Faith Part 2: The Content of Belief
To read Faith Part 1:
As noted last month, faith is comprised of three distinguishable elements: the experience of God, the content of belief, and moral living. To pass on our faith, we must engage our grandchildren in all three elements. This article looks at the second of those topics: the content of belief.
You, as grandparents, pass on what you believe. What you believe has been handed on to you from those who taught you.
What they taught you about faith is often called the “doctrine” of the church. It is the content of your belief. What you might not know is that “doctrine” was what a “doctor” taught. Originally, a doctor was simply someone who knew how to think and teach well. His role was to care for the mind and the soul more than the body.
Church doctrine was considered the medicine of the mind and soul because right thinking made right living possible. That meant passing on right thinking was important! The core doctrine of Christianity was summarized in the Apostles’ Creed and most Western Christians knew it “by heart”; in Latin: Credo…“I believe…”
The Creed was used both liturgically and for teaching the faith to newcomers.
It was only a beginning. Catechesis was the next step. (Katechesis means “oral teaching” in Greek). Today, the oral teaching is written down in the form of a “catechism”. It is a way of organizing what the church believes systematically.
Most churches have some form of catechism. It is likely that you were taught from one at some point. However, it is also likely that you haven’t ever had your hands on an adult catechism! You may remember some of the content of your religion or Sunday school classes, but you have probably forgotten a lot of it. Most Christians could certainly benefit by finding a catechism of their faith and reading it as a simple refresher.
Let’s finish by stating the obvious: much of the content of your faith is based on the Bible. Reading the source material is always a good thing to do!
Your grandchildren will benefit from you knowing your doctrine, your catechism, and thus the content of your faith. When you speak of your faith they might just realize that you have a consistent way of viewing the world that makes sense.
- How did you receive the content of your faith originally? From your parents, religion teachers, Sunday school, church services? Bible reading?
- What can you use most effectively in passing on your faith to your grandchildren?
- How can you do it?
Pili Galván-Abouchaar is the director of Grandly and lives in Lansing, Michigan