Monday, September 30, 2013

Take the Catechetical Challenge

Luther's Small Catechism has been referred to as the "layman's Bible." For those familiar with confessional statements in general but unfamiliar with Luther's Small Catechism, this statement can sound rather blasphemous. However, when you read it you realize how full of Scripture it really is. It covers all the major doctrines in a very concise way. Orthodox Catechisms, the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the Westminster Shorter Catechism, the Heidelberg Catechism, and the various Baptist catechisms, all make references to Scripture or have footnotes citing Scriptural passages, but they don't quote Scripture directly in the way that Luther's Small Catechism does. To memorize Luther's Small Catechism is to memorize Scripture itself. Just compare these various catechisms in the way they deal with the Lord's Supper or baptism. Luther is able to plainly state a summary of what Scripture says and then provide a Bible verse or passage that says the exact same thing. None of these other catechisms are able to do that. Some would argue that Luther is taking these verses out of context and that the totality of Scripture testifies against what he says. However, they cannot come up with a single Bible verse to support their position. If the totality of Scripture teaches something you should be able to find a passage that teaches it otherwise the appeal to the totality is really just an excuse to perpetuate a man-made tradition. Many of these churches that came out of the Reformation teach the perspicuity (or clarity) of Scripture. However, if it's difficult to take many of these churches seriously when they interpret "Baptism now saves you" to mean that baptism doesn't save you or interpret "This is my body" to mean that this is not Christ's body. Luther teaches us in his catechism to cling tightly to the Words of Christ and to ignore the words of the devil who is always asking, "Did God really say...?" Christ died and rose again for you. It is only in His Word that you can have confidence in a theological marketplace with so many competing inferences that are supposed to give us what Jesus and the Apostles "really" meant but apparently said so poorly. Faith clings to the Word of Christ and ignores all the rationalizations of man.


Andrew said...

Right on Chuck.

Anonymous said...

It's funny that you should write this today. I just looked at the Belgic Confession for the first time and I was struck by the flowery and loose language.