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January 18, 2005

Brainerd and Catechisms

Jan. 18.

Prosecuted my catechetical method of discoursing. There appeared a great solemnity, and some considerable affection in the assembly. - This method of instructing I find very profitable. When I first entered upon it, I was exercised with fears, lest my discourses would unavoidably be so doctrinal, that they would tend only to enlighten the head, but not to affect the heart. But the event proves quite otherwise; for these exercises have hitherto been remarkably blessed in the latter as well as the former respects. -- David Brainerd's Journal

I've found that for me, doctrinal studies move my heart so much and not simply my brain. I remember reading the theology section in a textbook when I was 17 and feeling like I was rejoicing with the angels in heaven as I sat with my legs over the arm of my Dad's oversized recliner.

OKCalvin encouraged me several months ago to be sure that the boys were learning their catechism. We're using this Catechism for Young Children. The kids are definitely in the "Poll Parrot" stage, and like rhythmic recitation of the questions and answers.

At the beginning of the New Year, I started memorizing the Westminster Shorter Catechism via the plan found in TableTalk. (Yep, that's another plug--you really should subscribe.) I especially like this online version of the Westminster Shorter Catechism with the Bible proof texts listed in frames. Not this time around, but eventually I want to memorize those verses associated with each question.

And while I'm not sure whether Brainerd had simply a question/answer method of teaching or the Westminster Shorter in mind when he wrote in his journal, I've been as remarkably blessed, as he said.


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I know exactly what you mean about doctrinal studies moving your heart. I've been enjoying early morning "dates" with Mr. Berkhof. I'm only on about page 35 or so, but I keep jotting things down to remember.

Posted by: Kim in ON at January 18, 2005 11:51 PM

Thank you for the reminder! We were on #31 when we let our routine slip. I need to find my copy of it, as the boys absolutely loved doing it and called it "The Catechism Game"! LOL.

Posted by: Dy at January 19, 2005 02:54 AM

I can't wait until Kate is old enough to start learning the Children's Catechism. Seriously, I get all excited just thinking about it. M. likes to ask her the questions and move her mouth, pretending she is answering in Latin.
Who made you? De-us
What else did God make? Om-ni-a
Why did God make you and all things? Pro Glor-i-um.

Posted by: kristen at January 19, 2005 01:22 PM

Hmm. We dropped off around question #50. Time to get back to it... Thanks for the reminder.

Posted by: Amy Scott at January 19, 2005 08:38 PM

In catechetical, or elementary instruction, the grand secret is, little at a time and often repeated. Whoever would successfully instruct children and very ignorant adults, should avoid the error of crowding too many things into their minds at once. It is as preposterous a practice as it would be to attempt to increase the activity, vigor, and size of the body, by cramming the stomach with as much food as it could hold. Moreover, the truths first communicated should be as simple as possible. Tender minds must not be fed with strong meat, but with pure milk. To accommodate instruction to the state of advancement in knowledge, and to the degree of development of the mental faculties, is certainly that part of education which is most difficult, and at the same time the most important. -- Archibald Alexander (1772-1851), Catechetical Instruction, http://www.reformedreader.org/ccc/catinstruction.htm

Posted by: John Owen Butler at January 20, 2005 12:02 AM

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Friday, Saturday and Sunday--January 21-23
The Tall Poppy Diaries

Attire: Black Tie
Red Carpet Opens at 12:01 on Friday, January 21

We hope that you and your friends can join us. And again, please accept our congratulations and best wishes for a very successful and happy 2005.

Posted by: Pink Poppy at January 21, 2005 12:30 AM

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