Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Johann Brenz' (Small) Catechism

Translated by Andrew Preus from
 Catechismus Pia et Utili Explicatione Illustratus
Wittenberg, 1553
            “Brothers, do not be children in your thinking. Be infants in evil, but in your thinking be mature.”
~1 Corinthians 14:20~

This is the the epitome, if you will, of a much larger work already named above.  Luther's Small Catechism is the obvious choice for catechetics; however, this short section of questions an answers is also quite useful.   

Question: Of what religion are you?
Answer: I am of the Christian Religion.
Question: Why?
Answer: Because I believe in Jesus Christ, and I have been baptized in the Name of Jesus Christ. 

Concerning Baptism
Question: What is Baptism?
Answer: Baptism is a sacrament, or divine sign, by which God the Father through Jesus Christ His Son with the Holy Spirit certainly signifies that God is well disposed toward him who is baptized, and He remits to him his sins freely by mercy for the sake of Jesus Christ, and He adopts him as a son and heir of all heavenly goods. 

Recite the testimonies of Scripture, in which the institution of this Sacrament is commended. 
Answer: At the end of Matthew, Jesus has said to His disciples, saying, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me.  Therefore, as you go, teach all nations, baptizing them in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things which I have handed to you.”
And at the end of Mark, “Go into the whole world and preach the Gospel to every creature.  He who believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.”

The Symbol of the Christian Faith
Recite the Symbol of the Faith.
Answer: I believe in God the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth.
And in Jesus Christ His only Son our Lord, Who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried, He descended to Hell, the third day He rose from the dead, He ascended to Heaven, He sits at the right hand of God the Father almighty, from thence He shall come to judge both the living and the dead. 
I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Holy catholic church, the Communion of Saints, the Remission of sins, the resurrection of the flesh, and eternal life.

Question: What is the benefit of this faith?
Answer: This is the benefit of it, that through this faith, I am counted righteous and holy before God for the sake of Jesus Christ, and through [such faith] the Spirit is given to me for praying and calling on God as Father, and for ordering my life in accordance with the commandments of God. 

Question: What prayer do you usually use to call upon God?
Answer: The Lord’s prayer which Christ taught us. 

Recite the Lord’s Prayer.
Answer: Our Father, Who art in Heaven, Hallowed be Thy Name.  Thy Kingdom come.  Thy Will be done on earth as it is in Heaven.  Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.  And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. 
For Thine is the Kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever and ever, Amen. 

The Decalogue (Ten Commandments)
Question: What are the commandments of God?
Answer: They are those which are contained in the Decalogue. 

Recite the Decalogue
Answer: I am the Lord your God.
First. You shall have no other Gods before Me.
Second. You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain. 
Third. Remember that you might sanctify the day of the Sabbath. 
Fourth. Honor your father and your mother, that you might live long.
Fifth. Do not murder.
Sixth. Do not commit adultery.
Seventh. Do not steal.
Eighth. Do not speak false testimony against your neighbor. 
Nine. Do not covet your neighbor’s wife. 
Ten. Do not covet your neighbor’s house, nor anything that belongs to him. 

Question: For what use was the Decalogue delivered?
Answer: First the Decalogue was delivered for this use, that from it we might learn to know our sins.  Further, that from it we might learn what works are pleasing to God, and what we should do that we might lead an honest life. 

Question: Are we able by our works to perfectly fulfill the commandments of God?
Answer: Not at all, for our works are not perfect works, because we have been conceived and born in sin.  But that He should take council of our salvation, our Lord God gave to us His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, who never at any time committed a sin, and fulfilled all the commandments of God most perfectly.  So if we believe in this Jesus Christ, God by His free mercy [and] for the sake of Christ regards us just as if we ourselves have fulfilled all the commandments of God. 

Question: For what reason should we do good works?
Answer: Not for this reason, that we might by our works make satisfaction for our sins and merit eternal life.  For only Christ has made satisfaction for our sins, and has merited for us eternal life; but we ought to do good works that by them we might give testimony to our faith, and that we might give thanks to our Lord God for His kindness. 

The Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper
Question: What is to be done that we might strengthen our faith in adversity and receive comfort in afflictions?
Answer: The Lord’s Supper is to be used. 

Question: What is the Lord’s Supper?
Answer: The Lord’s Supper is a Sacrament or divine sign, by which Christ truly present, offers and gives to us in the bread and the wine His body and blood, and He give us certainty that our sins are remitted, and He extends to us the right of eternal life. 

Recite the words, in which the Evangelists and Paul describe the institution of the Lord’s Supper. 
Answer: The Lord Jesus in the night, in which he was handed over, and when he ate with His disciples, took bread, and when He  blessed it and gave thanks, he broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat, this is My body, which is given for you.  This do in remembrance of Me.” 
And He took the cub after He dined, He gave thanks and He gave [the cup] saying, “Drink from all of this, for this is my blood, which is the new Testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.  Do this, as often as you drink, in remembrance of Me.”

The Keys of the Kingdom of Heaven
Question: What are the Keys of the Kingdom of Heaven?
Answer: The Ministry, or the preaching of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. 

Recite from the writings of the Evangelists some statements, in which Jesus Christ instituted the ministry of preaching His Gospel. 
Answer: In Luke chapter ten, Christ says to the disciples who He was sending out to preach the Kingdom of God, “He who hears you hears me, and he who rejects you rejects me.  And He who rejects me rejects Him who sent Me.”
  And in Matthew chapter sixteen: “I give you the Keys of the Kingdom of Heaven.  Whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven.  And whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”
And in John chapter twenty, “Receive the Holy Spirit.  Whosever’s sins your remit they are remitted to them; whosever’s sins you retain, they are retained."  

1 comment:

James Preus said...

It is interesting that Brenz uses the old Augustinian order of the Catechism, Faith, Hope, Love, which begins with the gospel and finishes with the Law by starting with the Creed(faith), then the Lord's Prayer(hope, and then the law of love (the 10 commandments). However, this is not quite papist confusion of law and gospel or semi-Pelagian catechesis, but he surrounds these three parts with the sacraments of Baptism and the Lord's Supper. The old Augustinian tradition is hard to shake off, but the gospel still shows through. (I am not claiming that Augustine was a semi-Pelagian, but that his structure of the catechism was used for hundreds of years to teach semi-pelagianism, a progression to perfect the law of God for your salvations, within the Roman Church).