Galvanize—to provide a protective layer or covering
Catechize—to systematically instruct in Christian doctrine orally by means of questions and answers
For most of 2017, I was up to my eyeballs in all manner of old hardware for our 1920s farmhouse project. I desired to revive and give new life to antique knobs, handles, hinges, bolts, nails, screws, brackets, and even posts. Some of the items could be reused because they were either made from metals able to withstand the corrosive elements or were galvanized, coated with a protective layer. They only needed the decades of accumulated dirt brushed off to shine up and work as new. But, many others could not be used as they had succumbed to the relentless destructive power of the elements.
When I hear the word “catechize,” my mind goes to “galvanize”–not because I’m a linguist but because the two words sound similar. And, the connection is real.
The world and error will have a continuous and relentless attack on the metal of our children’s understanding and character. Paul warns the Romans that the world will pressure us to conform (Romans 12:2) The only way our minds can be preserved and protected from the relentless corrosive errors they will encounter is to have our minds so trained in the truth (catechized) that they seem to be “galvanized” against the power of untruth.
For some, this covering will protect them from a life of wandering. For others, who turn from the truth and choose the life of the prodigal, God can use the word implanted to convict and restore them to Himself.
Take the story of John Newton (1725-1807), author of “Amazing Grace,” believed by many to be the most famous hymn ever written. God used the truth that had been carefully and lovingly planted in him by his mother during the early years of his life. Even though the truth seemed to lay dormant for many years, Newton recalled how it eventually brought him back from his lost estate.
Amazing grace, how sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch like me;
I once was lost, but now am found,
Was blind, but now I see.
Following his mother’s death when he was only seven, Newton was raised by his father, a sea captain. As a teenager, he became a peddler of humans, carrying hundreds of slaves from Africa to England. He called himself “a ringleader in blasphemy and wickedness.” At the age of 22, Newton’s ship was pummeled by a typhoon. “Unfit to live and unfit to die,” as he put it, he repented of his sin and embraced Jesus Christ, the subject of his mother’s early teaching.
At the age of 33, Newton was called to ministry and became a prominent pastor in England for over 43 years. In addition, he worked with others to abolish the evil institution of slavery in England. Never forgetting the mercy God bestowed on him, Newton self-penned this epitaph for his grave:
John Newton, Clerk, once an Infidel and Libertine, a Servant of Slaves in Africa, was, by the rich mercy of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, preserved, restored, pardoned, and appointed to preach the faith he had long labored to destroy.
If you are interested in a systematic way to infuse your children with God’s truth in 2018, check out The New City Catechism. This is a modern-day resource aimed at helping children and adults alike learn the core doctrines of the Christian faith via 52 questions and answers. An introduction by Tim Keller can be found here. The resources also include a mobile app and videos.