The Difference Between Reformed And Revived

So the “reformed” and the “revived” make two different kinds of determination when they look for Reformation and revival. Proponents of revival make claims that should be reserved for God, that is, whether a soul has truly come to new life in Christ. To be sure, the “revived” look for evidence in visible and external things such as profession and deed. But to say that a revival occurred is to determine that God did actually regenerate a remarkable number of souls. The Parable of the Sower suggests the need for less certainty in making such a determination. The “reformed,” however, do not pretend to look into the state of souls or make judgments about God’s intervention into human history. Yes, they do use the language of “true” and “false” churches, which are forms of evaluation that connote eternal significance. Still, they make no claims about the spiritual state of individuals. And in the context of sixteenth-century Europe one did not need to be a believer to spot a Reformed church. A professing Roman Catholic would see an extraordinarily different liturgy in a Protestant church and know that this congregation had been “reformed.” The difference, of course, would be that the Protestant would call such visible changes “true,” while the Catholic believer would regard them as “false.”

—D. G. Hart, “‘Reformed’ or ‘Revived:’ Why Words Matter

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