Experimental Catechesis

The news of the gospel allies teaming up with Tim Keller to produce a catechism is a target too big to miss. Given the urban hipster brand of TKNY, one can only wonder if the catechism (which is supposed to include material from the older catechisms) will have Q&A’s like this:

Q. What is the chief end of man?
A. Man’s chief end is to glorify God and enjoy him hedonistically, especially in the city.

Q. How does God execute his decrees?
A. God executes his decrees in the works of creation, providence, and urbanism.

You get the point.

Keller’s own explanation for the import of catechesis, however, did not produce laughs but did cause some head scratching. He begins with a Jeremiah-like lament:

The church in Western culture today is experiencing a crisis of holiness. To be holy is to be “set apart,” different, living life according to God’s Word and story, not according to the stories that the world tells us are the meaning of life.

This is a curious way to begin for someone whose church has been such a booster of a city not exactly known for its restraint and modesty. If you wanted to be holy, you might pick a different city — say, Toledo — in which to live and minister. Granted, New Yorkers also need to be holy. But the pro-city rhetoric of Keller and Redeemer PCA has not echoed Tertullian, as in what has Jerusalem to do with Athens? Instead, the refrain has been more like how can Athens embody Jerusalem.

When Keller turns to his brief for catechesis he invokes the sort of experiential piety that Old Lifers have long associated with New Life Presbyterianism.

Catechesis is an intense way of doing instruction. The catechetical discipline of memorization drives concepts in deep, encouraging meditation on truth. It also holds students more accountable to master the material than do other forms of education.

Truth be told, catechesis can actually be dull, tedious, and hard. And the results of mastering the doctrines taught in the answers will not necessarily be immediate. If you carry around the truths long enough, you may begin to see their significance. But just like the process of learning the difference between the nominative and accusative cases in Greek grammar seems pedantic until the student goes farther in reading and even writing (as is the case with grammar instruction more generally), so to the doctrinal grammar of the catechism will likely strike many students as boring. The new case for catechesis really should set expectations at the right level.

Keller appeals to another warm and fuzzy reason for catechesis when he writes:

Catechesis is also different from listening to a sermon or lecture—or reading a book—in that it is deeply communal and participatory. The practice of question-answer recitation brings instructors and students into a naturally interactive, dialogical process of learning.

Again, I wonder if Keller is getting catechumens’ hopes unrealistically up. Communal and participatory is not what comes to mind when I think of taking out my Shorter Catechism pocket cards while I was out walking and memorizing the catechism. “Deeply” communal and participatory produces a giggle. Of course, catechesis done in a certain environment could turn out to be communal and participatory. But the catechism itself won’t do this. It will require a pastor, elders, parents and teachers creating settings that may have such qualities.

And if that’s the case, if the deeply communal nature of catechesis depends more on the environment than the catechism itself, then I sure hope the gospel allies are going to provide a manual that describes wall colors, carpeting or wood floor covering, lighting options, room temperatures (radiators or forced air?), seating arrangements, and which cookies are best dunked in milk to go with the topic of baptism. Call it New Measures Catechesis (and hear John Williamson Nevin’s bones rattling around in his grave).

Share/Bookmark
This entry was posted in Because Someone Has to Provide Oversight and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

108 Comments

  1. sean
    Posted October 15, 2012 at 5:47 pm | Permalink

    Bleh. Q #26 answer needs to be a blog post.

    “Q 26
    What else does Christ’s death redeem?
    Christ’s death is the beginning of the redemption and renewal of every part of
    fallen creation, as he powerfully directs all things for his own glory and
    creation’s good.”

    Zrim, had a good line on bringing our pets to receive the sacraments.

  2. G Zagnoli
    Posted October 15, 2012 at 5:53 pm | Permalink

    “Truth be told, catechesis can actually be dull, tedious, and hard.”
    Especially if you do it the old fashioned way, with a hard copy bible to reference proof texts.

  3. Philippe
    Posted October 15, 2012 at 5:57 pm | Permalink

    I especially liked how David Mathis of Desiring God plugs the catechism with: “is friendly to both presbyterians and baptists (see Question 44)”. Well how about that…

  4. Lewis
    Posted October 15, 2012 at 6:21 pm | Permalink

    Why do New Life Presbyterians need to validate an activity by way of it’s contribution to “community”? Is that their way of flexing their urban muscle?

    On second thought, two can play at this game:

    “Drinking beer with friends is also different from listening to a sermon or lecture—or reading a book—in that it is deeply communal and participatory. The practice of drinking beer with friends brings instructors and students into a naturally interactive, dialogical process of learning.”

    Bam! Just validated my Friday night at the pub… Maybe I can invite some New Lifers to “experience community” with me , though, I don’t peg Piper as the beer drinking type.

  5. Richard Smith
    Posted October 15, 2012 at 7:02 pm | Permalink

    D.G. Hart: seating arrangements, and which cookies are best dunked in milk to go with the topic of baptism.

    RS: If you dunked an adult cookie in the milk, it would be a Baptist version. If you sprinkle a tiny cookie with the milk, it would a Paedobaptist version. It seems that this one is quite simple.

  6. Bobby
    Posted October 15, 2012 at 8:16 pm | Permalink

    I, for the life of me (no pun intended) can’t understand, some of the TGC guys insistence, on having to jazz everything up. As if it would be a better catechism because TGC put it out with it’s stamp of approval. My church has been going through the Heidelberg for the past year and will end in December. People kept telling us that we were going to be bored and so on but the congregation has loved it. We have all grown tremendously from the study. Shaking my head…

    Phillippe – We are credo and that hasn’t been an issue for us going through the HC.

    Richard – Get back to you soon. Thanks for your response.

  7. todd
    Posted October 15, 2012 at 8:22 pm | Permalink

    Does anyone see in this creation renewal theology a resurrection of Moltmann? Only back then it was called liberalism. Just saying.

  8. Posted October 15, 2012 at 9:16 pm | Permalink

    I think I’ll stick to the Heidelberg & The Westminster. Why reinvent the wheel? Is there no catechism that goes with the London Baptist Confession?

  9. B
    Posted October 15, 2012 at 9:17 pm | Permalink

    While looking back I am very thankful my parent’s made my siblings and I learn the catechisms, the actual learning process does not bring back my fondest childhood memories.

    By the time we said it for the pastor, the fastest of us could get from “Man’s chief…” to “…We say AMEN!” in about 16 minutes. Does speed of communal interaction make one even more “Set apart” or less?

    …probably a question best saved for the new catechism

  10. B
    Posted October 15, 2012 at 9:32 pm | Permalink

    whoa, I didn’t read the whole ‘catechism’ but I did notice that like modifications of old hymns and newer Bible translations, the flow of the answers is almost non-existent and will prove very difficult to memorize. What we have lost more than catechesis is readable writing skills…maybe they should put out a book on that.

    Also…the ten commandments section is reduced to 4 or 5 questions…very nice. Anyone concerned with an ignoring of the law (i.e. Football Day) should only be more concerned with this.

    Why dumb down, minimize, and in some ways ‘stupify’ something that is good and proven over many centuries? Because people are lazy? Because we want a name for ourselves?

    Seems like a step backwards in catechesis…

  11. Posted October 15, 2012 at 9:33 pm | Permalink

    I’m a little confused here. We shouldn’t describe the process of memorization as “deep” or “meditative” because it can be tedious and boring? And we shouldn’t emphazise the communal nature of catechesis because then you can’t enjoy reading the catechism by yourself on a (meditative?) walk in the woods? Or because if we emphasize the communal nature of teacher and pupil in dialog we must care more about carpets and cookies than content? This is pure silliness. I would love to read a substantial critique of this new catechim (after you’ve actually read it, of course), because I personally see no reason for writing a new one in the first place. But this sort of psudo-critique serves no one.

  12. Posted October 15, 2012 at 9:44 pm | Permalink

    David, why not do as Nike tells us — just catechize. Why the need to oversell it? And what have the allies been doing about catechesis before now?

    No one said this is a substantial critique. But since much of Redeemer NYC is about affect (rather than substance), critique of form is what you get.

    Have a nice day.

