What is a Catechism?
Among many evangelical circles, the word catechism might be foreign. Perhaps even archaic. But catechisms are wonderful. The practice of catechesis is a means to internalize biblical truth. A good catechism is theologically rich, expresses the attributes of God, provide color to the reading of Scripture, and helps a person understand God’s creation, mankind’s sin, and God’s plan of redemption. In greek catechism means “to teach orally or to instruct by word of mouth.” In Galatians 6:6 Paul writes, “Let the one who is taught the word share all good things with the one who teaches.” The Greek word for “the one who is taught” is katechoumenos, which means the one who is criticized.1 Therefore, the aim of using The New City Catechism is to be taught the truth of God from the Scriptures. The question and answer format of catechisms reflect the oral teaching and learning. But with a much higher literacy rate in the 21st century than from the 1st century, catechism can be learned from what we read, hear, and say.
Why use a Catechism?
The use of a catechism isn’t as foreign as one may think. Catechisms have been in use for centuries. Various catechisms aided the growth and movement of the Reformation. The Heidelberg Catechism of 1563 and Westminster Shorter and Longer catechism of 1648 stand out. Timothy Keller lists out three reasons why catechisms are significant and why churches need to rediscover catechism.
Catechisms were written with at least three purposes. The first was to set forth a comprehensive exposition of the gospel—not only in order to explain clearly what the gospel is, but also to lay out the building blocks on which the gospel is based, such as the biblical doctrine of God, of human nature, of sin, and so forth. The second purpose was to do this exposition in such a way that the heresies, errors, and false beliefs of the time and culture were addressed and counteracted. The third and more pastoral purpose was to form a distinct people, a counterculture that reflected the likeness of Christ not only in individual character but also in the church’s communal life. 2
Catechisms are lovely gospel truths which shape the mind and heart. Catechisms, by its nature, involves more than one person. While a person can sit down and memorize the question and answer it is ideal that catechisms are learned in groups. From a reader-response on a Sunday morning sermon to a Father disciplining his child, catechism invites community.
How will Catechism be used at Redemption Hill Church?
It is because of the reasons listed above, and many others, that Redemption Hill Church embraces catechism. In particular, we will be using the New City Catechism. You can expect to see catechism as apart of our call to worship on Sunday mornings; in Redemption Hill Kids; and parents have the opportunity to disciple their children at home. The goal is to connect and integrate what parents and children hear at church to foster discipleship and family devotions at home.
This blog will serve as a resource to think deeply about the truth of God and to present possible points of application and to connect theological truth with Scripture.
New City Catechism Resources
There are cheap and free resources for The New City Catechism. I encourage parents to download the app and to purchase The New City Catechism for Kids. The app is wonderful. It provides memorable songs that young children will enjoy.