LAJ suggests a blog series on Luther’s classic “Small Catechism.” Good idea. Since, as my colleague Sandy observed, Luther Day doesn’t even rate any greeting cards, even from Christian sources, we’ll honor him that way.
Strictly speaking, as a wise pastor once explained to me, the catechism proper consists of the Bible and creedal texts: the Ten Commandments; the Apostle’s Creed; the Lord’s Prayer; the verses on the sacraments; the verses on vocation in the Table of Duties. Accompanying those, following the classical teaching technique that teaches understanding via dialectic, are questions and answers designed to unfold “what does this mean?”
Luther’s catechism follows a distinct order that is different from earlier catechisms. His is structured like this: Law (the 10 Commandments); Gospel (the Creed); Prayer (the Lord’s Prayer); the Sacraments (Baptism, the Lord’s Supper, Confession); Vocation (the Table of Duties).
I don’t intend this to be just a Lutheran blog, so folks from other traditions, please bear with me here. In fact, I would greatly appreciate hearing specifically from non-Lutherans. Please go here and read the catechism. It’s short. Yes, there will be things you won’t agree with, especially when you come to the part about the sacraments, and you’ll get thrown off by the different numbering of the Commandments than you are used to. But still, isn’t its explanation of the Ten Commandments a marvel of ethical teaching? Isn’t its explanation of the Gospel in the second article of the creed marvelous? Isn’t it helpful to have such a concise, lucid, and eloquent summary of Christian teaching?
We’ll post excerpts for our contemplation and discussion in the days ahead.