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  • Always Abusing Semper Reformanda Article by R. Scott Clark

    FROM TABLETALK | November 2014

    The Reformation churches have some wonderful slogans that are chock full of important truths. Sometimes, however, these slogans can be misconstrued, misreported, and misunderstood. With the possible exception of sola Scriptura (by Scripture alone), none of these slogans has been mangled more often toward greater mischief than ecclesia reformata, semper reformanda (the church reformed, always reforming). According to historian Michael Bush, much of what we think we know about this slogan is probably wrong. The phrase is not from the sixteenth century. I have searched hundreds of documents in a variety of languages from the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, and … View Resource

  • Ideally Speaking Article by David Hall

    FROM TABLETALK | November 2014 | Matthew 5

    Most Westerners have forgotten their Latin, if they ever knew it. If they’re not careful, therefore, they may confuse the Latin motto ecclesia reformata, semper reformanda with the U.S. Marines’ motto, Semper fi. There could be worse things. For the Marine, Semper fi (abbreviated from Semper fidelis, “always faithful”) is shorthand for a lifestyle and a set of commitments. For the Christian, semper reformanda may help return communions to the ancient faith by separating mendicant (beggarly) traditions from the vitality of Scripture, or it may aid in diluting the faith. THE MEANING OF THE PHRASE Though the motto … View Resource

  • Semper Reformanda in its Historical Context Article by W. Robert Godfrey

    FROM TABLETALK | November 2014 | Matthew 15

    The phrase ecclesia reformata, semper reformanda (the church reformed, always reforming) has been used so often as to make it a motto or slogan. People have used it to support a surprising array of theological and ecclesiastical programs and purposes. Scholars have traced its origins to a devotional book written by Jodocus van Lodenstein in 1674. Van Lodenstein, no doubt, had no intention of being a phrase-maker or sloganeer. What was his intention, and what did he mean by this phrase? Van Lodenstein was a minister in the Reformed Church of the United Provinces in what we know today as … View Resource

  • What Semper Reformanda Is and Isn’t Article by Carl R. Trueman

    FROM TABLETALK | November 2014 | Acts 17

    There are many familiar phrases with which everyone would agree. “It would be a good thing to eliminate world poverty” is one that comes to mind. What is interesting, of course, is that while there may be agreement on the sentiment expressed, there is often radical disagreement on how it is to be achieved. In this example, some might argue for greater deregulation of international trade, others for increased aid, others for targeted educational solutions. There are also some phrases that occur in the context of the church that are similar in terms of universal agreement. One that is a … View Resource

  • How the Scots Changed the World Article by Aaron Denlinger

    FROM TABLETALK | March 2014

    The sixteenth-century Scottish divines (pastors and theologians) who labored to build a national church characterized by sound doctrine and biblical worship never realized how far their influence would reach. They aimed, after all, to reform the Kirk, not to change the world. Ultimately, they did both. Their efforts bore fruit not only in a redefined church for the Scots, but in theological commitments, liturgical patterns, social customs, and political persuasions for people around the globe. The extensive impact that the Scottish Reformers had was not due to any real novelty in their beliefs. The men who engineered the reformation of … View Resource

  • The Dawn of Reformation Article by Burk Parsons

    FROM TABLETALK | September 2012

    It is one thing to believe that the Bible is the Word of God, but it is another to believe, or trust, the Bible as the Word of God. We’re called not only to believe in God and His Word but to believe God—to trust God—and His Word. Throughout history, the visible church has always professed her belief that the Bible is God’s Word. Yet, a cursory study of church history reveals that many popes, priests, and parishioners neglected to read the Bible themselves, and many didn’t believe, or trust, the Bible as the final, authoritative Word … View Resource

  • An 11th Century Reformer Article by Burk Parsons

    FROM TABLETALK | May 2011

    According to tradition, following the Norman Conquest of England in 1066, William the Conqueror, the Duke of Normandy, captured the English throne. As a result, Edgar the Atheling of England was unable to secure his rightful claim to the English crown and thus decided to return to Hungary, where he had lived previously with his exiled father. Joined by his sister, Margaret, Edward set sail from England for the continent. However, a storm forced their ship north to the rocky shores of Scotland. The king of Scotland, Malcolm III (d. 1093), extended hospitality to the English family and, in time … View Resource

