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Tuesday
Jan242012

Theological Term of the Week

Westminster Larger Catechism
The longer and more comprehensive of two catechisms produced by the Westminster Assembly, completed in 1648, and providing “a well-structured guide to applying the Word of God in the practical context of everyday life.1

  • A few questions on Christ’s exaltation from the WLC:2

    Question 51: What was the estate of Christ’s exaltation?

    Answer: The estate of Christ’s exaltation comprehends his resurrection, ascension, sitting at the right hand of the Father, and his coming again to judge the world.

    Question 52: How was Christ exalted in his resurrection?

    Answer: Christ was exalted in his resurrection, in that, not having seen corruption in death (of which it was not possible for him to be held), and having the very same body in which he suffered, with the essential properties thereof (but without mortality, and other common infirmities belonging to this life), really united to his soul, he rose again from the dead the third day by his own power; whereby he declared himself to be the Son of God, to have satisfied divine justice, to have vanquished death, and him that had the power of it, and to be Lord of quick and dead: all which he did as a public person, the head of his church, for their justification, quickening in grace, support against enemies, and to assure them of their resurrection from the dead at the last day.

    Question 53: How was Christ exalted in his ascension?

    Answer: Christ was exalted in his ascension, in that having after his resurrection often appeared unto and conversed with his apostles, speaking to them of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God, and giving them commission to preach the gospel to all nations, forty days after his resurrection, he, in our nature, and as our head, triumphing over enemies, visibly went up into the highest heavens, there to receive gifts for men, to raise up our affections thither, and to prepare a place for us, where himself is, and shall continue till his second coming at the end of the world.

    Question 54: How is Christ exalted in his sitting at the right hand of God?

    Answer: Christ is exalted in his sitting at the right hand of God, in that as God-man he is advanced to the highest favor with God the Father, with all fulness of joy, glory, and power over all things in heaven and earth; and does gather and defend his church, and subdue their enemies; furnishes his ministers and people with gifts and graces, and makes intercession for them.

  • From Reformed Confessions Harmonized by Joel Beeke and Sinclair Ferguson:
  • The Larger Catechism serves well as a useful guidebook for preaching on doctrinal themes. In this sense it identifies the key elements and issues that ought to be addressed in such preaching.

    Following five opening questions indicating that it is from sCripture that we learn who God is, how we may know Him and what He requires, question 6—90 teach us what we are to believe about Him. Questions 91—196 spell out the duties of the Christian life. 

    As is the case with the Shorter Catechism, this emphasis on the obedience of the Christian is set within a strong and full grasp of God’s grace in Christ. 

  • From The Making of the Westminster Larger Catechism by Chad B. Van Dixhoorn: 
  • [D]oes the church really need the Larger Catechism when it has the brilliant summaries of the Shorter Catechism on the one hand, and the depth and breadth of the Confession on the other? The answer is yes, and the reasoning for this answer is simple: the Larger Catechism is not a mere summary of the Confession, nor a verbose expansion of the Shorter Catechism, but an independent summary of the Christian faith. 

    At times the Larger Catechism asks unique questions. Sometimes these extra questions may not strike us as especially important, such as question sixteen, which asks about the creation of angels, or question nineteen, which inquires about God’s providence toward angels. But other times the contributions are more obviously significant. The Larger Catechism, for example, presents rules to interpret and apply the law of God, and spells out the differences between justification and sanctification. The Larger Catechism also goes into more detail about our triune God than does the Shorter Catechism, and has more to say about Jesus Christ. The Larger Catechism has multiple questions on the mediatorial role of Christ, and Christ’s humiliation and exaltation. Indeed, the Larger Catechism makes numerous contributions not covered by the Shorter Catechism, all supporting the idea that the Larger Catechism was written to give us the profound and important matters of the Word of God.

Learn more:

  1. Reformed.org: Westminster Larger Catechism, Questions 1-97, Questions 98-196
  2. Chad B. Van DixhoornThe Making of the Westminster Larger Catechism
  3. Chuch Baynard: Commentary on the Westminster Larger Catechism, Volume 1 and Volume 2
  4. Reformed Forum: Audio of the Westminster Larger Catechism
Related terms:

Filed under Creeds and Confessions.

1From Reformed Confessions by Joel Beeke and Sinclair Ferguson.

2Compare this to the section on Christ’s exaltation from the Shorter Catechism, which simply reads

Q. 28. Wherein consisteth Christ’s exaltation?
A. Christ’s exaltation consisteth in his rising again from the dead on the third day, in ascending up into heaven, in sitting at the right hand of God the Father, and in coming to judge the world at the last day.

Do you have a term you’d like to see featured here as a Theological Term of the Week? If you email it to me, I’ll seriously consider using it, giving you credit for the suggestion and linking back to your blog when I do.

Clicking on the Theological Term graphic at the top of this post will take you to a list of all the previous theological terms in alphabetical order.

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