One of the projects that I have been working on lately was direct publishing a catechism booklet. For those that don’t know, a catechism is a question-and-answer format for teaching basic Bible truths, especially to children. Charles Spurgeon once said, “I am persuaded that the use of a good catechism in all our families will be a great safeguard against the increasing errors of the times…” I could not agree more.
When our kids were small, I took an old Baptist work (by Benjamin Keach, 1689) and updated the wording. For fun, I also made it rhyme. We called it “Doctrinal Dr. Seuss.” For example, question #2 asks, “Who is the first and best of all?” The answer is: “Of all beings, big and small, God is first and best of all.”
Over the years, I’ve been asked by a few who knew about it to make it available for others. Good news: it now is! Thanks to the incredible design/layout work of our own Bobby Puffenberger, A Rhyming Baptist Catechism: Based on Keach’s Catechism (1689) is now available in paperback and digital versions on Amazon. (See bottom for details.)
I promise not to “hawk my wares” but I did want our church family to know it exists. If you do know a family with young children, I would encourage you to consider getting a copy for them. I look forward to seeing it used in Sunday School classes, families, and homeschooling as the Lord wills. May it be used to instill big truths into little minds.
Here’s an excerpt from Chapter 3, “The Benefits of Using a Catechism”:
On April 7, 1713, the famed commentator and preacher, Matthew Henry, delivered a sermon entitled, “Concerning the Catechising [sic] of Youth.” The message was preached to an anonymous group of young men designated only as “Mr. Harris’s Catechumens.” While we do not have the names of these young men, we do have the invaluable lesson they learned that day.
The text that the famed Bible teacher so capably handled was 2 Timothy 1:13, “Hold fast the form of sound words which thou hast heard of me…” Matthew Henry noted that these “sound”, or good, words referred to by Paul, were undoubtedly a collection of faithful Bible truths. This would essentially make it a first-century brand of Christian catechism. No doubt, these were a kind of Bible and doctrinal summary much like the “apostle’s teaching.” (Acts 4:24)
Matthew Henry noted that Timothy had been well taught by a godly mom, a godly grandmother as well as a godly mentor, Paul himself. Both parental and ecclesial instruction in the faith, Henry stated, “are necessary, and do mutually assist one another, and neither will excuse the want of the other.” Timothy was taught God’s Word at church and at home. We need to do the same.
About halfway through his sermon, Henry spoke personally and directly to the students in front of his eyes. He said to them, “I know that your being thus catechised…will be of unspeakable advantage to you.” Matthew Henry then shared a list of several benefits that they could expect. Though I have modernized Henry’s language, here’s two of the five advantages Henry highlighted.
Catechism-time is time well spent compared to other youthful activities.
Quoting from Ecclesiastes 11:10, Henry stated that “childhood and youth are vanity.” He was not saying that children are useless or that childhood games are a mere waste of time. He was making the point that the activities and pursuits of adolescence are only temporary in their value. While it is good for a boy to learn how to throw a ball, it is an even better use of his time to learn the Lord’s Prayer. Henry told these young men, “Your being catechised obliges you to spend at least some part of your time well.”
Rather than spending excess amounts of time, as Henry said, in “sport and recreation,” young people need to “converse with the word of God” and “repeat” to themselves “the things of God.” He encouraged parents to spend adequate time training their children in catechisms. He suggested Sunday evening as an ideal opportunity.
Catechisms introduce a basic Christian vocabulary and Christian worldview.
Have you ever heard a person refer to the church as speaking “Christianese?” Often this word is used in a derogatory fashion. The traditional vocabulary of the church is considered, by some, to be too religious and stuffy for normal people. We are rebuked for our “rebukes” and condemned for our “condemns.” Words such as “justification” and “exaltation” are said to be too strange and archaic for modern men.
Truth be told, virtually every subculture uses jargon that sounds strange to anyone unfamiliar with it. However, a little time and a simple explanation of these terms will help integrate newcomers into the community. For instance, the first time I heard the term “double-header” I thought it was some kind of mutant monster with two craniums. I quickly learned that it was a common baseball term. Ask a tech-savvy teen and an Amish farmer “How much RAM does your Apple have?” and you will likely get two very different answers (not to mention, one confused Amish farmer). The point, here, is that every group has its own lingo. Christianity is no exception. Denying this is untrue; avoiding it is unhelpful.
You can get a copy from Amazon – both paperback w/free Prime shipping ($7) or Kindle ($2). And since Amazon algorithms rule the world now, feel free to rate, review, and share if you’re interested. Every little bit helps to spread the word. Thanks!