Your Moment of Reformation: Semper Reformanda!

By Pastor Peter Hanson

Many of the Reformation’s big ideas caught on rather quickly with large audiences, thanks in part to its occurring roughly at the same time as the development of the printing press. In addition to the larger printed works—translations of the Bible, lengthy treatises such as the Augsburg Confession, or teaching tools like the Catechism—Guetenberg’s movable type press allowed for the creation of pamphlets and other smaller texts which helped multiply the audience for these big ideas. Many of these pamphlets had slogans attached to them, often in Latin. They were the sound bites, tweets, or memes of their day.

One of my favorites among these slogans was the cry “Semper Reformanda!” While it’s origins are a bit murky the idea is that we as individuals, as well as the whole church collectively, must always be actively reforming. Just as Luther, Melanchthon and the other reformers did not want people to look back toward an imagined “golden age” of the Church, neither did they want people to expect to ever arrive at a utopia, when the church would be finally and eternally “fixed,” freed from all sin and human foibles, once and for all.

Rather, they called their followers then, and us today, to continue to listen for God’s voice calling them to reform the Church in order to better form disciples of Christ for the transformation of the world. I wonder if this can be one of our slogans for the church 500 years later: “Always Reforming.” And doesn’t it sound even cooler in Latin? “Semper Reformanda!”