Chit Chatting with the Clergy regarding Nashville and Returning Fire

“The baseline question is: do you care more about yourself and your rights or do you care more about loving others and contributing to the good and healing of all. This world has consistently and clearly answered that question over and over again. But the Kingdom has a very different answer.”

Jay Simmons
PCA Pastor
All Souls Church — St. Louis Mo.

Let’s apply this to the Nashville event.

Because of my caring about loving others I know that insisting on second amendment rights may well have meant that someone was firing back at the perp who did not consider God’s sovereign right to His people’s lives. Because of the embrace of my 2nd amendment rights I may well be in the position to love others by firing back at lunatics.

So, yeah … I do care more about myself and my God given rights and in doing so I could, if this situation arose in a setting I was in, show my love to others by contributing to their good and healing by returning fire on a perp with deadly intent.

So we see that the Kingdom most assuredly does NOT have a different answer.

Bret L. McAtee
Pastor — Charlotte Christ the King Reformed Church

p.s. — Do you ever wake up with the cold sweats worried that God is going to hold you accountable for what comes out of your mouth as His servant?

At this point one Ty Burk steps in to defend Rev. Simmons. That exchange is below;

TB wrote,

So, you are attempting to use the Nashville mass shooting, that wasn’t stopped by an armed citizen, as an argument for armed citizens because they *might* prevent mass shootings? Continuing that logic, more firearms would result in fewer mass shootings/firearm fatalities. More armed citizens = less firearm fatalities is the argument.

Bret responds,

1.) Well, it is dang certain the case that an armed citizen will have more success at preventing a mass shooting then an unarmed citizen will have at preventing a mass shooting. This isn’t rocket science chum.

2.) I know that more armed citizens who are informed concerning weapons and drilled on the use of weapons would lead to fewer fatalities.

3.) One thing that is certain sure is that revoking or diminishing the 2nd amendment will lead to more shootings and more deaths. I mean, you don’t really think that someone who has no problem violating the law in murdering someone will pause for a skinny second and be inhibited by a law that says they can’t have firearms? If you criminalize owning guns only criminals will own guns.

4.) Not only do more armed citizens = less firearm fatalities but more armed citizens = the FEDS thinking twice before they decide to tyrannize the citizenry. Of course, you perfectly understand that is the whole reason for the 2nd amendment right? You realize that the reason our Founders gave us a 2nd amendment was because they had experienced government tyranny and knew the only way to forestall government tyranny was to make sure the citizenry was armed to the teeth, right?

TB writes,

However, that position is not supported by any data or experience.

Bret responds,

Horse Hockey!

Experience as well as common sense tells us that people who have weapons who can fire back at people who are firing at them will always have more of a fighting chance to survive.

TB writes,

The number of mass shootings prevented by armed citizens remains dismally low. Additionally, as the number of firearms/their accessibility increase, so does firearm fatalities. That’s not an opinion. It’s substantiated fact.

Bret responds,

I don’t believe you and I am convinced that you are at this moment practicing the art of gaslighting.
Guns prevent an estimated 2.5 million crimes a year, or 6,849 every day.

Most often, the gun is never fired, and no blood (including the criminal’s) is shed.

Every year, 400,000 life-threatening violent crimes are prevented using firearms.

60 percent of convicted felons admitted that they avoided committing crimes when they knew the victim was armed. Forty percent of convicted felons admitted that they avoided committing crimes when they thought the victim might be armed.

Felons report that they avoid entering houses where people are at home because they fear being shot.

Fewer than 1 percent of firearms are used in the commission of a crime.
If you doubt the objectivity of the site above, it’s worth pointing out that the Center for Disease Control, in a report ordered by President Obama in 2012 following the Sandy Hook Massacre, estimated that the number of crimes prevented by guns could be even higher—as many as 3 million annually, or some 8,200 every day.

TB now regretting getting involved with me writes,

Please expound on the position that firearm ownership is a God given right.

