Sunday, September 11, 2011

Can You Reform Yourself Out of Being Reformed?

Bobby Grow at the newer version of The Evangelical Calvinist asks, "Who's Reformed, And Who Cares?"  and discusses how we should define what it means to be included within the Reformed Faith of Protestant Christianity.  A clip:

[T]here are many classically Reformed proponents today who collapse what it means to be ‘Reformed’ into a fixed set of agreed upon Reformed Confessions (the so called Three Forms of Unity — viz. The Heidelberg Catechism, The Belgic Confession, and The Canons of Dort); if someone cannot sign off on even one of these ‘forms’ in toto, then their “Reformedness” is probably non-existent.
He quotes a commenter on an old post of his that answers this idea:

What are the core principles of Reformed orthodoxy? Are these primarily doctrines (e.g. election and divine sovereignty construed in a particular way), or are they primarily ethics of the way in which theology is to be carried out (e.g. semper reformanda)?... [M]y sense of the tradition and its founding is that the latter ethics are decisive.  That’s why there is no single confessional statement of Reformed orthodoxy (as with the Lutheran Formula of Concord), but rather a broad tradition of regional confessions that share a great deal of doctrinal similitude. Even where we would specify some doctrines as necessary to what it means to be in the Reformed tradition — such as election and the sovereignty of God — the ethic requires that these allow for a range of interpretive positions and not a fixed doctrinal expression. This gives Reformed thinkers the freedom to continually re-examine and re-express the truths that are encountered in Scripture.
And in his commenter's conclusion:

The greatest value of classic Reformed orthodoxy, in my view, is that classic Reformed orthodoxy does not have the last word.

I'm in agreement with Bobby and his commenter.  There seems to be a gatekeeper mentality within those who claim the Reformed tradition that includes a position as minister of definition.  It's clear to me, and I've written about it numorous times over the blogging years, that semper reformanda is the forgotten sola of the Reformation.  Maybe it's because it never was a sola to begin with.  The word reformed is in the past tense, as in already figured out.  If seeking to be reforming rather than already reformed means that some will strip a definition from you, then I'm fine with that.  The ethic really is more important than the label.

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