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Tuesday, August 08, 2006 

Should Laity Teach Doctrine?

Because I chair the Board of Education I get to hear some pretty interesting things. Some things are good while some things make me want to pound my head against a wall. The following falls into the latter category.

The latest is that I should not be reviewing, with my high school class, the small catechism. The reason I was given recently was that the small catechism should only be taught by the head of the household. "At church, it should only be taught by the pastor."I was informed, "you see, Dr. Luther was using a double entendre when he is speaking of the head of the household. He was really saying that only the pastor should teach the catechism. The confessions are too complicated for the laity. Besides, they (the Confessions) are really written by and for trained theologians." I just love it when people get out their crystal ball and tell me what people really meant to say when they said this or that.

Would anyone like to chime in on this one? I personally think the laity needs to pay a little more attention to the confessions. I believe that more than half if not most of all our problems in the Church today are because we no longer understand what it is that we teach and confess. To hear anyone say that the confessions are too hard to understand is baffling to me!

Update: I put this in the same catagory as those who said I couldn't possibly teach high school kids because I don't have children of my own. "You won't be able to relate to them and your just too old (at the time I was 36)to do that." This came from a bunch of people that liked the idea of college students (who were not Lutheran, had never read the BOC, and never so much as wanted to join our congregation) teaching their kids because they were more "in tune" with youth. It was crucial that the kids have someone their own age to hang out with. What a load of...The "tribe apart" mentality is just a washed out idea left over from people the forgot the sixties ended decades ago.

Question: What would you teach your high school class that is not doctrine and that is not somehow related to the Small Catechism anyway, since it is a summary and explanation of the Christian faith?.

Question: Is this opposition a sincere conclusion based on someone's view of the pastoral office, or is it veiled opposition to doctrine in general and Lutheran doctrine in particular?

Keep putting out those fires.

I believe that all teaching that is not performed by the clergy should be under the guidance and supervision of the clergy, but to say that the laity should not be teaching doctrine is just nonsensical.

If you show Vegitales every week, you are teaching them doctrine, some of it bad. I wish that people would stop thinking that theology is some obscure area of knowledge, and that Christianity is only about their personal (subjective) walk with God.

St. Charles, It should be clear by reading the post that I am leaving some things out. This is on purpose. I have no intention of embarrassing the person that was telling me that I shouldn’t be reviewing the small catechism with the youth. To answer one question you had, the person I was talking with is a confessional Lutheran. He or she has no objection to Lutheran doctrine. The question I brought forward was really; can anyone defend the idea that only the pastor should teach. For the record, I do believe that the pastor, as a called and ordained servant of the Word, has to oversee the doctrine taught in his parish.


I understood the post as written. My "questions" were more or less rhetorical, but in my own life I've witnessed people assuming convenient positions to cover their own untenable ones. I apologize for creating the misunderstanding.

At any rate, I, a fellow layman, do agree with you and Jason: the pastor should oversee the teaching of doctrine in his parish.

Other teachers should certainly have the ability to teach, and teach soundly, and this presumes some knowledge, experience and/or training, so that not just anyone--no matter how "relevant," as your update considers--ought to teach.

I would gladly and willingly listen to pastoral perspectives, if they care to comment.

St. Charles, Nothing would please me more that to see some of the priestly caste chime in!

If I'm not mistaken, the small catechism was written specifically for the laity and that the large catechism was for the church leaders and pastors who were more educated and ready to grapple with the issues of faith and doctrine.

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  • I'm Frank Gillespie
  • From The Haut South
  • Confessional Lutheran
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