Semper Reformada is a latin phrase that means, “always reforming.” W. Robert Godfrey in an article at Ligonier writes, “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.”
As we look back to the Reformation briefly in October, we do enjoy the history of the Church. However, we should also never forget the fact that we are constantly being called back to the idea of reforming (or perhaps I should say conforming) ourselves to the Word of God. We need to be in God’s Word as often as possible. At the time of the Reformation the Word of God was not as available as it is today, and very few individuals could read it on their own. I want to constantly encourage you to read the Word as well as sit under the teaching of the Word.
In our day and age there seems to be a blurring of lines between how we define Christianity. A recent article by the Mormon Church points this out (https://www.newsweek.com/church-latter-day-saints-dont-call-us-mormons-leaders-say-1077661). This is dangerous because the Mormon Church is not a denomination of Christians, but it is another religion and does not base salvation on Christ alone. In today’s world they simply want to be called, “the Church of Jesus Christ” or “the Church”. That can be very confusing to people.
As we study the Reformation we sometimes forget that distinction between Protestantism and Catholicism. It soon became apparent in the 1500’s and 1600’s that this Reformation was seeking to reform and purify the Church, but Rome rejected the simple offer of the Gospel by faith alone and Christ alone. In the council of Trent (1545-1563) a counter-reformation took place and the Roman Church declared many of the doctrines of the Reformers to be heresy. Even today an ex-Catholic friend recently told me that if you ask a Catholic today, “Are you a Christian?” they will respond, “No, I am a Catholic.” This may not be true of every person in the Catholic church and does not mean that God cannot work by His Spirit to save whoever, whenever, wherever He wills. But, the Catholic Church, as an institution, is not another denomination of Christians, but it is another religion. That is part of what the Reormation is all about.
Another recommended book this week for further reading is “Are We Together?: A Protestant Analyzes Roman Catholicism” by R. C. Sproul. Sproul speaks clearly in his book about the fundamental theological differences between Protestants and Catholics. In a world that blurs lines regarding faith, let us make sure that we know the differences between looking at different Protestant denominations that proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ as fellow believers, and those religions that are proclaiming a different Gospel than we see in Scripture.