Is this the way we view catechesis, you know, for kids? My own experience as an elder is that I am harder on covenant children during interviews than adults. Questions generally work through the Trinity, Scripture, justification, sanctification, the sacraments, and church government. Thatâ€™s for the kids, mind you. And if they know their Shorter Catechism they breeze right through.
The speed bump in the catechism, of course, is the law. It takes up almost half of the Shorter Catechism and separates the benefits of redemption, such as justification and sanctification (32-38), from the outward and ordinary means â€œwhereby Christ communicates to us the benefits of redemptionâ€ (88-97). In other words, many teens are pretty solid on the first thirty-eight answers but are unfamiliar with answers eight-five through 107. Why? Because there is a whole of requiring and forbidding going on in the catechismâ€™s discussion of the Decalogue. My sense is that teens give up on the rest of the Catechism. That leaves them without the categories for talking about the Lordâ€™s Supper.
But at least, if they have been catechized, they can discuss in a recognizable idiom the doctrines of Scripture, God, Christ, and salvation.
For adults who have not been catechized the interview can be painful. It is actually interesting to see how people try to do theology on the spot. They are pretty good in knowing what they believe. And if you asked them yes or no questions, they would likely supply the right answers. But like spontaneous prayers, extemporaneous answers to theological questions come with lots of hemming and hawing, â€œjust,â€ and â€œyou know.â€
This is unfortunate and unnecessary since the catechism is a wonderful tool for succinctly explaining and summarizing the basic convictions taught in Scripture. It is also beneficial for supplying the common language that and ecclesial communities need to retain membership and build solidarity.
So why donâ€™t we require catechesis of adults? It sure would make membership interviews shorter.