I’m in favor of revising confessions and catechisms, in principle. For instance, I think we could use some language about male ordination. And how about nailing down IAOC? It would be nice to replace “in the space of six days” with some of the some of the results of the OPC Creation Report, which a little more clearly spelled out latitude among various doctrines of creation. One of my pet peeves is that grammar of the beloved SC Q. 1 doesn’t match A. 1. I mean c’mon, just choose one of “Man’s chief end” or “The chief end of man” and stick with it. Fer da kids. (And I can recommend many more grammatical improvements to aid memorizability, from my experience developing this.)
But the Achilles heel of the Westminster standards is that they are so good, so close to infallibility, that they have stood unchanged for centuries, and like the original freewheel on a 1970 Falcon San Remo, after all that time it gets pretty hard to move. And if we open the door to change, who knows what shenanigans would go on. I’m worried the net result would not be an improvement, but, um, what’s the opposite of improvement? Deprovement? Exprovement? You get the point. Baddening.
But not everybody is so squeamish to protect Westminster. It’s an interesting exercise to see what the Presbyterian Mothership is up to in the catechism department. I had trouble finding confessional documents at pcusa.org, but it seems that the PCUSA web presence is spread across a few different URLs, the biggest of which is for the Presbyterian Mission Agency (formerly General Assembly Mission Council), which hosts a page on confession and catechism. The word “Westminster” is strangely absent from that page, but they’re big on Belhar, they’re fond of French, and as of 1998 they seem to have replaced the Westminster Shorter and Larger (or judging by scope, perhaps Children’s and Shorter?) with Belonging to God: a First Catechism, and The Study Catechism.
I plan to wander through those artifacts in coming posts. I expect to have mostly a critical response, but I will try to keep an optimistic eye open for good stuff as well. I hope Keller et al also read through them as a guide for what not to do (and maybe a little what to do), as they embark on their new writing project. (And of course it wouldn’t hurt to take another pass through the Shorter and Larger to see what to keep.)
[UPDATE] Immediate change of course! I didn’t realize that Keller had just yesterday “launched” New City Catechism. I think it would be more timely if we dove into this first (the new PCUSA catechisms have waited 14 years, they can wait a little longer…), to ask penetrating questions like, Why is there only an iOS app? Are Android smartphones inherently less sanctified (sanctifying)?