Catechesis and the Trinity

Over at the Institute for the Renewal of Christian Catechesis, Fr. Nicholas Norman-Krause, Brazos Fellows instructor and board member, has a superb three-part essay on the Trinity and catechesis. Many Christians don’t understand, or understand wrongly, the doctrine of the Trinity. What’s more, many don’t consider the Trinity all that important to their Christian life.

“How might catechists, ordained and lay alike, confront this challenge and reintroduce the doctrine of the Trinity as an essential matter of Christian discipleship? In this three-part series, I want to suggest some ways the doctrine of the Trinity might be more effectively approached in catechesis. In what follows, I draw on my experience teaching in parish catechesis, specifically a year-long study of To Be a Christian: An Anglican Catechism for adults, where I’ve intentionally sought to incorporate reflection on and discussion of the Trinity throughout. In this post, I take up the more straightforward teaching of the biblical and creedal content of the doctrine, focusing on how catechesis is a particular formation of speech by which we learn to speak rightly of the Triune God. In the next two posts I consider teaching the Trinity in the context of prayer and moral life. This tripartite division follows the structure of To Be a Christian, which centers on the Apostles’ Creed, the Lord’s Prayer, and the Decalogue.”

In part one of the essay, Fr. Norman-Krause goes on to explain the difference it makes to teach the Trinity through teaching scripture, and by reflecting on Christian worship, instead of starting with philosophical categories:

In my experience, once persons see the Trinitarian logic of prayer, especially as it is laid out in Scripture itself, the doctrine of the Trinity becomes less of a speculative puzzle to be solved and more of an aspect of the mystery of Christian existence to be explored. Reflection on the Trinity, that is, is actually a necessary part of every Christian’s life with God, insofar as it is a coming to terms with the very operations of prayer, worship, and Christian life.

If you’re at all interested in catechesis and how the church can cultivate knowledge and love of our Triune God, I encourage you to read all three parts of the series (one, two, and three here).

Alex Fogleman on catechesis and contemplation

Over at the Institute for the Renewal of Christian Catechesis, Dr. Alex Fogleman, instructor and tutor for Brazos Fellows, reflects on the question of the form our catechesis should take. He brings into conversation two other regular contributors to Brazos Fellows, Fr. Greg Peters and Dr. Matt Anderson, who suggest that our approach, or posture, toward catechesis matters just as much as its content:

Both Anderson and Peters (what is it with these Torrey guys?) help us, I think, re-orient catechesis towards the aim of contemplation. Whether one uses a catechism or not, we should be attentive to how our use of questions frames the practice and aims of catechesis. Do these questions allow us to “marinate” in Scriptures? Do they inspire contemplation over mastery? Do they facilitate wonder, awe—holiness?

Read the rest here–it’s worth thinking about.

Bibliotheca Catechetica: Thomas Bray on the Good of Good Books

Over on the Institute for the Renewal of Christian Catechesis blog, Brazos Fellows tutor and instructor Alex Fogleman writes on Thomas Bray:

Today the Anglican Churches commemorates Thomas Bray (d. 1730), an English priest, missionary, and energetic bibliophile. He is best known for establishing the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge (the SPCK), one of the oldest Christian publishing and charitable organizations in the world, established in 1698. Then, as now, the the SPCK was founded on the conviction that Christian knowledge is transformational, and that such knowledge should be available all over the world.

Bray was born in the mid-1600s, graduating from Oxford in 1678. Over the next two decades he served as curate, chaplain, vicar, and finally rector at various English parishes. In 1696, he published the work that would gain the attention of the bishop of London and propel an illustrious career. What could spark such interest? The first of a proposed multi-volume series of lectures on the catechism, cleverly entitled the Catechetical Lectures.

Partly because of the success of this work, he was appointed as the ecclesiastical commissary to Maryland. He accepted on one condition: that he could start a library.

It’s an instructive and delightful reflection on Bray and the value of investing in theological education and catechesis–read the whole thing here.

The Lost Art of Catechesis

Fr. Lee Nelson, rector of Christ Church Waco, writes on “The Lost Art of Catechesis” over at Crossway:

I have spent the last six years planting Christ Church, a parish church in Waco, Texas. Around the time I began this work, the draft of To Be a Christian was released. At the urging of our launch team, I began to teach it, going question by question through the whole. It was an exciting time! For me, it was as if the blood was rushing back into my veins as I read questions and asked the people to respond with the answer before explaining the meaning of each answer more closely. Metaphors, analogies, and anecdotes flooded into my mind and the people in that initial group responded with questions which never ceased to probe into the depths of Christian teaching. Within a few months, a group of twenty-five had expanded to over fifty. And within a year, our congregation was over a hundred strong. The joy of retreating back to the basics of the faith, and doing so in a leisurely manner, without a set agenda, and without cheesy, off-the-shelf curricula gave life to us. People immediately started putting the teaching into practice, especially as we asked each week: “How is this going to matter tomorrow?” A group of college students began to pray morning prayer together. They’ve been doing so for nearly five years. As our people learned about healing, we began to pray intently for the healing of our members. People have been healed. We not only gained strength in practice, but our cohesion in matters of teaching was amplified. Many found that they simply could not buy in, and they have found another church to join. Many found that they became enthusiastic in ways they couldn’t have predicted. And others found themselves renewed in the faith that they had received as children and young adults.

It’s worth reading the whole thing–especially if you’d like to get a sense of how Brazos Fellows grew out of a church-wide culture of study and prayer. You can also listen to the episode of “5 in 10” in which Fr. Lee discusses his love for catechesis here.