  13. Bobby
    Posted October 15, 2012 at 10:44 pm | Permalink

    Erik Charter – Hercules Collins, a Baptist minister, revamped the questions on Baptism so that Baptists could enjoy the use of the Heidelberg.

  14. Jonathan Tomes
    Posted October 15, 2012 at 10:46 pm | Permalink

    The point is that memorization is not “in itself” deep and communal. Those are all accidental things to the act of memorization. Catechism “in itself” is simply hard work with hopeful benefit at some point. It doesn’t make a difference if it is “deep and communal” to the memorization process. That could possibly even make the process less effective. Entertainment in learning has not been shown to improve learning. The method is rote memorization and slow exposition…the only “deepness” that matters is the “grammar of faith” written into the “deep” structures of the believers mind. The exciting thing isn’t the process. Nevertheless, it is “exciting” when the child asks a questions about the doctrine of God and in your explanation you refer back to the Q/A that they have memorized, and you see them get “excited” as they make connections. In the end, this “excitement” is neither insignificant nor ultimate…they are covenant children being nurtured and fed, and not entertained.

    What confession is this based on? It seems to contribute to the continued abstraction of the doctrines of grace from its covenantal architecture. If that was their intention, then they have suceeded. Internal consistency and coherence have been weakened once again.

    There is also the matter of how quickly this document was produced. Maybe if more time and care had been given to its production it would not be so weak on christology and sacraments (I think I hear Zwingli in there). It’s nice that he said (Q47) that the Lord’s Supper “strengthens our faith,” but that still falls far short of “receiving Christ better.”

  15. Walt S.
    Posted October 15, 2012 at 11:14 pm | Permalink

    Kellerism is the dumbest, most estrogenic movement to come along in awhile. There’s a proper way to revise standards, why can’t he submit to that? Why is he starting his own church with him as Pope in the PCA? Has his preaching converted anyone, or is he just preaching to an already-converted choir of urban SWPLs?

  16. Richard Smith
    Posted October 15, 2012 at 11:24 pm | Permalink

    Erik Charter: I think I’ll stick to the Heidelberg & The Westminster. Why reinvent the wheel? Is there no catechism that goes with the London Baptist Confession?

    RS: There is a Baptist revision of the Westminster Shorter Catechism that goes along with the LBC, but as pointed out by Bobby there is also the the revamped Heidelberg by Hercules Collins. The Baptist Catechism was put out around 1693 in London which was also known as Keach’s Catechism (Benjamin Keach). A man named Beddome wrote a commentary on that catechism in the 1740’s.

  17. Posted October 16, 2012 at 8:28 am | Permalink

    Here’s how I use the Heidelberg & Westminster with my kids. We read the Q&A and then we take the Scripture reference and read it in the context of the whole section (or even the whole chapter that it is in). Some questions have several scripture references and we just tackle 1 per night so we may take several nights to go through a question. We don’t worry too much about memorizing. We have memorized some Heidelberg’s in church and that has been valuable, however.

    As mentioned the biggest problem I have with what Keller is doing is that it reeks of the evangelical impulse to reinvent everything for “this generation”. When I was an evangelical I had a strong desire for some firmer roots, which is why I am now Reformed. The whole attitude just strikes me as arrogant and not at all appreciative of the good work of Christians who have come before us.

    I would imagine a lot of Catholics feel the same way about Vatican II.

  18. Jonathan Tomes
    Posted October 16, 2012 at 8:44 am | Permalink

    We are using six days for one question using “Training Hearts, Teaching Minds” (Starr Meade). Next year we are going through it all over again, reinforcing the QA and memorizing Scripture proofs. The goal is not excitement. After that we may either go through the WLC or the Heidelberg. Community isn’t the right word for what is going on…forced labor of the mind might be better. Not “mastery” but presence of data and structures.

  19. Zrim
    Posted October 16, 2012 at 8:47 am | Permalink

    Bobby, revamping the questions on baptism so that Baptists could enjoy the use of the HC sounds sort of jazzed up in a TGC sort of way—admixture of latitudinarianism and affect.

  20. Posted October 16, 2012 at 10:07 am | Permalink

    Pastor Danny Hyde and the URC in Oceanside, CA has a really nice printing of the Three Forms that we have used for years. It is the best I have encountered. I refer to it all the time.

  21. Richard Smith
    Posted October 16, 2012 at 10:40 am | Permalink

    Zrim: Bobby, revamping the questions on baptism so that Baptists could enjoy the use of the HC sounds sort of jazzed up in a TGC sort of way—admixture of latitudinarianism and affect.

    RS: But then again, you do not follow the original writing of the original Confession. Maybe, then, the Baptists simply changed a few things to be more biblical. When your Confession was changed, they did not change the whole thing, but just the one point of disagreement. There is nothing inherently wrong with changing a Confession or catechism or even writing a new one. When the WCF and its catechisms were written, those were new at the time. There does not seem to be anything wrong with new translations of the Bible either, or at least I don’t find many people reading them exclusively in the original languages or even in the original (1611) King James Language. Neither do people read the original Geneva translation. The question has to do with truth and perhaps motivation.

  22. Posted October 16, 2012 at 11:21 am | Permalink

    +1 on Training Hearts, Teaching Minds. Although “next year we are going through it all over again”!! We take a much slacker pace, as in, we’ve been going for two years and we’re only on the 2nd commandment. We make no attempt to do each devotion on its specified day, we just take what’s next when we can. (Except when we can, and I fail to take the family to what’s next, but that’s a different story…)

    Also good job B — actually reciting the whole thing to a pastor, what a concept!! And I totally agree that it is important to structure the language with “flow” appropriate for memorization, which seems to be a concept lost on modern versions.

  23. Zrim
    Posted October 16, 2012 at 11:35 am | Permalink

    Richard, agreed that revision is kosher. All I ask is that it be ecclesiastical instead of individualist. It’s not too unlike hand raising—I’ve no problem with it as long as it follows the dialogical principle and is done in unison. If Hercules Collins revises the HC to be CB then can we expect Doug Wilson to revise it to be PC?

  24. Posted October 16, 2012 at 11:38 am | Permalink

    I think this should satisfy the 2k and the transformationalist alike, right?

    Q. 27 Are all people, just as they were lost through Adam, saved through Christ?
    A. No, only those who are elected by God and united to Christ by faith.
    Nevertheless God in his mercy demonstrates common grace even to those
    who are not elect, by restraining the effects of sin and enabling works of
    culture for human well-being.

    Also worth noting:
    Q. 58. What is required in the fourth commandment?
    A. The fourth commandment requireth the keeping holy to God such set times as he hath appointed in his word; expressly one whole day in seven, to be a holy sabbath to himself.

    and,

    Q 10
    What does God require in the fourth and fifth commandments?
    Fourth, that on the Sabbath day we spend time in public and private worship
    of God, rest from routine employment, serve the Lord and others, and so
    anticipate the eternal Sabbath. Fifth, that we love and honor our father and our
    mother, submitting to their godly discipline and direction.

  25. Zrim
    Posted October 16, 2012 at 12:16 pm | Permalink

    But, Ryan, don’t transformationalists already have the CRC’s “Our World Belongs to God”? At least that’s churchly.

  26. Posted October 16, 2012 at 12:30 pm | Permalink

    Zrim,
    Good point! Some guys have all the luck!

  27. Posted October 16, 2012 at 12:45 pm | Permalink

    Erik,

    Here’s how I use the Heidelberg & Westminster with my kids. We read the Q&A and then we take the Scripture reference and read it in the context of the whole section (or even the whole chapter that it is in). Some questions have several scripture references and we just tackle 1 per night so we may take several nights to go through a question. We don’t worry too much about memorizing. We have memorized some Heidelberg’s in church and that has been valuable, however.

    That seems like a really sensible approach. I am curious, when did you start with catechesis with your kids? Both of mine are too young for much comprehension, but my 4 year old is getting close, and he is working with the children’s catechism used in our PCA Sunday school curriculum.

    I’d put that question out to others who have started/worked through catechism with their kids as well.

  28. Posted October 16, 2012 at 1:04 pm | Permalink

    Jed – I have a range of kids from age 5 to age 18. The younger ones have a hard time understanding and the older ones have a hard time caring, but I do it nonetheless. I think the act of just doing it consistently is important becuase at some point when the light goes on they will start to do it (appreciating the Confessions and the Bible) themselves. I’m probably being a bit too cynical. I hope they are appreciating it now, but with teenagers it varies from day-to-day.

