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Westminster Shorter Catechism

May 03, 2010
Westminster Shorter Catechism

What is the chief end of man? To glorify God and enjoy him forever. --Westminster Shorter Catechism (London, 1647)

Those are the first words of the Shorter Catechism. No need to write them down. You can memorize this in half a minute. Reflect on it daily for a lifelong feast.

We might have expected this teaching tool of Christian doctrine to have begun with God, or Creation, or Jesus, or Salvation. But it begins with us and why we are on earth. No beating around the bush. Right to the deepest, most haunting question of our entire existence.

And the answer given surpasses anything we on our own would ever dare to hope. Here is the most remarkable distillation of the overall thrust of biblical revelation. Search all the annals of human literature. There is nothing that comes close to matching this astounding charter of human dignity.

But what can it mean to "glorify God?" How audacious! Does God really need us to glorify him? Look into the beaming eyes of new parents rejoicing in their incomparable treasure. Might God in some small analogous way find such joy and glory in us his offspring? "

To enjoy him for ever." Hard to think of a gathering of so called 'divines' in the midst of an era of rancorous and often mean theological debate telling us first that we were put here for pleasure. But that is the beginning point of learning all else. No mention here of family, job, ethics, right doctrine. We are pointed to sheer perpetual pleasure as the underlying reason for our existence and readily available if we find it in the One who put us here for his own reasons.


Christianity / Church / Church History / Timeline / 1601-1700 / Westminster Shorter Catechism

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