We’re on the East Coast to celebrate with one of our granddaughters her Confirmation. For some, perhaps most, it’s a right of passage forced on young teens by parents, but endured because it is their get out of jail card. Once confirmed they are liberated from the childishness of Sunday school and free to decide for themselves whether or not to attend church ever again. There is a certain ironic truth to the old joke that the way to get rid of the bats in the belfry is to confirm them.

The idea is that young teens are old enough to make a mature and informed affirmation of their faith according to the traditions of their denomination. Now and then it happens. I reveled in my own confirmation process, and took special delight in arguing with the catechism whenever I thought I knew better. Maybe that’s what started me on my path to seminary. On the other hand, few of my fellow confirmands ever considered it more than an irrelevancy to be endured. That is one reason why I always held adult confirmation classes each year. They became popular sessions for adults to learn again for the first time what they had ignored as teens.

I don’t know why, but we seem to expect adult Christians to have a sophisticated and well informed understanding of their faith with no more than a poor sixth grade education. How dumb is that? Not so long ago I attended my in-law’s Methodist church where adult Sunday school classes are very popular. Enthusiastic as they were, each class seemed to me to be led by the ill informed teaching the less Informed.

However, back to this weekend, I am pleased to say that my granddaughter has taken confirmation seriously and I have confidence that her affirmation will be as mature as any young teen is capable of making.

4 thoughts on “Confirmation?”

  1. One of the anecdotes about how tepid the fervor of Anglicans in the later 18th century was concerns Confirmation: When one of the young gentry of England was resisting the idea of getting confirmed, the bishop said to him, \”Why, it is a perfectly harmless little ceremony!\” Another is what Lord Chesterfield is said to have said to a bishop who asked him after Morning Prayer if he would come later that Sunday to Evening Prayer: \”Once, my Lord Bishop, is orthodox; twice is fanatical.\” Dr B

  2. Yet, all in all, many Protestants while informed well or not so well, seem to do little harm in questioning, in pondering, in attempting to know more about their faith or Holy Scripture. It seems to me that those who HAVE all the answers or they would have you think that they do, that damn us to hell, burning forever under the anger of a vengeful God are those that do the most harm to the name of Christianity. I believe those innocently seeking enlightenment of God's words are better off yearning and learning under those little more educated than they are in scripture for as they seek, some way, some how, God's message will reach them and empower them to live their lives in a way that would please Jesus.I believe it to be unrealistic to believe that every seeking person can or will find a – perhaps you would say – knowledgable, creditable, certified, seminary trained teacher of scripture. It ain't gonna happen:) in MY humble opinion.xo

  3. CP,Lack of gifted, knowledgeable/trained teachers in the United Methodist Church is problematic. It is a sad commentary on our church that it is so intuitively obvious to a not-so-casual observer like yourself. It is equally sad how Sunday School has become such a poor shadow of the early Class Meetings that were the genius, heart and soul of the \”People Called Methodist\”. For what it is worth, from one who grew up and still lives in The Bible Belt, I've always been less than excited about what Sunday School has often become. You captured my sentiment so well in your words – \”Enthusiastic as they were, each class seemed to me to be led by the ill informed teaching the less Informed\”. While this is not true for all it is all to true for way too many of our education programs.

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