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Phillip Benedict observes,

The Latin motto of many Reformed churches today, “Ecclesia reformata, quia semper reformada” (The Reformed church because always reforming) was coined in the middle of the seventeenth century by the Dutch churchman Johannes Hoornbeeck. It captures perfectly the restlessness of a tradition that recurrently generated internal revitalization movements inspired by such hopes even after they had not been immediately realized–as inevitably they were not. Committed adherents always had to ask themselves if they were doing everything possible to serve God and to observe his strict ordinances of worship.[1]

This observation led me to wonder if the “Young Reformed” are really that committed to a “reformed church.” If anything, some (at least) seem to be going away from a reformed church, introducing new worship and fundamentally “contextualizing” the church toward popular culture (never high culture), not the Scriptures. It is well known that the terms “Calvinism” and “Reformed” are riddled with difficulty, and that boiling down “Calvinism” to an espousal to “TULIP” is a bit of an historic alteration.[2] Perhaps in so emphasizing the doctrines of grace, which should be preached and taught (at least 4.5 of them), the “Young, Restless, and Reformed” have neglected past one of the key matters for Reformed churches (who are always Reforming): that our practice should strictly conform to God’s inspired revelation.

Compare this to John Quincy Adams (not the President), who said that Baptists were the “only true religious Reformers.”


[1]Christ’s Churches Purely Reformed: A Social History of Calvinism(New Haven: Yale, 2002), xvi.

[2]The article to read to appreciate this point is “How Many Points?” by Richard Muller.