Luther The Catechist -- By: Charles P. Huckaby

Journal: Reformation and Revival
Volume: RAR 08:1 (Winter 1999)
Article: Luther The Catechist
Author: Charles P. Huckaby

Luther The Catechist

Charles P. Huckaby

Why The Catechisms?

In the history of the church, there are two competing impulses—one for Christian unity and the other for Christian purity. The first impulse has lead to mainline churches suppressing their own doctrinal immune systems to such a degree that they are now doctrinally and morally the easy prey of every opportunistic infection.1 The second impulse has lead to thousands of denominations and even sects who at times are known less for the gospel than for their extreme doctrinal oddities.2 This situation has caused us to read John 17 according to our personal preference toward either Christian unity or Christian purity when, in fact, the text comprehends both unity and purity. Envisioning both Christian unity and Christian purity in late twentieth-century America (or anywhere on the globe) is as prone to eliciting headaches as pondering Buddhist conundrums: “If a tree falls in the forest with nobody to hear, does it make a sound?” Perhaps we should ask, “If a Christian truly loves Christ, can he truly love another Christian?”

Despite the difficulty of reaching both goals simultaneously, that does not mean we are free to stop trying. Like Paul, we are under obligation to “proclaim Him, admonishing every man and teaching every man with all wisdom, that we may present every man complete in Christ” (Col. 1:28). This means, at least, that our goal should be not

only to give each person the opportunity to receive Christ, but more than that, we should seek to convert and disciple everyone! At the very least, our goal should be that everyone we contact in the course of our ministry should bow to the lordship of Christ, receiving eternal life through Him, and then walk in basic obedience and in the Christian world view. At best we have produced a church full of people with a “Christian preference”—perhaps a desire for some fire insurance, perhaps a commitment to watching only R-rated movies, or even putting a few dollars in the offering plate, but not much more. “Christian Worldview” is more likely the name of the next 24-hour religious cable network than a mark of discipleship.

What we ministers of the gospel need—or even as Christian fathers seeking to raise our children in the “discipline and instruction of the Lord” (Eph. 6:14)—is a tool to relate basic doctrine and basic practice. Ideally, for the sake of promoti...

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