Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. (Philippians 4:4)
In 1643 a group of theologians from around the country met in Westminster Abbey, at the request of Parliament. They included representatives from each County of England and Wales, the two Universities and a number of Commissioners from Scotland. Parliament wanted the Church of England to be set up on a more solid foundation, and so these men were tasked with revising the Thirty-Nine Articles to make them clearer and fill in whatever gaps they found.
And so they did. Although the ‘Westminster Assembly’ is not much know in England, its fame in Scotland and the English speaking world is widespread. There are even two theological colleges in America named in its honour!
As they warmed to their task, the delegates understood that it is no good simply drawing up a list of beliefs for the church if the congregations never learned them. So it was that two Catechisms were drawn up to teach the faithful. One was the Shorter Catechism, and the other - inevitably - was the Longer Catechism. One for children, one for adults.
The Shorter Catechism is the better known, not least because of its first question. It deals with the very basis of our existence. It answers the question of the point of our existence. Is it money? Fame? Security? Love? No!
Q. 1. What is the chief end of man?
A. Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.
“Enjoy him forever”. That is the great delight which lies at the heart of the Christian faith. It is not simply a set of rules, but a relationship to be cherished.