a challenge to curiosity, theology, and Christian practice as a writer all in one! Thanks again!

  11. Avatar
    Deb Santefort October 31, 2017 at 4:18 pm #

    A Mighty Fortress is our God!

  12. Avatar
    Robert Stroud October 31, 2017 at 4:39 pm #

    Very timely thoughts. Your suggestion that we keep these important truths before our eyes is sound. Unfortunately, I’ve recently allowed too many simultaneous projects to blur my eyes to such reminders of God’s blessings.

    Here is another worthwhile thought from Luther that I regard as especially apropos for writers: “Every occupation has its own honor before God. Ordinary work is a divine vocation or calling. In our daily work no matter how important or mundane we serve God by serving the neighbor and we also participate in God’s on-going providence for the human race.”

  13. Avatar
    Linda McLaughlin November 2, 2017 at 11:56 am #

    Personally not a writer, but the spouse of one. I so appreciate and value the wisdom shared by Dan Balow, not just in this article but also others that I have read. We all need reminders and course-correctors in whatever we do in life. Thank you for enriching and inspiring me with your words.

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