    I know when I was their age I would appear apathetic to my parents but at the same time would repeat everything I had been taught when I got into a discussion with my friends. I may have been messing around with my girlfriend, but doggone it, I would preach the Bible to her as well! I’ve since apologized for that.

  29. Posted October 16, 2012 at 1:12 pm | Permalink

    Ryan – The Heidelberg isn’t as Sabbtarian as the Westminster, but does acknowledge the day of rest & dilligently attending church. It goes on to make the point that we should “rest from my evil works” on all days. I’m a pretty bad Sabbath keeper, but I am trying to get better. Lack of focus on the other six days sometimes make me think I have to work on Sunday and we also have a hard time making it back to the second service even when I am at home. We live 25 miles/minutes away (interstate driving), but that’s not something we can’t overcome if it’s a priority. My wife is the driving force in not going back, but if I made helping her with the kids more of a priority I could get her to agree to do it. How many people here do both services and how far away from church are you time wise?

  30. Jonathan Tomes
    Posted October 16, 2012 at 1:18 pm | Permalink

    Kingdoms Apart: Engaging the Two Kingdoms Perspective will be out next week, any predictions?

  31. Posted October 16, 2012 at 1:18 pm | Permalink

    For two years I was an elder and I attended both services even if the rest of the family did not come back with me. I would sometimes go into the office between services, but a lot of days I would take a nap in-between. The feeling I would have when I stayed away from work all day and attended both services was kind of interesting. When you set aside your business and focus on attending worship you really get a sense of preparing to die. When we die we will be with God and our cares of this world will pass away. I think the Christian faith is mostly about preparing to die, which is why I struggle so much with evangelicalism. Evangelicalism kind of seems to be about improving our lives now (I know this isn’t true of all evangelicals). Part of the stress on being hip and relevant loses importance when you realize what you are actually doing in worship is preparing for death.

  32. sean
    Posted October 16, 2012 at 1:23 pm | Permalink

    Erik,

    My wife and I walk 10 miles, uphill, both ways, through the snow, dodging traffic, picking up trash, changing flat tires, giving directions, singing psalms, quoting scripture, as we arrive 20 minutes early to attend both services. Now we’ll add praying for you as we go.

  33. Richard Smith
    Posted October 16, 2012 at 1:29 pm | Permalink

    Zrim: Richard, agreed that revision is kosher. All I ask is that it be ecclesiastical instead of individualist. It’s not too unlike hand raising—I’ve no problem with it as long as it follows the dialogical principle and is done in unison. If Hercules Collins revises the HC to be CB then can we expect Doug Wilson to revise it to be PC?

    RS: Okay, I see. Ecclesiastical versus individual. But which ecclesiastical body could ever come up wiht one that was good for all? The WCF led quickly to the Savoy and so on.

  34. Posted October 16, 2012 at 1:34 pm | Permalink

    I think the renewed interest in catechesis is good. And I like that they brought together aspects of both the Westminster & Heidelberg catechisms. I even like some of the features of the online/app.

    I guess I don’t understand why they would feel the need to make a new catechism that does not address baptism (among other things). Have not read through it yet, but will do so.

    DGH – curious to know what you think of the actual content. Will (hopefully) be looking forward to your future post(s) on this subject.

  35. B
    Posted October 16, 2012 at 1:40 pm | Permalink

    Erik,

    You raise a good question, is there a way to discuss privately through the blog or do you have to post e-mail addresses?

  36. Posted October 16, 2012 at 1:49 pm | Permalink

    B – Through my blog? If you click on my name you can leave a comment on one of my blog posts and we can go back and forth. You can e-mail me at erikcharter@yahoo.com, too.

    Sean – I always knew you would have made a good Jesuit. Way to go!

  37. Posted October 16, 2012 at 1:52 pm | Permalink

    If the Jesuits were the Pope’s shock troops, the guys at Old Life are Machen’s shock troops (even if a few of them are light in the loafers).

  38. Posted October 16, 2012 at 2:02 pm | Permalink

    How many people here do both services and how far away from church are you time wise?

    Since I’ve been in a reformed church (the last 10 years or so) my whole family has done both services, from the “beginning”, when we had only one toddler, to now having 3 boys (6-12). But being only 3mi away definitely makes it easier (we have started occasionally riding bikes!)

    For more on Westminster vs Continental Sabbatarianism, see also here (and online discussion in subsequent posts).

  39. Posted October 16, 2012 at 2:06 pm | Permalink

    Machen’s shock troops

    Isn’t the official term “Machen’s Warrior Children”?

  40. Posted October 16, 2012 at 2:25 pm | Permalink

    Jonathan, I’m betting that Kingdoms Apart concludes that 2k is Lutheran, not Reformed. I’m also betting it won’t acknowledge the new in neo-Calvinism.

  41. Zrim
    Posted October 16, 2012 at 2:38 pm | Permalink

    Richard, why do all need to be satisfied? I’d be satisfied if all the persons who subscribed also adhered (which is hard enough). One measure of that is not having them revising or creating anew.

  42. Zrim
    Posted October 16, 2012 at 2:38 pm | Permalink

    Andy, I haven’t read either. But if it’s true that baptism isn’t addressed then maybe that’s the latitudinarianism at work.

  43. Posted October 16, 2012 at 2:41 pm | Permalink

    Baptism is addressed, but paedo/credo is not. (neither is mode). With only 52 questions, a lot is left out.

  44. Jonathan Tomes
    Posted October 16, 2012 at 2:56 pm | Permalink

    The catechism did mention “washing” in relation to Baptism. Not conclusive by any means. If you don’t mention the subjects of baptism, then isn’t the assumption that the only subjects are adults? This is especially the case when you remove covenant theology from the discussion.

    Are the presbyterian participants of TGC crypto-baptists? The lack of a position on the subjects of baptism, and the catechisms weakness on the Lord’s Supper and ecclesiology should concern members of the PCA. Is this in any way a violation of the PCA’s BCO?

  45. Zrim
    Posted October 16, 2012 at 3:10 pm | Permalink

    Bingo, Jonathon. But given the practice of many PCAs to make members of credo-baptists, this latitudinarianism seems to be in alignment, which would seem to give more affirmation than concern to PCA members.

  46. Posted October 16, 2012 at 4:13 pm | Permalink

    “Are the presbyterian participants of TGC crypto-baptists?”

    My theory is that a lot of P&R people, out of good motives or questionable motives, want to draw bigger crowds than they can being strictly P&R. Embracing infant baptism is a major hurdle for evangelicals to get over, so the easiest thing to do is minimize it as an issue. The question is, however, what is the next inconvenient doctrine that you have to minimize? Evangelicals aren’t crazy about a strong view of election either…

  47. Posted October 16, 2012 at 4:26 pm | Permalink

    Yes, but typically evangelicals will discover election on their own (by just reading their bibles), so they’ll want to join a P&R church on that basis, and baptism is usually the biggest barrier.

  48. David M
    Posted October 16, 2012 at 4:32 pm | Permalink

    This post evoked two thoughts.

    First, in the “getting back to the good ol’ days” wave of conviction, I wonder if TGC will recommend that people memorize the full catechism prior to baptism. You know, like they did in the good ol’ days.

    Second, what really bothers me about this is the absence of any agrument (that I could see) about why something new needs to be created. If TGC wants to re-invent the catechetical wheel, fine. But at least take a stand and tell us what’s wrong with what’s already out there. This smacks of innovation for the sake of relevance. If I were cynical, I’d say merchandizing might have something to do with it. But that’s probably not a fair shot. Nevertheless, it make the comment “returning to catechisis” seem a little self-serving when it’s your new catechism you’re asking people to “return” to.

  49. Posted October 16, 2012 at 4:39 pm | Permalink

    …and baptism is harder to learn on your own, I think you probably have to be in a reformed environment for a while until it clicks. So the question maybe boils down to, how do we handle those for whom only one click has occurred?

    On that topic, see here (I realize I am linking to posts where the .mp3 links are broken, but I will fix that soon, DV!)

