November 28, 2017

The Baptist Catechism--Question 1

I intend to study some Reformed Baptist standards here. I’m starting with The Baptist Catechism, also called Keach’s Catechism after 17th Century pastor Benjamin Keach. It’s easiest to summarize it as a Baptist edit of the Westminster Shorter Catechism. The 17th Century Baptists had a couple reasons for this approach, one practical and one polemical. Practically, it makes sense to just fix what’s already mostly correct. Polemically, they wished to demonstrate that they were not like the lunatic Anabaptist radicals from Muenster, but were real Protestants who differed in thought on the details of the Covenant of Grace. I’ll be using the 2004 edition published by ARBCA with updated language.

Question 1

Q. 1. Who is the first and chief being?

Answer. God is the first and chief being (a).

a Isaiah 44:6 & 48:12.

The Catechism starts with God. He is by nature the first being, all others are contingent upon him. He is the first temporally, having created all else. He is first in all virtue–first in that He is more righteous than any other, first in that He is the source of and ground of righteousness. He is first in authority, all creation owing Him loyalty. He is first and chief. He should be first in our thoughts, first in our concerns, first in our considerations, because He is worthy.

Thus says the LORD, the King of Israel and his Redeemer, the LORD of hosts: “I am the first and I am the last; besides me there is no god.” (Isaiah 44:6)

“Listen to me, O Jacob, and Israel, whom I called! I am he; I am the first, and I am the last.” (Isaiah 48:12)

He is first. He does not say “I was the first” nor “I will be the last”, for He is eternal and unchanging. He did not somehow become the first of beings such as remain, for “without Him was nothing made that has been made” and He is uncreated. It is certain that no other being could possibly outlast Him, for He “holds all things together” and His end–could such a thing be imagined–would be the end of all being with nothing after. He is the first and always will be the chief. He is last and will always be the meaning, the goal, the end of all things.

Amen.

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