Bret responds,

“All careful studies and lawful endeavors to preserve the life of ourselves and others by resisting, by just defense, against violence, protecting and defending the innocent.” (Westminster Larger Catechism Q135).

The great Puritan commentator on the Bible, Thomas Ridgeley (1667-1734), in his commentary on the Westminster Larger Catechism quotes the Catechism itself as I have above and then in his commentary on Sixth Commandment duties, Ridgeley says,

“We should use all lawful endeavours to preserve our own life, and the life of others [because]…. man is the subject of the divine image…. We are also to defend those who are in imminent danger of death…. Moreover, in some instances, a person may kill another in his own defence, without being guilty of the breach of this commandment….”

Ridgeley goes on to comment that if we cannot disarm an enemy threatening our life, or flee from him, “we do not incur the least guilt, or break this commandment, if we take away his life to preserve our own; especially if we were not first in the quarrel, nor gave occasion to it by any injurious or unlawful practices.”

Also we note the Heidleberg catechism

105. Q. — What does God require in the sixth commandment?


… Moreover, I am not to harm or recklessly endanger myself. 3

3. Mt 4:7; 26:52; Rom 13:11-14


What else can we call a refusal to defend one’s self and one’s people except a harming or a recklessly endangering of one’s self? This is something that the Heidelberg forswears.

You see the Heidelberg Catechism insists that the keeping of the Sixth commandment means that I am not to harm or recklessly endanger myself. It doesn’t take much to argue that we are increasingly living in times when not carrying a weapon on us for self-defense and the protection of the judicially innocent could easily be seen as that which constitutes a reckless endangering of ourselves and others.

Of course, to appeal again to the Scriptures as our primary source of authority we look at Proverbs,

“Like a muddied spring or a polluted well is a righteous man who gives way to the wicked.”

Proverbs 25:26

Mind if I just call you “OIe Muddy,” Ty?

TB writes,

Where are we, as Christians, promised safety and security? Where are Christian instructed to take up arms to secure safety and security? Indeed, where are Christian instructed to use lethal force for any means?

Bret responds,

Proverbs 25:26

Pulpit Commentary, on Proverbs 25 verse 26. – … a righteous man giving way to the wicked.
“A good man neglecting to assert himself and to hold his own in the face of sinners, is as useless to society and as harmful to the good cause as a spring that has been defiled by mud stirred up or extraneous matter introduced is unserviceable for drinking and prejudicial to those who use it.”

Illustration — Cow Pond Farm

“But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the Faith and is worse than an unbeliever.”

1 Timothy 5:8

Fathers and husbands are required by Almighty God to provide for their families. This includes not only providing food, housing, clothing, education, medical care, love, discipleship and spiritual guidance, but also protection. Of what worth is all the other provision if one does not provide protection as well? Anyone who fails to provide the necessary protection for their family has denied the Faith and is worse than an unbeliever.
Those using Anabaptist Pacifist reasoning will say things like, “We should be those who trust God,” as if one cannot carry a weapon and trust God at the same time. We are to trust God for our daily provision. Is the implication of that, that we should not earn a living since God will provide? We are to trust God to keep us safe at the workplace. Does this mean if I am working with Jets, as I used to, I quit wearing headphones because God is going to keep me safe?

Let us close by noting that God would have us protect man. Not because man in and of himself, apart from God has any inherent value but because man can never be considered apart from God and so is the image of God. Any assault on man finds the root crime being an assault on God. An assault on the King’s man is an assault on the King and when we are protecting the image of God via self-defense against those attacking the King’s men we are protecting the King. If we allow God’s judicially innocent Image bearers to be assaulted and threatened without response, it is not merely that we are not protecting men, it is a case that we are communicating that God Himself is not worthy of being defended. This Image of God is that which explains why men should be defended.

