Bethlehem Baptist Church has a short article about the use of a catechism to strengthen faith in children.


Using a Sound Tradition to Build a Strong Faith

by Kevin Feder (2005)

It is our desire to encourage you to use a catechism as a tool to build and strengthen faith in your children. Simply put, a catechism is “a manual used to teach biblical truth in an orderly way.” Catechisms are not the only means that can or should be used to instruct the next generation, but they are helpful for certain purposes. Listed here are ten specific benefits a catechism can uniquely offer. Hopefully, these ten points will help you understand how a catechism can be effectively used in your family.

Benefits:

  • Catechisms present the gospel message.
  • The question-answer format of catechisms engage little children.
  • Catechisms foster a God-centered curiosity in children.
  • Catechisms serve as a basic outline of biblical truth.
  • Catechisms preserve and purify accurate knowledge of biblical truths.
  • Catechisms form a good foundation for deeper understanding later in life.
  • Catechisms teach children to pray biblically-grounded prayers.
  • Catechisms encourage independent Bible use in children.
  • Catechisms encourage the beginning stages of biblical interpretation.

Read the entire article for fuller articulation of each point, as well as reviews of available catechism resources.

Here is a Baptist Catechism adapted by John Piper. The two most noteworthy catechisms are the Westminster and Heidelberg. Both of these support infant baptism. So, when I see a “Baptist” catechism, baptism is usually the first area I look at. I have to admit I have yet to get my mind around question 98 in the Baptist catechism:

Question 98: How do Baptism and the Lord’s Supper become effective means of salvation?

Answer: Baptism and the Lord’s Supper become effective means of salvation, not from any virtue in them or in him that administers them, but only by the blessing of Christ, and the working of his Spirit in those who by faith receive them.

Scripture: 1 Peter 3:21; 1 Corinthians 3:6, 7; 12:13.

I don’t know what is meant by “effective means of salvation.” I’m not sure if this is putting forth a sacramental view of baptism/Lord’s Supper in that grace is somehow imparted to the one partaking in these ordinances or if something else is being said. Most baptists are adamant about baptism and the Lord’s supper not being sacraments, but rather ordinances. I thought this directly pertained to the issue of whether or not grace was somehow imparted during these two events. That’s included in the definition of a sacrament, right? This question differs from the one in the Westminster Shorter Catechism in that the latter actually uses the word “sacrament”. Other than that difference, the question/answer is the same. I would agree that our faith can grow and be strengthened through these ordinances in that spiritual growth would be a natural and expected outcome of being obedient to Christ in baptism and by reflecting on what Christ did for us on the cross. However, I’m not sure if that is what the catechism is saying. It’s interesting to note that in Charles Spurgeon’s version of this catechism, he has the following:


Q. How do Baptism and the Lord’s Supper become spiritually helpful? A. Baptism and the Lord’s Supper become spiritually helpful, not from any virtue in them, or in him who does administer them (1 Cor. 3:7; 1 Pet. 3:21), but only by the blessing of Christ (1 Cor. 3:6), and the working of the Spirit in those who by faith receive them (1 Cor. 12:13).


Here’s another comparison of the “Baptist catechism” and that of Charles Spurgeon:

Baptist Catechism Question 95:

Question 95: What are the outward and ordinary means by which Christ communicates to us the benefits of redemption?

Answer: The outward and ordinary means by which Christ communicates to us the benefits of redemption are his ordinances, especially the Word, Baptism, the Lord’s Supper and Prayer; all of which are made effectual to the elect for salvation.

Scripture: Romans 10:17; James 1:18; 1 Corinthians 3:5; Acts 14:1; 2:41, 42.

Spurgeon’s Catechism:


Q. What are the outward means whereby the Holy Spirit communicates to us the benefits of redemption? A. The outward and ordinary means whereby the Holy Spirit communicates to us the benefits of Christ’s redemption, are the Word, by which souls are begotten to spiritual life; Baptism, the Lord’s Supper, Prayer, and Meditation, by all which believers are further edified in their most holy faith (Acts 2:41-42; Jas. 1:18).


Advertisements