Reformed Catholicity

| February 4, 2015


Scott R. Swain and Michael Allen. Reformed Catholicity: The Promise of Retrieval for Theology and Biblical Interpretation. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2015. 176 pp. $19.99.

Is it possible to be both Reformed and catholic? Can one stand squarely within Protestantism and yet be vitally engaged with, say, the early church? Can one be uncompromisingly committed to the Reformation solas while also visibly rooted in the patristic and medieval heritage that preceded the Reformation?

For many evangelicals, the answer to these questions is vaguely negative; for a few, the words evangelical and ancient are nearly antonyms. A number have even left evangelicalism altogether in search of a greater sense of catholicity and historical rootedness, looking to Rome or Constantinople for what they felt was lacking in Wheaton College or Rick Warren. 

Scott Swain and Michael Allen’s Reformed Catholicity: The Promise of Retrieval for Theology and Biblical Interpretation argues, however, that it isn’t necessary to choose between a Reformation identity and a catholic heritage. Indeed, in their account, “to be reformed means to go deeper into true catholicity, not to move away from catholicity” (4). Moreover, although their work is conversant with a broad array of Protestant and Roman Catholic…


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