March 2012

What’s a Catechism, and How I Can Use it with my Family?

Often old ideas become brand new again.  Here’s an old old idea to try:  using a catechism to teach children.  What is a catechism?  It’s a series of questions and answers based on the Bible and used to teach believers about Jesus.  There are two reformed catechisms:  the Heidelberg Catechism and the Westminster Catechism.

In 1563, two theologians were commissioned to write the Heidelberg Catechism.  They began by asking, “What is our only comfort in life and in death?”  The rest of the catechism is divided into three parts:  knowing our sin, the redeeming work Jesus has accomplished, and how can we live in gratitude as followers of Christ.

The Westminster Catechism was written in 1648 by a group of theologians.  This catechism begins with the question “What is the chief end (purpose) of man?”  The catechism then proceeds with who is God and how he reveals himself before turning to sin and salvation.

The first question of each catechism addresses and answers the two basic questions humans wrestle with:  What is my comfort no matter what is happening to me?  What is my purpose in life?  Talking about these questions and their biblical answers with our children gives them the assurance that these questions are human nature.  The answers give our children a firm foundation when the world around may be shaky.  Memorizing these two questions and answers equips our children with another faith tool.  Here are the questions and answers:

            What is your only comfort in life and in death?

That I am not my own, but belong—body and soul, in life and in death—to my faithful Savior Jesus Christ.  (Heidelberg Catechism)

            What is the chief end (purpose) of man?

Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever. (Westminster Shorter Catechism)

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