  50. Posted October 16, 2012 at 4:49 pm | Permalink

    Rube – Not so fast on election. This is from the largest evangelical church in my hometown. They have an 1800 seat auditorium.

    A Brief Statement on Predestination

    Cornerstone Church of Ames

    The Bible affirms the doctrine of predestination, that God chooses some before the
    beginning of time purely on the basis of grace to be His children.[1] The Bible also
    affirms that human beings make choices for which we are responsible and that those
    choices have eternal consequences.[2] Often the Bible presents His sovereign act of
    predestination in the very same passage that speaks of man’s responsibility to repent
    and believe.[3] There is a mystery here. Any attempt at demonstrating that the Bible
    teaches only one side of this mystery must be rejected.[4] Others claim that the only
    way to reconcile these positions is by assuming that God’s election is based on his
    foreknowledge of our free choices. To this we would respond that there is not enough
    scriptural evidence to be sure that this is the way the two positions should be
    reconciled.[5] Again, we believe Scripture leaves room for mystery.

  51. David M
    Posted October 16, 2012 at 4:58 pm | Permalink

    I just saw this, and it kind of bugged me, emphasis mine:

    Q. 30: What is faith in Jesus Christ
    A: Faith in Jesus Christ is acknowledging the truth of everything that God has revealed in his word, trusting in him, and also receiving and resting on him alone for salvation, as he is offered to us in the gospel.

    So, in order to have faith in Christ, do I need to believe that Jonah was swallowed by a whale? Do you all read this the same way? Or is it just ambiguous enough to be unhelpful?

  52. Posted October 16, 2012 at 5:00 pm | Permalink

    The church has their own school of theology in which people can get an M.A. through Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. I wrote a long blog post arguing that election is really not a “mystery” and sent it to one of the two head pastors (whom I know). I thought he might want to run it by his theological students and see if anyone wants to argue with me. The response: crickets.

    The problem is, within evangelicalism the focus is way more on “changed lives” than it is on theology. I play basketball at this church and picked up a nice magazine that they had put together that had probably 50 stories in it about how people’s lives had been changed since they found Jesus through this church. Stories were about how people stopped drinking, or stopped using drugs, or became a better spouse, or realized they were just going through the motions at their old churches. A theology that wants to draw a lot of fine distinctions just gets in the way of all this from an evangelical perspective, which is probably why The Gospel Coalition exists in the first place.

    As long as evangelicals have greater numbers than P&R churches they really aren’t open to any cristicism because they see the greater numbers as evidence that the Spirit is working in their churches. You might as well stand outside their building and pound your head against it.

  53. Posted October 16, 2012 at 5:03 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for the clarification.

    I should have said that it included a vague/non-committal treatment of the subject & mode of baptism.

    I guess it’s kind of difficult to include a “2 views of ______” question(s) in a catechism. :)

  54. Posted October 16, 2012 at 5:04 pm | Permalink

    David M., the really interesting discussion to observe as a fly on the wall would have been to see what would have happened to Keller’s catechism if TGC folks had discovered one by Edwards. Whom do you pick? The great theologian? Or the pastor to the Big Apple?

  55. Posted October 16, 2012 at 5:06 pm | Permalink

    The thing I don’t understand is how people stay in these churches for decades. It’s one thing to be introduced to the gospel from an evangelical church — I get that. But to stay where the teaching kind of stays at stage one indefinitely? Where you are looked down upon for asking any hard questions? Where church history is not really dicussed or considered particularly interesting? It basically comes down to a situation where the gospel gets the new people in, and then it’s all about the law. It’s a kinder, gentler, version of the law, but it’s the law nonetheless.

  56. Posted October 16, 2012 at 5:07 pm | Permalink

    The over/under on Richard defending Edwards is about 10 minutes…

  57. Posted October 16, 2012 at 5:19 pm | Permalink

    I’m reading Michel Kruger’s Book, “Canon Revisted”, which is really good. He talks about Karl Barth’s existentialist view of Canon which basically says that Scripture becomes Canonical when people receive it and it impacts their lives. I’m probably oversimplifying a bit, but that kind of has a similar feel to it to what evangelicals believe. “Hey, we’re not going to be too picky about these controversial doctrines, because the main point is that people learn the basics and meet Jesus.”

  58. sean
    Posted October 16, 2012 at 5:24 pm | Permalink

    Erik,

    Actually you get told ‘maybe we’re not the church for you’, (this after already becoming a member and as if the pastor was the pope and decreeing things from on high). What’s better is when you tell him, ‘nah, that’s ok I’m good right where I’m at, but we need to work on your whole; ‘the rainbow covenant is a redemptive covenant, cuz it ain’t.’ Still, can’t figure out why that relationship never blossomed.

    What is the most disconcerting is that it’s yet another way in which Keller becomes the brand identity of the PCA and the redeemer model is assumed as ‘The Model’ and thus the continued eclipsing of a confessional idea of church with the missional. But, maybe we can do a bait and switch and say; ‘hey, it’s cool/hip to learn the catechism, see Keller does it’, and dovetail into the Larger catechism and confession of faith.

  59. sean
    Posted October 16, 2012 at 5:25 pm | Permalink

    Erik,

    That’s about right on Barth

  60. sean
    Posted October 16, 2012 at 5:27 pm | Permalink

    I gotta pick up Kruger’s work. What little I read references Kline quite a bit on Structure of Biblical Authority. Gotta be good.

  61. Posted October 16, 2012 at 6:05 pm | Permalink

    Erik,

    I’m not saying there are no evangelicals who are opposed to predestination. I’m saying there are plenty who discover it on their own and leave their evangelical churches when they fail to address the abundant and clear scriptural evidence. I.e. probably more than half my church, and I bet a significant fraction of yours as well followed this path. And this can be seen in leadership as well, Jason Stellman is a prime example (or at least he was…)

  62. Posted October 16, 2012 at 6:11 pm | Permalink

    So, in order to have faith in Christ, do I need to believe that Jonah was swallowed by a whale? Do you all read this the same way? Or is it just ambiguous enough to be unhelpful?

    In order to be a member in good standing of the (/a) visible Christian Church, I think you need to acknowledge that the book of Jonah is canonical, inerrant and infallible, and as such revealed by God for us, and true (let God be true, and every man a liar). But what is the true meaning of the hebrew words in the book of Jonah? Was a historical man named Jonah literally swallowed by an actual fish? I’ve never heard any orthodox interpreters handle it any other way, but conceivably there could be some exegetical latitude there (although I don’t see the need).

    Or maybe your question is, do I need to hold to inerrancy and infallibility to be saved?

  63. Richard Smith
    Posted October 16, 2012 at 6:23 pm | Permalink

    Erik Charter: The over/under on Richard defending Edwards is about 10 minutes…

    RS: Which would be a considerably less time than you fulfilling your promise about giving me the location of the Tennent apology. In other words, I have been waiting. Edwards needs to be explained rather than defended.

  64. G Zagnoli
    Posted October 16, 2012 at 8:50 pm | Permalink

    Have you seen it yet? Keller’s New City Catechism

    http://www.newcitycatechism.com/

  65. Bobby
    Posted October 16, 2012 at 9:22 pm | Permalink

    Zrim,

    I should say the HC would be enjoyable either way. The HC, like most catechisms are part teaching tool. Collins did a service by maintaining the spirit of the catechism while making it a useful tool for Baptists, in regards to the particular question. Surely this can not equate to TGC’s terminal need to be hip and relevant. I think these are two different categories.

  66. Jonathan Tomes
    Posted October 16, 2012 at 9:37 pm | Permalink

    Here comes the anti-polemic polemic: http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/kevindeyoung/2012/10/16/seven-cautions-for-eager-polemicists/

    Not that there isn’t some good stuff there…but the timing is funny.

  67. Zrim
    Posted October 16, 2012 at 10:05 pm | Permalink

    Bobby, I’m as convinced as you that religious celebrity and relevancy are behind much of this current effort. But being Reformed, I can’t see how one man revising essential doctrine (baptism) is any better than another neutering it. Though historically they understood each other to be their closest theological relatives, Lutherans don’t do this with Reformed catechisms, nor vice versa–why do Baptists do this with Reformed but not Lutheran catechisms?

