“One of the famous formulas to come out of the Reformation era is that of semper reformanda, which means ‘always reforming,’” says Jordan Ballor in this week’s Acton Commentary. “This is a particularly appropriate topic for this observance of Reformation Day, now 500 years after Luther’s publication of the 95 Theses.”
The point of departure for the Protestant Reformation was originally a somewhat limited set of topics or doctrines, particularly those related to soteriology the doctrine of salvation. In this sense Luther’s focus on indulgences can be seen as representative. His goal was to reform the abuses of the theology and practice of the sale of indulgences. This led him early on to explore other, related doctrines, including justification and ecclesiology.
The relationship of these early generations of reform and the later generations comes in the more thorough, consistent, detailed, and comprehensive systems of theology developed in the era of Protestant orthodoxy. Contrasting the early and later eras, the eminent Reformation historian Richard A. Muller writes, “The selectivity of the Reformation in its polemic had to be transcended in the direction of a reformed catholicity.”