A New Catechism
Through the years as our children have grown, we have given attention to catechizing them. We’ve used several different catechisms, and have found this traditional question/answer format to be of great value in teaching our children the core doctrines of our faith.
However, for a number of reasons, some practical and some doctrinal, I have never found the perfect catechism. Here are some of the things that have been priorities for me:
- I want a catechism that has deep roots in the traditions of Christians who have gone before.
- I want a catechism that is manageable to teach our children and then regularly review through the years. In other words, I would rather have fewer questions that cover the core doctrines and ones with shorter answers that can be easily memorized. I can supplement the catechism by having the children learn the Ten Commandments, the Lord’s Prayer, and other Scripture, but I want the catechism itself to be relatively short compared to some much longer catechisms. For this reason I have been drawn to catechisms with 52 questions, allowing us to focus on one question per week and progress through the catechism every year.
- I want a catechism that I can teach my children without reservation, including on issues of doctrinal disagreement such as the Sabbath, biblical covenants, the kingdom of God, the nature of Israel, the Church, the ordinances, and the Second Coming of Christ.
- I want a catechism that helps teach core doctrines but that also is personal, devotional, and addresses the heart.
No one catechism that I have found meets all of these priorities, so I decided to consult several historic catechisms, including the Heidelberg catechism, the Westminster catechism, Keach’s catechism, Spurgeon’s catechism, and a few other recent catechisms, to compile my own that satisfies these priorities. I tried to cover the most significant doctrinal issues, creating something that I as a premillenial, dispensational Baptist can use, but broad enough so that really any evangelical Christian with any denominational or eschatological position can use. I’m doing this also as part of another project I’m working on in conjunction with our new Bible Narratives Reading Plan.
I’ve printed the catechism below and welcome any comments and suggestions:
- Who made you?
God made me.
What else did God make?
God made all things.
- Why did God make you and all things?
God made me to glorify him and enjoy him forever.
- How did God make you and all things?
God made all things out of nothing, by the Word of his power, in the space of six days, and all very good.
- What is special about God’s creation of you?
God made me in his own image.
- Who is God?
God is a spirit and does not have a body like man. He is infinite, eternal, and unchangeable.
- What is God like?
God is the first and best of beings. He is holy, powerful, and good.
- Are there more gods than one?
There is only one true and living God.
- In how many persons does this one God exist?
God exists in three persons: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, equal in essence, power, and glory.
- What are the decrees of God?
The decrees of God are his eternal purposes, whereby for his own glory he has ordained whatever comes to pass.
- How do you know there is a God?
The light of nature and the works of God plainly declare that there is a God, but only his Word and Spirit effectually reveal him to me for my salvation.
- What rule has God given to direct you how you may glorify and enjoy him?
The Word of God which is contained in the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments is the only rule to direct me how I many glorify God and enjoy Him.
- How can you glorify God?
I can glorify God by loving him and doing what he commands.
- What is the greatest commandment?
The greatest commandment is to love the Lord my God with all my heart, soul, and mind.
- How can you come to know God and what he has made?
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge.
- What is sin?
Sin is any transgression against the law of God.
- Can you keep the law of God perfectly?
I am inclined by nature to hate God and my neighbor.
- What are the results of sin?
Because of sin, all mankind lost communion with God, are under his wrath and curse, resulting in the miseries of this life, death itself, and the pains of hell forever.
- Is there any way to escape the punishment of God and be again received into communion with him?
God’s justice demands that I make full payment, either through myself or through a Redeemer.
- What kind of Redeemer must you seek?
I must seek a Redeemer who is a true and righteous human and who is at the same time true God.
- Why must the Redeemer be a true and righteous human?
The Redeemer must be a true and righteous human because the justice of God requires that only one with a human nature who has not sinned may pay for my sin.
- Why must the Redeemer be at the same time true God?
The Redeemer must be true God so that by the power of his divine nature he might bear the burden of God’s wrath and restore to me righteousness and life.
- Who is that Redeemer who at the same time is true God and a true and righteous human?
My only Redeemer is the Lord Jesus Christ, the eternal Son of God, who became human and died to pay the penalty for sin.
- How did Christ, being the Son of God, become human?
Christ, the Son of God became human by taking to himself true human nature, being conceived by the Holy Spirit and the virgin Mary.
- How did Christ satisfy God’s just wrath for sin?