  68. Dan
    Posted October 16, 2012 at 10:46 pm | Permalink

    Daryl,

    Maybe you should read this.

    http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/kevindeyoung/2012/10/16/seven-cautions-for-eager-polemicists/

    It seems like Keller could come out and say “Two plus two is four” and there would be a snarky rebuttal blog by you. I mean, really?

  69. David M
    Posted October 17, 2012 at 1:16 am | Permalink

    RubeRad: I’m concerned that the catechism is conflating a belief in inerrancy with saving faith in Christ. Correct me if needed (please!), but I don’t think that’s a biblical understanding of salvation. Don’t get me wrong: you’re correct in what a Christian should express belief in as they join the Church. What bothered me was the poor phrasing of the answer, with the unintended consequence of getting a pretty significant theological point wrong. Unless I’m wrong. Which could very well be the case.

  70. Posted October 17, 2012 at 6:08 am | Permalink

    Dan and Jonathan, Kevin DeYoung is good at identifying people he is writing about.

    I grant that Old Life is snarky.

    But this is not about me (amazing). It’s about Keller. To whom is he accountable? Or are the PCA and TGC just big enablers?

    If he is just another Joel Osteen, I really don’t care. It’s a free country. But claiming to be Reformed is not free and it comes with submitting to the brethren. Last I checked, Keller is in the PCA and the PCA has fraternal relations with the OPC. He has an obligation to conform to certain Presbyterian standards. He doesn’t. And for that he is praised. Not here.

  71. Jonathan Tomes
    Posted October 17, 2012 at 7:50 am | Permalink

    Agreed. My only thought was…here comes another deflection of critical reflection by TGC bloggers. As far as Deyoung being good about identifying people he is writing about, that wasn’t a strength of The Hole in Our Holiness. It was a good book and that didn’t affect the project, but still…

  72. mark mcculley
    Posted October 17, 2012 at 8:20 am | Permalink

    One of the local pca congregations is neither all that confessional nor missional. But they do sponser Heaven’s Gates and Hell’s Flames I went and watched and what I saw was not the “basics” of the gospel but a false gospel and a false Christ.

    The cross was presented as something that the devil did to Jesus. There was no presentation of sin as that which demands the justice of God so that God gives the Son to satisfy justice for the sins of His people.
    The cross was presented as something that MADE NO DIFFERENCE in the end. Since it was clearly said several times that Jesus died for every person, nobody in the audience could conclude that the difference between heaven and hell was what Jesus did on the cross. (big deal! he died for those in hell too) The difference was said to be what the listeners did. So there was no good news , but only commands to believe in a false Christ and a false gospel.
    In the end Satan gets people for whom Jesus died. That ideas brings dishonor and reproach to Jesus Christ and His work.
    The entire presentation was one long appeal to the flesh, to the natural mind. Sample statements:

    You got to humble yourself.
    You got to have the courage to say the prayer.
    It’s up to you in the next 60 seconds.
    He’s the path, but you are the chooser.
    You got to really mean it.
    If you will stand up, you will be a “special person”.
    God will not throw it in your lap.
    It’s God’s gift, but your accepting the gift is the difference.
    If you say this after me, your name will be written in the book.
    And most infamously: “just do it!”
    And then people clapped when they did it.

    And I cried. This is not about being more confessional or more theologically sophisticated than other folks, This is idolatry. I cried, helpless, not knowing what to do or to say. “God, do you want me to stand up and interrupt when they say that Jesus died for those who go to hell?” Maybe I should have. I don’t want to be a fatalist; I don’t want to shirk my responsibility. But then again, I want people to be offended at the gospel, not at me.

  73. Dan
    Posted October 17, 2012 at 9:03 am | Permalink

    Daryl,

    I still have serious concerns about your tone and your model of theological discourse. First, if you are a Presbyterian, wouldn’t you, your Session, or your Presbytery contact Keller’s Session or Presbytery to notify them of your complaint. What about contacting Keller yourself? Otherwise, it seems you just enjoy being a polemicist who just wants to complain about “That Thing/Person” every time it comes up.

    Second, theological discourse, especially among Christian brothers, should be framed by a principle of charity. Do you fairly represent your opponent, or is it just a rhetorical game? Honestly, I would love to see you produce a bullet-pointed case showing how Keller has explicitly violated the Standards he vowed to uphold in his presbytery. I am not saying you can’t make such a case, but I would prefer to see that than some of the stuff you write.

    Finally, are you a model for younger men in terms of doing theology? As a recent graduate of a Reformed seminary, I am familiar with debates about covenant theology, Kline, two kingdoms, Christ and culture, etc. However, one reason I choose not to adhere to 2K and other doctrines is that I see little humility in your writing. Even if 2kism is on the opposite end of the spectrum than theonomy, you come across as the Gary North of 2kism.

    Sorry if I sound harsh. But my desire is to see the fruit of the Spirit more evident in your writing than what I usually see. I love you as a brother in Christ, but I wish you would acknowledge to your readers that the pastors you critique are also brothers, not enemies.

  74. Jonathan Tomes
    Posted October 17, 2012 at 9:32 am | Permalink

    “one reason I choose not to adhere to 2K and other doctrines is that I see little humility in your writing.”

    Which logical fallacy is this? I’m not sure how the two are connected.

  75. Richard Smith
    Posted October 17, 2012 at 9:44 am | Permalink

    Dan: Daryl, I still have serious concerns about your tone and your model of theological discourse. First, if you are a Presbyterian, wouldn’t you, your Session, or your Presbytery contact Keller’s Session or Presbytery to notify them of your complaint. What about contacting Keller yourself? Otherwise, it seems you just enjoy being a polemicist who just wants to complain about “That Thing/Person” every time it comes up.

    RS: Dan, don’t take what I am saying as a personal attack, but there are just a few things to be noted here. If you are part of a Session or Presbytery then should you notify them or perhaps Dr. Hart himself? I guess I am wondering why are not practicing this as well as prescribing it.

    Dan: Second, theological discourse, especially among Christian brothers, should be framed by a principle of charity. Do you fairly represent your opponent, or is it just a rhetorical game? Honestly, I would love to see you produce a bullet-pointed case showing how Keller has explicitly violated the Standards he vowed to uphold in his presbytery. I am not saying you can’t make such a case, but I would prefer to see that than some of the stuff you write.

    RS: Have you applied the principle of charity to your post to Dr. Hart? There are other reasons to write what he writes than “just a rhetorical game.” I am certainly not convinced that you have fairly represented Dr. Hart here in most cases, though it may apply in the case of Jonathan Edwards and Gilbert Tennent.

    Dan: Finally, are you a model for younger men in terms of doing theology? As a recent graduate of a Reformed seminary, I am familiar with debates about covenant theology, Kline, two kingdoms, Christ and culture, etc. However, one reason I choose not to adhere to 2K and other doctrines is that I see little humility in your writing. Even if 2kism is on the opposite end of the spectrum than theonomy, you come across as the Gary North of 2kism.

    RS: Are you saying that you will not accept what is true simply because a man that writes it does not have the appearance of humility in his writing? So if I could prove to you that a man does have some humility and yet believes a few things that are heretical, would you believe it? Is it really treating Dr. Hart with charity to accuse him of pride (if there is just a little humility in his writings, then of course he is full of pride) and say he is the Garn North of 2kism? It is always better to go after a man’s arguments or positions than it is to attack the person himself. One could say that attacking the person shows little humility, but attacking a position is to debate an issue.

    Dan: Sorry if I sound harsh.

    RS: It does sound harsh, but if you were sorry wouldn’t you have deleted it rather than have posted it?

    Dan: But my desire is to see the fruit of the Spirit more evident in your writing than what I usually see.

    RS: What is your standard for fruit of the Spirit in the writings of others?

    Dan: I love you as a brother in Christ, but I wish you would acknowledge to your readers that the pastors you critique are also brothers, not enemies.

    RS: But perhaps they are not always believers. One has to pass a judgment to say one is a believer as well as one that says one is not. Or one can simply argue against the positions of others (online) and leave the judgments about whether they are believers or not to God.