God puts such value on His Image bearers that He sent forth the God-man to reconcile God to His elect image bearers. Christ died for the sins of His people so that they, as Image bearers of God, would be rescued. If God, at cost to Himself would set forth His own son as the propitiation of the Image Bearers sin how much more should we seek to protect and defend men as Image bearers?

TB writes,

Your imagined scenario of showing your love for others by returning fire recalls the assault of Malchus by Simon Peter in the Gospels. The chief priest and elders come with Judas and a crowd to seize Jesus. Malchus grabs Jesus and, in an attempt to defend Jesus, Peter draws a sword and cuts off Malchus’ ear. Peter is admonished by Jesus to put his sword back in its place. And, in Luke’s account, even heals Malchus by reattaching his ear.

Bret responds,

When the situation is one where I am trying to stop Jesus from going to the cross I’ll keep the above in mind. However, when I am in other situations where I am trying to protect the life of the judicially innocent I’ll keep the Scripture, catechisms, and confessions in mind as limned out above.

TB writes,

I’m of the opinion that Christ, the foundation of our religion who never promised safety/protection, nor instructed others to use lethal force to secure safety/protection, who sent his Disciples out (unarmed) to suffer deaths as martyrs (not one raising so much as a sword to defend themselves), and who never raised a hand in self defense against false accusations and unjust death on the cross, would have a similar rebuke for position expressed in your comment.

Bret responds,

Frankly, I don’t care what your opinion is Ty. Clearly, your faith is informed by lunatic Anabaptist categories. We Reformed manly men never went in for that kind of cowardly retreatism. Have fun with your effeminate religion. Don’t worry though… if you’re someplace where someone is lighting up the place with bullets I’ll make sure and not protect you, out of love for you and Jesus.

HC Q. 34 — Jesus Is Lord

Question 34: Wherefore callest thou Him our Lord? 

Answer: Because He hath redeemed us, both soul and body, from all our sins, not with gold or silver, but with His precious blood, and hath delivered us from all the power of the devil; and thus hath made us His own property.3

The Heidelberg catechism continues to follow the Apostles Creed and in doing so it moves from the affirmation that Jesus Christ was the only begotten son of God to the affirmation that Jesus is Lord.

The Lordship of Jesus upon the life of every Christian is indisputable. Throughout the Scripture record Jesus is referred to as “Lord.” Jesus Himself, addressing His disciples could say;

“You call Me Teacher and Lord; and you are right, for so I am.” — John 13:13

Upon seeing the resurrected Jesus the disciples Thomas could exclaim, “My Lord and my God.”

Peter on the day of Pentecost preached;

“Therefore let all the house of Israel know for certain that God has made Him both Lord and Christ—this Jesus whom you crucified.”  — Acts 2:36

Jesus Christ is indeed, as St. John says in his Apocalypse,  “Lord of Lords and King of Kings.”

The answer to Lord’s Day 34 deals with the why of Christ’s Lordship. Why is Jesus Christ the Lord to Christians?

And the first part of that answer is that Jesus Christ’s Lordship is due to the fact that He hath redeemed us in our totality (body and soul) from all our sins with that which was more valuable than gold or silver, to wit, His own precious blood.

Follow the assumptions of this answer.

1.) If we were Redeemed that implies that we were under a previous ownership

2.) As such we have gone from the owner that had claim upon us before being redeemed to another owner upon being redeemed.

This teaches us mortal men that we are never in a state where we operate as unowned by one or another Lord. Christians sing enthusiastically with Dylan;

You may be an ambassador to England or France
You may like to gamble, you might like to dance
You may be the heavyweight champion of the world
You might be a socialite with a long string of pearls

But you’re gonna have to serve somebody, yes indeed
You’re gonna have to serve somebody
Well, it may be the Devil or it may be the Lord
But you’re gonna have to serve somebody

Further Q. 34 teaches us that we can only be owned by Jesus as we are freed by the only price paid that can free us — the precious blood of Jesus Christ.