Christ suffered the miseries of this life, the wrath of God, and the cursed death of the cross.
- Why was it necessary for Christ to humble himself even unto death?
Christ humbled himself unto death because the justice of God required that satisfaction for my sins could be made in no other way than by the death of the Son of God.
- Did Christ stay dead?
Christ rose again from the dead on the third day.
- How are you made a partaker of the redemption purchased by Christ?
I am made a partaker of the redemption purchased by Christ through repentant faith in him and his substitutionary atoning death.
- What is faith in Jesus Christ?
Faith in Jesus Christ is a saving grace, by which I receive and rest upon him alone for my salvation.
- What is repentance unto life?
Repentance unto life is a saving grace, by which I turn from my sin to God, promising to strive after new obedience.
- What benefits in this life come from repentant faith in Jesus Christ?
Those who repent and believe in Jesus Christ partake of justification, adoption, and sanctification.
- What is justification?
Justification is an act of God’s free grace in which he pardons all my sins and accepts me as righteous in his sight only because of the righteousness of Christ imputed to me.
- What is adoption?
Adoption is an act of God’s free grace in which I am received as a child of God with all its rights and privileges.
- What is sanctification?
Sanctification is the work of God’s Spirit by which I am renewed after the image of God and am enabled more and more to die to sin and live to righteousness.
- What do you believe about the Holy Spirit?
The Holy Spirit is true and eternal God together with the Father and the Son.
- What does the Holy Spirit do for you?
The Holy Spirit unites me to Christ, convicts me of sin, comforts me, and sanctifies me.
- Since you have been saved by grace alone through Christ, without any merit of your own, why must you yet do good works?
I must do good works because Christ also renews me by his Holy Spirit to be his image, so that I might show thankfulness to God for his mercy.
- What is prayer?
Prayer is an offering up of my desires to God for things agreeable to his will, in the name of Christ, with confession of my sins and thankfulness for his mercies.
- What is the church?
The church is a community of believers in which the gospel is truly preached and the ordinances are rightly administered.
- What is the gospel?
The gospel is the good news that those who repent and believe in the death and resurrection of Christ for their sins will be forgiven.
- To whom should you preach the gospel?
I should preach the gospel to all people in all nations to the end of the earth.
- What are the ordinances of the church?
Baptism and the Lord’s Supper were specially instituted by Christ to represent the benefits of union with him by visible and outward signs.
- What is baptism?
Baptism is an ordinance of the New Testament, instituted by Jesus Christ, to be a sign of the believer’s fellowship with Christ in his death, burial, and resurrection.
- What is the duty of those who are rightly baptized?
It is the duty of those who are rightly baptized to join themselves to some visible and orderly church of Jesus Christ.
- What is the Lord’s Supper?
The Lord’s Supper is an ordinance of the New Testament, instituted by Jesus Christ, to be a sign of the believer’s communion with Christ and his church through his broken body and shed blood.
- What benefits do believers receive from Christ at their death?
Believers are at their death made perfect in holiness and immediately pass into the presence of God forever.
- What will be done to the wicked at death?
The wicked will at their death be cast into the torments of hell.
- Where is Christ now?
Christ ascended into heaven and sits at the Father’s right hand.
- How does Christ’s resurrection benefit you?
Christ’s resurrection is a certain promise of my glorious resurrection.
- How does Christ’s ascension into heaven benefit you?
Christ is my advocate in heaven before his Father and my certain promise that he will take me up to himself.
- Will Jesus Christ come again?
Jesus Christ will come a second time in power and glory, which is the joy and hope of all believers.
- What will happen to believers after Christ comes again?
Believers will live with Christ forever in a new heaven and a new earth.
- What is your only hope in life and death?
My only hope in life and death is that I am not my own but belong to God and to my Savior Jesus Christ.
About Scott Aniol
Scott Aniol is the founder and Executive Director of Religious Affections Ministries. He is director of doctoral worship studies at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, where he teaches courses in ministry, worship, hymnology, aesthetics, culture, and philosophy. He is the author of Worship in Song: A Biblical Approach to Music and Worship, Sound Worship: A Guide to Making Musical Choices in a Noisy World, and By the Waters of Babylon: Worship in a Post-Christian Culture, and speaks around the country in churches and conferences. He is an elder in his church in Fort Worth, TX where he resides with his wife and four children. Views posted here are his own and not necessarily those of his employer.