Original Research - Special Collection: Belief - church and community

Ecclesia reformata semper reformanda’ Church renewal from a Reformed perspective

Leo J. Koffeman
HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies | Vol 71, No 3 | a2875 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v71i3.2875 | © 2015 Leo J. Koffeman | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 12 December 2014 | Published: 30 September 2015

About the author(s)

Leo J. Koffeman, Church Polity and Ecumenism at the Protestant Theological University, The Netherlands; Department of Church History and Church Polity, Faculty of Theology, University of Pretoria, South Africa


With a view to the theme of church renewal, this article explores the role of a well-known and popular phrase in the Reformed tradition within Protestantism, that is, ecclesia reformata semper reformanda [‘the reformed church should always be reformed’]. Is this a helpful slogan when considering the possibilities and the limitations of church renewal? Firstly, the historical background of this phrase is described: it is rooted in the Dutch Reformed tradition, and only in the 20th century it was widely recognised in Reformed circles. Against this background the hermeneutical problem, linked with the principle of sola Scriptura, is presented, and put into an ecumenical ecclesiological perspective: the church is grounded in the gospel. Finally, the article focuses on church polity as an important field of renewal, taking into account Karl Barth’s interpretation of this phrase. From this perspective, a balanced and ecumenical approach of church renewal is possible.


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Crossref Citations

1. How can the Reformation’s focus on faithfulness to Scripture inspire us for mission?
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