Semper Reformanda?

The phrase “Semper Reformanda” which has come to mean, “always to be reformed” or “always reforming” has become quite popular in our day, especially amount the reformed resurgence movement.

This phrase is held by many as a motto for their faith and rejection of what is seemingly a watered down for of religion that has been promoted in the United States over the last 100 years especially.

While it may be true that we are to be “always reforming” in our personal lives, that is to say we are to be daily conforming to the image of Christ, as a church we must ensure that it is the scriptures that are the bases for any reform in which we are participating. We can set a dangerous precedent by allowing a “reformation” of our beliefs to be the driver of any change in our beliefs.

This was never the intent of those that coined the phrase. Michael Horton points out that, “the Latin verb reformanda is passive, meaning the church is not “always reforming” but is “always being reformed”. (Source)

He continues by saying, “The former sounds like change for the sake of change, while the latter suggests adhering to the proper standard. The passive construction also suggests that there is an external agent operating upon the church to bring about the necessary reform”. (Source)

We often are tempted to, in the popularity of a movement, grab hold of the winds of change and be blown forward without ensuring that our beliefs and actions are anchored in scripture. In that sense, if we are always reforming, we can even set ourselves at odd with the scriptures, and with the traditions of man.

It was the church of the reformation that understood that their need was to reform and return to the teaching that had been.

Kevin DeYoung give us a clear understanding of this when he said, “Semper reformanda is not about constant fluctuations, but about firm foundations. It is about radical adherence to the Holy Scriptures, no matter the cost to us, our traditions, or our own fallible sense of cultural relevance.” (Source)

If we are going to if we are going to be always reforming, then we must be reforming to the scriptures.

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