Why Learn the Catechism?


         Why learn The Catechism? A child asked me this question as I explained what we would be doing on Wednesday night. Kathryn asked me to write for the blog and she suggested the catechism as my topic.

          My first thought was, “Well this is what we do.” It is tradition. All “good” Presbyterians learn catechism. But is tradition the reason we do what we do? Why do we teach catechism to children? The Catechism has been taught through the ages because it lays the foundations for further spiritual growth. Catechism is learning through question and answer. Memorizing is a great exercise or discipline for our minds. Truths are learned, then understood, and then applied. Catechism builds precept on precept.

Who made you? God; the foundation first then further concepts.

We use similar methods to teach our children to read: letter symbols for sounds; next, words; then, words together to convey ideas. So the method of Catechism to teach truth is appropriate, but it is not the only reason.

          Scripture commands us to be ready to give an answer for what we believe. How do we prepare for this challenge? We must know what we believe and think through the ramifications of those beliefs. Teaching the Children’s Catechism to children forces them to deal with hard questions. We go beyond the stories of the Bible (which need to be taught) and apply the truths of Scripture to our lives.

Who made you? God; this is where we come from; what does that mean for me?

Why did God make you and all things? For His own glory; this gives us our purpose; do my plans bring glory to God? What is God’s glory?

On and on it goes teaching who God is and how we relate to our Creator. The Catechism gives us short concise answers to the big questions about God and our relationship to him. These questions will often give rise to further questions as the child matures and provide opportunities to dig deeper into the mysteries of the faith.

          Many times I have been questioned, and God has brought to memory a Bible verse or Catechism answer that gave a resolution to the pressing concern. Those that have gone before us have given us a great tool to give our children in a world that challenges everything about God. It has been used for ages to teach Truths of the faith. Statistics tell us that 3 out of 4 young people are leaving the church in their first year of college; therefore we need to give them tools to defend their faith and answer their hard questions as God makes himself real in their lives.

Want to brush up on your own knowledge of the Catechism? You can find it at the links below:

Small Children's Catechism

Catechism for Young Children

Westminster Shorter Catechism

Westminster Larger Catechism

1 Comment

So well stated! Thank you Ellen! An encouragement to know our kids get such good teaching/equipping!

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