Rev. Jordan McKinley’s inaugural post on “The Most Neglected Part of the Small Catechism” has gotten me thinking.
I played a little guessing game with myself before I read the post. I wanted to think about how I would answer this question on my own, and I wanted to try and guess what Rev. McKinley’s answer would be.
Though I can never prove it, so you’ll just have to believe me, I correctly guessed that he would pick the injunction on fathers, the heads of households, to teach their family. And I wholeheartedly agree with him.
But when I initially thought about the question on my own, I went in a slightly, though related, direction. My mind went to the question: “Which part or section is the most neglected in the Catechism?
My conclusion was that the Table of Duties is the most neglected section of the Catechism. This should be odd, especially since the Table of Duties is straight from the Bible! It locates the Christian in God’s creation and church and gives direction on how to lead a holy life. Many early Lutheran catechisms and instructional texts placed great importance on this particular section.
In catechism instruction, I cover the Table of Duties under the Fourth Commandment. With the Fourth Commandment, one moves to the second table of the law. The Fourth Commandment is not only one of seven commandments in the second table, but the chief and overarching/organizing commandment of this table, under the first commandment. As a friend of mine in Iowa likes to say, “The Fourth Commandment is the hitch, the connection, between the two tables of the law.” Here we see how the Lord, who allows no other gods, orders His creation and His church and points us to how He works in the world through these authorities and institutions that we are to honor.
Thus, at the point where we are told to “Honor father and mother” and “not to despise our parents and other authorities,” it is natural to explain the three estates, the two kingdoms, and how we are to recognize our place in God’s creation and church so that we may love and serve our neighbor.
I think it makes sense to treat the Table of Duties in detail under the Fourth Commandment. What do you pastors, and housefathers, do in your congregations and homes? Do you cover the Table of Duties? Do you have the children memorize them like the rest of the SC? When and how do you cover them?
And also, to back up a bit, is there another section that is more neglected? And if we limit the question only to the six chief parts, which then would be the most neglected?