Ecclesia semper reformanda: Renewal and Reform Beyond Polemics

Posted: 15 October 2016

To overview

On the occasion of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, LEST — Leuven Encounters in Systematic Theology — will devote its 11th edition to the complex reality of the renewal and reform of the Churches (Leuven, 11-14 October 2017). Proposals for both historical and systematic-theological papers are now welcomed.

The well-known adagium, ‘Ecclesia semper reformanda’, suggests that the Church is in continuous need of renewal. Such renewal is not only a historical reality, but also an ongoing challenge for theologians of all confessional traditions. Each and every attempt to renew – or reform – a tradition must seek an equilibrium between the affirmation of one’s particular identity and the call to engage in meaningful dialogue with other Churches. There is always a danger that this encounter might degenerate into confrontation or polemics.

On the occasion of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, LEST XI wishes to focus on the complex reality of the renewal and reform of the Churches. This concern was already on the agenda of the Latin Church in the late Medieval Period, and found dramatic expression during the Reformation. LEST XI will bring together scholars from a variety of disciplines and confessional traditions who will share their reflections on the ongoing task of renewal and reform.

Four themes will be central during this conference. These themes were at the forefront of the theological controversies that raged during the transitional period between the Middle Ages and the Early Modern Period and eventually culminated in a further split of Western Christianity. LEST XI will approach them with a view to offering an ecumenically-oriented reflection on the renewal and reform of the Church. The four themes are as follows:

  • the importance of the Scriptures for the inner life of faith and for Church and tradition;
  • the tensile relationship between sin, grace, free will, justification and sanctification;
  • sacramentality and rituality, with special attention to Eucharist and sacrifice;
  • democratisation and the power structures within the churches.


Call for Papers

LEST XI invites junior and senior scholars to submit proposals for short papers (20’) which address the themes of ecclesial renewal and reform mentioned above. Papers on other aspects of Church reform will also be taken into consideration. The deadline for the submission of paper proposals is set for March 15, 2017. Authors of accepted proposals will be notified by May 1, 2017.


Visual: Adapted version of Hans Schwyzer, Effigies praecipuorum, illustrium, atque praestantium aliquot theologorum (1650; Zentralbibliothek Zürich)


Event Info

Start Date
11 October 2017

End Date
14 October 2017

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