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1979 Catechism Exposed (1) [ECUSA]
Drell's Descants ^ | 4/27/2005 | The Rev. Alice C. Linsley

Posted on 04/27/2005 8:08:16 PM PDT by sionnsar

Traditional Anglican catechisms require candidates to memorize the Apostles’ Creed, the Lord’s Prayer, the Ten Commandments, and to grasp the Anglican understanding of the Sacraments before being presented to the Bishop for Confirmation. This involves a commitment of time and effort consistent with the importance of Baptism and Confirmation.

The Apostles’ Creed, the Lord’s Prayer, the Ten Commandments and the Sacraments constitute the baseline of instruction in traditional catechisms. This piece is Part 1 in a series on the 1979 “Outline of Faith” and addresses only the use of the Apostles’ Creed in catechesis (religious instruction).

First it should be noted that the Outline of Faith found in the 1979 Prayer Book represents a significant break from the traditional Anglican catechism. Orthodox catechists should not use the 1979 Prayer Book to instruct persons preparing for Baptism and Confirmation because it is doctrinally defective. It is important that catechists understand how the 1979 Catechism departs from the historic teachings of Anglicanism. The following explanations will help you discern the differences.

The Apostles’ Creed

The Apostles Creed (sometimes referred to as the “Roman Creed”) is the Creed used in traditional Anglican catechisms. It provides a Trinitarian structure to the instruction, thus strengthening belief in the Trinity. Traditionally the Apostles’ Creed and the Creed of Saint Athanasius (p. 864, 1979 Prayer Book) were recited as alternatives to the Nicene Creed in Holy Communion. The 1979 Prayer Book does not provide such alternatives, assigning the Apostles’ Creed to Morning Prayer and Baptism.

It is recommended that catechists use the Catechism found in the 1662 or 1928 Book of Common Prayer because this form preserves the Trinitarian framework of the Apostles’ Creed that has given structure to Christian catechisms since before the Reformation.

The Articles of Belief

Traditional Anglican catechisms begin with the “first article of belief” which asks: “Do you believe in God the Father?” The Catechism found in the 1979 Prayer Book replaces the first article with a question about human nature (p. 845). Here is ECUSA’s definition of human nature:

Human beings are “part of God’s creation, made in the image of God.”

Human beings are “free to make choices: to love, to create, to reason, and to live in harmony with creation and with God.”

Human beings “live apart from God” because “from the beginning human beings have misused their freedom and made wrong choices.”

Human beings do not use their freedom as they should “because we rebel against God, and we put ourselves in the place of God.”

Ironically, the very rebellion that the 1979 catechism speaks of is evident in the organization of ECUSA’s catechism, which puts humanity in the rightful place of God.

The 1979 Catechism also presents a non-biblical anthropology. Let us consider how ECUSA’s anthropology departs from Scripture.

The Bible teaches that humans are made in the image of God and that the order of things suggests that humans are unique and have stewardship over the earth. The Bible also teaches that human existence is not according to the God’s plan because sin has destroyed the original order. The 1979 Catechism says that the purpose of humanity is to “live in harmony with creation and with God,” but sin makes it impossible to restore harmony by any human acts. The Apostle Paul anguished over this, confessing: “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.” (Romans 7:15) If we take the biblical view of sin seriously, we recognize that our attempts at righteous are before God as filthy rags. We also recognize that our minds, bodies and wills are in bondage to sin.

Being enslaved by sin, human beings are not free to make righteous choices. We are not free to love and reason as God would have us do. Our attempts at love are tainted by sin. Our reasoning is fallen. In stating that humans are “free to make choices… and to live in harmony with nature and with God,” ECUSA minimizes the bondage of human reason and will. Historic Christianity upholds the absolute necessity of divine redemption though faith in the Savior Jesus Christ.

Let us examine ECUSA’s treatment of The Articles of Belief by comparing the 1979 statements with earlier Books of Common Prayer. Consider the following:

First Article of the 1979 Catechism, p. 846
Question: What do we learn about God as creator from the revelation to Israel?
Answer: We learn that there is one God, the Father Almighty, creator of heaven and earth, of all that is, seen and unseen.

Second Article of the 1979 Catechism, p. 849
Question: What do we mean when we say that Jesus is the only Son of God?
Answer: We mean that Jesus is the only perfect image of the Father, and shows us the nature of God.

Third Article of the 1979 Catechism, p. 852
Question: Who is the Holy Spirit?
Answer: The Holy Spirit is the Third Person of the Trinity, God at work in the world and in the Church even now.

Now the 1928 Catechism:
Catechist: Rehearse the Articles of thy Belief.
Answer: I believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth:
And in Jesus Christ his only Son our Lord: Who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary: Suffered under Pontius Pilate, Was crucified, dead, and buried: He descended into hell; The third day he rose again from the dead: He ascended into heaven, And sitteth on the right hand of God the Father Almighty: From thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Ghost: The holy Catholic Church; The Communion of Saints: The Forgiveness of sins: The Resurrection of he body: And the Life everlasting. Amen.

Question: What dost thou chiefly learn in these Articles of thy Belief?
Answer: First, I learn to believe in God the Father, who hath made me, and all the world. Secondly, in God the Son, who hath redeemed me, and all mankind. Thirdly, in God the Holy Ghost, who sanctifieth me, and all the people of God.

Note that the 1928 Catechism maintains the Articles of Belief as a whole creedal statement whereas the 1979 Catechism separates the Articles by inserting topics between them. God the Father is separated from God the Son by a discussion of the Old Covenant, the Ten Commandments, and Sin and Redemption. Likewise God the Son is separated from God the Holy Spirit by discussion of the New Covenant and the Creeds. These separations effectively unravel the integrity of the Creed.

TOPICS: Mainline Protestant
KEYWORDS: 1979; angpost6; ecusa

1 posted on 04/27/2005 8:08:23 PM PDT by sionnsar
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2 posted on 04/27/2005 8:08:59 PM PDT by sionnsar (†† || Iran Azadi || Where are we going, and why are we in this handbasket?)
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