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Koers

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Abstract

VAN ALTEN, H.H.. The importance of education in the early stages of the church: John Calvin as catechist in his commentary on the Acts of the apostles. Koers (Online) [online]. 2009, vol.74, n.4, pp. 661-682. ISSN 0023-270X.

Part of Calvin's development as a catechist is his struggle against the Roman Catholic sacrament of confirmation ("Inst." 4.19.4-13). Confirmation is seen by Rome as the necessary addition to baptism. For Calvin, however, this sacrament is a man-made ritual that can not function as the Scriptural complement to baptism. According to him, catechesis is the most Scriptural complement to baptism. Indeed, in baptism one receives Christ and all his promises. No addition is needed, and therefore one is not half a Christian without the confirmation ("Inst." 4.19.8). What is needed, is that a person will get to know Christ and his promises. For that purpose catechesis (Christian education) is necessary, whereby children and young people are brought to confession of faith before the church ("Inst." 4.19.13). Both Calvin's struggle against the Roman Catholic confirmation, and his accompanying emphasis on Christian education are discussed in several places in his commentary on the Acts of the apostles. Especially in two places (Acts 8:15-17 and 19:6) Calvin criticises the Roman Catholic confirmation as an invention of men. Against this he emphasises in his commentary the importance of catechesis - on the one hand as the task of the officebearers, on the other hand as the task of individual believers and their families.

Keywords : Acts; commentary on; Calvin; catechist [catechesis]; confirmation; teaching.

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