AbstractLuther as protestant catechist
Luther’s catechetical activity is based on the catechetic tradition already extant in the Early Church. He reverts to this tradition, and more especially to the catechetical instruction of the Middle Ages. Luther observed great negligence and deficiency with regard to the catechesis in the Roman Catholicism of his time. In Luther’s view, a catechism is a short summary of Holy Scrip-ture; it is a condensed and succinct expression of the teachings of the Christian faith. Along with his study on the unfree will (“De servo arbitrio”) Luther considered his two catechisms, which developed out of his preaching activity, as his most im-portant written work. His “Small catechism”, which was very well received, was reissued more than 60 times – and translated into a variety of languages – up until the time of his death.
According to Luther, catechesis (catechetical instruction) is the means by which the catechism is to be learned. A vital part of this process is that the catechism must take root in the heart. The catechism is not a vehicle for objective, scientific faith, but rather defines a living, personal faith as trust in God. All Christians, including adults, must therefore know the catechism in such a way that it is engraved on their consciousness. This necessitates the attendance of catechetical sermons. There is much pneumatological profit to be had in the reading and discussion of the catechism, and in meditating on it, because the Holy Spirit is present in all these activities. All that is necessary for the Christian to know about his salvation is richly and thoroughly present in the catechism. In the light of this, the catechism is profoundly trinitarian and eschatological in orientation. The catechism teaches that the fulfilment of the Ten Commandments, the realisation of the good, is born out of true faith. Those who do not know the catechism are not allowed to partake in the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper.
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