Sunday, August 19, 2012

A Baptist catechism?

When I was growing up the kids I knew who went to "Catechism" were Catholics and we Baptists were "non-creedal" which was somehow the opposite. The "Desiring God" site offers, free, a pdf of "A Baptist Catechism" — with Commentary from John Piper," and Piper argues its appropriateness for Baptists as he introduces it:
WHAT IS A CATECHISM?

In 1 Corinthians 14:19 Paul says, “In the church I would rather speak five words with my mind, in order to instruct others, than ten thousand words in a tongue.” In Galatians 6:6 he says, “Let him who is taught the word share all good things with him who teaches.” Acts 18:25 says that Apollos “has been instructed in the way of the Lord.”

In each of these verses the Greek word for “instruct” or “teach” is katecheo. From this word we get our English word “catechize.” It simply means to teach biblical truth in an orderly way. Generally this is done with questions and answers accompanied by biblical support and explanation.

WHAT IS THE HISTORY OF THIS CATECHISM?

This is a slightly revised version of “The Baptist Catechism” first put forth by Baptists in 1689 in Great Britain. It was adopted by the Philadelphia Baptist Association in 1742. It is patterned on the well-known reformed Westminster Catechism. The few comments in the earlier questions are meant to help parents make things plain to their children.

IS THERE A BIBLICAL PATTERN OF DOCTRINE?

Several texts teach that there is. For example, in Romans 6:17 Paul gives thanks that “you have become obedient from the heart to the pattern of teaching to which you were committed.” 2 Timothy 1:13 says, “Follow the pattern of sound words which you heard from me.” Acts 2:42 says, “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching.” 2 Thessalonians 2:15 says, “Stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught by us.” And Acts 20:27 says, “I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole counsel of God.”

So it appears that there was a body of authoritative instruction and even a way of teaching it in the early church.
A Baptist Catechism [pdf] It strikes me that this might be a good discussion starter for adult classes - to what extent are these things we actually believe? And, if we don't, should we? This catechism reflects a "reformed" theology and would have been used by "Particular" Baptists. Did "General" Baptists have anything comparable? Seventh Day Baptists of either tendency will have some difficulty with how the Fourth Commandment is explained on page 24, although each might approve the explanation of how the Sabbath should be observed.

"The Baptist Catechism" — with Commentary from John Piper - Desiring God