Wednesday, February 1, 2012

In Praise of Brevity

I have not had much time to post new things around here, but I have another post up over at Christians in Context. This time I write in praise of brevity, specifically in the use of Creeds, Confessions and Catechisms to guide us in the basic formations of our doctrine.

Here's an excerpt:

Here’s what I would suggest: we must read weighty treatments of doctrine but we don’t necessarily start or stop there. Treatises can enrich our lives but so can brevity. When was the last time you pulled out a Creed, a Confession, a Catechism or your own church doctrinal statement and said: what are the cores of orthodoxy? This blog is after all about orthodoxy. Consider the Apostles’ Creed or the Nicene Creed. Do you know them? Could you discuss them? They don’t say it all--but in those moments when you need to say enough without a deluge, what better tool? 
I have personally been blessed by reading the Westminster Shorter Catechism with my four girls (and I’m not even a paedobaptist). One example of that blessing, it has been exciting to see its movement from Questions 24-30. There is progress: Christ’s three offices (prophet, priest and king) to the linchpins of historia salutis: Christ’s humiliation and exaltation to the application of redemption specifically on the role of the Holy Spirit. Christ’s continuing work in exaltation or the Holy Spirit’s application are often overlooked in pop-evangelicalism somewhat truncated theology. But here a catechism lays a grid. It is brevity. But it is like laying pillars that go deep upon which we hang more complex and thorough explanations of the topic. As I read it I realized how much of my seminary education could be hung around these questions.  
When was the last time you checked the pillars of your theology? Those of us who love theology and the Bible can amass great amounts of knowledge while over time neglecting the continual reassessment of vital cores. Have you looked for cracks your understanding of the basics? Are your fundamentals sound?  Can you state them briefly or do you fumble for words with ever expanding convolutions that covering for your lack of mental clarity? The Trinity? The Deity of Christ? Soteriology? Christ’s death and resurrection and the benefits flowing from both? 

Read the whole thing here.

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