pilgrimEcclesia reformata semper reformanda est.

“Reformed theology should be reforming theology, for the Church – finite, sinful, not yet fully glorified – always stands in need of God’s reformation, by his Spirit, through his Word taught, trusted, and obeyed. And so, Ecclesia Reformanda exists to assist the Church in the ongoing task of listening to Scripture in all its depth and richness. It will seek to be truly theological, distinctively Reformed, and prayerfully reforming.”

An “ongoing theological conversation” cannot be tolerated by the academy. James Jordan writes:

“We looked last time at the problem of academic theology. Systematic theology tends to become paramount, a “Greek” discipline that specializes in comparison and contrast… what the academic guards is not the woman, not the Bride, but rather ideas. Loyalty to ideas, and sometimes loyalties to the men who came up with the ideas, is more important than loyalty to the Church and to the Spirit. Does N. T. Wright not say things exactly they way Geerhardus Vos did? Then we might fight him. He must be put down. A spirit of churchly catholicity, of humility before the infinity of the Word and the long future of the church ahead of us, is simply absent, or certainly seems to be.

We come full circle now, for the timelessness of systematic theology, and its accompanying arrogance, is naturally reinforced by amillennial theological perspectives. Postmillennialism should lead to humility, since we know that 10,000 years from now people will do theology better than we do. The amillennial perspective, though, since it has a blocked future, is naturally inclined to believe that pretty much all truth has been grasped and enshrined in the arcane and often unBiblical language of its confessions of faith. It is this, not the Bride of Christ, that must be guarded. Or perhaps, since we know that only a handful of people are going to be saved, guarding the Bride of Christ means condemning everyone who does not say things just the way we do.

The conflict in the churches right now is over this very issue. The Federal Vision Conversation, of which I am happily a part, is postmillennial and catholic in its orientation. We don’t think we have it all sorted out, which is why we are a Conversation. We are within historic Calvinism, but not in the amillennial and sectarian part of it. We are attacked for reading too widely. We are attacked for not saying “shibboleth” the right way. We are attacked for being way too conservative when it comes to the Bible. Those attacking us have it all sorted out. They know it all. It’s all settled. There is no future. There’s nothing to discuss. Our Conversation is a scandal to them. Clearly, with our catholic outlook, we are on the road to Rome, or somewhere bad.”1

Surely we can guard against heresy and still progress in our understanding of the Bible. But many will not permit an “ongoing conversation.” There is a new journal for pastors, theological students, and scholars, that seeks to serve the Church in its ongoing reformation according to God’s Word.

Ecclesia Reformanda is distinctively Reformed, with a contemporary cutting edge. It presents some of the best in British Reformed thinking and writing to serve the Church, her teachers, and her Lord. The journal covers all of the theological subdisciplines, and early issues will include articles on intertextuality in Romans 2, poetry in James, the place of children in the new covenant according to Jeremiah 32, Jim Jordan’s hermeneutics, Herman Bavinck’s theological method, and John Owen’s doctrine of justification. Future editions will contain articles on ethics, public theology, and pastoral counselling. Editorial Board: Matthew Mason, Ros Clarke, Neil Jeffers, and David Field.”


Outside the U.S. most optimistic (postmillennial) Christians are in churches that aren’t, so it’s good to see some Brits getting together and I look forward to seeing where this goes. The lineup for the first issues looks interesting.


1 James B. Jordan, Biblical Horizons Newsletter No. 197: How To Do Reformed Theology Nowadays, Part 6.

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