Monday, June 27, 2016

Conversation at Bible Study last week turned to the catechism.  The people in the group came from different denominations, but the idea of "the catechism" was well known to all.  In brief, catechisms were written in simple question and answer form designed to give children a basic understanding of the tenants of our faith.

For example, question one in the current catechism of the Presbyterian Church in Canada reads:
Question 1. What is God’s purpose for our lives?

We have been made for joy: joy in knowing, loving and serving God, joy in knowing,
loving and serving one another, joy in the wonder of all God’s works.
Gen 1:27-28 So God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he
created them; male and female he created them. God blessed them.
Isa 65:18 For I am about to create Jerusalem as a joy, and its people as a delight.
Ps 40:8 I delight to do your will, O my God.

See also: Isa 58:2; Job 22:26; Lk 1:47; Jn 16:22,24; Rom 7:22; Phil 4:4; Rev 19:7

An older version of another catechism was recalled as"

1. Who made you?
God made me.

2. Who is God?
God is the Creator (Maker) of Heaven and earth and of all things. 

The conversation sent me hunting.  I could not find any copies of a simple catechism in our pews but I did find "Living Faith."  This is a statement of Christian belief, designed for adults.  The introduction to the booklet reads:  "In every generation the church needs to confess its faith anew.  That confession must at one and the same time be the ancient faith of the church and yet spoken into the mood and questions of its own time."
This little book is a statement, not a catechism, but there are echos of the simple questions mentioned above.  In chapter two, God, Creator and Ruler, section 2 is titled "our Creation" and reads, "the mystery of human existence is that we belong to God and have been made in the divine image.  In God we live and move and have our being." 
 In a section on the church we read, "for life's true purpose is to glorify and to enjoy God."

The book is divided into ten chapters, 

  • God, 
  • God, Creator and Ruler, 
  • God in Christ,
  •  God the Holy Spirit, 
  • The Bible,
  •  Faith,
  • God's Church, 
  • Our life in Christ, 
  • The Church Reaches out, 
  • Our Hope in God.

For most of us, church membership classes were a very long time ago.  If you want a quick refresher course on what our church believes and why, Living Faith, is a good place to go.
There is a pdf version here.  It's about half-way down the page under "subordinate standards."  
Or you can pick it up off the shelf in the narthex at SPPC.  It's right beside the hymnbooks and Bibles.

Just a side note of particular interest to our congregation.  One of the authors of "Living Faith" was Rev. Dr. Cecil Kirk, who spent his retirement years at SPPC and often spoke from the pulpit.  As you read "Living Faith," if you listen hard, perhaps you'll hear his Irish lilt resonating in the text.

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