Thursday, August 10, 2006

Reforming the Reformed

I gave in and bought Always Reforming this afternoon. I had been tempted before today. But I decided to finish off some voucher money to cover half the cost. (It would be a great day if I started getting regular new books to read for free!)

Why my interest? Well, I want to read about how leading Reformed Evangelical scholars actually understand the theological process. All these guys (they are all men) have much in common. But I want to learn the boundaries of Reformed Evangelical theology. In reforming when does a theologian cease to be Reformed? In progressing when does an evangelical become, well, non-evangelical? In fact, to be truly Reformed could mean rejecting evangelicalism.

In his introduction, Andrew McGowan suggests that 'Scripture must have priority over Confessions.' It is time for 'new Confessions, which speak to the issues of today.' All this while affirming his belief in the core theology of the Westminister Confession of Faith.

I would welcome new confessions. But who is going to provide them, and who will subscribe to them? Many people have subscribed to the 'scripture over confessions' principle by abandoning confessions. In fact, confessions of faith are practically meaningless in all churches today anyway. Either they are ignored, or they become the focus for painstaking interpretation which divides and limits church life.

You can read John Frame's Preface here. And here is a 'friendly exchange' between two notable Reformed Evangelical figures, based on one of the chapters in Always Reforming.

I'd welcome any links to reviews or views about this book, or this area of discussion. For example, what does Reformed mean? I assume that readers understand why I use 'Reformed Evangelical' in this post, but is it a useful label?


Simon Spencer said...

I'm glad that you're reformed; although, if Calvin were still alive he would probably describe you as totally depraved - an interesting irony.

Incidentally, if you have any half decent confessions I know a journalist who works for the News Of The World!

Michael F. Bird said...

Interesting stuff. Keep posting thoughts on the topic and perhaps you will generate some discussion. I have heard some shonky definitions of "Reformed" from "not catholic" to "someone who holds to the WCF as originally written".