Friday, 24 January 2014

The benefit of the Shorter Catechism

The great C.H. Spurgeon had the following to say about the Shorter Catechism:
'For my part, I am more and more persuaded that the study of a good Scriptural catechism is of infinite value to our children, and I shall see that it is reprinted as cheaply as possible for your use. Even if the youngsters do not understand all the questions and answers in the “Westminster Assembly’s Catechism,” yet, abiding in their memories, it will be of infinite service when the time of understanding comes, to have those very excellent, wise, and judicious definitions of the things of God. If we would maintain orthodoxy in our midst, and see good old Calvinistic doctrines handed down from father to son, I think we must use the method of catechising, and endeavour with all our might to impregnate their minds with the things of God'
Sadly today there are many who put little value on teaching the Catechism to children. Entertainment in the church has taken over from teaching, and one place where this can be seen is in the lack of systematic catechising of children. Yet the same can be said of many adults also. They have never acquainted themselves with the contents of the Shorter Catechism, something which surely goes some way to explaining the deficiency of theological knowledge in many believers. Over the past 18 months I have managed to memorise the answer to all 107 questions in the Shorter Catechism, and can confirm from personal experience that it has been of great benefit. We would recommend that all believers seek to master it's contents, and that Sunday School teachers teach them to the children under their influence. The advantages gained from learning the Shorter Catechism are considerable.

Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Conviction, belief or opinion

It can be said of any Christian witness that for the first generation of believers their faith will be a matter of conviction, for the second generation it will only be a belief and by the time of the third generation it will be nothing more than an opinion. They may openly proclaim the same faith, yet in reality their attachment to those truths is vastly different from the generations before them. Although this may be most apparent in the youth of the church, yet it can also be the case in older believers also. It is evident today that many professing Christians have fallen away from that position of conviction which their predecessors have held and are 'carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness'. Their faith has become at best a belief and at worst an opinion. In considering what the difference is between those three positions it is easiest to reject that of an opinion, for opinions are subjective to the desires and views of those holding them. One opinion can never be truly considered to be of greater value than another opinion. As such we should never consider our scriptural standards as opinions, for John 17:17 says that ‘thy word is truth'. The doctrines of the Bible are not opinions but God’s revealed truth, a truth that is absolute and unchangeable and what it teaches can never be considered on a par with other ‘truths’.

Thursday, 9 January 2014

Protestant - not a name to be ashamed of

There is a tendency among some believers today to avoid the use of the name of Protestant when describing themselves. The will call themselves Christian, and rightly so for we are followers of Christ before we are anything else. They will describe themselves by their denominational affiliation, be that Baptist, Presbyterian, Methodist or something else. Yet when it comes to the name 'Protestant' there sometimes seems to be an aversion to using the name, as if it is something they should be ashamed of. This should not be the case, but every believer should be proud of their Protestant heritage. There are doubtless some who avoid emphasising their Protestantism because of an ecumenical spirit. They do not want to risk ruining their relationship with the local priest by proclaiming too loudly that they are Protestant. By avoiding the use of that name they can more easily blur the lines between their respective churches. Yet there are others, who have no desire for communion with Rome, but who also avoid using the name Protestant. They are not ashamed to be called Christian, yet they will not use the distinctive name of Protestant. In Northern Ireland the association of Protestantism with unionism and loyalism has caused them to be treated as one and the same, and perhaps for some this is the reason some have rejected the name Protestant. Yet they are not the same, for Protestantism is a matter of religion, not politics.