There was a community service requirement for my high school, designed to make us well-rounded individuals, padding our college applications, and ensuring that local community organization didn’t think too poorly of “kids these days.” As a soon-to-graduate senior I quickly discovered that serving as a docent at a local marine science museum counted under the criteria for community service. It seemed like a good fit, after all, I was fascinated with all things oceanic and couldn’t wait to graduate. The only thing that stood in my way was the interview.
A single interviewer conducted the interview, a woman in her mid–40’s, of the type of woman who spent her entire career heretofore working for museums. I wonder now looking back on it if these potential high school docent interviews didn’t serve as a kind of comedic relief for her. So there I sat, waiting to be quizzed on marine science, feeling even more awkward than a teenager normally does. Then came her question, “Talk for 2 minutes on any topic that you’d like.” I’ll admit that I didn’t expect that question. I’m also happy to report that I passed the interview without resorting to grunting out “umm’s” interspersed with “like’s” and “you know’s.”
For most of us, talking for two minutes in an informed manner about any subject can be difficult. What helps is having already walked over topics in your mind and committing some sort of summary to memory. The Bible does this at several points and allows itself to be so summarized at even more points. For example, J.I. Packer’s famous summary of the gospel is, “God saves sinners.”1 With that three word summary phrase you could expand in multiple directions with as much detail as time allowed. But what about the simple question, “What does the Bible teach about God?” The Westminster Larger Catechism2 provides a similar summary for us, something we could store away and pull out at need, short enough for a brief conversation, yet long enough for deeper discussion as well. The answer has four parts.