Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Ray Barone & The Shorter Catechism

A saw a clip from Everybody Loves Raymond the other night that got me thinking about catechisms.

The faith tradition I grew up in didn’t do catechism instruction, so when my soon-to-become Presbyterian and then fiancé Bobby started studying the Westminster Shorter Catechism, I wasn’t sure what to think about it. It sounded “too catholic” to my Baptist ears!

Now I teach Children’s Sunday School and every week part of our lesson is reviewing questions in the shorter catechism with the goal of memorization. I now have a great appreciation for the catechism and the importance of learning it. This is where Everybody Loves Raymond comes in. . .

In the brief clip, Ray’s daughter Ally has asked, “How did we get here?” Ray and Debra assume the question needs the “birds and the bees” answer and so with great trepidation, Ray gulps and begins his talk with his daughter, saying “When two people love each other...”

Ally stops him and clarifies her question by saying, “No, I mean why did God put us here?” The camera switches to Ray with his classic deer-in-the-headlights look.

I immediately thought of the 1st question and answer in the Shorter Catechism:
What is the chief end of man? Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy Him forever.

How easily that child’s question would have been to answer. We are put here to have fellowship with God and to glorify Him. A brief discussion would follow fleshing out exactly what it means to “glorify God”, but the basic question would have been answered.

I thought of other questions of life – What are we supposed to do?
Question 39: What is the duty which God requires of man? The duty which God requires of man is obedience to His revealed will.

The catechism discusses not only what is forbidden by the Ten Commandments, but also what is required:
Q. 79. Which is the tenth commandment?
A. The tenth commandment is, Thou shall not covet your neighbor’s house, you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor anything that is your neighbor’s.
Q. 80. What is required in the tenth commandment?
A. The tenth commandment requires full contentment with our own condition, with a right and charitable frame of spirit toward our neighbor, and all that is his.
Q. 81. What is forbidden in the tenth commandment?
A. The tenth commandment forbids all discontentment with our own estate, envying or grieving at the good of our neighbor, and all inordinate motions and affections to anything that is his.

Great reminders in our age of class envy!

The catechism has Scripture references for all the answers, so a Bible Study is just waiting for you with each subject. I am currently trying to memorize this because I can see the benefits of being able to recall these succinct explanations when questions arise.


todd said...

I am thankful for the job you continue to do in the Sunday school class -- vital work reinforcing what we teach at home -- a million thanks to you, we appreciate you so much!

guinever said...