Monday, July 14, 2008

Our first day of catechism

Well, our son Dylan is becoming quite the big boy. He's feeding himself, using the potty, speaking coherent sentences, and beginning to pray out loud (with our word-by-word guidance) as part of his bedtime routine. So, I felt it was finally time this morning to introduce him to a catechism.

As we were finishing up breakfast, I told Dylan with an excited tone that we were going to start learning some verses and questions out of the Bible. Then, we spent the next five minutes or so reciting Genesis 1:1 and the first catechism question: "(Q) Who made you? (A) God made me." Dylan seemed to enjoy it, though an hour later, when I asked him, "Dylan, who made you?" He answered, "I made me." This is going to take a lot of patience and repetition. :)

The resource our family is using is called the Truth and Grace Memory Book, published by Founders Press. There are three books in the series altogether: Book 1 is for two-year olds through fourth graders; Book 2 is for fifth through eighth graders; Book 3 is for ninth through twelfth graders. Each book involves three areas of memorization: Scripture verses, hymns, and catechism questions.

For many of us, "catechism" is a completely foreign concept. So in his introduction, Tom Ascol explains,

The phrase 'Baptist catechism" may sound strange to many contemporary Baptists. Some may even consider it to be a contradiction of terms. The truth of the matter, however, is that 'catechism' is not a Roman Catholic or Lutheran or Presbyterian word. Rather, it is the anglicized version of the Greek word, katekeo, which simply means 'to instruct.' It appears, in various forms, several times in the Greek New Testament (it is translated as 'instructed' in Luke 1:4 and Acts 18:25).

Obviously, then, anyone who has been instructed has in some sense been 'catechized.' But the word came to refer to a specific type of instruction early in church history. In the early church new Christians were taught the essentials of the faith by learning how to answer specific questions. Certain catechetical questions were grouped together and came to be referred to simply as a 'catechism.'

...By learning a whole, well-constructed catechism a child (or adult for that matter) will be introduced to the overall biblical scheme of salvation. Such discipline will frame the mind for receiving and understanding every part of the Bible. A good catechism helps one to read the Bible theologically. (pp. iv-v)
Our family is just getting started, but I'm very excited about doing this together as a family in the coming years. I believe it will be an important part of raising our children in the "discipline and instruction of the Lord" (Eph. 6:4), and will benefit Natalie and I in our own knowledge of God's Word.

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