1 Pet. 1:18–19, Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.

The idea of being redeemed from our “vain conversation” received by the tradition of their forefathers is that we have been bought back from a lifestyle that was unwholesome, unhealthy, and deadly. That lifestyle handed down by our unredeemed Kin is a lifestyle as beholden to Satan.

Jesus, having redeemed us from that lifestyle futility as received from our forefathers as they labored for the ends of their Lord, is now our Lord and Master, and He in turn delivers us from our previous inherited vain conversation (lifestyle futility/meaninglessness) to a lifestyle that is no longer, vain, futile, or meaningless. He is Lord and it is good to have Jesus as Lord, for His yoke is easy and His burden is light. We are now the property of Jesus Christ and He takes responsibility as our owner for all things that concern us as under both categories of body and soul.

Being delivered from our vain conversations inherited by our imprisoned and shackled Fathers Jesus hath made us His own property.

This means that Jesus has property rights in the Christian. We belong to Him. We are emblazoned on the palms of His hands (Isaiah 49:16) and we are stamped on our foreheads with His stamp (Revelation 22:14). We are His property and so we naturally refer to Jesus as Lord.

It is because Jesus is their Lord that the Christian refuses to live as if any other person or entity is their Lord.  It is because Jesus is their Lord that the Christian refuses to place their children underneath the tutelage of those who are themselves the flacks and minions for some other Lord. It is because Jesus is their Lord that the Christian takes so seriously God’s law in its third use for their living.

“What exactly is it that distinguishes the Calvinist? It is the fact that the Calvinist, more than others, humbles himself before the law of his God, through which a higher, more sophisticated sense of jurisprudence is also cultivated in us.”

– Abraham Kuyper

This conviction that Jesus is Lord for the Christian has animated the Christian through the centuries with a white hot determination to live as only their Lord’s bondsmen. The Biblical Christian as such as always been a prickly pear when it comes to the issue of liberty. Jesus is our Lord and we Christians are His property and we will not be brought again into any bondage of any other Lord for to do so would make the Christian an idolater.

The Biblical Christian understands that we were bought with a price and therefore we are determined, by God’s grace, to therefore glorify God in our bodies, and in our spirits, which, belong to God (I Cor. 6:20).

Fisking an idea on how to treat Confessional Documents

In a recent denomination magazine someone wrote a op-ed piece. This is my attempt to find the humor in it.

December 5, 2015 — Discussions about our denomination’s confessions, also known as the Three Forms of Unity—the Belgic Confession, the Canons of Dort, and the Heidelberg Catechism—are ongoing.

Some believe that we should preserve these confessions as they were written. Others argue that we should adapt them to contemporary times but continue to affirm their authority. Still others argue that we should do away with these confessions altogether and start anew. And some have proposed that we add a fourth document to the Three Forms of Unity, such as the Belhar Confession, to make our testimony more complete.

I propose that we refer to the Three Forms of Unity as the “historical confessions” of the CRC. This implies, of course, that the exact language of each confession be minutely preserved. After all, they are historical documents that reflect the precise spirit of their time. These documents should never be altered, and for that reason should always be referred to as “the historical confessions of the Christian Reformed Church.” Further, these historical confessions should never be considered normative for our times because their normativity for today would violate their historicity of yesterday.

Bret responds,

Great idea. Lets apply this reasoning to other historical documents.

1.) I propose that we refer to my wedding vows as the “historical wedding vows.”  This implies, of course, that the exact language of the wedding vow would be minutely preserved. After all, those vows are a historical document that reflect the precise spirit when I was married. This document should never be altered, and for that reason should always be referred to as “the historical wedding vows of Mr. & Mrs. Bret L. McAtee.” Further, this historical wedding vow should never be considered normative for our times because its normativity for today would violate its historicity of yesterday.

II.) I propose that we refer to the membership vows that our members take as their “historical vows” to the local church. This implies, of course, that the exact language of each membership vow be minutely preserved. After all, they are historical vows that reflect the precise spirit of their time. These vows should never be altered, and for that reason should always be referred to as “the historical vows of the members of sundry Christian Reformed Churches.” Further, these historical vows should never be considered normative for our times because their normativity for today would violate their historicity of yesterday.

