Thoughts on The Baptist Catechism, Question One

The following was taken from some lecture notes I taught at my church a couple years ago from The Baptist Catechism.


Q.1: Who is the first and chiefest being?

A. God is the first and chiefest being.1

1Isaiah 44:6; 48:12; Psalm 97:9


Note: The first question and answer from the Westminster Confession of Faith begins with man and points to God:


Q.1: What is the chief and highest end of man?

A. Man’s chief and highest end is to glorify God and fully to enjoy Him forever.

The Baptist Catechism takes a decidedly more presuppositional and, I would argue, more Calvinistic approach. In Institutes of the Christian Religion, Calvin begins his instruction by asking whether man must first know himself in order to know God or know God in order to know himself. After much deliberation, he concludes:

“But though the knowledge of God and the knowledge of ourselves are bound together by mutual bond, it is only right that the former is given first place, and then we can come down to the latter.”[1]

Men must first be confronted with the character and nature of God before they can begin to properly assess themselves. God is both the source and the focal point of all truth. Every confession, every catechism, every creed, every gospel presentation should endeavor to begin and end with Him, not man.

God is the first and chiefest being.

Isaiah 44:6

“Thus says the LORD, the King of Israel and his Redeemer, the LORD of hosts:

‘I am the first and I am the last,

And there is no God besides Me.’”[2]


Isaiah 48:12

“Listen to Me, O Jacob, even Israel whom I called;

I am He, I am the first, I am also the last.”


Psalm 97:9

“For You are the LORD Most High over all the earth;

You are exalted far above all gods.”

“Should God then be chiefly loved? Yes. Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, Luke 10:27. And chiefly feared? Yes. Rather fear him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell, Matthew 10:28. And are those happy who are interested in him? Yes. Happy is that people whose God is the Lord, Psalm 144:15.”[3]


[1]John Calvin, The Institutes of Christian Religion (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1987), 24.

[2]All citation of the holy Scriptures are taken from the New American Standard Bible (NASB) except where otherwise noted.

[3]Benjamin Bedomme, A Scriptural Exposition of the Baptist Catechism (Birmingham, AL: Solid Ground Christian Books, 2006), 2.

Van Til: Futile Self-Deception in Covenant Beings

“No rational creature can escape this witness. It is the witness of the triune God whose face is before men everywhere and all the time. Even the lost in the hereafter cannot escape the revelation of God. God made man a rational-moral creature. He will always be that. As such he is confronted with God. He is addressed by God. He exists in the relationship of covenant interaction. He is a covenant being. To not know God man would have to destroy himself.. He cannot do this. There is no nonbeing into which man can slip in order to escape God’s face and voice. The mountains will not cover him; Hades will not hide him. Nothing can prevent his being confronted ‘with him with whom we have to do.’ Wherever he sees himself, he sees himself confronted with God” (Cornelius Van Til, The Defense of the Faith, pg. 176).