Christianity 201

June 25, 2012

Call and Response: An Affirmation of Faith

Filed under: Uncategorized — paulthinkingoutloud @ 5:28 pm
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For many readers here, catechism is a foreign word.

Dictionary.com defines it as:

Ecclesiastical .

a.

an elementary book containing a summary of the principles of the Christian religion, especially as maintained by a particular church, in the form of questions and answers.

b.

the contents of such a book.

I remember hearing about my Catholic friends — the ones who did not go to Roman Catholic schools — having to go to church on Saturday mornings for catechism classes. More recently, I’ve heard of LDS (Mormon) kids who must be at their local house of worship at 6:30 AM for similar types of instruction.

But probably the most interesting form of catechism is that practiced by the Reformed Churches before congregants in their early teens undergo “Profession of Faith;” the equivalent of Confirmation in Episcopal or Catholic traditions. This instruction consists of learning the Heidelberg Catechism which is written in a style similar to the Hebrew form of instruction,  done as a series of questions and answers. In the denomination’s hymnbook, The Psalter, the questions and answers appear in the form of readings that, properly used in worship services, reiterate the teaching throughout adulthood.

1  Q. What is your only comfort in life and death?

    A. Tha I am not my own
      but belong —
             body and soul
             life and death —
      to my faithful Savior Jesus Christ.  …
6. Q. Did God create man so wicked and perverse?
     A. No
           God created man good and in his own image,
           that is, in true righteousness and holiness,
           so that he might
                  truly know God his creator
                  love him with all his heart,
                  and live with him in eternal happiness
          for his praise and glory.
No study of the notion of catechism is complete without a mention of the idea of creed.

noun

1.

any system, doctrine, or formula of religious belief, as of a denomination.

2.

any system or codification of belief or of opinion.

3.

an authoritative, formulated statement of the chief articles of Christian belief, as the Apostles’ Creed,  the Nicene Creed, or the Athanasian Creed.

A year ago, in preparation for introducing the song Creed by Rich Mullins, we talked about the elements of a creed as containing the non-negotiables of the faith. Today we’re re-introducing the song Yes I Believe by John Blake. Although it does use a sort of call and response lyric that is so appropriate to the content, it is more a song of proclamation or affirmation.

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