Always Reforming (ecclesia semper reformanda)?

Horton has a great note on the “always reforming” church.  I’ll note part of it below, but let me first say that this book is an absolute “must read” for any serious study of ecclesiology.

As Barth pointed out, ecclesia semper reformanda (the church always being reformed), divorced from the rest of the slogan, “according to the word of God,” identified the true church with modern progress – keeping up with the spirit of the age.  I would add that the drive in Protestant bodies to conform the gospel to the spirit of the age has often invoked the Spirit apart from and even sometimes against the Word in its activity of “always reforming.”  However, as Barth observes, “singing a new song” and “always being reformed” are only commendable goals if they are invitations to courageous and obedient faith rather than simply following the spirit of the age.  It means that the church is always being reformed, not reforming itself, submitting itself to the judgment of God’s Word and asking anew whether its confession and practice are in accord with Scripture.  Only in this way is any church truly apostolic.

Michael Horton, People and Place: A Covenant Ecclesiology (Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 2008), 223.

shane lems

sunnyside wa