In order to graduate from RTS-Orlando, we had to pass a bible proficiency exam as well as memorize the answers to many questions from the Westminster Shorter Catechism. The WSC includes a number of questions and answers that help sum up some main teachings and themes of the bible and form part of the “constitution” of ours and many Reformed denominations.
Sometimes people elevate the overall document we call the Westminster Standards too highly, and put them on par with the bible. Folks like me, who take a few exceptions (conscience bound disagreements over applications of the documents) here and there, can soon become the “bad guys” and may have some fun getting ordained.
Nevertheless the misuse of something potentially good, by people who consider themselves “Truly Reformed” shouldn’t cause us to throw the whole thing out. I don’t want to be that Angry Reformed “likes-to-theologically-fight-guy” who is just always angry at the unrighteousness of others (often overlooking his own arrogance or lack of joy). I recently met a pastor like this.
But we need not turn into likes-to-fight guy, just for knowing the same stuff. I used this C.D. put out by a seminary buddy named Bruce Benedict
to assist in my memorization. The thing I like most about this music is that it is actually good. And memorizing it to music with a guitar and percussion has allowed much of the lyrics (simply the Q and A) from the catechism to stick even now. They’re not like Barney songs which stick and then you want to get rid of them.
In fact, when I was preaching on Ruth 4
a few weeks ago, I noticed the book didn’t end with Naomi holding a baby, but with a genealogy ending in David. The book was really about King David, who then points us to King Jesus. So the sermon’s application questions were 1.) what does a King do 2.) and what would it look like in your life today?
I thought back to how “Jesus executes the office of a King.” WSC 26 includes his duties as “ruling” and “defending.” There’s other stuff, there, but the main ways Jesus operates as King is by ruling and defending. So I emphasized letting him rule (Lordship over all of life) and letting him protect (trusting him to deliver).
Its not just good for preaching, but for life. How would you define sin, which can be nebulous at times? Well the WSC gives us a fairly complete definition to work with: a lack of conformity or transgression against the will of God. Now others have come and fleshed that out a bit more, but at least you have a foundation. At least you can share or defend what sin is to others in a simple trustworthy way.
Anyhow, just wanted to share with you the benefits of having some grasp on the WSC.