I did not grow up learning the catechism. Well, that’s not entirely true. I learned the first 8 questions or so of the Westminster Confession of Faith. However, as an adult, I can only recollect one of the questions, “What is the chief end of man?”
But that one question has tucked itself deep within my heart. And when life is hard and I wonder what the purpose is or why trials are coming my way, I remember that my ultimate purpose is not to walk the easy road, but to “know God and enjoy Him forever.”
The way the question and answer format tucked these truths into my life is incredible.
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From the earliest ages of our life, we ask questions and seek answers. The catechisms of our faith help form us to answer for ourselves the biggest questions we have in our lives about the role of faith and the need.
The catechism has been an amazing way to retrain my mind and heart in the theology of our faith.
I have stored up your word in my heart,
that I might not sin against you. – Psalm 119:11, ESV
While the catechisms are not Scripture, they are compilations of Scripture meant to guide us in our understanding of our faith. When we take these words and memorize them, we are prepared ourselves to easily recollect the practical application of the special revelation that God has given us in Scripture.
It’s little, but sitting down, taking time to devote my mind to the truths of God and to see them in my daily life changes the way I relate to Scripture. The overarching truths jump out at me on every page and the application becomes evident much more quickly when I’ve memorized what the truths of Scripture tell us.
The catechisms are beneficial because they call to mind aspects of the faith that I might not normally dwell on but that are important for my faith. I might read through the story of Christ’s ascension in Acts 1, but the catechism calls me to then reflect on how Christ’s ascension relates to my life today in a way that is powerful and applicable.
The catechisms can aid your personal time in God’s word.
If you are lost in your Bible study, if you are looking for a way to make the truths of the Bible more applicable in your daily life, I encourage you to make the catechisms a part of your regular practice.If you are lost in your Bible study, if you are looking for a way to make the truths of the Bible more applicable in your daily life, I encourage you to make the catechism a part of your regular practice. Click To Tweet
Learn these words, not as an end to themselves, but as a way to focus your heart around the truth that God has revealed through Scripture. Then, see these truths change your life.
The catechisms I have personally spent time with are:
This is a modern catechism that is a perfect starter catechism. It has 52 questions (one for each week of the year) written in language very accessible to modern readers. It also has a very simple version for children that uses the same language to make it easy to transition to the full version once they are older.
This 16th Century catechism emerged from a Calvinistic area of Germany and is full of rich, warm language of the truths of our faith. This is one of the more poetic catechisms I’ve encountered and it always stirs my heart to the goodness of God and His mercy.
This is a longer catechism, intended to instruct members of the Roman Catholic Church in the full understanding of their faith. While I am not Catholic, I greatly appreciate the value of being able to look to this catechism for guidance on moral issues unaddressed by the other catechisms and for a deeper understanding of what our Catholic brothers and sisters hold dear.Learn the catechisms, not as an end to themselves, but as a way to focus your heart around the truth that God has revealed through Scripture. Click To Tweet
This 17th Century catechism was originally written for the Church of England but has since been adopted by Presbyterians. This is a longer catechism, that is incredibly useful for the understanding of the moral duty of Christians and the application of faith to daily life.
There are several different catechisms available to help in your understanding of the truths of God. Depending on your tradition and stage of life, one might be more helpful than another. Ask your pastor and see if there’s a certain one your church recommends. No matter which catechism, I encourage you to start studying the faith. The Holy Spirit has inspired people to compile the truths of Scripture in a beautiful way and we have the privilege of benefitting from their work in our personal Bible studies.