"How I wish that we might have kept the custom which, as I have said, existed among the ancient Christians...Not that it would be confirmation as they fancy, which cannot be named without doing injustice to baptism; but a catechizing, in which children or those near adolescence would give an account of their faith before the church. But the best method of catechizing would be to have a manual drafted for this exercise, containing and summarizing in simple manner most of the articles of our religion, on which the whole believers' church ought to agree without controversy. A child of ten would present himself to the church to declare his confession of faith, would be examined in each article, and answer to each; if he were ignorant of anything or insufficiently understood it, he would be taught. Thus, while the church looks on as a witness, he would profess the one true and sincere faith, in which the believing folk with one mind worship the one God.I have long been convinced that lack of serious catechesis is one of the things that has lead to the continuing decline and prostitution of the church in North America, and that it is therefore one of its surest remedies. That Calvin took catechesis so seriously is something that I very much appreciate in him. Of course, I imagine that I picked it up from him to start with.
If this discipline were in effect today, it would certainly arouse some slothful parents, who carelessly neglect the instruction of their children as a matter of no concern to them; for then they could not overlook it without public disgrace. There would be greater agreement in faith among Christian people, and not so many would go untaught and ignorant; some would not be so rashly carried away with new and strange doctrines; in short, all would have some methodical instruction, so to speak, in Christian doctrine."
Tuesday, February 12, 2008
Calvin on Confirmation as Catechesis
John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, 4.19.13 - "True Confirmation"