Many churches don’t have some sort of synopsis of the Christian faith. So when we, as Lutherans, walk up with a little book called a Catechism, people have questions.
Catechism comes from the Greek (κατηχέω katekeo), which means “to teach orally”. A catechism is a summary of our Christian faith, and usually, comes in a question and answer format to be used in teaching Christians. The Catechism is not the Bible, it’s the book we look to that explains what we believe ABOUT God’s Word, the Bible. It’s the summary of our beliefs. All churches have beliefs, we’re just very open about our stances on Christian doctrine and still point to them on the written page.
Luther put together his catechism specifically so that parents could teach the basics of the faith in the home throughout the week in a simple and understandable way. While modern Lutheran churches often use the catechism as a 7th-grade and 8th-grade textbook which is then placed on a shelf never to be seen again, it was intended to be something that was reviewed, committed to heart and looked to for the basics of what we believe as Christians.
Our Catechism has 6 chief parts:
- The 10 Commandments
- The Apostle’s Creed
- The Lord’s Prayer
- The Sacrament of Holy Baptism
- The Sacrament of the Altar
If we look at each of these we get the basics of what we believe as Christians, how we live, and where we find our hope.
- God’s Law…how we are called to live as Christians.
- Who God is; How He has been revealed to humanity; What He does.
- How we pray based on the prayer given to us by Jesus.
- Where we are brought into God’s kingdom and marked as God’s children by God’s promise.
- Where we find peace when facing the burden of our sins.
- How we continue in the faith and are sustained as Christian in the kingdom through God’s promise.
So, when people ask us what the deal is with that little book and whether we worship Marting Luther or Jesus, we can confidently answer, “I don’t worship Martin Luther, I worship Christ alone and trust in him for my salvation by God’s grace. This Catechism just summarizes what I believe as a Christian. The Bible is the source of truth and this catechism is a summary of the Bible’s teaching. The world has a lot of messages, so I keep reading my catechism so I can remember what Jesus has done for me and who I am in Christ.”
I hope that helps. If you have more questions on this topic or have other questions, just let me know!