Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Christian Catechisms and Modernism

Alice C. Linsley

Traditional Anglican catechisms begin instruction on Holy Communion with this question: “Why was the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper ordained?” The 1979 ECUSA Catechism begins instruction on Holy Communion by asking “What is the Holy Eucharist?”

The answer given by historic Anglicanism is: “For the continual remembrance of the sacrifice of the death of Christ, and of the benefits which we receive hereby.” The answer given by ECUSA is: “The Holy Eucharist is the sacrament commanded by Christ for the continual remembrance of his life, death, and resurrection, until his coming again.”

The 1979 Catechism, in keeping with 20th century modernism, moves from ontology to phenomenology. Ontology is the study of being, source, and origin. Phenomenology is the study of what is sensibly perceived. An ontological approach asks the catechumen for faith in the Person of Jesus Christ and in the redemptive power of his death. A phenomenological approach asks the catechumen to describe Holy Communion, which can be done without personal commitment.

The Church Fathers maintain that a true description of the Holy Communion is possible only where there is faith in the One who ordained the Sacrament. In other words, asking “why” places value on the Sacrament because of the One who ordained it. Asking “what” devalues the Sacrament by drawing attention from the Author of sacrament to the thing itself.

This is but one instance of the method of modernism and how it distorts Christian indoctrination.

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