Saturday, October 17, 2009

Michael Horton on Semper Reformanda

Not long ago I set my M.Th students an essay on "How does Semper Reformanda shape reformed theological method?" My interest in the phrase is that it gets used as a license to abandon historic Christianity by liberal theologians, or else it gets used in the sense of finding new ways of maintaining the status quo because Reformed theology is already "done" according to some conservatives. Interestingly enough, Michael Horton has a good piece on the meaning of Semper Reformanda including historic use and modern abuse of the phrase. At the end of his short article Horton closes with these words:

This perspective keeps us from making tradition infallible but equally from imbibing the radical Protestant obsession with starting from scratch in every generation. When God's Word is the source of our life, our ultimate loyalty is not to the past as such or to the present and the future, but to "that Word above all earthly pow'rs," to borrow from Luther's famous hymn. Neither behind us nor ahead of us, but above us, reigns our sovereign Lord over His body in all times and places. When we invoke the whole phrase -- "the church Reformed and always being reformed according to the Word of God" -- we confess that we belong to the church and not simply to ourselves and that this church is always created and renewed by the Word of God rather than by the spirit of the age

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