Today I would like to offer some practical suggestions on the subject of teaching your child in the ways of the Lord by using the catechism. It is a wonderful thing that lately this thought has received much attention. Later, if the Lord permits, I hope to go in to some other topics, but here we will start with how to begin.
First, it is important to answer the question, "what is a catechism?" To the casual observer, especially those with a "modern Protestant background" you may have never heard this term or only heard of it in a derogatory way. I hope that your opinion on the matter is justified and with reason. If your opinion has been formed by "hear say" or any other means other than careful study with reason, then let me invite you to use such methods now to understand.
I will come back soon and write a follow up post with some practical instruction on the method of using the catechism, but today I will leave you with some helpful words from John Piper regarding the subject as he can put things much better than I. May the Lord bless you and your family as we seek the Lord, trusting by His grace, teaching everyone that they might obey everything that the Lord our God has commanded! The following is taken from "A Baptist Catechism" hosted on the Desiring God Website. There you will find a free, download-able copy for your joy!
Grace and Peace,
I. What is a catechism?In 1 Corinthians 14:19 Paul says, "In the church I would rather speak five words with my mind, in order to instruct others, than ten thousand words in a tongue." In Galatians 6:6 he says, "Let him who is taught the word share all good things with him who teaches." Acts 18:25 says that Apollos "has been instructed in the way of the Lord."
In each of these verses the Greek word for "instruct" or "teach" is katecheo. From this word we get our English word "catechize". It simply means to teach Biblical truth in an orderly way. Generally this is done with questions and answers accompanied by Biblical support and explanation.
II. What is the history of this catechism?This is a slightly revised version of "The Baptist Catechism" first put forth by Baptists in 1689 in Great Britain. It was adopted by the Philadelphia Baptist Association in 1742. It is patterned on the well-known reformed Westminster Catechism. The few comments in the earlier questions are meant to help parents make things plain to their children.
III. Is there a Biblical pattern of doctrine?Several texts teach that there is. For example, in Romans 6:17 Paul gives thanks that "you have become obedient from the heart to the pattern of teaching to which you were committed." 2 Timothy 1:13 says, "Follow the pattern of sound words which you heard from me." Acts 2:42 says, "They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching." 2 Thessalonians 2:15 says, "Stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught by us." And Acts 20:27 says, "I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole counsel of God."
So it appears that there was a body of authoritative instruction and even a way of teaching it in the early church.
IV. Why is it important?
- We are required to "continue in the faith, stable and steadfast" (Col. 1:23).
- We are urged to "attain to the unity of the... knowledge of the Son of God...so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about by every wind of doctrine" (Eph. 4:13-14).
- There are many deceivers (1 John 2:26).
- There are difficult doctrines "which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction" (2 Peter 3:16).
- Leaders must be raised up who can "give instruction in sound doctrine and also confute those who contradict it" (Titus 1:9).