Friday, January 05, 2007

On the Antidote to Confessional Amnesia

The following is from Scott Clark's article "Why we memorise the catechism" (originally published in the Presyterian Banner, 2003, and available here).

"Both children and parents in Reformed congregations often ask, 'Why must we (or our children) memorize the catechism? If they must memorize anything at all, should they not memorize Holy Scripture instead?' These are fair questions, but they rest on dubious premises.

The first premise is that memorization is somehow out of date or a backward practice. Quite to the contrary, in most circumstances (there not being any significant developmental disabilities) memorization is a most valuable skill to teach our children and further, contrary to much modern educational theory it is exactly what they want at a certain stage of their development.

The second premise sounds pious but contains within it a sort of sugarcoated poison since it juxtaposes implicitly the theology and teaching of the church against Scripture. As a matter of fact, we understand our catechism to be a good, sound and accurate summary of the whole teaching of Scripture. As a matter of history, all heretics quote Scripture. What makes us Reformed is how we understand Scripture and this understanding is summarized in the catechism. This is, -why we have a catechism".


Barnaby Perkins said...

Wow... that's quite a Catholic position! I like it. It's a much more communitarian and tradition focused approach to reading the bible. My big question is, within this eductional sturcture- which I think is necesarry for stability- what impetus is there for the chruch to be ecclesia catholica semper reformanda? I suppose that is the question which faces the reformed church, the catholic church and (as an anglican!) the reformed catholic church: how to be true to your tradition and to scripture and to reason?

Highland Host said...

I wondered where Barnaby Perkins had ended up!
Now I know.

We are to be true to Scripture. The tradition and our fallen, fallible reason, must be normed by the Bible.

Barnaby Perkins said...

I assume I know you, although cannot find your name on your blog (Martin, sorry for using your comments page for trying for trying to find someone's name).

Absolutely right, that the God's self-disclosure provides the narrative 'norm' as you put it behind the community's reading of the text. Nevertheless, the way we read texts are informed by the narrative world which our community inhabits. We just cannot escape that. There is bound to be some kind of mutualy consitutive reciprocity between text and community.

As far as reason, absolutely, our reason is fallen, but has been and is in the process of being renewed by grace.

Would be great to know your name.

Highland Host said...

Gervase Charmley.

And yes, obviously we all have our traditions. The trick is knowing you've got them (which I know Brother Perkins does) and not, like some, insisting 'I have no tradition'.

Barnaby Perkins said...

I couldn't agree more! By embracing our respective traditions (with a critical eye) rather than hiding from them, we really start to learn from them and also, strangely from the traditions of others, as we begin to realise that 'tradition' per se is not a bad thing.

Great to hear from you Gervase. Do get in touch and let me know how things are going. I take it you have finished at LTS? I think you can e-mail me through my blog. Would be great to hear form you.

viagra online said...

Hello Martin Downes!
I think this memory related topic is a bit confusing, there are many theories, now I don't know that to believe.

Unknown said...

Thanks for article