Quack! How a Simple Catechism Could Have Saved a Duck

Following the Phil Roberston/Duck Dynasty snafu, I had a discussion with my teenage son (nearly 17) and his good friend and next door neighbor (almost 18) about homosexuality, imgres-4Christianity, and navigating these waters in the increasingly complicated public square. Our talk occurred late at night while we were watching Rebel Without a Cause on PBS. Young men with pressing questions about Christianity, homosexuality and pluralism amid a James Dean flick during Advent? Interesting combination to be sure. But I was up to the task.

Given that Roberston’s trouble began by 1.) agreeing to be interviewed by GQ and 2.) being asked by the interviewer, “what, in your mind, is sin?” I simply asked my son how he would have answered that question. With little hesitation he responded, “sin is disobeying or not keeping God’s laws in any way.”

Surely my son didn’t come up with this answer on his own. He needed a little help, which he received from a catechism we’ve used with all of our kids.  A longer answer comes from the recent New City Catechism, which answers the question “what is sin?” this way:

Sin is rejecting or ignoring God in the world he created, rebelling against him by living without reference to him, not being or doing what he requires in his law—resulting in our death and the disintegration of all creation.

Suddenly, Roberston’s root problem became clear to me: he wasn’t catechized

How do I know? Because he wouldn’t have responded as he did, i.e. wrongly beginning with a imgres-3specific sin (in this case homosexuality). Instead, using a simple children’s catechism he could have answered the question “what, in your mind, is sin?” that, far being cold, canned, and clinical, was instead a helpful point of reference to better inform his answer.

This is part of the beauty, and necessity, of catechisms–learning biblical truth about God and humanity not only for ourselves, but also as a point of reference while in conversations with others, many whom are curious, skeptical, or hostile about Christianity and its place in the modern world. A catechism combined with wisdom, tact, grace, and a dose of shrewdness is a surprisingly effective tool in the public square.

So do yourself, your kids (if you have them) and others a much-needed favor: catechize. Among the many benefits, you will likely avoid stepping into a trap question and becoming a lame duck.

Now Available: New City Catechism App (For Android)

Here’s a welcome addition to Droid apps that arrived with surprisingly little fanfare: Redeemer’s  New City Catechism. Unlike the iPhone version, this app also includes an unexpected bonus: Packer’s Concise Theology. It’s even seamlessly integrated with the catechism or to read as a stand alone book. Golden. And it’s all free! What a gift to the Church.

The app’s developer also released some other great apps, including Matthias Media’s popular gospel presentation Two Ways to Live and Who Will Be King, a kid-friendly version of TWTL.

Amper (the apps’ developer) only recently entered the app developing scene. From what little I know about that world, he’s off to a smashing start.

04/04/14: Regrettably, Packer’s Concise Theology is no longer included in the app. (But it’s still a great tool!)

Calvin and Hobbes and Catechism

I’m grateful for an uptick in the recent interest in catechizing (due in large measure to Tim Keller, who largely credits J.I. Packer for his influence via this book). The word catechism regrettably strikes fear in too may people. It sounds oldImage and smells musty, like memories from a bad religious school experience you’d rather forget.

If you’re wondering which resource to use to catechize your children, I think this booklet is the best place to begin. We’ve given a copy to each of our children. It’s portable, they can quiz one another, mark it up, and make it their own. And it’s suitable for both paedo and credo-baptists.

Finally, one can’t help but think of Calvin and Hobbes while learning about God and his ways with humanity. Now if that isn’t a key selling point….

Download a PDF sample here.