• 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

  • Always Changing? Article by William W. Goligher

    FROM TABLETALK | November 2014 | 1 Corinthians 14

    The phrase semper reformanda has been translated to mean “always changing” and hijacked in the interests of change for the sake of change. To many, this means that everything—from what we believe to how we conduct ourselves in a fast-changing culture to the way we “do church”—is subject to review and reinvention in every generation. It used to be liberal Christians who used the phrase to justify their adjustment of the message to the times, but now evangelicals argue that it is essential to the survival of Christianity that we keep up with the changing culture if we are … 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