This year marks the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, where the great truths of the Scriptures that had been hidden and obscured for many years were rediscovered and proclaimed. In the light of this, the elders decided to devote the first three terms of 2017 to the systematic learning of the great theological truths of the Christian faith in our Bible studies together, by structuring them around a popular catechism. What is a catechism? A catechism is an ancient method of learning the basics of the Christian faith through a question and answer format. To quote the Gospel Coalition article “Introducing the New City Catechism”:
Historically catechisms were written with at least three purposes. The first was to set forth a comprehensive exposition of the gospel—-not only in order to explain clearly what the gospel is, but also to lay out the building blocks on which the gospel is based, such as the biblical doctrine of God, of human nature, of sin, and so forth. The second purpose was to do this exposition in such a way that the heresies, errors, and false beliefs of the time and culture were addressed and counteracted. The third and more pastoral purpose was to form a distinct people, a counter-culture that reflected the likeness of Christ not only in individual character but also in the church’s communal life.
With that in mind, we have chosen the New City Catechism (NCC) as the basic skeleton to build our Bible studies upon. This Catechism was developed in 2012 by the Gospel Coalition and Redeemer Presbyterian Church for wide church use, and drew inspiration from a number of evangelical and reformed catechisms, including our own Westminster Larger and Shorter Catechisms. It also comes with a number of freely available resources, such as an online tool, an app for phones and tablets, and a number of short movie files by prominent theologians explaining each question. Each Bible study group will be equipped with hard copies of the material, so even if you are technologically challenged you still won’t miss out. This is a great year to be learning the deep truths of the Christian faith – and a great time to join a Bible study group if you haven’t done so already!