Thursday, April 25, 2013

A Catechism

Some years ago, I wrote a catechism to prepare persons for baptism, Karisa and Aimie Thompson (Wilson). My plans were to develop it more fully and I have worked on it from time to time. Now is the time to complete that task and so I will be developing it on this page. At least once a week I plan to post an item from the catechism with follow-up discussions. I invite you to follow along as a Bible study. I especially encourage parents to do the study with their children.


This catechism was written for children eight years old and older.  The original purpose was to prepare them for baptism.  Younger children are able to memorize the questions and answers but will probably not have an understanding of the key concepts.  Therefore, you may use the catechism as a teaching tool with a younger child (4 to 7) but remember it will be important to review the instrument as he or she grows older.

Please use this catechism as a tool and not an end in itself. It is presented in question and answer form but should serve as a starting point for conversation with your child rather than something that is merely to be memorized. The given answers are doctrinal and propositional in nature. Our faith is relational and it is in many ways best expressed in stories. Before entering the first grade children should have heard the major stories of the Bible and be able to recognize the major characters and events in the stories. Before a child enters the fourth grade, he or she should be able to tell the major stories of the Bible. Around the age of eight or nine a child begins to be able to understand and value the more abstract order of doctrinal teaching. The stories from which these doctrines are taken (the Bible) should remain the primary source our theology.  Along with the Scriptural stories your child should know your own stories of faith in God.

For most items in the catechism Scripture verses have been given.  Read them with your child.  Remember that discovery is critical to learning. As a general pattern read the question then read the Bible texts and let your child find the answers in the text.  Then read the given answer.  Let your child put the answer in his or her own words.  

Finally, this is a work in progress.  The answers to questions are not divinely inspired and may be revised as we all work through this the first time or two (or more).
Pastor Jackie

1. What does it mean to be a Christian? 
(Luke 2:11; John 3:16-18; 4:42; Acts 2:36; 5:31; Ephesians 5:23; Philippians 3:20-21; 1 Timothy 1:1; 2 Timothy 1:9-10; Titus 1:4; 2 Peter 1:1, 10-11; 2:20; 3:2, 18; 1 John 4:13-16; Jude 24-25.)
Christians are persons who have believed on Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. 

[Notes to Parents:

A.  You may wish to talk with your child about the differences between Christian denominations, cults, and other religions.  Please stress the unity of all true believers, show respect for all people regardless of their religion but emphasize there is only one way to eternal life with God -- Jesus Christ.

B.  We accept as our brothers and sisters in Christ everyone who says they know him as Lord and Savior.  They may choose words that are different from those with which we are accustomed (i.e., they may simply say “I am a Christian” rather than “I am a born-again Christian”).  We accept their testimony until their life proves otherwise.]

2. Who is Jesus Christ?
(John 3:16; Colossians 1: 15-20; II Corinthians 4:4; Romans 8:29, 11:35-36; Ephesians 1:9-10)

Jesus Christ is the only begotten son of God. He is both God and human (fully God and fully human). As God he is equal with God the Father and God the Holy Spirit. They are one being who eternally exists as three persons. He became a human being and was born of the Virgin Mary so that he might restore creation back to God and give us eternal life. And so he remains forever as both our creator God and our human brother.

[Notes to Parents:
1.  Review the story of God’s people (the Jews) and the birth of Christ as the promised Messiah.
2. Try to help your child accept the mystery of the Trinity. There are many things that are beyond our understanding. That does not make them untrue. We accept that Jesus is human (He was born a descendent of Abraham and David) and we accept that he is God (He was born of a virgin without human father). By him all things were made. Share with your child your sense of awe at this mystery and your confidence in its truth.]

3. How can I have the eternal life which Jesus came to give?
(John 3:14-17; 10:10; 15:4-6; 17:1-3;)
All life comes from God who is eternal. If we are joined to God through Jesus Christ (close friends with, bonded as family, He lives in us) we will have eternal life which is to share in the very life of God. This is eternal life, that we know God and Jesus Christ whom he sent into the world.

4. How will I know that I know God and have eternal life?
1 John 2:3-5

You will know you have been joined to God so that He lives in you and you truly know him if you love him and his Son Jesus Christ.

Notes to Parents:
1.  Place a great deal of emphasis here. Talk of your love for God and Christ.  Lead your child into talking about his or her love for Jesus. You might ask him/her to tell you why he/she loves Jesus.

 a.  How will I know that I truly love them?
1 John 2:3

You will know you love them if you obey their commandments.

  b. What are their commandments?
Matthew 22:37-39, Mark 12:30, Luke 10:27
There are many teachings contained in the Scriptures but they are all embraced in two commandments. First, love God with all your mind and all your heart, and all your soul.  Second, love your neighbor as yourself.

 c. Why are these commandments so hard to keep?
Without God’s help, we are blinded by sin so that we cannot see clearly beyond our own selfish desires.

 d. What is sin?
Genesis 4:6-7, Psalm 39:1, 51:1-6, 119:11, Romans 3:19-25, 5:12-21, 6:1-23, 7:1-26,
Sin is anything that does not belong in God’s presence. It is any condition or action that places a person outside of God's goodness. We may sin through our actions or our attitudes; by what we do and what we refuse to do. All sin is therefore opposition to God's will and his good plans for His creation. Sin is also a disease that robs us of God’s presence in our lives, and a force that tempts us to do bad things.