Saturday, April 28, 2007

Al Wolters on the meaning of "reformational"

I have been rereading Al Wolters Creation Regained. He spends some time discussing the meaning of the word "reformational" which compliments nicely the Seerveld quote I posted a while back.

Wolters notes two important connotations of the word ‘reformational’:

The first is this; reformation means sanctification, not consecration. Both words mean "making holy," but they are not strictly synonymous. To sanctify (or hallow, to use an Anglo-Saxon word) means "to make free from sin, to cleanse from moral corruption, to purify." To consecrate, on the other hand, generally means simply ‘to set apart, to dedicate, to devote to the service or worship of God.’ Consecration therefore means external renewal; sanctification means internal renewal. The word reformation refers to sanctification in this sense of inner revitalization (p.89)

A second feature of reformation is that the avenue of this sanctification is progressive renewal rather than violent overthrow … God calls his people to a historical reformation … to a sanctification of creational realities from sin and its effects. (p.91)

Negatively Wolters contrasts this strategy with revolution; the positive meaning of reformation, he states:
entails that the normative elements in any distorted situation (and every situation is distorted to some extent) should be sought out as a point of contact in terms of which renewal can take place … reformation always takes as its point of departure what is historically given and seeks to build on the good rather than clearing the historical terrain radically in order to lay an altogether new foundation. (p.93)

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