Friday, January 19, 2007
The Basic Principles of the Oracles of God
It is worthwhile to be a Shorter Catechism boy. They grow up to be men. And better than that, they are exceedingly apt to grow to be men of God.As you know, I have made it one of my goals for 2007 to learn the first 52 questions of the Shorter Catechism. (I was amused and surprised to see that the Shorter Catechism was originally intended for those of "of weaker capacity" rather than the Longer Catechism.) Learning the catechism and teaching it in Sunday school has fallen out of favour, so why start to learn it now?
B B Warfield, American theologian (1851-1921)
I am persuaded that the use of a good Catechism in all our families will be a great safeguard against the increasing errors of the times...Those who use it in their families or classes must labour to explain the sense; but the words should be carefully learned by heart, for they will be understood better as years pass.Learning the catechism has been used to teach the basic tenets of the Christian faith since the first century. As my denomination adheres to the Westminster Standards, I decided to use the Shorter Catechism which goes through the main doctrines of Faith, the Ten Commandments, the Sacraments and Prayer.
Charles Hadden Spurgeon, English Baptist preacher (1834-1892)
Many older friends, even those who are not Christians, who were catechised as children say that the teaching is hidden away in their hearts and minds and find back to them at times of difficulty or trial. It is perhaps not completely disconnected that Bible knowledge, even in Christians, has fallen in the last twenty years as popularity of the catechism has decreased despite a proliferation of Bible study material in all sorts of media.
Therefore it is the duty of every father of a family to question and examine his children and servants at least once a week and to ascertain what they know of it, or are learning and, if they do not know it, to keep them faithfully at it. However, it is not enough for them to comprehend and recite these parts according to the words only, but the young people should also be made to attend the preaching, especially during the time which is devoted to the Catechism, that they may hear it explained and may learn to understand what every part contains, so as to be able to recite it as they have heard it, and, when asked, may give a correct answer, so that the preaching may not be without profit and fruit.Should we be catechising our children at home and in Sunday school? I think we should to allow these children to learn Christian truths and to form a good theological foundation at an early age. Perhaps it is similar to the bank tellers or medical students only being let loose on normal bank-notes, hearts and lungs I wrote of a few days ago. If we teach our children Biblical Christian doctrine, they might be less likely swayed by false teaching or be led astray in the future.
Martin Luther, German theologian (1483-1546)
The older I grow, and I now stand on the brink of eternity—the more comes back to me the first sentence in the Catechism which I learned when a child, and the fuller and deeper its meaning becomes: ‘What is the chief end of man? To glorify God and to enjoy Him forever.’As I learn the Catechism, I want to strengthen my knowledge of basic Christian doctrine, some of which I know but wish to more fully understand and some of which I accept but want to be able to defend from Scripture. I want to hide these teachings and this wisdom in my heart, so that I might strengthen my knowledge of and relationship with him and ultimately "glorify God and enjoy him forever."
Thomas Carlyle, Scottish satirist and historian (1795-1881)
For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food, for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child. But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.