The word Catechism means instruction:
noun: catechism; plural noun: catechisms
- a summary of the principles of Christian religion in the form of questions and answers, used for the instruction of Christians.
- a series of fixed questions, answers, or precepts used for instruction in other situations.
The People of God are instructed to not only instruct themselves daily, but to also instruct our children:
“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. And you shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates, that your days and the days of your children may be multiplied in the land of which the Lord swore to your fathers to give them, like the days of the heavens above the earth.” (Deuteronomy 11:19–21, NKJV)
Understanding why and how a catechism is to be used by the Church is essential when considering the necessity of placing the Bible first as our only standard for truth, life, faith and discipline. The following are some articles which provide some history and instruction on Catechism usage.
The plan of the Catechism, following the outline of Paul’s letter to the Romans, is an eminently practical condensation of evangelical doctrine. The answer to question one is the Gospel in a nutshell: salvation in Christ is our only comfort in life and death. – From an Introduction to the Heidelberg Catechism
The system of catechising, therefore, includes a short, simple, and plain exposition and rehearsal of the Christian doctrine, deduced from the writings of the prophets and apostles, and arranged in the form of questions and answers, adapted to the capacity and comprehension of the ignorant and unlearned; or it is a brief summary of the doctrine of the prophets and apostles, communicated orally to such as are unlearned, which they again are required to repeat. – From What is Catechism?