• 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

  • The True Reformers Article by Burk Parsons

    FROM TABLETALK | November 2014

    Semper reformanda has been hijacked. It is one of the more abused, misused, and misunderstood slogans of our day. Progressives have captured and mutilated the seventeenth-century motto and have demanded that our theology, our churches, and our confessions be always changing in order to conform to our ever-changing culture. However, semper reformanda doesn’t mean what they think it means. Semper reformanda doesn’t mean “always changing,” “always morphing,” or even “always reforming.” Rather, it means “always being reformed.” When it was first used, semper reformanda was part of the larger statement ecclesia reformata, semper reformanda (the church reformed and always being … 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

  • Forerunner of the Reformation Article by Burk Parsons

    FROM TABLETALK | July 2014 | Romans 5

    John Wycliffe was the morning star of the Reformation. He was a protestant and a reformer more than a century before Martin Luther ignited the Protestant Reformation in 1517. Through Wycliffe, God planted the seeds of the Reformation, He watered the seeds through John Hus, and He brought the flower of the Reformation to bloom through Martin Luther. The seed of the flower of the German Augustinian monk Luther’s 95 theses was planted by the English scholar and churchman John Wycliffe. Wycliffe died on New Year’s Eve, 1384. Three decades later, he was condemned as a heretic. In 1415, the … View Resource

  • The Morning Star of the Reformation Article by Stephen Nichols

    FROM TABLETALK | July 2014 | Colossians 1

    He had been dead and buried for a few decades, but the church wanted to make a point. His remains were exhumed and burned, a fitting end for the “heretic” John Wycliffe. Wycliffe once explained what the letters in the title CARDINAL really mean: “Captain of the Apostates of the Realm of the Devil, Impudent and Nefarious Ally of Lucifer.” And with that, Wycliffe was only getting started. Wycliffe rejected the doctrine of transubstantiation, which states that the elements of the bread and wine in the Lord’s Supper become the actual body and blood of Christ. He was against priestly … View Resource

  • Give Me Scotland, or I Die” Article by Burk Parsons

    FROM TABLETALK | March 2014

    Perhaps more than anything else, John Knox is known for his prayer “Give me Scotland, or I die.” Knox’s prayer was not an arrogant demand, but the passionate plea of a man willing to die for the sake of the pure preaching of the gospel and the salvation of his countrymen. Knox’s greatness lay in his humble dependence on our sovereign God to save His people, revive a nation, and reform His church. As is evident from his preaching and prayer, Knox believed neither in the power of his preaching nor in the power of his prayer, but in the … 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

  • John Knox Article by Sinclair Ferguson

    FROM TABLETALK | March 2014

    It might be difficult for a visitor to Scotland in 2014 to believe that the nation was a backwater country five hundred years ago. In fact, however, one sixteenth-century writer could, without fear of contradiction, describe it as “a corner of the world separate from the society of men … almost beyond the limits of the human race.” However, in the early 1500s, Scotland had one thing in common with the rest of Europe: a deeply corrupt and spiritually impoverished church, with morally moribund leadership. To cite one notorious example, David Beaton, cardinal and archbishop, legitimated at least … View Resource

  • The Reformation Isn’t Over Article by James White

    FROM TABLETALK | March 2014

    You do not want to end up on the wrong side of history.” This platitude has been granted prognostic status in our day, though one could properly question its fundamental truthfulness. It reflects, however, the prevailing attitude of Western culture, a pragmatism that enshrines in the judgment of “history” (whatever that means in this context) the final arbiter of morality, goodness, and worth. Often this phrase is being urged upon the church to “move on” from opposing homosexuality or the redefinition of marriage. But this adage also captures the general attitude of a large portion of the population on both … View Resource

  • The Scottish Reformation Article by Stephen Nichols

    FROM TABLETALK | March 2014

    His name was Patrick Hamilton. He was born into nobility. His mother’s father was the second son of the king. As a young man of only thirteen, he was given a position of abbot, which supplied a handsome income and a position for life. He used the income wisely. He studied first at Paris, then moved on to Louvain, Belgium. While at Paris, in 1520, Hamilton first read the writings of the heretical monk Martin Luther. In 1523, he returned to Scotland, taking his place on the faculty at the University of St. Andrews. In a few short years, his … View Resource

  • Scripture Alone Article by Michael Kruger

    FROM TABLETALK | November 2012

    We live in a world filled with competing truth claims. Every day, we are bombarded with declarations that something is true and that something else is false. We are told what to believe and what not to believe. We are asked to behave one way but not another way. In her monthly column “What I Know for Sure,” Oprah Winfrey tells us how to handle our lives and our relationships. The New York Times editorial page regularly tells us what approach we should take to the big moral, legal, or public-policy issues of our day. Richard Dawkins, the British atheist … 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 of God. Such … View Resource

  • Calvin as a Controversialist Article by Cornelius Van Til

    Calvin’s activity as a controversialist began with his “sudden conversion” to the Protestant faith. To become a Protestant was, for Calvin as well as for Luther, to become an Augustinian who tested Augustine’s teaching by Scripture. All controversies about the nature of man, his sin and his salvation, must be settled by exegesis of Scripture. For “although the Lord represents both himself and his everlasting Kingdom in the mirror of his works with very great clarity, such is our stupidity that we grow increasingly dull toward so manifest testimonies, and they flow away without profiting us. For with regard to … View Resource