Thursday, July 19, 2007

Catechism Questions

According to Reid, Luther reintroduced the question and answer form to catechisms that had fallen into desuetude.

He argues that Calvin’s catechism reads like a dialogue between minister and child where the minister asks unashamedly leading questions and supplies as much doctrine as the interviewee. At one point, the roles even seem to be reversed where the child says to the minister, Verum, “Quite Right!” (p109).

In the Westminster Catechism the form is much more crisp and direct, more like an interrogation or examination.

See Calvin, John, Calvin: Theological Treatises Library of Christian Classics Volume XXII, Translated with Introduction and Notes by J. K. S. Reid (London, SCM Press, 1954) p84.

I wonder if perhaps catechisms loomed rather too large for Calvin. He called them “the solemn symbol of Christian communion” (Catechism, Reid, p90), though we must make sure we give that place to the Word of God, Baptism and the Supper.

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