  • Restoration and Reformation Article by John Sartelle

    FROM TABLETALK | December 2010

    From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand’” (Matt. 4:17). What was the first word spoken by John the Baptist and by Jesus as they came preaching? Each of them returned from his sojourn in the wilderness proclaiming the same thing (Matt. 3:1–2; 4:17). The word repent conjures up a picture in our minds of a wildeyed man with unkempt hair carrying a sign: “Repent, the end is near.” That is exactly the image Satan wants us to have. Many evangelicals avoid the subject of repentance because … View Resource

  • Fueling Reformation Article by R.C. Sproul

    FROM TABLETALK | June 2010

    I’m always puzzled when I see church billboards announcing a coming revival. They give the times and the dates when the church will be engaged in revival. But I wonder, how can anybody possibly schedule a revival? True revivals are provoked by the sovereign work of God through the stirring of His Holy Spirit in the hearts of people. They happen when the Holy Spirit comes into the valley of dry bones (Ezek. 37) and exerts His power to bring new life, a revivification of the spiritual life of the people View Resource

  • Pilgrims (and Their Hosts) Article by R. Scott Clark

    FROM TABLETALK | February 2010

    There are about sixty-million evangelicals in North America. By contrast, the confessional Reformed communions number fewer than one million members. One effect of these disproportionate numbers is that the theology, piety, and practice of American evangelicals shape the expectations of many Christians. View Resource

  • Preach the Word Article by Steven Lawson

    FROM TABLETALK | January 2010

    Every season of reformation and every hour of spiritual awakening has been ushered in by a recovery of biblical preaching. This cause and effect is timeless and inseparable. J.H. Merle D’Aubigné, noted Reformation historian, writes, “The only true reformation is that which emanates from the Word of God.” That is to say, as the pulpit goes, so goes the church. View Resource

  • Why Is Justification So Important? Article by Keith Mathison

    FROM TABLETALK | November 2009

    During the Protestant Reformation of the sixteenth century, there were few things more precious to believers than the recovery of the biblical doctrine of justification by faith alone in Christ alone. Centuries of semi-Pelagian (and Pelagian) growth were dragged into the light and revealed as the deadly poison they were, and despite fierce opposition, the glorious gospel of grace began to be proclaimed again from pulpits across Europe. As the truth spread, resistance increased, and untold numbers of the faithful suffered persecution and even death rather than renounce or compromise this essential biblical doctrine. Five hundred years later, how many … View Resource

  • An Inestimable Treasure Article by Robert Oliver

    FROM TABLETALK | October 2008

    The apostles who associated with the Lord during His earthly ministry were still dependent upon the Holy Spirit to lead them into all truth. That truth has been transmitted to us in the pages of Scripture. Thus, Peter wrote: “And we have something more sure, the prophetic word, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts” (2 Peter 1:19). In the twilight of the apostolic age, the church was being taught her dependence on the written Word … View Resource

  • The Reform of the English Church Article by Peter Toon

    FROM TABLETALK | November 2007

    In America today “separation of church and state” is basic to both political and theological thinking. In contrast, in the sixteenth century in England the union of church and state was taken for granted as governed and guided by divine providence. In fact, the one definite thing that can be said about the English Reformation is that it was first of all an act of state. Central to it all was the assertion of royal supremacy, of king or queen, in ecclesiastical affairs. And the claim of royal supremacy was made explicitly not only by Henry VIII, Edward VI, and … View Resource

  • Crossing the Channel Article by R.C. Sproul

    FROM TABLETALK | November 2007

    The rapid spread of the Protestant Reformation from Wittenberg, Germany, throughout Europe and across the Channel to England was not spawned by the efforts of a globe-trotting theological entrepreneur. On the contrary, for the most part Martin Luther’s entire career was spent teaching in the village of Wittenberg at the university there. Despite his fixed position, Luther’s influence spread from Wittenberg around the world in concentric circles — like when a stone is dropped into a pond. The rapid expanse of the Reformation was hinted at from the very beginning when the Ninety-five Theses were posted on the church door … View Resource