One of the advantages of the Heidelberg Catechism over the Westminster Shorter Catechism is the former’s 52-week layout. The Heidelberg Catechism’s 129 questions are divided into 52 Lord’s Day segments so that its topics could be easily arranged into a yearly preaching schedule. The Westminster Standards don’t have anything like that. This is my first attempt at crafting a 52-week topical preaching guide using the Westminster Shorter Catechism…
Modified, from my sent folder in answer to the question “What are your best theological arguments for a weekly confession of sin?”
Pray without ceasing.
And anyone who is opposed to weekly confessing their sins probably needs to be confessing their sins more than that.
I’m assuming that you’re talking about during the Sunday worship service and corporately reciting a prayer together. If that’s the case, I would be unwilling to make the argument that the practice is necessary. However, confessing sin in the worship service is required by scripture.
1. Prayer is required in public worship (cf. WCF 21.3-4). A lot of the argument is going to hang on liturgical hermeneutics. Is prayer as described in the Bible, the New Testament especially, a private or a corporate affair? The Reformed tradition (history is theology) has said that prayer is part of worship and is corporate, not only private. “Our Father…” So when we see prayer prescribed in the New Testament, especially the epistles, it is aimed at the church gathered…
I listened to Anthony Bradley’s recent interview of Paul Maxwell with fascination and apprehension. I knew little about Maxwell prior to listening, and the interview proved intriguing. Maxwell had gone from an intellectually robust, thoughtful proponent of Reformed Christianity to an intellectually robust, thoughtful atheist.
And his biography mirrors my own. We were born in the same area of the country a year apart, both became interested in philosophy as a means to power in college, both devoured Van Tillian presuppositionalism, both attended a Westminster school (Redeemer Seminary, in my case) following the Pete Enns debacle, and both left the seminary having been burned by the community. I normally find deconversion narratives personally uncompelling since there is typically dogmatic distance between myself and the other person prior to their deconversion.
Not so with Maxwell. It was like watching a martial artist and realizing that not only did he train at the same dojo as me, he wears a more advanced belt. Usually the motivations and methods of deconversions aren’t capable of landing a blow on me, but Maxwell could not only penetrate my objections, but could anticipate my best counter-attacks. Maxwell is clearly much smarter and more educated than me…
I’ve drafted a white paper as a proposal to guide a presbyterially strategized, congregationally executed approach to church health. It is tailored to the EPC’s Presbytery of the East, where I am and the congregation I pastor are members. But the principles apply to any connectional denomination. David Brooks recently in The New York Times highlighted Tim Keller’s 8-point plan for Christian renewal in the United States. Jake Meador today drew out some of the implications of this plan for institution building. That is what this paper I drafted is trying to capture: a fresh, rooted, and aggressive approach to concrete institution building oriented by the church as God’s institution for mission.
The paper can be found here. Below is an excerpt of the first section.
The church receives its life from Jesus. The church is united to him spiritually and mystically, and receives its life from him. He is the vine, we are the branches. No approach to church health, revitalization (i.e. literally “re-lifeing”), or mission can proceed biblically without this reality foregrounded.
Churches are alive and healthy insofar as they truly united to Christ and practicing the means by which that union is deepened. Any conversation about church life cycles, budgeting practices, change management, congregational outreach, effective small groups, etc. is all tertiary to the redemptive work of God in Christ and the means by which the church receives those benefits.
Assuming this or backgrounding it in conversations about church health and mission only results in unhealthy churches and mission unaligned with God…
Starting from the position that Jesus here, in what is often called the Great Commission, appoints every individual Christian to go and share the gospel as the central mandate of the church and Christian life is not listening to Matthew on his own terms. The 11 apostles are specifically identified as the ones who received this command from Jesus; the question is, What does that commission have to do with the church today? What does it mean to be a Great Commission church?
he second is the command given by Jesus to disciple all the nations. The command is connected to the authority. Because Jesus has received authority, he is giving the task of discipleship. The nature of the authority received is intertwined with the task given and with those who received the task…