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As a communicator, as well as a Lutheran, I’ve always been fascinated by the way Martin Luther used new technology to spread the message of God’s grace and salvation. It was Luther who fully understood that the power of the printing press, combined with good layout and graphic design, could reach the masses like never before. He wisely used readable typestyles, bold illustrations, everyday examples and wrote in the people’s own language. Brilliant.
The fact that Luther’s writings still resonate after five hundred years is testimony to the source material he studied and so generously shared—God’s Word. As an adult learner, I appreciate Luther’s straightforward and direct writing style and the way he unpacks and teaches the truths of Scripture. I know that I’m not alone.
That’s why I’m so excited over the newly updated version of Luther’s Small Catechism with Explanation. The faithful way that writers from the LCMS Office of the President and the Commission on Theology and Church Relations (CTCR) weave in timely and updated explanations with Luther’s original text makes this a great new edition and keeps the focus on the Small Catechism as foundational to our faith.
In previous blog posts, my co-workers have shared their views on using the Small Catechism in the parish , the home and in education. Now, let me share my perspective as a layman, father, communicator and life-long learner.
In my career, I’ve worked with a lot of companies on a lot of brands and realized that all great brands possess three main qualities: passion, purpose, and legacy. These shape the “why” of what they do and how they get communicated. As laity, we need these qualities too. Simply put, if we’re not passionate and purposeful in our vocations and what we do, there isn’t much of a legacy to pass down. As a lay person, this takes a lot of study. What resources can we use to keep us sharp? Thanks to CPH there are several, however, my go-to has always been the Small Catechism.
How does the catechism help?
For one, confirmation is not graduation. That’s great news! There’s still much we can learn from the catechism, and the reason is the “why” behind the book. Reading Luther’s Small Catechism helps us value these qualities and internalize them. Let me explain.
Luther was a passionate writer. He held such strong beliefs and wanted to share them with his Wittenberg congregation as well as his university students. Yet, what Luther did was unprecedented at the time. While only well-educated academics or wealthy nobility had access to printed volumes of books, Luther wrote in easily understood, common language. It was his passion to share God’s Word with everyone. Printers then took his works and made them readily available to the masses as pamphlets and posters, and a Reformation was born. I’m thankful he wrote a resource like the Small Catechism to help me easily understand too. We can be as passionate about sharing God’s Word with our own families and neighbors as Luther was thanks to books like the Small Catechism.
Luther’s Small Catechism serves a distinct purpose not only in the Church but also in our daily faith life. Martin Luther wrote the catechism in response to an appalling lack of biblical knowledge among the people of the day. He saw the need to put a simple tool for teaching back in the home. As parents, we can reclaim the catechism as our teaching aid to help guide our children. The new explanation provides several hundred additional biblical references and narratives than previous versions and addresses many of today’s most difficult topics. Each new section is purposeful in its wording and leads us to seek God’s answers. Using Luther’s catechism, we, too, can feel confident pointing our children to God’s Word as they have questions and seek answers.
Finally, there’s the legacy of using the catechism. Why is it important to use it in your home and teach your children these timeless truths? Well, if you were raised Lutheran, you were taught the catechism as a precursor to your confirmation, or public confession of faith. Whether that teaching was from your pastor or your parents, what greater responsibility do we have today as parents than to pass down that heritage and teach the faith to our own children? This new explanation provides us with additional pages of biblical support, key verses, applications, devotions and illustrations. If you weren’t raised in the faith, now is a perfect time to read and study Luther’s Small Catechism. Let the words and Scripture passages unlock God’s timeless truths for today’s issues. You’ll then be able to pass down the good news of sinners redeemed, saved and forgiven through Christ alone, through faith alone and by grace alone to your children and teach it the same way Luther did.
Pass down the good news of sinners redeemed, saved and forgiven through Christ alone, through faith alone and by grace alone to your children and teach it the same way Luther did
True, Luther’s Small Catechism with Explanation has grown over time. But, did you realize it’s been over 25 years since its last update? A lot has changed in 25 years, and the future remains uncertain. Yet, one thing is certain. The saving grace through Jesus Christ alone that Luther shared in his writings is relevant and endures today.
Confirmation is not graduation. The teaching and learning opportunities in the new Luther’s Small Catechism with Explanation are filled with the same passion and purpose that Luther first introduced in 1529 and it provides a rich legacy for you to share with your family. Great news! To learn more about the new explanation or to preorder go to cph.org/catechism2017.
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