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Catechism resource: An oldie but a goodie

11 November, 2009

corcpicsmallI recently came across on old book by the Rev. Samuel Reed Fisher (1810-1881) with the promising title, Excercises on the Heidelberg Catechism: Adapted to the Use of Families, Sabbath-Schools, and Catechetical Classes, the revised edition published by the German Reformed Church in 1854. The full book is available from Google (click on the title if you haven’t already). I recommend it heartily as a resource for catechizing young and not-so-young children.old_bos

There are a lot of good things about this book (besides the fact that really old books are cool, of course). It’s very readable, even at 155 years old cool, and it includes:

  • A brief history of the Catechism
  • Explanation of all difficult or technical words and phrases
  • Doctrines set out and explained separately as they come up in the course of the Catechism
  • Cross-referencing througout, both to the Catechism and to the various Exercises
  • Extensive biblical references in addition to the proof-texts included in the Catechism itself

One thing I really like about this book is that it is thorough enough to be a helpful resource, but it’s still just a resource — its purpose is to facilitate the discussion and explanation provided by parents or teachers, rather than to replace parents and teachers. What it’s good at is getting you to really chew on the questions and answers. The book doesn’t aim to become its own monologue, but to foster dialogue between catechist and catechumen (although I don’t recommend using these titles in normal conversation).

For another very good — but much more in-depth, technical, philosophical and theological — discussion, unfortunately not freely available, check out the Commentary on the Heidelberg Catechism by Zacharias Ursinus. Or one of the newer commentaries, I guess, if you’re into new books….

  1. 12 November, 2009 1:26 am

    hey B, how’d archery lessons go?

    • 14 November, 2009 11:11 am

      Not very well, if you consider how well I did; but very well if you consider how much I enjoyed it.


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