III.) I propose that we refer to the  Scriptures as “historical Scripture” of the CRC. This implies, of course, that the exact language of each Scripture be minutely preserved. After all, the Scriptures are a historical document that reflects the precise spirit of their time. This document should never be altered, and for that reason should always be referred to as “the historical  Scripture of the Christian Church.” Further, these historical Scriptures should never be considered normative for our times because their normativity for today would violate their historicity of yesterday.

Except for assorted 5 year olds, closed head injury patients, and adult post-moderns who “reasons” like this?

How is it that Historicity is put into antithesis with normativity?

With this kind of methodology how is it possible to still believe that true truth is timeless?

“Yes Aunt Agnes, I know in your time serial adultery was wrong, according to the historic Confessions, but today the normative confessions say that God is pleased with serial adultery.”

What would be normative, however, is a Contemporary Confession. Such a new document would be similar to the CRC’s Contemporary Testimony Our World Belongs to God, but not necessarily identical to it. This Contemporary Confession would be drawn up by the CRC synod. From then on, a synodically appointed standing committee would, upon the instruction of the annual synod, recommend certain modifications, alterations, or additions to the Contemporary Confession as needed.

This process would be repeated at the commencement of each subsequent synod, at which time all the synodical delegates would also subscribe to the Contemporary Confession. The document would then be normative throughout the entire year. Newly elected or appointed office-bearers would also be expected to subscribe to it.

Something to think about!



Wasn’t this tried before? Some guy, wearing a pointy hat speaks ex-cathedra from the synod (whoops… I mean “The Chair”) and then all of Christendom knows what is true and what they should think. After all, if Synod says it is true then  why would anyone disagree? Didn’t Luther have something to say about this idea.

“I put no trust in the unsupported authority of Pope or councils or CRC Synods, since it is plain that they have often erred and often contradicted themselves) by manifest reasoning.”

I can just see it now.

“My only comfort in life and death (until next years synod meets) is that I am not my own …”

This year the Heidelberg gives us “Sin and Misery,” “Our Redemption,” and “Gratitude.” Next year the Heidelberg could  be divided into, “Low Self Esteem,” “Our Self Actualization,” and “I’m good enough, I’m smart enough,  and doggone it, people like me,” categories.

Really, I fail to understand how any thinking person could reason like this.


The Heidelberg Catechism & The Duration Of Christ’s Suffering

Recently a ministerial colleague expressed his disagreement with the Heidelberg catechism at a particular point at Lord’s Day 15. Lord’s Day 15, Q, 37 states,

Q. 37. What dost thou understand by the words, “He suffered”?

A. That he, all the time that he lived on earth, but especially at the end of his life, sustained in body and soul, the wrath of God against the sins of all mankind: (a)

that so by his passion, as the only propitiatory sacrifice, (b)

he might redeem our body and soul from everlasting damnation, (c)

and obtain for us the favour of God, righteousness and eternal life. (d)

The point of disagreement of my colleague was that he did not believe that Christ, during the time he lived on earth, sustained the wrath of God against the sins of all mankind. My minister friend quite agreed that Christ sustained God’s wrath while on the cross but he did not agree that Christ sustained God’s wrath while living.

The text that the catechism cites for this is Isaiah 53:4

Surely, he hath born our infirmities, and carried [f]our sorrows, yet we did judge him as [g]plagued and smitten of God, and humbled.

Obviously Urisunus and Olevanius interpreted this Isaiah passage to mean that he (Christ) bore our infirmities and carried our sorrow while living as well as dying. (They present other texts [I Peter 2:24, 3:18, I Timothy 2:6] to support Christ sustaining the wrath of the Father on the cross.) However the Isaiah text doesn’t explicitly say that and so I can understand why my friend might interpret the Isaiah passage as a prophecy of Christ’s burden bearing on the Cross.

