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In God's School: Foundations for a Christian Life Paperback – February 4, 2009
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About the Author
Pierre Charles Marcel (1910-1992) was Pastor of the Reformed Church of St. Germain-en-Laye, near Paris, until his retirement in 1969. He is the author of The Biblical Doctrine of Infant Baptism, Sacrament of the Covenant of Grace, and The Relevance of Preaching. Howard Griffith is Assistant Professor of Systematic Theology at Reformed Theological Seminary, Washington DC. He is coeditor, with John R. Muether, of Creator, Redeemer, Consummator: A Festschrift for Meredith G. Kline (Wipf and Stock, 2007).
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This isn't necessarily a terrible thing, and the hallmark of Christianity or any faith-based religion is that the world does consist of sure certainties and answers to life's questions. And so it would make sense that certain truths ought to be passed down from mentor to pupil. But the simplification of this inheritance of cumulative knowledge concerning God in the form of catechisms belies the agonizing truth that God is, to a great extent, inscrutable. How can we pass down information about our God from one generation to another in a painless act of passive memorization with such surety when we ourselves are bewildered by the world we find ourselves in and God's seeming absence in the face of human suffering? And author Dr. Pierre Marcel asks all the easy questions about Christianity-- how Christ is our personal savior and how our lives ought to be given over to his heavenly service-- without asking the tough questions, such as why does evil triumph if an omniscient God is morally good? Why did my child meet a violent end at the hands of a predator? What did my grandmother do to deserve cancer?
I believe in Christianity with all of my heart, but powderpuff question-and-answer formats about the Christian faith really does nothing to advance the Gospel forward. The entire catechism process assumes that the initiate reader is a lump of ignorant, unshaped clay and that-- by God-- once he is exposed to the powerful rhetoric and reason of a sophisticated catechism, surely, he will have no alternative but to believe and be saved. Everyone in the entire planet considers God with an anxiety that amounts to agony. And it is not a matter of intellectual reasoning-- if God did in fact exist and we can be absolutely sure of that, then of course we would convert. Human suffering and how painful life experience is keeps us in bondage to sin.