  76. sean
    Posted October 17, 2012 at 9:49 am | Permalink

    Dan,

    To the degree Keller and the TGC contingent presumptively hold themselves out for theological and pastoral consumption beyond their own particular session and congregation, they are fair game for criticism and critique and evaluation by those whom they avail themselves to in their public writings/seminars/videos. If they don’t like the attention negative or otherwise they can simply choose to close up shop and show the humility and accountability of giving all their time and attention to the local bodies whom they are supposed to be serving and giving themselves for and oh, btw, who pay their salaries. To the degree Keller reinvents or strays from presbyterianism, I resent that he still finds cover and credibility under the PCA badge. And as far as TGC goes, if it’s all too much and their feelings are getting hurt and they’re worried about all the heat being generated, just go away. No one put a gun to their head and told them to be celebrity pastors, but if your ego demands that you be, well, toughen up. The world is filled with non-fanboys as well.

  77. Posted October 17, 2012 at 9:50 am | Permalink

    Dan, so you love me as a brother in Christ but hate me as a person? Please cut through the piety and just be honest.

    And that is what Old Life is designed to do along with most blogs. They are places to have a conversation, sort of like over drinks. You throw out ideas. You don’t polish them for an editor or church judicatory. It’s a conversation. And by the way, it’s not an unctuous conversation.

    For what it’s worth, if more conversations took place without the holy unction of “brotherly love,” maybe Keller would be more circumspect about what he does. Ironically, because everyone is walking on holy egg shells around him, he’s getting away with Gilbert Tennent murder. And because Keller sounds sanctified, no one looks under the hood to inspect if he’s meeting code (sorry for mixing automotive and electrical metaphors).

  78. Posted October 17, 2012 at 9:51 am | Permalink

    Thanks, Richard. It’s enjoyable seeing Edwardseanism applied to an Edwardsean.

  79. Posted October 17, 2012 at 10:02 am | Permalink

    Richard –

    I haven’t forgotton about the Tennent quote. I taught Sunday School this past Sunday about what was going on between the Adoting Act of 1729 (which required subscription to the Westminster for American Presbyterian ministers) and the Synod of 1740. Over this decade things got really heated between the Old Side & New Side Presbyterians over how to view Whitefield, The First Great Awakening, and Pietism. Hart & Muether’s 300 Year Presbyterian History & Hart’s Dictionary of P&R were both great resources. I also got an amazing definition of Pietism from Ahlstrom’s American Religious History that I will share soon.

    The reason I didn’t get back to you is I will handle Tennent’s apologies this week. I think they were key in helping the Old Side & New Side get back together in the late 1750s. I will also get into Edwards this week. All fascinating stuff and I think the class is going well.

  80. Richard Smith
    Posted October 17, 2012 at 10:09 am | Permalink

    D. G. Hart: Thanks, Richard. It’s enjoyable seeing Edwardseanism applied to an Edwardsean.

    RS: Since I have no idea of who Dan is, I was unaware he was Edwardsean. Maybe I typed too quickly. I will admit to being glad that someone is speaking out to some degree on Keller. I have wondered for quite a while (based on his DVD’s and books) how he could be considered as Reformed. However, your “he’s getting away with Gilbert Tennent murder” was an interesting statement. It appears that you are still bitter over things in history.

  81. Posted October 17, 2012 at 10:12 am | Permalink

    Richard is great. He gets beaten up here daily but he is the first to come to D.G.’s defense. Way to go, Richard.

    Dan – One thing I have noticed is that pastors who don’t thrust themselves into the public sphere don’t usually draw public cristicism. No one in the blogosphere even knows who my pastor is. If a pastor wants to be well known in public the flip side of that is that they are fair game for the kind of critiques that take place here. You need to get a little thicker skin.

  82. Richard Smith
    Posted October 17, 2012 at 10:14 am | Permalink

    Erik Charter: Richard – I haven’t forgotton about the Tennent quote. I taught Sunday School this past Sunday about what was going on between the Adoting Act of 1729 (which required subscription to the Westminster for American Presbyterian ministers) and the Synod of 1740. Over this decade things got really heated between the Old Side & New Side Presbyterians over how to view Whitefield, The First Great Awakening, and Pietism. Hart & Muether’s 300 Year Presbyterian History & Hart’s Dictionary of P&R were both great resources. I also got an amazing definition of Pietism from Ahlstrom’s American Religious History that I will share soon.

    RS: For another view, read The Accidental Revolutionary by Jerome Mahaffey. As for piety, Calvin’s definition is still quite a good one. It is where the fear of God and the love of God meet. But of course I would argue that those things certainly deal with the inner person and find a great proponent of that in Edwards.

    Erik C: The reason I didn’t get back to you is I will handle Tennent’s apologies this week. I think they were key in helping the Old Side & New Side get back together in the late 1750s. I will also get into Edwards this week. All fascinating stuff and I think the class is going well.

    RS: Just a little dab of Edwards will not do you. But at least your class is getting exposed to some issues that will require thought. Now if they will think enough to go out and read a lot of Edwards.

  83. Posted October 17, 2012 at 10:16 am | Permalink

    D.G./Muether did describe Tennent’s “The Danger of an Unconverted Ministry” as “abusive” in the 300 Year History. I tend to agree, but I was forced to admit that D.G. definitely has Old Side sympathies to my class. We have one man (an attorney) who tends toward New Side/Edwards-type sympathies and I knew he would object if I didn’t say something.

  84. Posted October 17, 2012 at 10:19 am | Permalink

    I listened to Marsden’s short biography of Edwards not too long ago. I need to hear it again. I think he was actually booted out of his church at one point. Since that happened to Calvin, too, I guess I can’t hold it against him too much.

  85. Bobby
    Posted October 17, 2012 at 10:25 am | Permalink

    Zrim,

    Doesn’t it beg the question whether Baptists can be Reformed? Are you assuming Believer’s Baptism is a revision of essential doctrine because you disagree? Collins did not take the HC and publish it as, The HC for Baptist. Using the HC, the proverbial invented wheel, and presenting a catechism for Baptists still seems like apples and oranges to me. Maybe I am not seeing the need for someone to originate their own document when they run across one that they agree 95% with? Am I understanding you at all? I hope I am not missing your point altogether…

  86. Dan
    Posted October 17, 2012 at 10:27 am | Permalink

    Yeah, Richard, I didn’t know I was an Edwardsian either. Glad we have historical theologians to clear things up for us.

    I am not a Keller apologist, but my question for Daryl had to do with why he made a mountain out of a molehill. I mean, is this really anything substantive to Daryl’s argument?

    “This is a curious way to begin for someone whose church has been such a booster of a city not exactly known for its restraint and modesty. If you wanted to be holy, you might pick a different city — say, Toledo — in which to live and minister.”

    Also, in response to Richard, interacting with Daryl on his own blog, thus speaking to him, about his own writing, is different from Daryl claiming that Keller is not Presbyterian (thus, violating his own vows). The latter requires ecclesiastical action, my interaction with Daryl on his blog doesn’t.

    The reason I don’t speak to Daryl’s argument is because I don’t see an argument. In summary, Daryl’s piece is, “I just don’t like Tim Keller.” That is all well and fine, but if you accuse a man of violating his vows, then I need some real arguments. Give me some evidence, not preferences.

    I just wonder why the scholarly Daryl Hart takes a backseat to the rhetorical gunslinging Hart. I prefer the former Hart, not the latter. Then again, that may be my preference. I still consider Daryl to be a Presbyterian.

  87. Dan
    Posted October 17, 2012 at 10:28 am | Permalink

    Final comment, then I’ll stop. Why should I take blog posts like this seriously? If Daryl really has a problem with Keller that needs to be shown to the world, then show me the beef. Allow me the opportunity to take this discussion seriously.

  88. Posted October 17, 2012 at 10:30 am | Permalink

    Richard, I am simply tired of people who think they have the Spirit (in Luther’s words, “feathers and all”), thinking that rules and laws don’t apply to them and their ministry. Sure, Christ broke rules (understood correctly), but that was because an old order was evaporating and new one emerging. We live in no such time. Plus, it’s a little narcusistic — not to mention blasphemous — for someone to think they are playing the role of Christ.

