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I’m not sure if you have heard, but the 2013 convention of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod directed the Commission on Theology and Church Relations (CTCR) to create an update to Luther’s Small Catechism with Explanation, which came out in 1991. I’ve had the joy of getting early access to the text of the new explanation, and I wanted to give you my early thoughts on this fantastic update.
The first thing that you are going to notice when you pick up a copy of the new explanation is its size. This thing has some heft. And this isn’t a bad thing. The depth that the CTCR put into each and every element of the Small Catechism is apparent from the first look. As a teaching tool in your home, you can be sure that the way this new explanation goes about teaching what we believe about the Six Chief Parts will present the truth of Scripture and apply it to the issues of our day.
Each element in the new explanation starts with a “Central Thought.” This is a statement and question for you to wrestle with. It also has an associated reading to go along with the element that the Small Catechism is addressing. At the end of each element, you will find a suggested psalm, hymn, and a prayer. This explanation was written with the specific intention of bringing what we learn in the text of the Small Catechism into our devotional lives.
Another section you will find in the new explanation is called “A Closer Reading of the Small Catechism.” As with previous explanations, you will find questions and answers with Scriptural proof-texts for each question. These practical questions will help point you to the places where we derive our understanding of what we preach, teach, and confess.
I struggled coming up with a word to describe this last new addition to the explanation. For one, I really dislike using buzzwords to describe something, and the Small Catechism is timeless, so it is always relevant. But though I despise buzzwords, that is what this newest section of the new explanation is. When you look at “Connections and Applications,” you will find questions, answers, and proof-texts that address issues from the current day. Here are the questions you will find in the section for the Sixth Commandment:
70. What does the Bible affirm about people who are not married?
71. What are some dangers or temptations that pornography poses today?
72. What should husbands and wives do when they struggle in marriage?
73. What does the Bible say about divorce and remarriage?
74. What does the Bible say about same-sex marriage?
75. What does our created nature (natural law) teach us about marriage?
76. What is a Christian view of living together apart from marriage (cohabitation)?
77. What is a Christian perspective on persons who are confused about their sexual identity?
I am overjoyed with this new explanation. As someone who really only grew up with the 1991 edition, it will be great to be able to have not only my older Luther’s Small Catechism with Explanation to use and reference but also the new one with all of its new features and modern context. You will love having the new explanation next to your Bible and hymnal for use in teaching and devotion in your home.
God’s blessings as you teach the faith once for all, delivered to the saints (Jude 1:3).
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