NAIROBI: ACNA Gets New Catechism
By Michael Heidt
VOL Special Correspondent
October 26, 2013
After 5 years of deliberation, the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) is on the verge of getting a catechism geared towards bringing non-believers to traditional Christian faith.
The new catechism, which is in draft form, is divided into three sections; on the Apostles Creed, the Lord's Prayer and the Ten Commandments. Following a question and answer format, the catechism is primarily addressed towards adults, or "pagans coming into the church," as Fr. Lee Nelson, a member of the Catechism Task Force (CTF), told Virtueonline (VOL). The framers of the catechism have focused on Christian formation and discipleship.
"We want it to be very useful to a catechist," said Fr. Lee Nelson, "This catechism is far more ordered towards discipleship than previous catechisms. It's focused on building an understanding of what Christian life would look like."
Accordingly, the new catechism addresses 21st century concerns, such as abortion, euthanasia and modern materialism. It also makes pains to define religious terms that can no longer be taken for granted, in readily accessible language.
With that in mind, Fr. Lee Nelson stressed that the Catechism Task Force did not want the new catechism to be a dumbed down version of Christianity. "We don't want it to be a lowest common denominator, but to spell out the fullness of the Faith," stated Nelson, who added that an annotated catechism is being produced which will reference the Church Fathers as well as Anglican Divines.
When asked by VOL if the proposed catechism is a "catholic document," Nelson replied that it was and felt that it represented a coming together of Evangelical and Anglo-Catholic teaching. "We are witnessing a vast amount of convergence. For example, I talked to an ACNA bishop who identifies himself as an Evangelical. For him, the Eucharist was central."
As a reflection of this perceived convergence between different schools of traditional Anglicanism, evangelical and catholic, Nelson thought the new catechism "intentionally avoided Rerformation era arguments." However, this isn't at the expense of doctrine, claimed Nelson. "The weakness of previous versions (of the catechism) was a neglect of doctrinal content. We worked hard to shore that up."
The end result, said Nelson, was "classical Anglicanism for 21st Century pagans, focused not only on information but formation, teaching a Christian way of life."
The draft catechism has gone to ACNA's College of Bishops for approval when they meet in January, 2014.
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