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Archive for the ‘Family Religion’ Category

“What a union is that which exists between two believers, who have in common the same hope, the same desire, the same mode of living, the same service of the Lord; like brother and sister, united both in spirit and in flesh, they kneel down together; they pray and fast together; they teach, exhort, and support each other with gentleness; they go together to the house of God, to the table of the Lord; they share one another’s troubles, persecutions, and pleasures; they conceal nothing from each other; they do not avoid one another; they visit the sick and succour the needy; the singing of psalms and hymns is heard among them; they rival each other in singing with the heart to their God. Christ is pleased to see and hear these things; he sends down his peace upon them. Where two or three are thus met he is with them; and where he is the Evil One can not come.”

– Tertullian (c. 160 – c. 220 A.D.)

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Let’s face it.  Those of us who practice family worship frequently don’t feel like it, often fall into formalism, and end off hopping down way too many bunny trails.  How many times, too, is the whole business interrupted because the little one has a runny nose (or worse, smelly drawers)?  The boy isn’t sitting up?  Or older sis is annoying the younger for the umpteenth time?   And after a long day of homeschooling, errands, cleaning, and damage controlling, mom is frazzled – and dad is just plain socked.   At its best, family worship is usually nondescript; at its worst, it approaches something like a three-ring circus.

And yet, when we look back on it more impartially, we find that there has been glory there all along.   After the drill is done – and done with some habit – we see in faith that the very rhythm itself has been wonderful.  All the children know their places.  The catechumens say their lines.  The old songs of Zion are taken up and singing fills the room; and those who can’t read croon right along.  The humble family Bible is taken out, and father reads a portion.  And then the approach to the throne of grace.

Yes, it’s flawed.  Messy even.  And we must confess that it is fraught with sin.  But it is covered in the blood and accepted by the Father.  Let’s open our eyes – there is glory here.  Things into which the very angels desire to look.

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The following is a review of Ashbel Green’s Lectures on the Shorter Catechism by Archibald Alexander in 1830.  Alexander (1772-1851) was the  first President of Princeton Seminary and a venerable patriarch of American Presbyterianism.  The following presents the bulk of this review, which treats the warrant and nature of the good old plan of Presbyterian catechizing.

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[If] we do not entirely misinterpret the temper and taste of the times in which we live, doctrinal catechisms, and lectures explanatory of such catechisms, are not the books which will be sought after and read with avidity. The religious taste of most readers is, we fear, greatly vitiated by works of fiction and other kinds of light reading. Nothing will now please, unless it be characterized by novelty and variety; and while many new means of instruction have been afforded to our youth, in which we sincerely rejoice, we are so old fashioned in our notions, as to feel regret that in our own church those excellent little summaries of Christian doctrine, the Westminster Catechisms, are falling with many into disuse. Our numerous (more…)

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