[Note: the following is from the introduction to my as of yet unpublished book, Something Worth Living For. Feel free to spread this link far and wide, as you see fit. If you want to use the content in some other form, ask me. Thanks!]
In writing this book, I’m assuming that you are curious. Maybe you are in a church that has some relationship with the Westminster Shorter Catechism and you want to know more about what your church believes. Perhaps you have seen the Catechism mentioned somewhere and wonder what it is about. I write to satisfy those curiosities, of course.
But there are deeper curiosities. It’s possible that you are curious about the beliefs of Christianity itself. The Catechism, as it is a summary of basic historic Christian doctrine is a good place to begin. My hope is that this book will stimulate you to dig even more deeply into what you discover here.
Some of you may have been shaken by life, or by simply growing up, to question a Christian faith you once held. Perhaps your understanding of Christianity has been challenged by Christians behaving badly or by Christianity being handled poorly in the public sphere. You, perhaps, are reading because you are trying to recapture the faith you once held. I welcome you. I’ve been where you are.
Mostly I hope you are curious about God. If this book can help readers know God better, then the effort of writing and reading will have been worth it.
Structurally, this book is a collection of “conversations” centered on the 107 questions and answers of the Westminster Shorter Catechism. I picture us sitting on a porch or at a coffee shop discussing the issues the Catechism raises in the order it raises them. Though intending to be theologically accurate this is not intended to be academic. The goal of my comments is to encourage your thoughtful and devotional engagement with the Christian faith as it is expressed in the Catechism. I want you to not just know what the Catechism says about God. I want to encourage you to reflect on its meaning and implications.
To this end, it is important to let the logic of the Catechism lead us. It’s important to begin at the beginning and to move thoughtfully to the end. There is no rush. It is okay to read one section per day, or less frequently, if that is most comfortable for you. Each is short enough to be read quickly, but substantive enough to encourage reflection. There is no rush.
The pastors and scholars who created this Catechism were motivated by a deep passion for God and for his people. They, like those who before them translated the Bible into English, took great risks so that they might remove “. . . the barrier between learned and unlearned by making Christianity fully intelligible in the common languages.” (Marilynne Robinson, The Givenness of Things, pages 19, 20) This book does not reach the level of what they accomplished, and the only risk I run is that readers won’t like it. And yet I, too, want to make “Christianity fully intelligible in [today’s] common languages.” I want to bring the riches of this catechism before you in a way that both satisfies and further whets your curiosity. I will judge this successful if, when finished, readers love God just a bit more and are moved more deeply to glorify and enjoy him.
Mary Ann Porter
When I first heard that you were writing about the catechism, I couldn’t help thinking that this book would not interest me whatsoever. However, your introduction is appealing, and may be just the right book for me and my scarred ex-Catholic friend, Ben, who is skeptical about this religion thing! When can I buy a copy???
Thanks. This is how I want this to be used. When can you buy a copy? Well, first I have to find a publisher willing to print it. Pray to that end!
Lovely and engaging. I am ready for my copy and to use it in my devotions daily!
Thanks, Chris. So the wait begins.
Having not grown up with the Catechisms I very much look forward to reading your book. I’m praying for a publisher to take it on. In the meantime I’ll have to be content to read the pages you are sharing with us here. My faith can use a shot in the arm. Oh, and as I write this I am mindful of my grammatical p’s and q’s, aware that at one time you were an English teacher.
Yes. You wouldn’t want me to send your comment back marked up in red. ☺