However, I am of the persuasion that Isaiah is rightly interpreted as pointing to the wrath bearing of Christ during his sojourn on earth.

We must keep in mind the Christ was a public person. All orthodox Reformed people agree that in and of Himself the Lord Christ was perfect and without sin so that in and of Himself the Father could only be pleased with Him. We must keep in mind though our Reformed Federal Theology, and its attendant legal-judicial categories. Christ was a public person who was standing in as a representative for Adam and his descendants. As a public person, and the Representative of God’s elect, the Father’s disposition towards the public person and representative was the same as his disposition towards those who the Representative public person was representing. Christ represented the elect of Adam’s fallen race and as God’s wrath was upon Adam’s fallen race, the Father’s wrath was upon the Son during his whole time on earth, just as the Catechism teaches. The Lord Christ suffered during His whole time on earth and bore God’s wrath even when not on the cross because He was, before God, judicially speaking, the sinners for which He was a public person. This is basic Federal Theology.

Another issue that should be dealt with here is the phrase, (that Christ) “sustained in body and soul, the wrath of God against the sins of all mankind.”

First off we should note that this can not be teaching either a Hypothetical Universalism nor a blanket Universalism. We know this because of what the Catechism explicitly says elsewhere earlier in the document where we find Limited atonement as implicit in the Heidelberg text. Keep in view that the pronouns are always pointing to a particular people.

Q.) 20. Are all men then saved by Christ as they perished in Adam?

A.) No, only those who by true faith are ingrafted into Him and receive all His benefits.1

1 John 1:12,13. I Corinthians 15:22. Psalm 2:12. Romans 11:20. Hebrews 4:2,3. Hebrews 10:39
And in 29 and 30 and 31:

Q.) 29. Why is the Son of God called JESUS, that is, Savior?1

A.) Because He saves us from our sins,1 and because salvation is not to be sought or found in any other.2

1Matthew 1:21. Hebrews 7:25 / 2 Acts 4:12. * Luke 2:10,11.

Q.) 30. Do those also believe in the only Savior Jesus, who seek their salvation and welfare of saints, of themselves, or anywhere else?

No, although they make their boast of Him, yet in deeds they deny the only Savior Jesus,1 for either Jesus is not a complete Savior, or they who by true faith receive this Savior, must have in Him all that is necessary to their salvation.2

1 I Corinthians 1:13. I Corinthians 1:30,31. Galatians 5:4
2 Isaiah 9:7. Colossians 1:20. Colossians 2:10. John 1:16. * Matthew 23.28.

Q.) 31. Why is He called Christ, that is Anointed?

A.) Because He is ordained of God the Father and anointed with the Holy Spirit 1 to be our chief Prophet and Teacher,2 who has fully revealed to us the secret counsel and will of God concerning our redemption;3 and our only High Priest,4 who by the one sacrifice of His body, has redeemed us, and ever lives to make intercession for us with the Father;5 and our eternal King, who governs us by His Word and Spirit and defends and preserves us in the redemption obtained for us.6

1 Hebrews 1:9 / 2 Deuteronomy 18:15. Acts 3:22. /3 John 1:18. John 15:15 / 4 Psalm 110:4 Hebrews 7:21 /
5 Romans 5:9,10 / 6 Psalm 2:6. Luke 1:33. Matthew 28:18. * Isaiah 61:1,2. * I Peter 2:24. * Revelation 19:16.

The Catechism should be read in such a way so that what precedes earlier in the Catechism informs what comes later in the Catechism. Given the presence of all this implicit limited atonement type language earlier in the Catechism it would not make sense that suddenly in question 37 Ursinus and Olevanius suddenly start speaking as if they are Arminians on the doctrine of the atonement.

Secondly, on this score, one can reference Ursinus’ commentary on question & answer 37 and read,

“Obj. 4. If Christ made satisfaction for all, then all ought to be saved. But all are not saved. Therefore, he did not make a perfect satisfaction.

