Glorifying God is no problem for Ian Gregory. Enjoying God is more of a challenge
Far be it from me to add to our anxieties about the NHS and the state of the nation’s mental health, but there’s a major problem with the Westminster Shorter Catechism of 1647. It wants us all, if you remember, to “glorify God and enjoy him for ever”. The problem is not the “glorify God” bit, it’s the other: How do you enjoy something you can’t see or hear and may not be at all sure exists?
When it comes to God, I’m a professional. I’m a Revd. It’s my job. And I can’t honestly say, hand on heart, that I have ever actually enjoyed God. I’ve worried about him, talked to him, argued with and about him, tried to listen to him, read brilliant books about him. Taken exams in him and even passed some of them. I’ve got cross with him, thanked him, and most of the time believed in him. Even praised him. But enjoy him? How do you enjoy a problem?
Did the theologians who produced this Shorter Catechism think this thing through? What did they understand by the verb “to enjoy”? From all we know about the 16th Century there was not a lot to enjoy. Life was brutal, brief and painful. No NHS, no antibiotics, no TV, no books, no football, no apps, no central heating, no chocolate. Morecambe and Wise were not even born. Nothing much to enjoy at all…
This is an extract from the October 2015 edition of Reform.