Archive for the ‘Confirmation’ Category

The great Baptist preacher from England, Charles Spurgeon, once remarked:

 “I was thoughtless like others; I laughed religion to scorn, and those who attended to it; my language was, Let us eat, drink and enjoy the sunshine of life, but now through Christ Jesus I find the Bible a honeycomb, which hardly needs to be pressed to let the drops of honey run out; it is so sweet and precious to my taste that I wish I could sit down and feast on my Bible forever.”[1]

 Our topic for this evening is what is the Bible, and to that end Spurgeon’s quote helps us significantly as we seek to understand more fully what it is.  To put it quit simply, it is a feast for the soul, it is food that endures and satisfies. (more…)

Christian Smith and Melinda Lundquist Denton write in their book Soul Searching: The Religious and Spiritual Lives of American Teenagers that teens who self identify as Christians could be profoundly articulate about drinking, drugs, and sexually transmitted diseases, but had a difficult if not outright impossible time discussing what they believed and why. They argue:

“Philosophers like Charles Taylor argue that inarticulacy undermines the possibilities of reality. So, for instance, religious faith, practice, and commitment can be no more than vaguely real when people cannot talk much about them. Articulacy fosters reality. A major challenge for religious educators of youth, therefore, seems to be fostering articulation: helping teens practice talking about their faith, providing practice using vocabularies, grammar, stories, and key messages of faith. Especially to the extent that the language of faith in American culture is becoming a foreign language, educators, like real foreign language teachers, have that much more to work at helping their students learn to practice speaking that other language of faith.”

The simple lesson here is that if you are unable to articulate the faith for yourself, then you haven’t really learned the faith in such a way that you can own it.  You may wonder why it is that we begin a confirmation class here, discussing why we believe what we believe.  I hope it has become a bit more clear.  If you cannot articulate the faith then you have not really apprehended the faith.  If you have not apprehended the faith then the faith is not truly yours. 

This wisdom is reflected not only in modern research as shown above, but it is an ancient wisdom found in the Old and New Testaments.  For example, in the Old Testament the ancient Jews were required not only to have faith in God but every member of Ancient Israel was required to be able to articulate who He was and what He had done for His people.  This is illustrated most vividly in the Passover service recorded Exodus 12.26-27.  Similarly in 1 Pet 3.15 we read “always be prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect.”  This is not merely an evangelistic strategy, or a mechanism for handing the faith down to our children, but it is also a way inspired by the Holy Spirit for us to own our faith.  Once we articulate it, it is ours. 

So we begin with a simple articulation of why we believe what we believe.  Each of us will articulate this in some form this evening to the people we are sitting with in order to make it our own.

If someone were to approach you this evening and ask you, “Why is it that you are a Christian as opposed to a Muslim, Jew or agnostic?” What would you say to them?  Would you make an appeal to the Bible?  But then they might ask, “Why do you believe the Bible?”  Would you say that you were raised a Christian?  Well, they might simply say that a Jew is raised a Jew.  Perhaps you would argue that you had a spiritual experience that led you to believe in Christ.  But how would you articulate that in terms that weren’t abstract but reasonable and concrete?  Tonight we will explore these things and many others. (more…)

The class is ten weeks long, with a Saturday retreat (at Trinity don’t worry!).  As you can see from the description below, this class is an overview of the basics of the Christian faith and an introduction to Anglicanism.  Therefore the whole church is invited and encouraged to attend, however if you are seeking confirmation, reception or reaffirmation you must attend.  I’m very excited about teaching this course as there is nothing I look forward to more than going over the basics of our faith.  Please keep our candidates in your prayers.  All classes are on Wednesday night at 6:00 p.m.  Potluck supper will continue throughout.

  • March 3rd: Why do we believe what we believe? This class will explore the reasons behind our belief.  We will explore why this gives us good grounds for being a Christian, as opposed to a follower of another religion.  We will also explore the reasonable grounds of the Christian faith as opposed to modern atheism.
  • March 10:  What is the Bible? This class will explore the bare nuts and bolts of the Bible as well as why we believe it has authority over our lives.  We will investigate the reliability of the Scriptures principally through the life of Jesus and his fulfillment of Old Testament prophesy.  Finally, we will do a brief overview of salvation history and a study of the key texts.
  • March 17th:  What does the Bible say about God? This class will explore who God is, what we can know about him both in a general way and a specific way.  We will also see how the Bible builds the picture of the Trinity and explore how the Bible presents the different persons of the Trinity
  • March 24th:  What does the Bible say about humans? In this class we will explore human beings as the image of God, as male and female, as moral beings, and as morally compromised beings.
  • April 14th:  This week we begin our four week study of John Stott’s The Cross of Christ. Candidates will read pgs 23-66 to prepare for discussion.
  • April 21st:  Candidates will read pgs 89-133 of John Stott’s The Cross of Christ to prepare for discussion
  • April 28th: Candidates will read pgs 165-223 of John Stott’s The Cross of Christ to prepare for discussion
  • May 5th: Our final week in John Stott’s The Cross of Christ. Candidates will read pgs 249-303 to prepare for discussion
  • May 12th:  Preparing your testimony: This evening we will have a brief discussion on how to share your faith and prepare a testimony in preparation for the May 19th celebration.
  • May 15th: What is Anglicanism?  On May 15th we will hold a special day at Trinity beginning at 9:00 a.m. and ending at 2:00 p.m.  We will do a brief overview of Anglicanism, what Anglicans believe, and how Anglicans worship.  Rather than this being a stuffy walk through the prayerbook, we will have an extended time of worship, prayer, and praise as I teach through the Communion service and explain the different parts of our worship.
  • May 19th:  Celebration dinner and Testimony Night: The whole church is invited to come celebrate the journey of our candidates and hear about the work God has done in their lives bringing them to this point.