Wednesday, November 19, 2008

A Catechism for Our Day

First, a little background.  And then, a brief quiz...


I have not always been a Reformed Christian.  Up until the age of 11 I never once set foot in a church building.  However, by the grace of God, my family and I were converted to Christ in the late 1970's and began attending a Baptist church.  Now one thing that I think many of us Reformed Christians take for granted is our historical heritage, particularly our creeds and confessions.  We often don't appreciate the treasure and blessing that these are...not that they are on the same level of Scripture, but that the faithfully and accurately reflect the teaching of Scripture.  

Although I graduated with a B.A. in Biblical Studies and Theology and a Master of Divinity, up to the time I was 26 years old, I thought that creeds and confessions were something from the Roman Catholic Church.  It was only when I began to read authors such as Michael Horton, R.C. Sproul, Louis Berkhof, and others that I began to see how rich the creeds and confessions are.  As a minister now in the United Reformed Churches in North America, I subscribe what are known as "The 3 Forms of Unity" (Belgic Confession of Faith, Heidelberg Catechism, Canons of Dort).  In other words, I confess that these documents are faithful summaries of the Bible and that I will teach what they teach and will strenuously oppose what they oppose.  Picture it like this:  The 3 Forms of Unity serve as a fence--they keep out what should be kept out (false teaching) and they keep in what should be kept in (sound doctrine).

In a day when many supposedly Reformed churches are trying to distance themselves from their doctrinal heritage, we must recommit ourselves to faithfully teaching and catechizing our people.  We must not be ashamed of our history or our confessions.  Instead, we should thank God for the gifts that these are and remain steadfast in promoting sound doctrine as summarized in these documents.

Quiz Time

Now in our own day, if some people were given the task of writing a new catechism, what would it look like.  Well, I fear that these would be some of the questions.  I have not doctored any of this (either the questions or the answers).  This is a real interview with a real person.  Your job is to tell me who said this.  No googling!

Question:  Who is Jesus?
Answer:  Jesus is an historical figure for me, and he's also a bridge between God and man, in the Christian faith, and one that I think is powerful precisely because he serves as that means of us reaching something higher.  He's also a wonderful teacher.  I think it's important for all of us, of whatever faith, to have teachers in the flesh and also teachers in history.

Question:  You don't believe that? (that God will send some to hell)
Answer:  I find it hard to believe that my God would consign four-fifths of the world to hell.  I can't imagine that my God would allow some little Hindu kid in India who never interacts with the Christian faith to somehow burn for all eternity.  That's just not part of my religious makeup.

Question:  Do you believe in heaven?
Answer:  What I believe in is that if I live my life as well as I can, that I will be rewarded.  I don't presume to have knowledge of what happens after I die.  But I feel very strongly that whether the reward is in the here and now or in the hereafter, the aligning of myself to my faith and my values is a good thing.

Question:  What is sin?
Answer:  Being out of alignment with my values.

Question:  What happens if you have sin in your life?
Answer:  I think it's the same thing as the question about heaven.  In the same way that if I'm true to myself and my faith that that is its own reward; when I'm not true to it, it's its own punishment.

OK...two things:  (1) Who said that?  (2) You should now get on Monergism Books website immediately (click here) and order Michael Horton's book "Christless Christianity."


Anonymous said...

Rev. Robert Schuller, of Chrystal Cathedral infamy.

Soli Deo Gloria said...

President-elect Obama

Joyce said...

Could it be the Your Best Life Now man? Or maybe it's Billy Graham?

Mike said...

Sounds like JO, but it could be any number of folk.

Mike said...

Oh man. I just googled and actually found the whole interview from 2004. Wow. Just wow.

Dan said...

I'm going to go with Dr. Phil.

Kevin Efflandt said...

Well, Soli Deo Gloria nailed it...those were the words of Barack Obama. Now this should remind us that since President-Elect Obama professes to be a Christian, we should be praying that the Lord would make that profession real in his life.