  89. Posted October 17, 2012 at 10:32 am | Permalink

    Dan, in case you missed it — the argument was that Keller oversells catechesis by adding words like community, intentional, deeply, etc. And the question follows — what happens if catechesis isn’t deeply moving? Do we not catechize?

  90. mark mcculley
    Posted October 17, 2012 at 10:52 am | Permalink

    My concern is not about credobaptists being Reformed (or not). My concern is that Keller’s toleration of evangelical Arminianism is a result of Keller’s own basic Armininism. The reason one does a coalition with those who think that Christ’s death does not save is that one agrees with the idea that salvation is conditioned on the sinner. You can no more add the Reformed “cherry on the top” to being a Mormon than you can the Reformed extra to the “basic” idolatry of “make a decision and change your life.”

  91. Zrim
    Posted October 17, 2012 at 11:06 am | Permalink

    Bobby, yes, my point does assume Baptists aren’t Reformed. But it’s not simply because I disagree with the proposal but because that’s what the Reformed forms teach—I mean, how can you read the other form of Reformed unity, Belgic 34, and not see that to withhold baptism from children of believers is not Reformed? But even more than that, paedobaptism arises naturally from a covenantal theology that informs the whole Reformed catechism, so if Collins agrees with 95% he should be coming up paedobaptist. If not, then he hasn’t understood that with which he thinks he agrees. So it seems to me that Collins represents a Baptist mentality that is confused, whereas Baptists who write their own catechism are less so.

    If all that is true then I fail to see how what Keller is doing is any worse. Like I said, as unacceptable as it may be, he’s only offering up the latitudinarian project, whereas Collins is offering up a confused revision. It’s a pot-meet-kettle counter-point.

  92. MarkG
    Posted October 17, 2012 at 11:15 am | Permalink

    I suspect one reason to have an evangelical catechism rather than one of the historical catechisms is that accepting the historical catechisms identifies one with the thought, history and culture of the historical movement that framed it. That runs counter to TGC broad tent agenda, theology and culture. Additionally, the broader the church the fewer and narrower must be the doctrines to which it holds.

  93. Richard Smith
    Posted October 17, 2012 at 11:48 am | Permalink

    Dan: Yeah, Richard, I didn’t know I was an Edwardsian either. Glad we have historical theologians to clear things up for us.

    RS: I think for Dr. Hart anyone that is not Word and Sacrament (generally speaking) is Edwarsean, or perhaps anyone that can be identified as having an affection in spiritual things is an Edwardsean. Plus, he has this sense of humor.

    Dan: I am not a Keller apologist, but my question for Daryl had to do with why he made a mountain out of a molehill. I mean, is this really anything substantive to Daryl’s argument?

    RS: Remember, Dr. Hart is an OldLife guy that spits nails at all with affections or go against the historical confessions. Keller is certainly far from that and seems to keep pushing the envelope. Perhaps this point does not appear all that substantive in and of itself, though it may be, there is an ongoing issue that is. I cannot understand why anyone thinks Keller could possibly be Reformed any longer (not saying you do). He refuses to take a strong stand on moral issues in talks and in interviews. If he believes in Reformed theology it is hidden, which makes me wonder (okay, being PC here) if he does believe it.

    Dan quoting D.G. Hart: “This is a curious way to begin for someone whose church has been such a booster of a city not exactly known for its restraint and modesty. If you wanted to be holy, you might pick a different city — say, Toledo — in which to live and minister.”

    RS: An interesting comment, indeed. But remember the sense of humor (though some may think that his sense of humor offends the sense of smell at times) and irony that goes on.

    Dan: Also, in response to Richard, interacting with Daryl on his own blog, thus speaking to him, about his own writing, is different from Daryl claiming that Keller is not Presbyterian (thus, violating his own vows). The latter requires ecclesiastical action, my interaction with Daryl on his blog doesn’t.

    RS: I see your point and feel the weight of it, yet the blog is rather public.

    Dan: The reason I don’t speak to Daryl’s argument is because I don’t see an argument. In summary, Daryl’s piece is, “I just don’t like Tim Keller.” That is all well and fine, but if you accuse a man of violating his vows, then I need some real arguments. Give me some evidence, not preferences.

    RS: I guess I don’t see this piece as “I just don’t like Tim Keller.” I see it, as with many things, as one more thing that Tim Keller does that is individualistic, thumbing his nose (so to speak) at classic Presbyterianism, and his desire to transform society is at odds with 2k folks. Maybe Dr. Hart does not like and strongly disagrees with what Keller does, but I am not sure about not liking him personally. He may also be jealous because of all the books that Keller puts out since he has so many out, though indeed Keller’s books are rather light in their content and one could write them without any real study. In fact, I would say that he does write them without a lot of study, though perhaps he tries to hide any deep studies. If so, he does a good job.

    Dan: I just wonder why the scholarly Daryl Hart takes a backseat to the rhetorical gunslinging Hart. I prefer the former Hart, not the latter. Then again, that may be my preference.

    RS: It is hard to be scholarly on a blog.

    Dan: I still consider Daryl to be a Presbyterian.

    RS: True, his has not repented of that. He needs to read more of Edwards and Owen.

  94. Richard Smith
    Posted October 17, 2012 at 11:51 am | Permalink

    D. G. Hart: Richard, I am simply tired of people who think they have the Spirit (in Luther’s words, “feathers and all”), thinking that rules and laws don’t apply to them and their ministry. Sure, Christ broke rules (understood correctly), but that was because an old order was evaporating and new one emerging. We live in no such time.

    RS: So the OldLifers were evaporating and the Newlifers (wineskins) were emerging in the time of Christ, the Great Awakening, and hopefully now?

  95. Bobby
    Posted October 17, 2012 at 11:56 am | Permalink

    Zrim,

    I understand where you are coming from now. I suspected such but didn’t want to assume. Given your presuppositions I understand your position and if your position is correct then your point makes sense.Obviously, I can still see a consistent covenant with BB etc.,etc…but am a little strapped for time. If you don’t mind, I will respond asap and have a couple questions for you if that is ok?

  96. sean
    Posted October 17, 2012 at 12:31 pm | Permalink

    Now I get it, Kevin DeYoung is right and those of us who’ve been through the redeemer playbook should’ve reminded Darryl about how this get’s done correctly, our bad. It’s all about being winsome, cuz if you’re winsome you can say whatever you want;

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Af-Id_fuXFA

  97. Richard Smith
    Posted October 17, 2012 at 1:25 pm | Permalink

    mark mcculley: My concern is not about credobaptists being Reformed (or not). My concern is that Keller’s toleration of evangelical Arminianism is a result of Keller’s own basic Armininism. The reason one does a coalition with those who think that Christ’s death does not save is that one agrees with the idea that salvation is conditioned on the sinner. You can no more add the Reformed “cherry on the top” to being a Mormon than you can the Reformed extra to the “basic” idolatry of “make a decision and change your life.”

    RS: If being Reformed means accepting infant baptism, then I am not Reformed. But if being Reformed includes a a true and stong theology of particular redemption in Christ, then there are very few Reformed today even among those who believe they are. It is interesting that infant baptism is thought to be more important (by some, even many) than particular redemption.

    Owen was so right when he spoke of free-will as being an idol. What do you call a person that abandons particular redemption in thinking of it as all that important and then holds hands with Arminians who by definition believe in free-will which is contrary to free-grace? Whatever it may or may not mean to be Reformed, surely that removes one from the class of those who hold to the old confessions.

  98. Richard Smith
    Posted October 17, 2012 at 1:31 pm | Permalink

    Zrim: Bobby, yes, my point does assume Baptists aren’t Reformed.

    RS: So calvinistic Baptists are not Reformed, fine, but we are biblical at that point.

    Zrim: But it’s not simply because I disagree with the proposal but because that’s what the Reformed forms teach—I mean, how can you read the other form of Reformed unity, Belgic 34, and not see that to withhold baptism from children of believers is not Reformed?

    RS: Yes, but read the Bible and there is not one command or example of an infant being baptized. So we simply say that Belgic 34 is not biblical.

    Zrim: But even more than that, paedobaptism arises naturally from a covenantal theology that informs the whole Reformed catechism, so if Collins agrees with 95% he should be coming up paedobaptist.

