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Archive for the ‘Catechesis’ Category

The following chart gives a kind of basic taxonomy of various positions on the Sabbath within Christianity. This very helpful piece was designed by my elder, Brad Snyder. Well done, sir!

[Note, this was designed for our catechism class, which focuses on the education of our young people. Some parts could require more elucidation and explanation for adults.]

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Below is an expanded and updated set of diagrams I’ve worked on to explain covenant theology in its various dimensions. The earlier version was posted here.

I ended up making three interrelated diagrams so as to avoid things becoming too convoluted. These should be pretty intuitive for the average Reformed office-bearer and the better-educated Reformed believer. (And note, ‘construct covenants’ is a term I’ve coined. If there is a more standard one of which I’m ignorant, by all means let me know.)

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Another theological diagram as a teaching aid for my next lesson on the Westminster Shorter Catechism this Sabbath. I designed this some time back and got some feedback on it from a couple of my ministerial colleagues.

Like any diagram, it doesn’t say it all. But I think it helps distinguish the Reformed position from extremes on either side. What think ye?

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While reading through a dissertation treating confessional subscription among Presbyterians prior to the Adopting Act of 1729, I came across a discussion of the English Presbyterian Daniel Wilcox. Apparently, the influence of Enlightenment thinking regarding authority and toleration was infiltrating English Presbyterians at that time in a big way, and even Arianism began to rear its ugly head. If I’m not mistaken, this would be the caldron from which Unitarianism basically took over Presbyterianism in England.

During this intermediate period, Wilcox published a short justification for confessions and the practice of confessional subscription. Very interestingly, he puts it in the form of a catechism! Just recorded it, which you can access here.

And the original text is here:

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Thought catechism was just for the baptized children of the church? Think again. The extracts below are taken from The Memoirs of the Rev. David Brainerd:

1746

Jan..4. “Prosecuted my catechetical method of instructing. Found my people able to answer questions with propriety, beyond what could have been expected from persons so lately brought out of Heathenish darkness. In the improvement of my discourse, there appeared some concern and affection in the assembly : and especially in those of whom I entertained hopes as being truly gracious, at least several of them were much affected and refreshed.

Lord’s day, Jan. 5. “Discoursed from Matt. xii. 10—13. There appeared not so much liveliness and affection in divine service as usual. The same truths which have often produced many tears and sobs in the assembly, seemed now to have no special influence upon any in it. Near night, I proposed to have proceeded in my usual method of catechising; but while we were engaged in the first prayer, the power of God seemed to descend upon the assembly in such a remarkable manner, and so many appeared under pressing concern for their souls that I thought it much more expedient to insist upon the plentiful provision made by divine grace for the redemption of perishing sinners, and to press them to a speedy acceptance of the great salvation, than to ask them questions about doctrinal points. What was most practical, seemed most seasonable to be insisted upon, while numbers appeared so extraordinarily solicitous to obtain an interest in the great Redeemer. Baptized two persons this day : one adult, the woman particularly mentioned in my Journal of Dec. 22, and one child” (268-69). (more…)

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The following chapter entitled, “The Parson Catechizing,” is taken from George Herbert’s (1593-1633) classic of pastoral theology, A Priest to the Temple, or, The Country Parson his Character and Rule of Holy Life. Herbert, a celebrated English poet, was a minister in the Church of England. Though a conformist, his work surely merits serious attention by the heirs of nonconformity – a definitely pre-Baxter Baxterian. May the lost duty & art of pastoral catechizing be revived and stimulated by this rich contribution! [Recorded in audio here.]

* * * *

The Country Parson values catechizing highly: for there being three points of his duty; the one, to infuse a competent knowledge of salvation in every one of his flock; the other, to multiply, and build up this knowledge to a spiritual temple; the third, to inflame this knowledge, to press, and drive it to practice, turning it to reformation of life, by pithy and lively exhortations; catechizing is the first point, and but by catechizing, the other cannot be attained. Besides, whereas in sermons there is a kind of state, in catechizing there is an humbleness very suitable to Christian regeneration; which exceedingly unnameddelights him as by way of exercise upon himself, and by way of preaching to himself, for the advancing of his own mortification; for in preaching to others, he forgets not himself, but is first a sermon to himself, and then to others; growing with the growth of his parish.

He useth, and preferreth the ordinary church catechism, partly for obedience to authority, partly for uniformity sake, that the same common truths may be every where professed, especially since many remove from parish to parish, who like Christian soldiers are to give the word, and to satisfy the congregation by their catholic answers.

(more…)

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[NOTE: The diagram below has since been expanded and reposted here on March 10, 2022.]

Here is something I designed for our catechism class to help young and old track with the main contours of Covenant Theology and its bearing on redemptive history. Comments below.

S Cat 020 The Covenants [CCat]

Much of this is self-explanatory for those with a working knowledge of Reformed doctrine. But a bit of clarification on my design. I added a dashed, horizontal line & arrow from Covenant of Works moving through the OT and NT dispensations to help reduce the impression that it is somehow a cipher after the Fall. I also configured the OT period to begin at Sinai (as technically it does), though canonically it usually embraces everything from Genesis to Malachi. Third, the dashed, vertical line above Sinai intersecting the horizontal lines of the Moral and Ceremonial law is intended to reflect the development and institutionalization of the latter and the explicit publication of the former. Last, the dashed and hard vertical lines at the cross represent the distinction between the definitive abolition of these laws at 33(-ish) A.D. and their actual, outward end with the destruction of the Temple and Jerusalem in 70 A.D.

I omitted the ‘biblical’ covenants (Noahic, Abrahamic, Davidic), leaving that for another day and another diagram.

And now you’ll need a chart to understand all that! Seriously, though, if you can help me perfect this further, I’m open. Just as long as you’re no Dispy, Hyper-Preterist, or any of the countless bunny trails from good old 1646 Federalism.

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The second installment of my recording of Doolittle’s treatise on catechizing. With each page, I am more and more convinced that this is truly a masterpiece of pastoral and pedagogical wisdom. In this most recent installment, I’m stuck once again with how truly evangelistic catechesis should be. Hardly a clinical exercise!  And he pleads with ignorant adults to come under the yoke as well.

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IMG_1621“The Assembly, considering that the long-waited-for fruits of the Gospel, so mercifully planted and preserved in this land, and the reformation of ourselves and families, so solemnly vowed to God of late in our Covenant, cannot take effect except the knowledge and worship of God be caried from the pulpit to every family within each parish, hath, therefore, appointed that every minister, besides his paines on the Lord’s day, shall have weekly catechising of some part of the paroch, and not altogether cast over the examination of the people till a little before the communion. Also, that in every familie the worship of God be erected where it is not both morning and evening, and that the children and servants be catechised at home by the masters of the families, whereof account shall be taken by the minister and elders assisting him in the visitation of every family; and, lest they fail, that visitation of the severall kirks be seriously followed by every Presbyterie, for this end among others. The execution and successe whereof, being tried by the Synods, let it be represented to the next Generall Assembly.

-Acts of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, 1639

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This late 17th century treatise on ministerial catechesis by Robert Doolittle is simply masterful. A few highlights are worth mentioning. He argues that catechesis should not just be a discipline for the young, but also for the old. One is also struck by the great importance he places on stocking the mind with the furniture of foundational, biblical doctrine. And it is hardly an academic exercise – eternity hangs in the balance. No knowledge, no salvation!

Below is a sample. I’ve simply inserted images from the document. Yes, it’s in an old script. But give it a go, and it will come before long. Note that some s’s look like f’s.

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