Q. 5. What do the Scriptures principally teach?
A. The Scriptures principally teach what man is to believe concerning God, and what duty God requires of man.
This is Vos’ ending of the introductory questions of the Catechism. It also is the preface for the large next section which goes from question 6 to 90, with the theme:
“We have now studied the first five questions of the catechism, which constitute The Foundation, dealing with the purpose of human life, the existence of God, and the Word of God. Having completed this introductory section, we now come to the first of the two major divisions of the material contained in the Larger Catechism, namely, what man ought to believe concerning God. Questions 6 to 90 deal with this subject, which we shall now proceed to study.”
I will begin that long study in the next post. For now reflect on just how simple but profound question 5 really is. And how neglecting to teach this whole truth of God’s Word impacts the church today, 75 years after Vos wrote and almost 400 years after the Westminster writers, summarized the Bible this way. Here are two of Vos’ commentary questions:
“What are the two principal parts of the teaching of the Bible? The two principal parts of the Bible’s teaching are (a) a message of truth to be believed, and (b) a message of duty to be obeyed.”
“What is wrong with the present-day popular slogan: “Christianity is not a doctrine but a life”? This saying is one of the subtle half-truths of our day. It would be correct to say: “Christianity is not only a doctrine but also a life.” It is not a question of “either … or” but of “both … and.” When anyone says that Christianity is not a doctrine but a life, he is setting doctrine and life in opposition to each other. This is a very perverse tendency and is thoroughly characteristic of the antidoctrinal prejudice of our day. Of course according to the Bible Christianity is both a system of doctrine and a life. Moreover the doctrine and the life are organically related, and the life cannot exist and grow apart from the doctrine. After all, roots are important things.”
Perhaps understanding this message is even more important for us today than it was when Vos wrote, but it’s been there in God’s Word since the beginning, we have just lost focus on it.
Looking forward to extensive study before us.