Thursday, February 21, 2008

Semper Reformanda, But Nunquam Reformata

A good mate of mine, "ACD" (a resident scholar here at De Regnis Duobus), has taken a break from his doctoral work in Aberdeen to dig up the oldest reference to the phrase "semper reformanda" he could find. He writes:
"The earliest reference I've found to the notion of 'always reforming' is in Abraham Wright's (a.k.a. Abraham Philotheus) criticism of certain Scottish Presbyterians. Philotheus was dissatisfied with the state of affairs following the English Restitution; [he] says of [them] and [their] type: 'They could no more endure the Long Parliament with their Aristocracy, nor the Rump [Parliament] with their Oligarchy, nor the Protector with his Olivarchy, then their lawful Prince with his regular Monarchy. In a word, what they are in Church they are in State; always Reforming, but never Reformed.'"
So apparently, the earliest known usage of the slogan semper reformanda (a phrase that supposedly captures the spirit of the Protestant Reformation) was employed to characterize those who were little more than malcontents intent on spreading dissent among the ranks.

When we compare that description to those who insist upon using this slogan to force innovation in our Reformed churches today, I'd have to conclude that the shoe fits pretty well, wouldn't you?