Dateline: 27 November 2013
Vic Lockman's Westminster Catechism Books
(click pictures to see enlarged views)
I grew up reading comic books from a young age. I loved comic books. I mostly liked the Mickey Mouse mysteries, and Uncle Scrooge McDuck, and Richie Rich (the poor little rich boy), and Sad Sack. But I read all sorts of other comics back in the late 1960s.
After visiting my Grandmother in Maine one summer, I came home to find that my mother had cleaned my room and thrown out all my comic books. I had a comic book stack probably two feet high, and they were all gone. I couldn't believe it. I thought my mother was kidding me when she told me.
So maybe it was a sort of nostalgia for comics that attracted me to Vic Lockman's catechism cartoon (not comic, but cartoon) books. That, and, of course, an interest in the Westminster Catechism, which has come only in recent years.
My family started going to a evangelical Baptist church when I was a teenager, and I've pretty much gone to evangelical Baptist churches ever since. If my experience is a reliable indicator, evangelical Baptist churches don't have anything to do with catechisms of any kind. And I don't think Pentecostal churches (which I have a little experience with too) have anything to do with catechisms either. Mostly, those churches are concerned with getting people saved. And when I was younger, they were really focused on end-times prophecy and the rapture.
So I grew up thinking that getting saved, and getting other people saved, and being ready for the rapture was mostly what Christianity was all about.
Only when I got much older did I come to realize that there is this thing called "sanctification," which, biblically speaking, is what is supposed to happen in a Christian's life after salvation. It turns out there is much more to Christianity than realizing you are a sinner, and putting your faith in Jesus Christ and his shed blood to save you (from going to hell when you die, which is what we we all deserve).
|Catechism Q & A #35: What is Sanctification?|
How many evangelical Christians can answer this simple question?
I'm still trying to figure out why the word "sanctification," and the work of sanctification in the Christian life, is almost never mentioned in evangelical churches. I listen pretty close to most sermons and I've rarely heard it.
This is confusing to me because when I read the Bible I see almost nothing there instructing all Christians to be evangelizing, or "winning souls to Christ," but I see hundreds of verses encouraging and instructing Christians to live godly lives.
Sanctification is, as the page picture above indicates, about growing in knowledge and faith as we live life in accord with the teaching of Jesus Christ and the apostles. It's about spiritual maturity and spiritual discernment which comes with obedience to God's word. It is about loving, and forgiving, and helping others. It is about becoming more Christ-like by following Christ daily. I think the word "obedience" is something of a synonym for sanctification.
Anyway, when I came to know about The Westminster Shorter Catechism, put together in 1643 by a gathering of mostly Puritan theologians, that was once widely used to teach children the fundamental doctrines of Christianity (Reformation Christianity), I was interested.
I have a lot of respect for the Puritans. Fact is, I am a descendent of Puritans who came to America with John Winthrop in 1630 (see My Puritan Roots). So I bought a book about the Westminster Shorter Catechism a few years ago. Right from the start, I learned something I never knew….
Question #1: What is the chief end of man?
(Another way to ask the question is, "What is the primary purpose of man?")
Answer: Man's chief end is to glorify God and enjoy him forever.
I had never heard such a thing, stated so direct and clear, in my history of evangelical church attendance.
We live in a world where everyone (a whole lot of church-going Christians included) is searching for purpose and meaning in their life, and there it is, plain and simple, in Question #1 of the Westminster Shorter Catechism.
The theology in just Question #1 of the Westminster Catechism is powerfully significant and life changing.
I don't exactly remember how I found my way to Vic Lockman's web page and his two catechism cartoon books, but I'm glad I got there and I'm glad I now have the books. Together, the two volumes cover all 107 Q & A of the Westminster Shorter Catechism—they are packed with the fundamentals of Orthodox Christian doctrine.
Even though this catechism was originally developed over 350 years ago for teaching children, it is perfect for me (at 55 years old) as I am trying to better understand what aspects of the Christian faith have been lost (or maybe just neglected) in the rise of modern evangelical Christianity.
My purpose in posting this essay is not to get into a theological discussion (or argument). It is to encourage any Christian readers here who are not familiar with catechisms (and I know that's a lot of evangelicals) to check out The Westminster Shorter Catechism. This Link will take you to all 107 Questions and Answers. If you'd prefer some visuals and additional exegesis, then get Vick Lockman's two books.
You may discover, as I have, that the more traditional doctrines of the Christian faith feed you and resonate with you more than the modernized variations.