Luther’s way of teaching Pastors and Parishoners the Faith: The Small Catechism

Small CatechismOne way to bring back essential Catholic Christian teaching is to bring back the Catechism. All these seeker sensitive, emergent hipster programs may draw some people for a while but it does not make a disciple of Jesus or give you the essentials of the Christian Faith. In the Lutheran tradition we have Luther’s Small Catechism that teaches you the Ten Commandments, the Creed, Lord’s Prayer. confession, The Sacraments of Baptism and Holy Communion, and prayers. This has been a staple of Confirmation in Lutheran churches. However, there are some who think that we know better than the Orthodox and we do not need those outdated beliefs because we have progressed. In some sense we have progressed and know things scientifically than the early church but in another sense we have fallen into what is called a theology of glory that seeks the truth without God and into our own image. The Catechism grounds us in the essentials of faith. It gives us the Law and gospel! The Catechism rightly interprets that the Word and Sacraments are gifts for us.

Luther wrote the Small Catechism because of his observance that the pastors and bishops of his day did not teach their people the faith so they could learn and understand it. The same criticism charged at the Catholic Church of Luther’s day was charged at the Lutherans and the other Protestants. Only the priests read and knew the Bible and the people had little access to it and the Lutheran clergy were slacking in their preaching and teaching the essentials of faith. Luther’s Small Catechism was the answer! You can download Luther’s Small Catechism on your iPhone or smart phone from Augsburg Fortress or Concordia. This the Apostle’s Creed from Augsburg Fortress.

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4 Replies to “Luther’s way of teaching Pastors and Parishoners the Faith: The Small Catechism”

  1. I bet they don’t read aloud in class the Table of Duties too much, unless it is a men’s only meeting…
    “To Husbands
    Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers. 1 Peter 3:7
    Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them. Col. 3:19”

    Unless it’s been revised

    1. Ah ha! Redaction. I love redaction. Btw, I was baptized Lutheran. But I was only 9 months old, so I didn’t know what I was doing (just kidding!) I liked the Lutherans, but they all seemed to be Scandinavians. But I have a lot of respect for Luther. Anyone that loved his dog, has got to be OK with me.

  2. Although I am in the “other side” (if any!) of the Reformation, let me express my full agreement with you! Invariably I find “backsliders” from Christianity telling me how sad it is that their church never had a systematic way of teaching Christian truths, but that they have Reformed (Lutheran or Calvinists) friends that are capable of answering almost everything related to our hope, security, understanding of the Communion, etc. and these people express their wish to “begin again” and I lead them to the Confessions and the Catechisms. I found this practice to be far better, since they know the basics of the Gospel, than to simply rehash elaborate speeches about John 3:16, etc. It is funny but the truths in the Catechisms have a “hidden”, perhaps, divine, power to kindle the faintest of all Christian fires!
    I recently told someone who has been a Baptist for as long as the world is, to read the Catechism elaborated by Luther and others in the Reformation and after a couple of pages he asked me in awe and frustration: Why don’t the teach these things in my Church?
    Thanks for posting!

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