Through a series of links tonight I found this "small children's catechism", provided by The Center for Reformed Theology and Apologetics. As you've already guessed, I don't like it. What gave it away? I know - it's easy: the words "reformed theology". My four regular readers know without a doubt that those words can turn me into a frothing maniac faster than you can say "Jean Calvin". But really, what's not to like about a catechism for little ones? Well, an example or two:
"7. What does God reveal in nature? His character, law, and wrath." Really? I thought it was his love of this world and his love of beauty. Remember the "wrath" part the next time your car gets dented by a hailstorm; God obviously has something to tell you, and you're not going to like it.
"19. What is sin? Disobedience to God's law." Law? Like Mosaic Law? I thought sin meant "missing the mark" - as in "for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." We try, we fail, we pray, fast, try again, and we, through God's mercy, sin less, but we still fall short and are in desperate need of grace. Sounds better to me than "disobedience", I have to say.
"22. Why did Adam's sin affect all men? We all sinned in Adam." Oh. I thought it was because his sin brought spiritual and physical sickness and death into the world - it destroyed the perfection of the earth. Does it have to have done more than that? That alone is pretty bad.
"23. Must all men die for sin? No, God elected some to life." No comment. How exactly would you explain the doctrine of election to a small child, anyway? "Honey, it might be you, but then again it might be just your brothers. You won't know until you're dead. Good luck, little guy."
"38. What are the traits of His church? The Word, discipline, and sacraments." I thought "the Word" was a reference to the second person of the Trinity - as in John: "In the beginning was the Word..." but I know Protestants like to refer to the Bible as the "Word" and nothing else. Discipline? How about holy medicine for the soul? Healing from the wounds of sin? A hospital for those who seek after salvation? Nope. Much better to focus on the word "discipline." I'm sure that helps, especially with little children who love to be disciplined.
I know. I rant and rave, and it's the least effective way of convincing anybody of anything. It's the online equivalent of me standing up on my soapbox in the park and shouting "hey, I'm a cranky, sarcastic and hard-to-get-along-with Orthodox Christian - want to come to church with me this Sunday?" When I care about something a lot, I tend to get sarcastic and prickly; others may cry, or something similar. Yes, my tendency is a sin. Will you pray for me? And no, that wasn't sarcastic, not in the slightest.