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Are You an Advanced Christian?

It’s so easy to think, “I’m past the basic stuff.” And, surely, we are encouraged in the Scriptures to grow after our salvation, not merely to live a stagnant, lifeless Christian life that subsists of calling ourselves Christians and little else. Yet, intellectual types who become Christians can often find themselves, like I sometimes do, falling into a way of thinking that assumes the basics of the Christian faith–our catechisms and creeds–are merely beginner’s material. Logically, this doesn’t make sense–we know that the centerpoint of all of cosmic and human history is Christ’s love for us on a cross. The cross is the beginning of our lives as believers, but it is also the essential whole of it. Its significance is bottomless.

Awhile ago I was perusing Resurrection and Eschatology: Theology in Service of the Church; this book of essays by really smart guys definitely intimidated me. But, in a bit of wisdom, Carl Trueman in his introduction shares a quotation from Martin Luther (talk about a gifted intellectual) that exemplifies what I’m getting at. I’ve shared it below–enjoy:

As for myself, let me say that I, too, am a doctor and a preacher–yes, and as learned and experienced as any of those who act so high and mighty. Yet I do as a child who is being taught the Catechism. Every morning, and whenever else I have time, I read and recite word for word the Lord’s Prayer, the Ten Commandments, the Creed, the Psalms, etc. I must still read and study the Catechism daily, yet I cannot master it as I wish, but must remain a child and pupil of the Catechism, and I do it gladly. These dainty, fastidious fellows would like quickly, with one reading, to become doctors above all doctors, to know all there is to be known. Well, this, too, is a sure sign that they despise both their office and the people’s souls, yes, even God and his Word. They need not fear a fall, for they have already fallen all too horribly. What they need is to become children and begin learning their ABC’s, which they think they have outgrown long ago. Therefore, I beg these lazy-bellies and presumptuous saints, for God’s sake, to get it into their heads that they are not really and truly such learned and great doctors as they think. I implore them not to imagine that they have learned these parts of the Catechism perfectly, or at least sufficiently, even though they think they know them ever so well. Even if their knowledge of Catechism were perfect (though that is impossible in this life), yet it is highly profitable and fruitful daily to read it and make it the subject of meditation and conversation. In such reading, conversation, and meditation the Holy
Spirit is present and bestows ever new and greater light and fervor, so that day by day we relish and appreciate the Catechism more greatly. This is according to Christ’s promise in Matt. 18:30: “Where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in the midst of them.”

–Martin Luther (Tappert, Theodore G.: The Book of Concord: The Confessions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church)

May we be as children in our lives at home and at work. Amen.

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About davestuartjr
Dave Stuart Jr. is a full-time teacher who writes about becoming better, saner teachers at TeachingtheCore.com. He is a follower of Jesus Christ, a husband to Crystal, and a father to Hadassah, Laura, and Marlena.

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