Friday, July 29, 2011

The Church Reformed

One of the hallmark phrases of the Reformation is: 'ecclesia reformata semper reformanda secundum verbum Dei.'

I pointed out that the phrase is often slaughtered down to "always reforming" which can be a church just following the current trend. 

Along these lines, Michael Horton writes:

"As Barth pointed out, ecclesia semper reformanda (the church always being reformed), divorced from the rest of the slogan, "according to the word of God," identified the church with modern progress--keeping up with the spirit of the age. I would add that the drive in Protestant bodies to conform the gospel to the spirit of the age has often invokes the Spirit apart from and even sometimes against the Word in its activity of "always reforming." However, as Barth observes, "singing a new song" and "always being reformed" are only commendable goals if they are invitations to courageous and obedient faith rather than simply following the spirit of the age. It means that the church is always being reformed, not reforming itself, submitting itself to the judgement of the God's Word and asking anew whether its confession and practice are in accord with Scripture. Only in this way is any church truly apostolic."

People and Place: A Covenant Ecclessiology. p.223.

On the use of the Spirit over and against the Word, I am reminded of Martin Luther's wisdom: "The devil has no better way to conquer us than by leading us away from the Word and to the Spirit." (Table Talk 54:97)

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