Friday 1 November 2013

Re-formed and Re-forming, A Presidential Musing by Dawn

It is Halloween, All Hallows’ Eve, the day before All Saints’ Day, Reformation Day. I have been in many conversations about the words “Reformed” and, more recently, “reformational.” It is not surprising that there are so many definitions of each. Such is the nature of words.

A Presbyterian friend told me that she did consider herself “Reformed” because that sounds so done, as if we have arrived. I had thought that Presbyterians considered themselves to be within the Reformed umbrella. Apparently there is not agreement on this. Such is the nature of people.

Maybe “Reforming” would be better than “Reformed.” My friend liked that better, but she was still not interested in applying that term to her denomination. So, I passed along to another person that this friend from a church in a Calvinist tradition did not resonate with the word “Reformed” in the denominational name “Christian Reformed Church” (CRC). He said that he thought the more offensive word in the name was “Christian.” Really? That is who we are. He indicated that it sounded like the implication was that other denominations were not Christian. Sigh.

How ICS presents itself in words matters. I won’t attempt to tackle the array of opinions I heard regarding the word “reformational” here. In addition to the word “Christian” in our name, which of these words do you think convey something important about the Institute for Christian Studies -- Reformed, Reformational, Dooyweerdian, Kuyperian, Calvinist, philosophical, religious, theological, spiritual, interdisciplinary, academic, foundational, ethical, justice-oriented, scholarly, transformational, biblical, worldview-oriented, post-modern, engaged, educational, …?

Of course, we are not simply trying to have the words be meaningful. The work of the Institute and how it affects the world around us matters a great deal, but we know that the words matter too. If you have ideas regarding the above words or others you think would resonate with those drawn to the Institute, perhaps you could tweet your ideas with @InsChr? When it comes to what we do, what words we use, and the media we choose, we are re-formed and always re-forming.