    RS: We don’t disagree that paedobaptism arises naturally from your view of covenantal theology, but that believer’s baptism arises supernaturally because only disciples are commanded to be baptized and only God can cause His children to be born again.

    Zrim: If not, then he hasn’t understood that with which he thinks he agrees. So it seems to me that Collins represents a Baptist mentality that is confused, whereas Baptists who write their own catechism are less so.

    RS: Or perhaps just represents a point that if you follow the covenants as the Bible sets them out, Collins is not the one that is confused.

  99. Zrim
    Posted October 17, 2012 at 2:14 pm | Permalink

    Richard, my point isn’t to argue baptism per se. It’s to point out that it’s already been done, and that those who have concluded that what is biblical is Reformed (and vice versa) don’t take well to mixing and matching what is affirmed as biblical and opposed as unbiblical with what is Reformed, no matter who is doing it.

  100. Zrim
    Posted October 17, 2012 at 2:15 pm | Permalink

    Bobby, ok.

  101. mark mcculley
    Posted October 17, 2012 at 3:43 pm | Permalink

    question 25, keller’s new catechism—Christ’s death on the cross fully paid the penalty for our sin,

    The “our” being all sinners, since the catechism says Christ died so people “can be” saved. What Arminian could object to that? There is no idea of God having imputed the sins of the elect alone to Christ or of the justice of God demanding the salvation of all the elect. The idea of election is reduced to that which enables the elect to believe the Arminian proposal.

    So do I care which “covenantal theology” Tim Keller believes in? Does he agree with John Fesko or with Peter Leithart? With Kline or Shepherd?With Mark Karlberg or Richard Gaffin? With John Murray or Herman Hoeksema? Of course if you are naive enough to think that all “covenantal theology” is pretty much the same, with only minor discontinuities, then you might also believe that all the covenants in the Bible are not only pretty much the same but exactly add up to one.

  102. Donald Philip Veitch
    Posted October 17, 2012 at 9:49 pm | Permalink

    Darryl:

    What’s with the new gig over catechesis with the T4G crowd? Were their leaders reared on the old catechisms? What about Tim Keller? Are they new joins and–now–advocates of what we’ve known for so long?

    Catechism is hard work.

    Case in point. Some facts: (1) my nephew, Benjamin Robert Veitch, age 19, died in July 2012, (2) the family, or my brother’s family, lives in/near Detroit, (3) my own family lives at Camp Lejeune and we travelled 868 miles for the funeral in MI, (4) two days ago, my brother, sister-in-law, and their three daughters, were “getting away” for “some time together” in VA BCH, VA, about 4 hours north. (5) they called and wanted to stop in, and (6) we had 24 hour notice.

    Things got real real fast. Three hours of queries on the theology of life and death. I was not anticipating it. But, we covered about every loci of systematics and Biblical theology, as their insistence. They questions were non-stop. It paid or pays to have one’s catechisms ingested and digested by way of study and prayer. Nothing new for old school Churchmen. Although schooled principally in the Westminster standards and “that old Prayer Book,” the Heidelberg Catechism worked particularly well, including a review of Baptismal promises and more…including the Apostles’ and Nicene Creed. It was like the years of study and reading “zeroed” in for those three crucial hours of tear-filled and faith-filled questions with my brother, sister-in-law, and nieces.

    Tim and T4G offers little on this subject insofar as I can see. The old school ways still obtain and work.

    The prayer we closed with was informed by the old Prayer Book, not some wing-it-as-you-go-enthusiasm, but as shaped by Biblical phrases and important petitions…petitions forged by solid minds through the centuries.

    Enough said. I hope Tim is requiring catechetical memory work from the WSC for children and WLC for teens, collegians and young adults.

    Nuff said, but T4G offers little for old schoolers. I take leave of the issue and this affiant avers nothing further.

    Regards.

  103. mark mcculley
    Posted October 17, 2012 at 11:13 pm | Permalink

    “Jonathan Edwards, in his Religious Affections, argues that belief and behavior are inextricably linked and that any failures in Christians are due to unbelief. The antidote to unbelief is a fresh telling of the gospel.” Tim Keller, Preaching for Effect

    http://timothykeller.com/images/uploads/pdf/Preaching_in_a_Secular_Culture.pdf

  104. mark mcculley
    Posted October 17, 2012 at 11:17 pm | Permalink

    Keller: “It has been said that the heart is not so much the center of emotions as it is the control center of one’s personality, where you make your decisions and decide on the direction of your life. No one expounded this in greater detail than Jonathan Edwards, and one of his most enduring contributions is his Religious Affections. Instead of accepting the typical Western division of will versus emotions, Edwards gave a more central place to the heart and spoke of the heart’s “affections,” by which he meant “the inclination of the soul” to like or dislike, to love or reject. The affections are, of course, related to emotions, but they are not the same thing. For example, we feel the emotion of anger when we are insulted, because we have set our affections too fully on our own reputation, human acclaim, or approval. The affections are what Edwards called the most ”vigorous and sensible exercises” of the heart; and in the Bible true religious affections are called the “fruit of the Spirit” (Galatians 5:22-26). Edwards’s contribution is especially important regarding the unity of the faculties. He refused to pit one’s understanding and one’s affections against each other. Gracious affections are raised up only when a person has a spiritual understanding of the true nature of God. In other words, if a person says, “I know God cares for me, but I am still paralyzed by fear,” Edwards would reply that you don’t really know that God cares for you, or the affection of confidence and hope would be rising within you.”

  105. Posted October 18, 2012 at 10:02 am | Permalink

    This thread has probably lost some steam, but I read through the catechism quickly yesterday (yes, on my iphone, during a Classis meeting… you can do that when a catechism only has 52 questions), and these were my thoughts:

    1. I slowed the jerk of my knee by reflecting on a recent article I wrote on “Catechisms in the Reformed Tradition.” There were north of 1,000 arguably Reformed catechisms written between 1550 and 1700, say, and there were a lot of local and congregational catechisms. So there’s nothing wrong with a local and particular catechism. So there’s nothing wrong with writing a new catechism.

    2. Why 52 questions? Heidelberg was divided into Lord’s Days post facto, and it’s not like this catechism is going to be preached through an annual cycle. It forces odd, artificial groups of the ten commandments, and over brief treatments of other topics. Dumbing down of catechesis.

    3. Despite obvious abundant debt to Heidelberg, the means of grace are decimated, perhaps the biggest, glaring change in the catechism’s teaching of salvation. “sacraments or ordinances” are portrayed as “signs and seals” in a Zwinglian and “communal” sense. Ugh. This is what happens when you write a least-common denominator catechism for use by Baptists and Presbybaptists alike.

    4. But of course, the vast majority of these catechisms weren’t adopted as confessional statements, or forms of unity. So here you have a least-common-denominator, less than merely Reformed catechism written for instructional purposes which is insufficient to be a truly Reformed symbol… yet is no doubt intended to supplant the current instructional use of symbolic catechisms (WSC, HC).

    5. Is this a rejoinder to the argument that:

    Q: But Redeemer isn’t CONFESSIONALLY Reformed.

    A: Yes we are… haven’t you seen our catechism?

    I don’t mean to ascribe cynicism or polemicism to the GC folks… there is a much more functional argument for how you get to this point. “Hey, isn’t catechesis neat… too bad all the good catechisms divide baptist and Reformed folks. Let’s write a new one that gets rid of this distinction.”

  106. Creediii
    Posted October 18, 2012 at 2:27 pm | Permalink

    I understand your reservations about Keller and his catechis – I share them! – but what do you think of John Piper’s efforts? http://www.desiringgod.org/about/our-distinctives/our-beliefs/a-baptist-catechism

  107. Posted October 18, 2012 at 2:39 pm | Permalink

    Creediii, a quick glance reveals that Piper’s catechism is much more substantial, which makes it inappropriate for the Gospel Coalition. Does that make Keller Piper-lite?

  108. mark mcculley
    Posted October 18, 2012 at 4:05 pm | Permalink

    John Calvin–“We have professed faith in God alone, not in Athanasius, whose creed has not been adopted by any properly constituted church.”, quoted in Warfield, Calvin and Augustine, p209

9 Trackbacks

Post a Comment

Your email is never published nor shared.

You may use these HTML tags and attributes <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>