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Archive for October, 2011

The practice of Reformed catechesis is quite counter-cultural.  Having given it a little thought, a few reasons come to mind.  1. Catechesis is an authoritative discipline.  It deals not with opinions, but with dogma.  Not with suggestions, but with commandments.  Not tips and hints, but with divinely mandated means of grace.  2. Catechesis is churchly in orientation.  It is by the church and for the church.  It presumes that membership in the Visible Church – nothing less than the Kingdom of God on earth – is a high privilege, and involves serious preparation.  3. Catechesis is rigorously intellectual.  While seeking to reach those of the smallest capacities, even the “little ones” without offending them, it yet pushes everyone under its influence to think and think deeply.  4. Catechesis is thoroughly covenantal.  It has always had the next generation of the church in view, preparing baptized children to lay hold of the promise that is their birthright (Acts 2:39).  While catechesis leaves regeneration to the sovereignty of the Spirit, it does not leave children to cut their own religious path.  It cuts the path for them.  We do not blush to say that in catechism, the church indoctrinates its children.  5. Catechesis is catholic.  By catholic, I mean that it does not deal with secondary matters, much less the novel, but with the faith once delivered to the saints.  The things “most surely believed among us” (Luke 1:1).  It is not provincial, pedaling its own idiosyncratic theology (African theology, feminist theology, etc.), but it holds forth what unifies all true believers in all ages.  There is “one body, and one Spirit . . . one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all” (Eph. 4:4-6).   6. Catechesis is confessional.  Contra biblicism, catechesis affirms that the Spirit leads his Church into all truth, and that the Church has a responsibility to articulate that truth using its own words.  Further, it delimits what we must believe from what we must not – heresy.  7. Catechesis is biblical.  “To the law and to the testimony.”  If one seriously studies the great catechisms of the Reformation, one will be confronted not only with lengthy footnoted proof texts undergirding each proposition.  He will also see how their very language is shaped by the Scriptures.  Not surprisingly, then, catechesis is rejected precisely because men will not receive the Word of God.

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