For the past year, now, I have been working on a project for the benefit of my own family and, you, my church family. I have been writing a set of Baptist catechisms. (If you don’t know what a catechism is, stay tuned. I’ll explain briefly.)
Even though there are numerous, evangelical catechisms available today, I wanted to do something very different. I had the idea, a few years ago, to write an entire collection of catechisms in rhyme.
Last August, I started working on them just a few minutes each day. Now, one year and three months later, I am happy to announce that I have finally finished the project. Though my working title is Rhyming for a Reason, I affectionately call it “Doctrinal Dr. Seuss.”
Now, you may be asking, what does a rhyming catechism look like? I’m glad you asked. There are…
…115 in the set I have written. Here’s a few examples:
Question #9: How many gods are there?
One God lives. One God’s true.
There’s only one. There isn’t two.
Question #26: How did Christ become a man?
Christ the Son of God became,
Fully man with mortal frame.
Virgin-born outside the inn,
Son of Mary, without sin.
God’s own gift He did give,
Born to die that we might live.”
I have already been talking with Pastor Jamie and Todd Crosswhite about how we can use these doctrinal Q&A’s in our Children’s Ministry and Word of Life Clubs in the years ahead. They are both enthusiastic about the idea and have some great plans for integrating them. But even more than this, I truly hope to see the families of our church using them at home.
I have a deep burden to see our homes become places of worship. I believe that Christian fathers are the pastors of their family. Dads need to shepherd their family, especially the children, to know God and His Word. Families need to read the Bible, pray, sing, and worship God together. Catechisms can be a helpful tool for this.
Since you’re going to be hearing the word “catechism” more often, I want to help everyone understand what they are. Even though many people associate catechisms with the Catholic church or liturgical denominations, I want you to see that catechisms have historically been a integral part of Baptist life for generations.
Great Baptist preachers like Charles Spurgeon, John Bunyan (author of Pilgrim’s Progress), J.P. Boyce (founder of Southern Seminary), John Piper and Al Mohler have all advocated their use. Most of these men have even written catechisms. By the way, when the SBC Sunday School board was established in 1891, guess what their first publciation was? It was a Baptist catechism. I think it is time that catechisms once again become an integral part of Baptist families and churches.
In the months ahead, if God allows us to, I hope to pots an FREE .pdf copy of my booklet here. I hope this tool will help each family place some big Bible truths into little minds. If you don’t have children at home, consider using these with your grandchildren or sharing them with others who may benefit.
If you’re uncertain about all of this, here’s a brief introduction to what catechisms are. (I will share more about the history and benefits in the weeks ahead.)
What is a catechism?
A catechism [kat-i-kiz-uhm] is an orderly way of teaching basic Christian doctrines. Typically, catechisms are used with children or new believers. While they are useful in many settings, historically, catechisms have been especially used in the home, between parents and children. Catechisms are arranged in a question and answer format (much like what you are reading right now.)
Why is it called a catechism?
The English word, catechism, comes from a Greek word, katacheo [kat-eh-keh-oh]. This word can be literally understood, “to sound down.” This implies the idea of a superior, like a parent or mature believer, speaking “down” to or instructing a child or new believer.
This word is more naturally translated “to teach”, “to instruct”, or “to indoctrinate” (in the best sense of the word). Thus, catechisms are simply an approach to teaching and instructing others about the core beliefs of the Christian faith.
Are catechisms biblical?
Yes! Absolutely. While the specific format, using a question and answer approach, is not spelled out in Scripture, the practice of instructing others in the doctrines of Scripture is most definitely biblical.
Believing parents have a God-given responsibility to raise their children in the faith. The people of God, in Deuteronomy 6:7, were told,
“You shall teach [these laws] diligently to your sons…”
Psalm 145:4 says,
“One generation shall praise God’s works to another…”
God desires to see fathers teaching their sons who, in turn, teach their sons, who, in turn teach their sons.
The church also has a responsibility to catechize, or instruct, new believers as well. Teaching believers is just as much a part of the Great Commission as baptizing them. Our Lord instructed us to baptize new believers and to
“teach them to observe all things”
that He commanded (Matthew 28:20). The faith, which was “once for all delivered to the saints”, must also be passed along by the saints (Jude 3). Catechisms are a simple tool that can greatly aid this process.
Literally translated, Galatians 6:6 reads,
“Let him who has been catechized in the word share all good things with him who catechizes.”
Instruction in Christian doctrine is biblical. Learning, even memorizing, certain tenants and propositional truths about Christianity is a necessity of true faith. God places a high priority upon passing the Christian faith from parent to child and from mature disciples to budding new followers of Christ. Catechisms can be a part of that great process.
Even though I have finished the writing part of this project, the real work is yet to be done. I hope you will join me in using these to build up our families.