A Catechesis Manifesto: Five Reasons Why It’s Imperative

The Catechesis Task Force (CTF) of the Anglican Church in North America recently published To Be a Christian: An Anglican Catechismwith J.I. Packer serving as the General Editor.

In the catechism’s vision paper, the CTF mentions a “catechesis manifesto” they wrote called “The Time for Catechesis Is Now!”

The manifesto centers around five key points:

  1. People are yearning for a compelling faith;
  2. Bible studies alone aren’t enough;
  3. You can’t have evangelism without catechesis;
  4. The status quo isn’t working, and our churches are dying;
  5. The time has come for families to embrace their God-given catechetical vocation.

The manifesto is currently unpublished, but the Task Force is allowing me to post it on my blog while they work on a final copy.

Read “The Time for Catechesis Is Now!” here.

The New City Catechism: A Birthday Celebration

Not every birthday is cause for raucous celebration.

But today’s an exception.

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On October 14, 2012, The Gospel Coalition, in partnership with Redeemer Presbyterian Churchannounced the New City Catechism (hereafter NCC), a church-wide teaching tool primarily covering The Apostles’ Creed, The Ten Commandments and The Lord’s Prayer. Created by Tim Keller and Sam Shammas, the NCC met a few predictable minor quibbles (e.g., “Why are they messing with the old catechisms?” “The sacraments don’t receive enough attention!” “Only 52 questions?” “There they go with their ‘city = better’ schtick again,” etc.) But on the whole the NCC was widely welcomed as a timely tool in the catechetical arsenal.

If the idea of tackling the esteemed Heidelberg or Westminster catechisms are daunting (for my money, the best edition is this for the former and this for the latter, and for family devotions this set is indispensable), then the NCC is for you. It’s the gateway drug of catechisms. And I mean that as a compliment.

It’s difficult to measure a catechism’s immediate impact, and it will likely take a generation to ascertain lasting effects on individuals, families and churches. But two years since its release, it seems like the NCC is here to stay for the foreseeable future.

I contacted Collin Hansen, TGC’s editorial director, and asked for some internet stats for the NCC. Here’s the lowdown:

  • On an average day, around 500 people visit the New City Catechism website.
  • The iPad app has been downloaded over 30,000 times.

I’m no web metrics guru, but I’d call those decent numbers, especially for something containing the word “catechism,” a word that sounds stodgy, archaic and quasi-Roman Catholic, striking fear and triggering spontaneous nervous ticks for the uninitiated.

But fear no more.

Here’s where to begin with the NCC:

  • Tim Keller’s introduction, where he clearly and simply explains catechism, offering a convincing polemic for the NCC.
  • The iPad app (free). TGC’s web team is nearing a fix for the iOS 8 bug, so stay tuned.
  • Droid user? This app’s for you. (Also free)
  • Luddite? Download the PDF here.
  • My personal favorite? This tabletop version…

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…and it’s available here for a paltry $6.00. It’s a beauty.

Redeemer Presbyterian Church and The Gospel Coalition deserve hearty thanks for producing such a deceptively simple yet essential 21st century teaching tool covering the basics of the Christian faith. And although it’s not groundbreaking, if it helps create a catechetical revolution (as I think it is), J.I. Packer would be glad. So would Calvin, Luther, and a host of other notable committed catechists.

So happy 2nd birthday, New City Catechism! You’re looking pretty stout for a toddler. And to think you’ve only got 449 years to go till you reach big brother Heidelberg’s age.

May God grant you—and your older siblings—bigger and better birthdays to come.

Catechizing for the 21st Century: John Murray Article Refreshed, Repurposed, and Republished

Former Westminster Theological Seminary professor John Murray the Scottish theologian who wrote Redemption Accomplished and Applied (a book that deserves multiple readings), also wrote a little-known apologetic called “Catechizing: A Forgotten Practice” in 1962 for the Banner of Truth Magazine.

While the content is the same, I reformatted the article for readability and received permission from Banner of Truth to publish it.

In the article Murray, with frequent nods to Augustine, Luther, Calvin and Baxter (and others), covers a lot of ground:

  • The Origins of Catechizing
  • The Development and History of Catechizing
  • The Need for Catechizing
  • Catechizing and Preaching
  • Difficulties of Catechizing
  • Difference Between Catechizing and the Use of a Catechism
  • Catechizing and Catechisms Not for Children Only
  • The Case for Catechisms
  • The Benefits of Catechizing

May Murray’s retooled article find new life amid today’s growing catechetical renaissance.

Read, print, or download on your e-reader Murray’s “Catechizing: A Forgotten Practice” here.

Note: After this post was published, I discovered there are two John Murray’s—both Scottish, both of whom also had writings published via Banner of Truth. The John Murray who taught at WTS was simply John Murray, while the John Murray who wrote the above catechetical apologetic is John J. Murray. The former is deceased, while the latter is very much alive. My apologies for the unintended confusion.

“A Catechetical Revolution of the 21st Century”? J.I. Packer Explains

In this live-streamed video from an Anglican conference held June 2014, J.I. Packer practically explains the why and how of modern catechesis, including in a church planting context.

In a Packer-packed ten minutes (from the 27th thru 37th minute), Packer issues a call to both clergy and laity (i.e. pastors and congregations) to embrace “a catechetical revolution of the 21st century.”

Watch, think and prayerfully dream how such a revolution might begin in your life and church: