To Be a Christian: An Anglican Catechism

Which has been produced by The Anglican Communion of North America:The Anglican Church in North America

The Catechesis Task Force is pleased to announce that To Be a Christian: An Anglican Catechism is now available in PDF and Microsoft Word format.

The Catechism was unanimously approved for use by the College of Bishops on January 8th, 2014.

This catechism (a text used for instruction of Christian disciples) is designed as a resource manual for the renewal of Anglican catechetical practice. It presents the essential building blocks of classic catechetical instruction: the Apostles’ Creed, the Lord’s Prayer, and the Ten Commandments (the Decalogue). To these is added an initial section especially intended for those with no prior knowledge of the Gospel. Each section is presented in the question-and-answer form that became standard in the sixteenth-century because of its proven effectiveness. Each section is also set out with its practical implications, together with biblical references.

Access the Catechism here.

I see Dr J.I. Packer was involved. Worth checking out.

 

19 thoughts on “To Be a Christian: An Anglican Catechism

  1. It is good to see this important task come to fruition, and to see a diverse group of Anglicans work together so successfully. My first glance leads me to think it is rather wonderful to see a group of Anglicans take pride in their heritage and create an Anglican Catechism. It seems pretty grounded in those two unique historical features of Anglicanism: Cranmer’s BCP and the 39 Articles. Will be interesting to see how the various wings of the worldwide Anglican Church react to it, if at all.

    • In reality, the Anglican Communion does not really need another Anglican Catechism, and especially in this so-called standard in the 16th century format. I say this not because this piece may not be sound, but because the 16th century Reformed have so many already at hand! Myself, I can think of John Calvin’s, small piece: Instruction in Faith, 1537, as too his.. Calvin’s First (large and full) Catechism of 1538 (originally written in French in 1537), and of course his: The Catechism Of The Church of Geneva, 1541. And Thomas Torrance’s book: The School Of Faith, The Catechisms Of The Reformed Church, Translated and edited with an Introduction, is back in print and is a real classic. The point being, we have plenty! But as the question asked, will the Anglicans “react” or use them? And what of The Irish Articles 1615? These pressed out with the great Archbishop James Ussher are still very useful! And then we simply must too see The Lutheran Confessions, with The Book of Concord! My whole point here, is that Anglicans today simply need to look at the English Reformation itself (historically), as too people like Peter Martyr Vermigli, with Martin Bucer, who both taught in England in the 16th century. The English Anglican Reformation has itself many fine theolog’s! In reality, the Anglican Communion needs to recover its own Reformed and Reformational History! Btw, old J.I. Packer has certainly been up this road, and for decades! But is there anyone like him to replace him? I mean his Anglican Reformed theology and desire! It appears not, but I do hope some young Anglican Reformed might step-up here! At one time the American Mike Horton was involved with the American REC’s (Reformed Episcopal Church), and was a “presbyter” there. But its little place and sort of inward history, did not suit him as it appears, and who can blame him? Indeed just where is the/a centre of Anglican Reformed Evangelicalism… And does it even exist today?

      Btw, on a sort of secondary issue, but certainly within the classic subject of the Reformed doctrines and divinity, let me recommend John Calvin’s piece: The Secret Providence of God. My copy, edited by Paul Helm (with his introduction, Crossway, 2010). Here for sure is Calvin’s certain defense of God’s providential rule of history and the doctrine too of God’s sovereignty. The two in reality certainly form together!

      • Myself, I simply don’t believe that proper, and certainly the best of Anglicanism can exist without both the biblical doctrines of God’s providence and sovereignty! And most certainly this must be “experiential divinity” itself! I.e. Much more than theological theory!

  2. Fr. Robert, Historically, there is a paucity of both confessions and catechisms inside historical Anglicanism (esp. 16th century), and what little exists tends to be rather short and not overly systematic. Just compare the short 39 Articles to Bullinger’s much more detailed 2nd Helvetic Confession (1561/1566). The former is dwarfed in size by the latter. Then look at the Heidelberg Catechism (1562). The 39 Articles, unlike the 2nd Helvetic, lacks a potentially naturally corresponding catechism which was created around the same time.

    Being historically and confessional Angican, the group working on this new Anglican Catechism couldn’t use a non-Anglican substitute from the purely Reformed tradition (e.g., anything from Calvin) or from the purely Lutheran tradition (e.g., the much longer Augsburg Confession (1530) and the monumental Apology to Same (1531), both by Melanchthon, along with Luther’s Larger & Smaller Catechisms). Otherwise they’d be essentially stating that they are either Reformed or Lutheran without truly being Anglican. And that just isn’t true. They are neither Reformed nor Lutheran.

    Any use of either the Irish Articles (1615) or Westminster Confession & Catechism (1640s) is equally problematic. The former and the Church of Ireland are the most “Reformed” Anglican Church, having had to be forced to accept the 39 Articles. They exist at the very outer edge of potentially minimally acceptable Anglicanism and have a limited use within Ireland and a very, very limited use outside of Ireland. The latter and the Church of Scotland may be the most “Anglican” Reformed Church, but they are still not Anglican. Which is why the Puritans behind them had to martyr both Archbishop Laud (1645) and King Charles I (1649), to first destroy the Anglican Church and replace it with a Puritan Church and second to destroy the Anglican State and replace it with Cromwell’s Commonwealth. Neither lasted in England and were repudiated by the soon-to-be resurrected Anglican Church and State.

    I view this new Anglican Catechism a bit like the far longer and far more systematic RCC’s CCC. It is an updating that attempts to stay entirely faithful to the historical tradition of the Church. To bring the Gospel to those in darkness and remind the faithful what they believe. And I keep in mind that even though the Lutherans have the lengthy, relatively detailed AC and Apology, they also use and revere Luther’s two catechisms.

    This new Anglican Catechism appears to fit well with the BCP, the 39 Articles, the Lambeth Quadrilateral, and the general thrust of historical Anglicanism around the world. So I say…a job well done. Something even non-Anglians like me can readily appreciate and respect. (Now if only my Orthodox Church would come up with a modern lengthy, detailed, systematic catechism like the RCC’s CCC.)

    • @Michael: YOU have somewhat made the point I was seeking, and that is that the true English Anglicanism of the Archbishop Thomas Cranmer, was in reality close to aspects of the so-called Continental Reformation! And here surely is the great essence of the Article XVII, Of Predestination and Election, of which surely Anglicanism quite certainly moved away from, and rather quickly with many!

      Thankfully, historically, there has always been “some” Anglican Churchmen and theolog’s who have always quite got this great doctrine of Divine Election! See WH Griffith Thomas’s fine piece here on this Article XVII, from his book: The Principles Of Theology, An Introduction To The Thirty-Nine Articles.

      *Of course I would somewhat disagree, and strongly, with your third paragraph! 🙂

      And yes, would that Anglican theolog’s today knew and read (in depth) John Calvin here! See as I noted, Calvin’s grand piece: The Secret Providence of God! Have you ever read it? Humm, somehow I bet not? Here, “So I say… a job well done”! But then I am a “neo-Calvinist”, and unashamedly! 😉 These are dogmatic points of doctrine for sure! And something rarely seen in Anglicanism today! (Save of course with people today like old Packer, and Paul Helm, who held the “J.I. Packer Chair” at Regent – 2001 to 2005.)

      • And btw, make no mistake, but the mature theology of Cranmer was solidly predestinarian! And surely this came from Augustine for Cranmer. As Cranmer could write: “though the Decrees of Predestination be unknown to us, yet, we must receive God’s Promises in such wise as they be generally set forth to us in Holy Scripture, and in our doings, that will of God is to be followed, which we have expressly declared unto us in the Word of God.” (Bk. I no. 55) And this quote quite follows Cranmer’s most positive faith and belief in the great reality of God’s predestination for His Elect, as he saw in the Bible! As MacCulloch wrote in his great bio on Cranmer, “Cranmer could make the marginal comment on his excerpts from Augustine that ‘no-one of the predestined can perish, and no-one not predestined can be saved’. And, ‘any tie between human merit and the source of human fate is cut: ‘God gives grace, not because we deserve it, but because he wishes to.” (Page 346)

        It is a most important theological point to see from the index all of the quotations to predestination, from MacCulloch’s bio on Cranmer; and his influence from Augustine! In reality, Cranmer saw all grace for the elect, coming from the very basis of predestination! Here Calvin and Cranmer were surely of the same mind!

      • “The mature Augustine, in his last and greatest theological clash with the British monk Pelagius, had refined his thought on faith to the most savage affirmation of predestination; faith was a gift of God, entirely at his arbitrary disposal, and the value of any human works for justification was precisely nil. Naturally, good works flowed from justification – ‘a good life is indeed inseparable from faith’. But works must be rigorously separated from faith when one is talking about the twofold human destiny: either justification’ or consignment to eternal destruction, both of which lay at in the predestined will of God alone.” (MacCulloch, page 342)

        It is quite obvious how much Augustine affected both Cranmer, as Calvin!

      • Note, I am making the historical theological argument here! And the place of both Augustine especially, as also Calvin (even Luther here too to some degree), i.e. toward Cranmer. The Reformers (top-tier) were Augustinian! Not to mention also Vermigli and Bucer. As Calvin’s Genevan school and academy, with Beza and Turretin.

      • And btw, let me recommend Richard Muller’s book here: Christ and the Decree, Christology and Predestination in Reformed Theology, From Calvin to Perkins (1986, The Labyrinth Press, hardback… to the 2008, Baker Academic paperback.) I have both. This book is simply a must read for those that care about the history of the Reformed Theology!

        Quoting the last paragraph of the book (page 182), Muller writes: “These final considerations taken together with the positive contribution of Reformed orthodoxy to the development of Christology in relation to predestination within a finely tuned soteriological structure are sufficient to refute the contention that early orthodoxy produced an unbalanced system which overemphasized the doctrine of predestination.”

      • The Anglican Trinity Collect comes to mind here!

        Almighty and everlasting God, which hast given unto us thy servants grace by the confession of a true faith to acknowledge the glory of the eternal trinity, and in the power of the divine majesty to worship the unity: we beseech thee, that through the steadfastness of this faith, we may ever more be defended from all adversity, which livest and reignest, one God, world without end.

      • You know me, when it comes to systematic Reformed theology, I’m far more Bucerian and Bullingerian. I can live with Bullinger’s wonderful section on predestination and election in his 2nd Helvetic Confession. Which is something I can’t say with Calvin’s Institutes (1559). Which works well with both the Augsburg Confession/Apology and 39 Articles. So I guess I can appreciate Canterbury, Strasbourg, Wittenberg & Zurich while avoiding Geneva?🙂

      • Yes, surely Calvin’s, as too the Reformed doctrine of “Reprobation” (Rom. 9: 11-24), is the great fault-line in predestinarian doctrine and theology! And if this be true, woe be to those who stood/stand against it, and God forgive those who miss/missed it! Just about as simply as that! See Paul’s statement in Titus 1: 15-16, looking back to Titus 1: 1-2… “Paul, a bond-servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, for the truth of those chosen of God and the knowledge of the truth which is according to godliness, in the hope of eternal life, which God, who cannot lie, promised long ages ago (“before time began”, NKJV).”

        Calvin even called it, a “horrible decree” – “decretum quidem horrible fateor”! He says: “But though the discussion of predestination may be compared to a dangerous ocean; yet in traversing over it the navigation is safe and serene, and I will also add pleasant, unless any one freely wishes to expose himself to danger. for as those who, in order to gain an assurance of their election, examine into the eternal counsel of God without the Word plunge themselves into a fatal abyss, so they who investigate it in a regular and orderly manner as it is contained in the Word derive from such inquiry the benefit of peculiar consolation.” (Inst. III. 24) Yes, Calvin took this great doctrine very soberly and saw it as part of God’s great order and revelation of God, and not since Augustine with Pelagius, had the doctrine been so definite, save since St. Paul himself!

        To my mind, it is the greatest “Rubicon”, and boundary in Biblical Theology! For it is centred in the great doctrine of God Himself! And again, I would surely challenge those theolog’s who have not yet read, perhaps Calvin’s greatest polemic defense, in his: The Secret Providence of God! And I am myself convinced that the Apostle Paul quite taught the essence of this most profound and awful (profound) doctrine of God… “Let a man regard us in this manner, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God.” (1 Cor. 4: 1, note too verses 3-4) 🙂

  3. Btw, whatever happened to The Jerusalem Declaration, 2008? I noted nothing really theological about Jerusalem present and historical here in this Catechism! Did I miss it? Yes, another point that put me off! But then I am more than just an “Anglican” Gentile Christian (yes I am certainly that as an Irish Brit), but a Judeo-Christian, who believes in Modern and National Israel (A Biblical and so-called Zionist Christian!) I can remember historically at least, even in Evangelical Anglicanism, (late 19th and early 20th century), when their were many Historic Premillennial Anglican theolog’s and churchmen! But modernism and postmodernism won-out!

    • I wish they would’ve mentioned their Anglican agreements with us Orthodox in the Moscow & Dublin Statements in the 1970s and 1980s over the filioque. But I quibble. I think it is a good start. There is always room for improvement. And the nature of catechesis changes over time. With today’s generation and those in the future, I suspect future catechisms will need to be on-line, heavily audio-visual, incorporating multi-media. The old Q&A alone is running out of time with a generation that started playing with iPads/Pods/Phones at age 3?

      • Btw, to my mind,the real problem with any new Creedal Statements, is not really the incorporation and use of on-line materials, but the very “substance” itself! I get the sense that this new Anglican Catechism is more about presenting Anglicanism as a mere denominational aspect in Christendom. And the Reformation was not about “Christendom” per se but about the Church Catholic, reformed and renewing! The Church as a visible structure must be pressed by the regenerate nature of the People of God themselves. As Jesus said in Matt. 28: 19, in what we have come to call The Great Commission, really is about discipleship and teaching in the visible Church of God itself! And here is the real authority of Christ in the Church, His Saviorship and Lordship, ‘In Christ’!

  4. If you are Reformed or Calvinist, you will not want to use the new ACNA catechism except perhaps to show students an example of a catechism that is not Reformed or Calvinist. The new ACNA takes a decidely partisan stance on a number of key issues. It is Arminian in its view of God, salvation, and sanctification. It teaches that faith must precede the gift of the Holy Spirit, regeneration, and the new birth, and the Holy Spirit is given in baptism. It drops “ordained by Christ himself” from the 1662 Prayer Book Catechism’s definition of a sacrament. In its Scripture references in the section on the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper, it displays a preference for passages of Scripture that Anglo-Catholics have historically used to claim the support of Scripture for their positions on eucharistic presence and sacrifice. It adds to the answers to two questions doctrine that appears to be Roman Catholic in origin and then attributes this doctrine to the 1662 Prayer Book Catechism. It teaches that confirmation, penance, ordination, marriage, and unction are sacraments and that they convey sacramental grace. It teaches in a roundabout way a Roman Catholic view of auricular confession and absolution. It suffers from a number of other defects. In a number of places it borrows language from the 1662 Prayer Book Catechism and the Thirty-Nine Articles and gives its own meaning to this language. It invites those studying the catechism to believe its teaching to be the doctrine of the Anglican formularies. It has no footnotes. Scripture references and alleged sources are lumped together in parenthesis at the end of the end of the answers. Those studying the catechism are left to figure out for themselves to what part of the answer the Scripture references pertain and how the catechism is using them. In a number of places the new ACNA catechism uses more words than are needed in its answers. I have been examining the catechism section by section in a series of articles on Anglicans Ablaze and documenting its partisan character and its departure from the teaching of Scripture and the doctrine of the Anglican formularies.

    • Surely this has been the bent of Anglicanism generally and for quite sometime, i.e. a combination of High Church, with the Broad Church! The latter is at least used in the worst of an eclectic approach. And I was surprised to see J.I. Packer’s name here? But old Pack has been quite used in the last many years (well over a decade really), as a combination theologically for many things sadly. He just needs to stay retired! I must confess I do not take this so-called ACNA catechism very seriously myself as a classic Reformed Anglican. Your overview and critique are right on, this piece is just another aspect of both modernity and postmodernity, pressed but concealed or impoverished in reality, to produce more of a very poor ecumenism, and watered down so-called Anglicanism! Ugh! But this catechism will have little effect for any real and classic Anglicanism, in my opinion. So we conservatives can move on thankfully!

      Btw, as I have written here before, Evangelical Anglicans should seek to find used copies of WH Griffith Thomas’s book: The Principles Of Theology, An Introduction To The Thirty-Nine Articles, (first edition was 1930, but it ran in reprint well into the 1960’s). And he also had an older book (first ed., 1904, but new and revised in 1952), called, The Catholic Church, A Manual Of Instruction For Members Of The Church Of England). The latter is only 307 pages, as the former is a full 547 pages, with Appendix and Index.The first book should really be reprinted again! Not to mention several of his Bible and NT Commentaries, which were printed by the American WM. B. Eerdmans Publishers, and ran well into the 1970’s. And a few on-line Book companies sometimes have his books used! Yes, one has to “quale”, as an independent the used book stores (most now on-line) for such books today! (Oh how I miss the old London Book Shops!)

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