A man named Kevin Vanhoozer is apparently leading an effort to mark the 500th anniversary of Luther’s 95 theses with a new “confession of faith.” Click here to read about the “Reforming Catholic Confession”—a document that is by definition not Roman but that uses “catholic” in its purer sense.
Now, for three decades I’ve believed (and periodically asserted) that reforming and restoring should be conceived of as ongoing, perpetual processes. Never should one think he has arrived at a state of having been restored. Nor do I think it becoming or wise for a group, no matter how broad and inclusive it thinks it is, to call itself “Reformed.” Even if one were to include all the denominations that call Reformed theology their doctrinal home, you would still only have a slice of the Christian pie. There are many others, and a great many of us have hearts and brains, too. (One of the great offenses of the Christian church world is that so many people seem to think Reformed-type academics have dibs on scholarship.)
Vanhoozer’s name sounds Dutch to me, which leads me to presume he is from a Christian Reformed or Dutch Reformed tradition. Whether I’m correct on the identification or not, I find the efforts of this group at once admirable and ill-conceived. Admirable, because even a quick scan reveals that the “Reforming Catholic Confession” goes to some effort to be ecumenical, playing nice in the larger sandox. It’s even ostensibly scripture-oriented. But it is also ill-advised: at its essence, this confession is but one more tarpaulin covering scripture’s spiritual ground.
Part of me celebrates the idea of the Reformation—a complex of ideas and events, certainly not all attributable to Martin Luther. On principle, I tend to use process-oriented gerunds such as “reforming” or “restoring” instead of “reformed” or “Reformation,” but even the Protestant Reformation deserves some attention as an event. The confessions, not so much. I suspect that, in time (maybe just a couple of years!), history will find this particular “confession” to be little more than another historical curiosity, superimposed on scripture.