Catechisms

I thought it might be helpful if I explained how I categorize the catechisms :

1 ) Luther’s Large Catechism :  Luther’s Large Catechism.  It can be found in the Book of Concord, or in a separate edition from CPH.  Some editions include his admonition regarding Confession, some don’t.

2) Luther’s Small Catechism : Luther’s Small Catechism.   It can also be found in the Book of Concord, but is available in various editions.  There are pamphlet editions; and hardcover editions with other materials(usually SynCat).   All editions include : The Ten Commandments, Creed, Lord’s Prayer, Holy Baptism, 5th chief part, and Lord’s Supper.  The fifth Chief part was originally “How Christians Should be Taught to Confess”.  During Luther’s lifetime “The Office of the Keys” was added to this.  Some editions in the mid 20th Century titled the fifth chief part “The Office of the Keys and Confession”, placing the section on the office of the Keys in front, and abbreviating the Confession section – omitting entirely the actual order for confessing. The Preface was also for a time omitted.  Various Appendices are also included, specifically : Order for Daily Prayer, Table of Duties, and Christian Questions With Their Answers.

When I speak of Luther’s Small Catechism, I am speaking of all these parts, including the appendices, preface, and both complete versions of the 5th chief part.

Synodical Catechism (SynCat) : Pick up any hardcover edition of Luther’s Small Catechism by CPH.  Turn to between pages 30&45 (depending on the edition).  There will be a page on which is written the words, “A Short Explanation of Luther’s Small Catechism.”  The questions and answers with bible verses on the following pages are the Synodical Catechism.  There are various editions.  (The Schwan Catechism, the 1943 catechism and the 1992 catechism.)  There may have been others.  The SynCat is NOT a part of our confession.  It can be useful for teaching and reference, but not for saying “this we believe, teach and confess” in an norma normans way.  It is instructive for looking at how the teaching of the LCMS has matured through the years.

When I refer to SynCat, I am referring to these questions and answers.

For those who think of the “Blue Book” (or now the Sangria Book) as Luther’s Small Catechism, be warned that only the first 30-45 pages are actually written by Luther.  The questions and answers in the back are  questions designed to help one understand the Luther’s Small Catechism.  My viewpoint is that, if we want to understand what Luther meant in SC, then perhaps we should look at what he wrote in LC.  There are several significant changes and omissions from LC to SynCat.  Some are helpful.  Evolution is not covered in LC at all, because it wasn’t an issue.  Biblical inerrancy is similarly omitted. Both are included in SynCat.  Other changes are far less helpful.  The SynCat on the first commandment omits Luther’s entire thesis regarding the meaning and explanation of what is the commandment of first importance.  That’s not good.  (Look HERE for more information.)

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