Ans. Christ satisfied for all, as it respects the sufficiency of the satisfaction which he made, but not as it respects the application thereof . . .”

The Commentary of Dr. Zacharius Ursinus on the Heidelberg Catechism,– p. 215

Here it is clear that the Heidelberg is not holding to a Arminian Hypothetical Universalism where in Christ’s death makes salvation only possible for each and every individual. Ursinus is articulating the idea that Christ’s death was sufficient for mankind but efficient for only the elect since only the elect would have the benefits of Christ applied to them.

Caleb’s Baptism — Heidelberg Catechism Q. 22-24


In the last question the catechism instructed us as to the definition of “true faith.” In the following questions the Catechism sets the table for a detailed examination of our undoubted Catholic Christian Faith. Because these next few questions are basically table setting questions for the following questions we will be able to examine more than one question today.

As the catechizers have established what true faith is, they next turn to the issue of what it is necessary for a Christian to believe. They have given us a definition of faith and now they turn to the truths upon which our faith must be anchored.

A couple of things to note briefly here before we turn to question 22.

First, as we have mentioned before, this emphasis that we find in the catechism on the issue of the content of our faith reminds us again that Christianity is the life of the mind. Question 22 asks, “What is then necessary for a christian to believe,” not, “What is necessary for a Christian to feel,” or, “What is necessary for a Christian to experience.” As we have said feelings and experience have their place in the Christian life but it is what we believe — what we embrace as truth — that is the essence of the Christian faith.

Second, we should note that “Faith” is an inescapable category. What I mean by this is that all men live by faith in something or someone. It is not as if only Christians have faith, or only religious people have faith. Every living breathing person you meet has some kind of faith. The humanists have faith. They have faith that man, by the use of putatively autonomous right reason, can arrive at true truth quite apart from any religious considerations. (Of course thinking that one can arrive at truth apart from any religious consideration is a religious faith consideration.) The Materialists have faith that everything happened by time plus chance plus circumstance. Since they were not there, there is no way they can know that their materialism is true. Besides, for the materialists, can there even be discussion about “true,” since “true,” for the materialist, is only the firing of random chemicals in our purely material brains? If the brain secretes thought the way the liver secretes bile can the materialist really speak about “truth?”

When it comes to faith the difference for the Christian and the pagan is that the pagan’s faith reduces to “faith in faith,” while the Christian’s faith is faith anchored in divine revelation.

Very well then, with that as preliminary the Catechism asks,

Question 22. What is then necessary for a christian to believe?

Answer: All things promised us in the gospel, (a) which the articles of our catholic undoubted christian faith briefly teach us.

As they ask what is “necessary” to believe, I understand the catechizers to be communicating that what they are about to give is the basics of Christianity. They intend to stick to the meat and potatoes of our undoubted Catholic Christian faith. The catechism is given as a basic Christianity 101. Now we might find that surprising given that it takes 129 questions in the catechism to give us the basics. We’re used to 30 second sound bites to get us up to speed on any given subject. We think that we can crash course almost any subject and get up to speed in almost no time. But the Catechism, in order to give us just the essentials gives us 129 questions and answers to digest, understand, and own. Of course what is discussed in the Catechism is just the bare essentials. A Christian, having this foundation will learn much much more throughout their whole Christian life and then when they are old and ready to depart they will readily admit that they are but a child in their understanding of their undoubted Catholic Christian faith.

It is interesting that what we are required to believe is all that is promised in the Gospel. This teaches us two truths.

