What Are The Small Catechism And Large Catechism?

Next up in our continuing and impromptu Q&A series on the basics of the Lutheran beliefs, teachings, and confessions of "the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints" (Jude 1:3) is a quick look at the Catechisms.

First off, what in the world is a "Catechism" anyway? Simply put, it's just a summary of the teachings of the Christian faith presented in the form of questions and answers, and used to teach believers the Christian faith.

Ok, but what are the "Small Catechism" and "Large Catechism" then? Why do Lutherans have a "small" and a "large" version in the first place?



What Are The Small Catechism And Large Catechism? 
Martin Luther realized early on how desperately ignorant the laity and clergy of his day were when it came to even the most basic truths of the Christian faith. Around 1530, he produced two small handbooks to help pastors and the heads of families teach the faith. 
The Small Catechism and the Large Catechism are organized around six topics: the Ten Commandments, the Apostles’ Creed, the Lord’s Prayer, Holy Baptism, Confession, and the Sacrament of the Altar. So universally accepted were these magnificent doctrinal summaries by Luther, that they were included as part of the Book of Concord.


There's really so much more we could say about both, but, for now, I hope that was helpful.

God willing, maybe we'll isolate each one and say a little more about it some time next week.

I like to think of it this way...

The Small Catechism is perfectly sufficient on its own as a summary of our shared and cherished faith, but the Large Catechism takes you much deeper by digging into those truths and expanding upon them by providing much more specific detail derived from the Holy Bible.

It's like the Small Catechism is a feature film you'd watch like everyone else and the Large Catechism is the Director's Cut version of that same film. Ok, maybe that's not the best analogy, but I think this is pretty easy to understand without it.

As for the reason why we Lutherans have a "small" and a "large" version that basically says the same thing, it's because doctrine mattered to Martin Luther so much and God used him to communicate how important it is to Him as well, which is why we are repeatedly encouraged to never stop learning His Word and the promises and truth found in it (Deuteronomy 29:29; Proverbs 30:5; Matthew 4:4; 2 Timothy 2:14-26; 2 Timothy 3:14-17; Romans 15:4; 2 Peter 1:20-21; Jude 1:3).

In a Lutheran layman's terms, the Catechisms help us to believe, teach, and confess with confidence the truths of God's Word, the Holy Bible, as they are correctly explained and taught to us from the Lord, from the prophets, from the apostles, and from Christ Himself.



NOTE: I'm not a called and ordained minister of God's Word and Sacraments. I'm a layman or a Christian, Candy-Making, Husband, Father, Friend who lives in the "City of Good Neighbors" here on the East Coast. To be more specific, and relevant to the point I want to make with this note, I'm also a newly converted Confessional Lutheran who recently escaped American Evangelicalism a little over a year ago. That being said, please contact me ASAP if you believe that any of my "old beliefs" seem to have crept their way into any of the material you see published here, and especially if any of the content is inconsistent with our Confessions and Lutheran doctrine (in other words, if it's not consistent with God's Word, which our Confessions merely summarize and point us back to) so that I can correct those errors immediately and not lead any of His little ones astray (James 3:1). Finally, please be aware that you might also discover that some of the earlier pieces I wrote on this blog back in 2013 definitely fall into that category since I was a "Lutheran-In-Name-Only" at the time and was completely oblivious to the fact that a Christian "Book of Concord" even existed (Small/Large Catechism? What's that!?!). In addition, there are some entries that are a little "out there" so-to-speak since the subject matter was also heavy influenced by those old beliefs of mine. I know that now and I'm still learning. Anyway, I decided to leave those published posts up on this website and in cyberspace only because we now have this disclaimer, and only to demonstrate the continuing work of Christ and the Holy Spirit in my life (Hebrews 12:2; Philippians 1:6). Most importantly, please know that any time I engage in commenting on and/or interpreting a specific portion of the holy Scriptures, it will always closely follow the verse-by-verse notes from my Lutheran Study Bible and/or include references to the Book of Concord unless otherwise noted. Typically, I defer to what other Lutheran Pastors have already preached and taught about such passages since they are the called and ordained shepherds of our souls here on earth. Finally, I'm going to apologize ahead of time for the length of most entries. I'm well aware that blogs should be short, sweet, and to the point, but I've never been one to follow the rules when it comes to writing. Besides, this website is more like a dude's diary in the sense that everything I write about and share publicly isn't always what's "popular" or "#trending" at the time, but is instead all the things that I'm studying myself at the moment. For better or for worse, these posts tend to be much longer than most blog entries you'll find elsewhere only because I try to pack as much info as possible into a single piece so that I can refer to it again and again over time if I need to (and so that it can be a valuable resource for others -- if possible, a "One-Stop-Shop" of sorts). Thank you for stopping by and thank you in advance for your time, help, and understanding. Grace and peace to you and yours!

Share|
Next PostNewer Post Previous PostOlder Post Home

0 Comments:

Post a Comment

Thank you for visiting A Lutheran Layman! Please feel free to leave a comment or a question since we do not exercise censorship. We've seen a similar policy with other blogs and it's worth repeating: Please act as if you're a guest in my home, and we'll get along just fine. I think anyone would agree that the kind of back-and-forth that is characteristic of blogs/chat forums is becoming tiresome for all of us. Still, we should confess, edify, and love (and contend and defend when needed). Bottom line? Search the Scriptures! Apply Acts 17:11 to anything and everything you find here and, if you do happen to disagree with something you find here (which is certainly ok), or think I'm "irresponsible" and "wrong" for writing it, then please refute my position by supporting yours with...Scripture and/or the Confessions. I don't think that's an unreasonable request, especially for those who identify themselves as "Christians" here, right? Besides, Proverbs 27:17 tells us "Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend" and 2 Timothy 3:16 says, "All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness." If you have an opinion that's great, I welcome it, but try to support it using God's Word. I mean, if the goal here is to help us all mature spiritually (myself included) then it should be easy to follow through on this one simple request (I'm talking to all you "Anonymous" visitors out there). Grace and peace to you and yours!