Dean's List: The Catechism Really Is for You
By Aaron T. Fenker
Theology, the study of God revealed to us in Jesus Christ, isn’t just for pastors or really smart people. You started to do that in catechism class. There you skimmed the surface of the Christian faith, but what does it take to really dive deep? Well, beyond reading your Scriptures, it’s really no different than the book you used in class--the Small Catechism!
Yes, you read that right. The Catechism. Whether you’re a youth, a young adult, youth leader, or even pastor, there’s always more to learn about Jesus being your Savior in the words of the Catechism. Even Luther, who wrote the Catechism, said, “I act as a child who is being taught the catechism. Every morning--and whenever I have time--I read and say, word for word, the Ten Commandments, the Creed, the Lord’s Prayer, the Psalms, and such. I must still read and study them daily. Yet I cannot master the catechism as I wish. But I must remain a child and pupil of the catechism, and am glad to remain so.” (Large Catechism, Longer Preface § 7–8)
The Catechism is a gift for you. You can pray it, dive a little deeper into it, or you can deep sea dive into it! It may seem simple, but the Catechism delivers Jesus to you. Just as Jesus delivers Himself and His forgiveness, life, and salvation in the simplest of ways--words on page, water in a font, a sinful man, bread and wine--so also the Catechism, delivers Jesus to your heart, soul, mind, and strength in simple, plain words.
Not just pastors. Not just youth. All Christians can rejoice in the Catechism because the Christian faith includes topics that “also concern the common people and laymen. Because they are Christians, they must distinguish between pure and false doctrine for their salvation. Therefore, we also confess the Small and Large Catechism of Dr. Luther. . .Furthermore, the Christian Doctrine doctrine from God’s Word is put together in them in the most correct and simple way and explained, as far as is necessary.” (Solid Declaration, Rule and Norm § 8)
For Youth: Catechism Prayer Book by Mark Buetow
This brief prayer book composed by Pastor Mark Buetow, former Higher Things Media Executive, delivers the Catechism to you in a different way--through prayer! These prayers, more like meditations, take up each piece of the Catechism, allowing its themes, meanings, and words to serve as the foundation for further prayer and mediation based on the Small Catechism. We learn from Pastor Buetow not only how to pray--it does take practice!--but also how to receive the Small Catechism as a gift not only for our mind but also our heart.
For Youth Leaders/Young Adults: The Large Catechism
Luther’s Small Catechism is, well, small. Luther knew what was essential for us to know and to believe as Christians. First, there’s the Ten Commandments, Apostles’ Creed, Lord’s Prayer, and a few Scripture passages on the Lord’s Gifts (Matthew 28, Mark 16, and the Words of Institution). Second, there’s what all these things mean, and that’s what the Small Catechism is all about. Finally, there’s the Large Catechism, to “give them also a richer and fuller knowledge.” (Small Catechism, Preface § 17)
So, for those young adults who desire to dive little bit deeper into the meaning of the Christian faith, there’s the Large Catechism. And for those of you who are youth leaders and will have the gift, the blessing, the chance, the opportunity to direct your youth back to what they learned from the Small Catechism, then Luther’s Large Catechism is especially for you!
As an added bonus, studying the Large Catechism helps you dip your toes into the entire Book of Concord!
For Pastors: Commentary on Luther’s Catechisms by Albrecht Peters
For those who want to dive into the deep end of the pool on the theology and history of Luther’s catechisms (pastors, I’m looking at you!), then there’s no greater resource than Albrecht Peter’s Commentary on Luther’s Catechisms. This isn’t just for pastors, of course, this is for anyone who wants to learn and appreciate those things. How deep does it go? Well, it’s got Five Volumes! (I. Ten Commandments, II. Creed, III. Lord’s Prayer, IV. Baptism and the Lord’s Supper, V. Confession and the Christian Life.) After reading some of these you’ll realize the depths contained in the few words of the Small Catechism, that Luther plumbed the depths of Scripture and beautifully crafted the Small Catechism. I have discovered that, along with teaching Small Catechism every year, this resource has caused me to realize the depth of the simplicity not just of the Small Catechism, but the entire Christian faith!
As the dean of theology, Rev. Aaron Fenker oversees all the ways that Christ crucified is delivered throughout all operations and programs of Higher Things, making sure that its teaching, preaching, and worship deliver Christ and His forgiveness to those we have been blessed to serve. As a Lutheran pastor, he believes that all people, even youth and young adults, need not just pure doctrine but the pure Gospel: Christ crucified for the forgiveness of their sins. He passionately strives to make sure that Jesus’ teaching, Jesus’ preaching, Jesus’ Word, Jesus’ Sacraments, Jesus’ forgiveness are all delivered FOR YOU.
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