1.) Our undoubted Catholic Christian faith is about grasping God’s promises. The Gospel is first and foremost about God’s promises to us. The Gospel is first and foremost what God has done for us. When we teach a Christian what is necessary to believe we are teaching them to rest in God’s promises. We are teaching them that God has done all the saving in Christ and that He promises to save all those who are weary and heavy laden if they will take God at His Word that “all who call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

2.) The “Gospel,” as we shall see, includes believing in doctrines that sometimes are, in our contemporary Church setting, not seen as being necessary to consider. For example, the catechism will be teaching us that it is necessary for us to believe in a robust supernaturalism. In order to believe the Gospel we are required to believe Divine creation, the virgin Birth, that our Lord Christ was resurrected from the grave and that He ascended into heaven. The authors of the catechism did not countenance a hermeneutic that allowed us to try to understand the Scripture apart from the Supernatural and where we find people in the Church who claim Christ but interpret the Bible in order to avoid the supernatural or who use semantic deception to diminish the supernatural there we find people who are out of step with the Catechism and Scripture.

That belief is necessary for the Christian is taught in John 20:31

“But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.”

In question 23 the catechism gives us the Apostles Creed as the statement that they will be breaking down in order to explain to us our undoubted Catholic Christian faith. This Creed comes to us from the life of the early Church and gives 12 affirmations regarding the nature and character of the catholic (universal) Christian faith. Often the Apostles Creed is used in Church services. In some of the branches of Christianity you might even find the Creed being chanted during the worship service. As you know we regularly recite the Apostles Creed whenever the Lord Christ invites us to His table (Eucharist).

Question 23. What are these articles?

Answer: 1. I believe in God the Father, Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth: 2. And in Jesus Christ, his only begotten Son, our Lord: 3. Who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary: 4. Suffered under Pontius Pilate; was crucified, dead, and buried: He descended into hell: 5. The third day he rose again from the dead: 6. He ascended into heaven, and sitteth at the right hand of God the Father Almighty: 7. From thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead: 8. I believe in the Holy Ghost: 9. I believe a holy catholic church: the communion of saints: 10. The forgiveness of sins: 11. The resurrection of the body: 12. And the life everlasting.

Since we will be looking closely at each one of these 12 statements we allow the Creed to go uncommented on here.

Then in Question 24 they give a brief subdivision of the Apostles Creed.

8. Lord’s Day

Question 24. How are these articles divided?

Answer: Into three parts; the first is of God the Father, and our creation; the second of God the Son, and our redemption; the third of God the Holy Ghost, and our sanctification.

The whole statement of the Apostles Creed is broken down into three subdivisions. One subdivision for each member of the Trinity.

The work of God the Father is associated with Creation. Subsumed under His work of creation we will be looking into His work of sustaining, and governing. God’s Providence will be a matter we pay close attention to.

The work of God the Son is associated with our Redemption accomplished. The Son was set apart from Eternity to be the Representative and Savior for His people. As such we will be looking at matters like propitiation, reconciliation, atonement, and other doctrines associated with the Son’s work of Redemption.

The work of God the Spirit is associate with our Redemption applied. The Spirit, being sent by the Father and the Son, applies the work of Redemption to His people and possesses His people to the end that they go from Christ-likeness to Christ-likeness.

Even though we subdivide the Apostles Creed in these three parts we mustn’t be so wooden as to think that the particular work that is assigned to each member of the Trinity finds the other members of the Trinity uninvolved with that work. For example, even though we rightly ascribe Creation to the work of the Father, we can read in Scripture of the Son and Creation,

Colossians 1:16 For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him. 17 He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.

Hebrews 2:10 For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things, and through whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to perfect the author of their salvation through sufferings.

And Genesis speaks of the work of the Spirit in creation,

Genesis 1:2 The earth was [a]formless and void, and darkness was over the [b]surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was [c]moving over the [d]surface of the waters.

Similar examples could be given for each of the works that are properly ascribed to the members of the Trinity. So, while it is not wrong to think of the Father in relation to his Creator work, or the Son in relation to His Redemption work, or the Spirit in relation to His Sanctifying work it would be wrong to not realize that because of the intimate relationship between each member of the Trinity that when one member is involved in a particular work each member is involved in that work. Each member of the Trinity cooperates in each work.