As Reformed Presbyterians, we hold the standards of our church the Scriptures and the Westminster Confession and Catechisms in high regard.
But do these hold a place of affection in our hearts? More than that, do we understand them well enough to unfold their richness and beauty before someone who wants to know more about the Christian faith?
In his book, Something Worth Living For: God, the World, Yourself, and the Shorter Catechism, PCA pastor Randy Greenwald shares his passion for helping others know God and the riches of Reformed theology by seeking to make its doctrines more accessible.
For more than 20 years, Greenwald has sensed the need for such a treatment of the Catechism. Yet, his desire to see it accomplished crystallized through conversations with a former University of Central Florida (UCF) student. Although the student was interested in learning more about the Christian faith, and Reformed theology in particular, Greenwald realized that trying to coax him into reading a demanding book on theology was unlikely to prove effective.
Greenwald structured Something Worth Living For as a collection of reflections around the 107 questions and answers of the “Westminster Shorter Catechism.” While striving to be theologically accurate, Greenwald says his goal was not to provide another academic analysis of the Catechism. Rather, he envisions the book as being a resource that could easily be placed into the hands of a non-Christian or be discussed over coffee with someone curious to know more about the Christian faith.
Greenwald describes the Catechism as providing a wonderful set of bones on which to put the flesh of the Christian faith. He also admires its ability to speak across denominational lines. For that reason, the books message is not targeted specifically for insiders within Reformed circles.
While retaining the beauty of the original language of the Catechism, Greenwald employs personal story and example to make its concepts understandable and accessible. For example, the books title pays tribute to one of Greenwalds all-time favorite movies, and he uses a familiar quote from it to frame his treatment concerning mans chief end:
Hey! Hello in there. Hey! Whats so important? What you got here thats worth living for?
So shouts Miracle Max at the mostly dead (but slightly alive) Westley in Rob Reiners classic movie, The Princess Bride. Though this is a wonderfully fun and playful movie, the question about what one finds worth living for is a terribly serious one. It is pondered by philosophers and lovers, by visionaries and artists, and, at some level, by everyone. What makes life worthwhile? Or, as the Catechism puts it, what is the chief end, the ultimate purpose, of life? What do we have thats worth living for?
Says Greenwald, I want to bring the riches of this Catechism before you in a way that both satisfies and further whets your curiosity. I will judge this successful if, when finished, you love God just a bit more and are moved more deeply to glorify and enjoy Him.
Randy Greenwald is the pastor of Covenant Presbyterian Church in Oviedo, Florida, and a guest lecturer at Reformed Theological Seminary. He blogs at http://randygreenwald.com.
Something Worth Living For is published by Christian Focus Publications and will be released in November 2020.