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Puritan Catechism Question of the Week
Q 16. Into what estate did the fall bring mankind?
A. The fall brought mankind into a state of sin and misery.

Name: Mike
Location: California, United States
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Monday, January 16, 2006

A Puritan Catechism - Part 1

Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth (2 Tim. 2:15)

The place of catechisms are far removed from the daily life of most Protestants. This could be for a variety of reasons. I suspect that the notion that it sounds "Roman Catholic" is one hinderance. I'm pretty sure that the hostility towards Systematc Theology is another problem. However, my strongest guess is that it is hard work to memorize and we cannot see the benefit of catechisms.

In an age where we have far more biblical resources than any other generation, we are surely the most biblically illiterate soceity. Part of the reason is that we do not study the bible or theology nearly enough. The extent of average Christian studying is maybe a chapter of bible reading per day (if the church has recently started a "Read the Bible in a year" plan) and a sermon on Sunday (which may or may not include the exposition of Scripture).

One way to combat this is to become familiar with the Catechisms of old. By far the most popular is the Westminster Shorter Catechism which can be located online easily.

The chatechisms are framed in a Question and Answer format to aid memorization. At this blog, I will be posting 3 questions per week for as long as it is beneficial for at least myself. I will be using A Puritan Chatechism compiled by C.H. Spurgeon. This catechism is almost identical to the Westminster Shorter (Question 1 will show this as the most famous question is repeated verbatim). However, there are less questions (82 instead of 107) and it may more closely reflect my theology in a few places.

So then, an introduction and the first three questions:

I am persuaded that the use of a good Catechism in all our families will be a great safeguard against the increasing errors of the times, and therefore I have compiled this little manual from the Westminster Assembly's and Baptist Catechisms, for the use of my own church and congregation. Those who use it in their families or classes must labour to explain the sense; but the words should be carefully learned by heart, for they will be understood better as years pass.May the Lord bless my dear friends and their families evermore, is the prayer of their loving Pastor.

1. Q. What is the chief end of man?

A. Man's chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him for ever.

2. Q.
What rule has God given to direct us how we may glorify him?

A. The Word of God which is contained in the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments is the only rule to direct us how we may glorify God and enjoy him.

3. Q. What do the Scriptures principally teach?

A. The Scriptures principally teach what man is to believe concerning God, and what duty God requires of man.


Blogger kate said...

Can you [more specifically] explain what the difference is between the regular one and Spurgen's? Which one do you think I should work towards?

thanks mike
♥ kate

12:50 PM  
Blogger Mike Garner said...

By "regular one" I assume that you mean the Westminster Shorter Catechism. The three famous documents are The Westminster Confession of Faith, The Westminster Shorter Catechism, and the Westminster Larger Catechism.

However, Westminster is not the only attempt to articulate Reformed theology. The Canons of Dordt, The Belgic Confession, etc. These try to articulate the faith in a systematic way with various articles.

Now, there are also catechisms that are written mainly for the purpose of educating children. Again, there are several of these:
Westminster Larger
Westminster Shorter
Heidelberg Catechism
The Children's Catechism

So, inside of Reformed Theology there is not like 1 main council or 1 main catechism (like the Roman church may have).

Now, between Spurgeon's and the Westminster shorter is not a huge difference. A lot of questions are exactly the same. Some noticible differences are as follows:
Westminster takes longer to work through the commandments.
Westminster has many questions on the Lord's Prayer which Spurgeon does not include.

Spurgeon comes from a Baptist perspective where Westminster is Presbyterian.

WSC Question 95 To whom is Baptism to be administered?

Part of the answer includes "but the infants of such as are members of the visible church are to be baptized."

Spurgeon Question 77
Are the infants of such as are professing to be baptised?

Answer: The infants of such as are professing believers are not to be baptised, because there is neither command nor example in the Holy Scriptures for their baptism.

Spurgeon approaches Baptism and the Lord's supper as Ordinances rather than Sacraments.

For example, Question 91 in WSC:
91. How do the sacraments become effectual means of salvation?

Compare the Spurgeon's question 74:
74. Q. How do Baptism and the Lord's Supper become spiritually helpful?

Westminster is far more popular but you will probably not agree with most things. You may agree with every question of Spurgeon's catechism. Plus Westminster is longer!

Hope that helps a little.


4:23 PM  
Blogger kate said...

ahh, i didn't understand that there were more than one catechism. i had only heard of the westminister catechism! i understand what you're saying about baptism/sacraments, but why does spurgeon have fewer questions about the lord's prayer?

i hope you aren't saying that i'll choose to memorize spurgeon's instead because it's shorter :p

♥ kate

4:30 PM  
Blogger Mike Garner said...

i hope you aren't saying that i'll choose to memorize spurgeon's instead because it's shorter :p

That's exactly what I'm saying :)

Okay! Examples from the Ten Commandments.


Q. 42. What is the sum of the ten commandments?
A. The sum of the ten commandments is, to love the Lord our God with all our heart, with all our soul, with all our strength, and with all our mind; and our neighbor as ourselves.[116]

Q. 43. What is the preface to the ten commandments?
A. The preface to the ten commandments is in these words, I am the Lord thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.[117]

Q. 44. What doth the preface to the ten commandments teach us?
A. The preface to the ten commandments teacheth us, that because God is the Lord, and our God, and Redeemer, therefore we are bound to keep all his commandments.[118]

Q. 45. Which is the first commandment?
A. The first commandment is, Thou shalt have no other gods before me.[119]

Q. 46. What is required in the first commandment?
A. The first commandment requireth us to know and acknowledge God to be the only true God, and our God; and to worship and glorify him accordingly.[120]

Q. 47. What is forbidden in the first commandment?
A. The first commandment forbiddeth the denying,[121] or not worshiping and glorifying, the true God as God,[122] and our God;[123] and the giving of that worship and glory to any other, which is due to him alone.[124]

Q. 48. What are we specially taught by these words before me in the first commandment?
A. These words before me in the first commandment teach us, that God, who seeth all things, taketh notice of, and is much displeased with, the sin of having any other God.[125]

That includes Preface and Commandment 1.

Now from Spurgeon:

41. What is the sum of the ten commandments?

42. Which is the first commandment?

43. What is required in the first commandment?

WSC = 42-48
Spurgeon = 41-43

In Christ alone,

5:10 PM  
Blogger kate said...

so spurgeon doesn't include the lord's prayer at all? maybe i'll memorize the lord's prayer questions from WSC after i memorize all of Spurgeon's.

that is, if i can get through Spurgeon's! interterm is killing me.

♥ kate

4:19 PM  

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