Here is the start of the Westminster Children’s Catechism:
Q: Who made you?
A: God created me.
Q: What else did God do?
A: God made me and all things.
Q: Why did God create you and all things?
A: God created me and all things for his own glory.
You can view this catechism online, but I haven’t done it here. I typed it out from memory because it went so well in my head at Timothy Christian School, where we memorized it from a BJU Press textbook (!).
Even 40 years later, if you would wake me up from a deep sleep and ask me “Who made you?” ” I will answer “God made me… God made me and all things for his own glory! What is going on? How did you get into my room?“
I have a Baptist aversion to catechisms in general, and this catechism in particular goes off the rails quite quickly. It’s not enough as scary as, say, the 1730 Isaac Watts children’s catechism – the one with “Then I’ll be a wicked child, and the great God will be very angry with me.” But it’s still pretty creepy.
Much of the rest of this “children’s” catechism offers distorted, fear-driven theology that is more like something from Edward Gorey than something from St. Paul.
Nevertheless, I remain fond of these first three questions and answers. This is a good thing. Solid. It does what this catechism for children was apparently intended to do, which is to provide children with a simple and easy to understand foundation in basic orthodoxy. (I guess that’s what the rest of this catechism was intended to do as well, but after these initial questions it goes from teaching orthodoxy to teaching anti-heresy, which s turns out to be very different. The latter is not even compatible with the former.)
Anyway, because I remember by reflex – and I also choose to believe – these first questions and answers, that’s the first thing I thought of when I read this post from our Friendly Atheists neighborhood: “GOP Lawmaker: Israel and the United States were “created for the glory of God”.“
It seemed like an exciting and unusual opportunity. I don’t often get the chance to agree with Republican lawmakers these days, and especially not with this specific GOP representative – the dedicated trigger-Q and Q Colorado seditionist Lauren Boebert. But it seemed that here, under the aegis of the catechism above, we had finally found common ground. Israel and the United States are, indeed, aspects of “all things” that God made for His own glory. *
Alas, that turns out to be not quite what Boebert said and not at all what she meant. It did not include Israel and the United States in the category of “all things”. She was excluding remove them, declaring them to be exceptional.
Here is what Boebert said: “There were two nations created for the glory of God, Israel and the United States of America. We will glorify God!
This clearly means that “There were two” and only two nations “created for the glory of God”. That apart from Israel and the United States of America, no other nation exists “for the glory of God.” Not Canada, Mexico, Ireland, France, Jordan, Malta, Botswana, Japan, or Navajo. Only the modern nation-state of Israel and the modern nation-state of the United States of America. These are the two exceptional nations – the only two that were “created for the glory of God”.
There are several levels of Extremely Wrong operating here – Alps upon Alps of heresy, chauvinism, ignorance and outright white supremacy. Entire libraries could be written about the various forms of ignorance, irrationality, and immorality that fuel and flow from Boebert’s claim. These libraries would include several volumes devoted to Boebert’s easy identification of the modern nation of Israel with the people of Israel in the Hebrew scriptures, and his unsubstantiated pseudo-Mormon graft of the United States into this biblical account. But we don’t need to get into all of that here.
My point here is simply this: Boebert claims that more of the world – more than 7 billion people “and also a lot of cattle“- does not exist” for the glory of God “.
It is an explicit contradiction of the children’s catechism. Christian nationalism insists on this contradiction, and thus insists on the rejection of the assertions of these first three questions of this catechism. It is not possible to embrace Christian nationalism while claiming that “God made me and all things for the glory of God”.
What does it mean when you tell God that you have decided that most of God’s creation does not glorify God? What does it mean to tell God that you think that billions of children of God, created and bearing the image of God, do not bear witness to the glory of their Creator?
To quote Isaac Watts, I believe that makes the great God very angry.
* This is where the notion of children’s catechism gets complicated and why the idea of a catechism for kids seems destined to veer in Gorey-esque directions:
Q: What else did God do?
A: God made me and all things.
Q: Why did God create you and–
A: Did God create the coronavirus?
A: If God created “all things” then what about the coronavirus? Or measles? Or …?
Q: This is not how it works. I ask the questions.
A: We are children. Have you already encounter children?
Q: So you are asking if God is the author of evil?
A: We are children. We don’t talk like that. But yes.
Q: God made all things, but not evil.
A: So God does not have Make all things?
Q: Look, we’ll get to that later, okay?
A: With a satisfactory answer?
Q: Well, no, with a sophisticated regression of strategic retreats which we hope
A: Did God create SpongeBob SquarePants? Are you watching SpongeBob SquarePants? Have you seen the one where …