Foundation for Reformed Theology, 1982-2012 
John Calvin
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Why Be "Orthodox"?
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The Foundation provides for the ongoing study, appropriation, and explication of the historic faith and theology of the Reformed and Presbyterian Churches in our own day. Of course, the question arises from time to time as to why we should be "Orthodox." I invite you to consider what Karl Barth has to say on the matter. 

Why Be "Orthodox"?


What do you really mean when you use the word "Orthodoxy"? "Orthodoxy" means agreement with the Fathers and the Councils. As that it can never be an end in itself. Repristination is nonsense. But where "Orthodoxy" is rejected in that frightened way, the question arises whether this rejection does not spring from an "orthodoxy" of one's own, connected perhaps with certain modes of nineteenth and twentieth century thought which are quite capable of forming a dogma. This dogma also has got is Church-with many chapels!-but people are never actually told that their allegiance to this Church must be unconditional. If only they knew definitely that here, too, there is a binding tie, they might be disposed to let this "tie" to the Church's past remain in force as after all a quite respectable affair. The more one listens and breaks free from the illusion that the world began with oneself, the more will one discover that these Fathers knew something, and that the scorned "orthodox" writers of, say, the seventeenth century were theologians of stature. And it can even happen that alongside of them modern theological literature will be found a little insipid and a little tedious. You must make the experiment yourself. I, too, was once liberal and know the charm!

I have been asked about the standard by which tradition is to be measured. It cannot by any means be a matter of opening the gates wide and allowing whole wagon-loads of old doctrine to enter without discrimination! The past, too, had its mixture of pure and impure doctrine. The norm that determines our choice is Holy Scripture. Holy Scripture is the object of our study, and at the same time the criterion of our study, of the Church's past. As I read the writings of the "Fathers," the witness of Holy Scripture stands continually before my eyes; I accept what interprets this witness to me; I reject what contradicts it. So a choice is actually made, certainly not a choice according to my individual taste, but according to my knowledge of Holy Scripture.


Karl Barth, Credo: A Presentation of the Chief Problems of Dogmatics with Reference to the Apostles' Creed, Sixteen Lectures Delivered at the University of Utrecht in February and March, 1935, Translated by J. Strathearn McNab (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1936) pp. 182-183. 

Dr. James C. Goodloe IVGrace and Peace,
Dr. James C. Goodloe IV, Executive Director
Foundation for Reformed Theology
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