Rediscovering Catechism...

People have asked me from time to time what my thoughts on catechism are. My initial reactions were, "What the heck is that? Isn't that a Catholic thing?" So when I found out that it's something that some christian churches/families do, I thought I'd find out what it is and why people do it. Then I came accross "Rediscovering Catechism: The Art of Equipping Covenant Children" by Donald Van Dyken and bought it. Now that I've finished it, I've discovered a few things. Firstly, protestants were actually catechizing before Catholics. It was adopted by the catholic church when they saw how well it taught the children. Also, I learned what catechism is. It's basically questions and answers. For example the first question of the Westminster Shorter Catechism asks: "What is the chief end of man?" The answer listed is: "Man's chief end is to glorify God and enjoy him forever." The third thing I learned? There are some really rich catechisms! Isn't that answer to man's chief end simply beautiful?! 

I haven't looked at all the Catechisms, I've only peaked at them on-line. But the Hedielberg and Westminster seem to be well-known in reformed circles. The content of the catechisms are just really rich material. I'm not completely sure what James and I would do. My objections aren't so much about the lessons being boring (God's truth is not boring), it's not that the concepts (adoption, justification, sanctification) are too big. In fact concerning truths that people say are too big for children Matt & Elizabeth Schmucker says this "Pack in truth while your children are little and trust the Lord to unpack it in his time" and Tedd & Margie Tripp say in Instructing a Child's Heart, "We give our children big truths they will grow into rather than light explanations they will grow out of." So that's not it necessarily. My questions have more to do with: Are these things that we will be able to/should cover in our everyday interactions? Are these truths that I can reinforce in every bible story I read and when the car breaks down on the side of the road? 

I can see them being used as a bible class in homeschooling or a formal class at church taught by an elder. So I can definitely see that. I love the content, I'm just trying to figure out HOW it would look to teach those truths. I definitely have more research to do on this topic. I highly recommend the book I read on the subject and (and Michael Horton does too). 

For your enjoyment I posted a rap on the Hedeilberg Catechism (thanks Ysabel). C.J. Mahaney challenged Avoice to make a rap on it at the 2010 Next Conference. You can listen below and follow along with lyrics as well. 

Heidelberg Catechism

Verse 1
Yeah I'm on a mission like a couple spies, and that guys is the reason why I catechize. The good news we almost forgot I recognize, Heidelberg rediscovering the gospel prize. It's not scripture but the truth in it will mention he, introduction hide and seek the 16th century. Written in a time when your mind was the weaponry, this document is back into the populace shouts to Kevin D. Better than you think not as bad as you remember, purpose driven truth, from Frederick the elector. He would initiate, the 129 questions to illustrate truths like Christ propitiates. All in a document, whose purpose was to teach children, a guide for preachers, and confessions in a church building. And this is all fact The Heidelberg Cat has been around but now it's seem like it is coming back.


We believe in the cross, believe in his life, 

We believe in his death, believe he's the Christ.

We believe that he rose from grave yes it is him

And we read the Heidelberg Catechism

We believe in the after life and we believe nothing's after Christ, so we stand our ground, cuz the truth's been around from the word to the Heidelberg.

Verse 2
Year of the Heidelberg resulting in renewed passion, and we could see it in our lives lights camera action. Let's take a gander and address a few questions from Heidelberg document then look at the answers. But before that make sure that, you know how it's broken down, in a Q & A format, a few sections. Suggestions how to read this not to sound promotional, but Kevin put it in his book to make it a devotional. Each question each answer has a bit of commentary, so the application of it is not some involuntary. Mystery, the history screams through rings true but I'll just leave that up to God, cuz that's between you. to believe, but to believe you gotta read you and then you meditate on all the truths that the Heidelberg will illustrate. What's that the catechism homey where you been the good news we almost forgot let's get it in!

Verse 3
From the word to the Heidelberg, we see that what's the comfort of life should come first. And in death that I with, body and soul but belong to the savior, commentary from me man, tell this to your neighbor. Moving on, how many things are necessary for thee, enjoying this comfort, to live and die happily? Three, my sin's misery, deliverance from sin, and gratitude for God is how the answer ends. Let's stretch it out the Lord's day 23 the grandaddy of them all, questions 59 and 60. What good does it do to believe in all this? In Christ I am right heir to the promise. Paraphrase, anyways I'm kinda limited I'm just trying to say a couple things my man Kevin did. On the Heidelberg, go and get you one, and by the way CJ homey this was fun.


  1. From my background (Christian Reformed), Catechism class was something that youth did at church. My parents went through it, though I'm not sure how much they'd remember now.

    Also, I wonder about the statement that Protestants were using Catechism before Roman Catholics. I don't know much about this, but I do remember learning that "baby Christians" who weren't baptized yet (WAY prior to the Prot. Reformation) were called Catechumens. From what I understand, they went through a process of being affirmed and discipled that must have included doctrinal teaching. Perhaps they didn't call it "Catechism", but it may have performed the same purpose. I'm curious now...

  2. A few books that we have used to teach our boys the catechism are Training Hearts Teaching Minds: Family Devotions Based on the Shorter Catechism By Star Meade. Love this- it is an every day book. Also for younger ones is Big Truths for Little Kids: Teaching Your Children to Live for God by Susan Hunt. All very helpful.

  3. We are definately going to teach our kids the Heidleberg Catechism - (its shorter and easier to understand!) I think that the issues it addresses, about the person of God, and the nature of Christ, and justification by faith alone, are the most important issues to teach children! If they don't understand these things, then they may grow up and be deceived by cults, and just miss out on a crucial part of "growing in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ."
    Of course I will try to teach it in a fun, understandable way, and give rewards for memorizing parts of it, and I wouldn't teach it to preschools or young elementary age kids!

  4. The Heidleberg was originally intended for children! It is very simple and so so rich. I love it!
    Kevin De Young has an outstanding book on it.. "The Good News we Almost Forgot" I can't reccommend a book more highly right now.
    It basically goes through giving the historical background,corresponding Scripture and practical implications for each question.

  5. @ Nicole- I'd be interested to see what you find. I think the author of my book used catechism for a larger definition. Not just the formal question-response that it is known for now. But he went back to bible times and to the synogogues and talked about how children have always been formally taught like this. But I'll have to find the exact quote for you

    @ Miller Family-That's so funny. I just heard about that book. I'm totally putting it on my Amazon Wishlist. And I really like Susan Hunt. I bought her "Sammy & His Shepherd" children's book, so I'll have to check out that one as well. Thanks for the recommendations!

    @ Andrea- That's so cool that you guys are going to do it. I know people use songs to teach the catechism. I saw a couple of cuties singing some parts on youtube.

    @Malia-I heard about that book! I really want to get it. I'd love to talk to you some more about it! Did you read the entire thing? Does he have a sermon or blog about it?