On Reform – short thoughts

Reformers may, in addition to being reformers, also be innovators. However, the essence of Reform is not innovation.

I say this thinking especially of the 14th-16th century movements in European Christianity (which were the fruit of centuries of momentum building within the Church). Reform is a call to put things right, not to start something new. There have been many reformers whose call to reform was accepted by the Catholic Church, and there have been reformers whose call to reform was not accepted. But Christian reformers, those who are now called The Reformers, were thoroughly conscious of their actions as part of an organic unity with the church catholic, and a desire to reform it.

Those Christian movements that have arisen professedly wanting to do a new thing, whatever their virtues may be, cannot be considered heirs of the Reformation. It was precisely because of the concern that the Church was doing far too many new things that Reform was called for.

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{ 4 comments… add one }
  • Nathan September 25, 2013, 10:27 am

    Is it also true that there are those who desire to reform to achieve the true meaning of what church and Christianity is, and in doing so unwittingly start something new, presumably based on misinterpretation, a sense of unction, and a good dose of charisma.

    This is why we are where we are today.

  • Glenn September 25, 2013, 10:03 pm

    Nathan, no doubt, there are efforts to reform that end up with something new. But if anyone objects, say, to the Reformation simply on the grounds that we should not promote novelty, that is a poor conceived objection.

  • JD October 2, 2013, 3:18 am

    I find all the recent calls for ‘a new Christianity’ or a ‘radical’ Christianity or an ‘authentic’ Christianity or a Christianity which ‘must change or die’ to be nauseating. We don’t need a ‘new’ Christianity. We need to get back to basics.

  • Nathan October 8, 2013, 12:20 am

    @JD re getting back to basics: perhaps in some respects. Many have wrapped tradition (in whatever form) into the gospel, and those distractions must be removed.

    However there is many a church movement that has confused getting ‘back to basics’ with establishing a New Testament church in practice (i.e. emphasis on certain gifts, meeting style, etc.). They end up with their own traditions and no better than what they tried to rid themselves of. Even a simple house church movement can have this issue.

    Thankfully, by God’s grace many are still saved.

    @Glenn, if I have understood you correctly, yes I agree. There is a significant difference between something seeming new because it was revealed but forgotten or misunderstood all along; and something new in the sense that it was altogether new, i.e. adds to God’s revelation in some way.

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