July Walk in Truth Newsletter

date Jul 15, 2011
author Voddie Baucham topics & issues Children, Conferences, Education, Family, Missions


Walk in Truth Newsletter

July 2011


In This Issue

Featured Article

Question of the Month

Baucham Family News

Event Update

Family Discipleship Corner


Featured Article:  Catechism:  The Lost Tool of Family  Discipleship:  Part One,  by Dr. Voddie Baucham, Jr.
(From the upcoming book,
Family Shepherds, due out in October from Crossway)


I cannot tell you exactly when I became familiar with the practice of catechizing children.  I can, however, tell you that it was after my days in seminary.  As a Southern Baptist pastor-in-training I learned a great deal about theology, preaching, Church history and many other subjects.  However, the idea of the families of the church (mine included) being encouraged to catechize their children was an idea that curried no favor among those who trained me.  As a result, I did not catechize my own children early on.  Nor did I encourage the practice among those whom I led.


Since learning of the practice, I have seen it bear much fruit in my own home and in the homes of those whom I've had the privilege of shepherding.  In fact, catechism, along with family worship, may be the most effective tool I've encountered to date.  


In his Memoirs, Jonathan Edwards wrote concerning encouraging heads of households (read: family shepherds): "Let us endeavour (sic.) to revive good customs and practices among them; particularly, the ancient good practice of catechizing, family order, worship, and government" (Edwards, Memoirs, Vol. 1, p. cviii)  This practice, though foreign to our contemporary minds, is an old and trusted family discipleship tool. And while no creed, catechism, or confession is infallible, nor rises to the level of Scripture, it is important to have tools to define and teach the doctrines we derive from the Bible. And since both a newly converted (or spiritually immature) father and his children need the very benefits catechism provides.


What is Catechism?


Catechism is simply a pedagogical method employing questions and answers to teach a set body of knowledge. According to Zacharias Ursinus, the primary author of the Heidelberg Catechism:


The system of catechizing, therefore, includes a short, simple, and plain exposition and rehearsal of the Christian doctrine, deduced from the writings of the prophets and apostles, and arranged in the form of questions and answers, adapted to the capacity and comprehension of the ignorant and unlearned; or it is a brief summary of the doctrine of the prophets and apostles, communicated orally to such as are unlearned, which they again are required to repeat. (Zacharias Ursinus, "What is Catechism," English translation by G.W. Williard, Columbus OH, 1852; reprinted by P & R) 


Ultimately, catechism is a means of teaching Christian doctrine in a concise, repetitive manner. As Martin Luther wrote, "In the catechism, we have a very exact, direct, and short way to the whole Christian religion."





Question of the Month


Newsletter Question of the Month

Each month we receive dozens of questions.  Some I answer in my blog, but some require much shorter responses.  We try to answer one of those questions each month in the Newsletter.


This month's question is: 

Do you consider yourself a "Fundamentalist"?  




I am delighted to have an opportunity to answer this question.   I get this question more than you might think.  Fundamentalists ask me this question because they've heard people call me a Fundamentalist, but have not seen evidence of it in my life and/or ministry.  Others ask me the question because they've heard media outlets (or liberal Christians) use the term to describe me and/or my ministry.   



Fundamentalism vs. Reformed Evangelicalism 


The easy answer to this question is a resounding no!  I am absolutely not a Fundamentalist.  Moreover, any claim to the contrary is demonstrably false.  There is a long history of clear distinction between Fundamentalism and Reformed Theology.  However, most people who use the term Fundamentalist don't use it in an effort to define, but to discredit.  A "Fundamentalist" is unintelligent, anti-scientific, anti-progress, narrow-minded, and downright mean.  In the media, a "Fundamentalist" is someone who straps bombs to himself and goes out to kill his enemies.  However, the term does have a very rich and easily definable theological history. 



Fundamentalism and its Similarities with Reformed Theology

Before addressing the differences between Fundamentalism and Reformed Theology, let me acknowledge some similarities (you can find the following lists here).  Both Fundamentalists and "Calvinists" believe the following: 


1) The inspiration and verbal inerrancy of Scripture
2) The Deity of Christ and the virgin Birth
3) The substitutionary atonement
4) Justification by faith
5) The physical resurrection
6) The bodily return of Christ at the end of the age.
7) Christ performed miracles      



Fundamentalism and its Differences with Reformed Theology




The Reformed tradition is highly confessional, whereas Fundamentalist Christians tend to be much less so.  Fundamentalism is often characterized by the "no creed but Christ" mentality.  When they do adopt confessions, they tend to be very short and succinct (compared, for example, to the Second London Baptist Confession to which our church holds). 





The Reformed tradition is also Calvinistic whereas Fundamentalism is overwhelmingly Arminian (read here for a good comparison).   





A third difference between Reformed and Fundamentalist Christians is the overall hermeneutic that governs their theology.  The Reformed tradition is Covenantal in its approach to and understanding of Scripture whereas Fundamentalists tend to be Dispensational (read here for a concise comparison) 





Fundamentalists are known for their pietism, perfectionism, and moralism (i.e., KJV only, no R-rated movies, no dancing, etc.), whereas the Reformed tradition has had a much more holistic view of culture.  This familiar (though definitely oversimplified) saying may help to demonstrate the contrast:  Fundamentalists are known for what they're "against," while Reformed Christians are know for what they're "for".    



Still My Brothers 


While I do not identify myself as a Fundamentalist, I do identify Fundamentalists as my brothers.   I use the ESV, hold to the Doctrines of Grace and the Second London Baptist Confession, reject Dispensationalism, own Saving Private Ryan and Braveheart (both rated R), love dancing, and  listen to Jazz (among other things).  However, I do hold to the seven fundamentals at the core of "Fundamentalism."   


And regardless of what I believe, as long as the word Fundamentalist is a badge of scorn and dishonor hurled by those on the political and theological left, I will continue to be called a Fundamentalist despite the fact that a true Fundamentalist would never claim me.