"What Does This Mean? Catechesis in the Lutheran Congregation" by A.L. Barry

"The church has always had to confront its culture and to exist in tension with the world.  To ignore the culture is to risk irrelevance; to accept the culture uncritically is to risk syncretism and unfaithfulness.  Every age has had its eager-to-please liberal theologians who have tried to reinterpret Christianity according to the latest intellectual and cultural fashion.  Enlightenment liberals had the rational religion and the higher criticism of the bible; romantic liberals had their warn feelings; existentialist liberals had their crises of meaning and leaps of faith; there is now a postmodern liberalism.  But orthodox Christians have also lived in every age. confessing their faith in Jesus Christ.  They were part of their culture ... yet they also countered their culture, proclaiming God's law and gospel to society's inadequacies and points of need." Gene Edward Veith, Jr Postmodern Times: A Christian Guide to Contemporary Thought and Culture

Veith says that the church faces a different set of challenges than it has in the past.  In the past, the predominant challenge was for the church to defend its teachings against attack from those who wanted to disprove the faith.  A large challenge to the church today is to help her own members come to terms with a culture that does not merely question the truth of Christianity, but challenges the very notion that any person, or any group, can actually make a claim for absolute truth.

As former Missouri Synod President A.L. Barry said,

"The term "catechesis" comes from the Greek ... which means "to sound forth, ring out, peal."  It indicates a sound that descends down upon the listener.  The Greeks used the verb to indicate receiving information or to reach one with sound from above.  Our word "catechism" is derived from the term "catechesis" and refers either to the actual spoke instruction or to the written manual of "catechesis".  The "Catechist" is the person who does the catechizing, while a "catechumen" is one who is being "catechized"."

Catechesis in the Old Testament:

  • Exodus 4:12 "Now therefore go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall speak."

  • Exodus 24:12 Then the LORD said to Moses, "Come up to Me on the mountain and be there; and I will give you tablets of stone, and the law and commandments which I have written, that you may teach them."

  • Leviticus 10:11 "and that you may teach the children of Israel all the statutes which the LORD has spoken to them by the hand of Moses."

  • Deuteronomy 11:19  "You shall teach them to your children, speaking of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up."

Catechesis in the New Testament:

  • Matthew 4:23 "He [Jesus] went all about Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and preaching the Gospel of the kingdom"

  • Matthew 11:1 "When Jesus had finished instruction his twelve disciples, he went on from there to teach and preach in their cities."

  • Acts 4:1-2 "Now as they spoke to the people, the priests, the captain of the temple, and the Sadducees came upon them, being greatly disturbed that they taught the people and preached in Jesus the resurrection from the dead."

  • Romans 6:17 "But God be thanked that though you were slaves of sin, yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered."

What of the Lutheran Confessions?
God has revealed to us who he is and his plan of salvation through the Scriptures.  Therefore we, as Lutherans, confess all that God has revealed.  We confess in the spirit of, "we believe, teach and confess."  What does the church believe?  What does it teach? What does it confess?  The writers of the Lutheran confessional documents appeal to Scripture in acknowledgment that Scripture contains truth which we believe, teach and confess.

  • A confession is a summary of what Scripture teaches.  It is found in the Small Catechism or as long and involved as the Formula of Concord.  It can be specific or general, but it is always based on Scripture. 

  • A confession is always a teaching tool in the church.  It is not a legal document or museum piece.

  • The confessions mark an identity.  We are Lutheran because we preach, teach and confess what is found within our confessions which accurately teach what is found in Scripture.

  • The confessions are binding because they are bound to Scripture.

A catechumen receives Luther's small catechisms which was designed to provide the milk of the Word and at the same time prepare the digestive system for the meat of the Word. The Catechisms were designed so that one would not grow out of them but grow into them and hold securely to them all the days of their life. 

Service Times:

  • Private Confession and Absolution: 9am Sunday

  • Sunday School Opening: 9:45am

  • Sunday School: 10am

  • Divine Worship: 11am

  • Bible Study Wednesday evening:  7pm


Pastor affiliation:

    Confessional Lutheran Ministerium