A Baptist Family Catechism
From one generation to the next, Christians are called to embody the gospel of Jesus Christ and pass on “the faith that was delivered to the saints once for all.” (Jude 1:3). Particularly as Baptists we are living in the continuity of tradition, desiring to embrace the past, and are being shaped by the steady flow of history that is bending towards Jesus. This is important, as the church and culture at large are experiencing a crisis of faith. The question, “What do we believe” must ring in our ears as we seek to live out the gospel in this world. Simply put – we are in need of a theological and biblical revolution.
Throughout Church history one of the primary ways the church has passed down Biblical truth has been the means of a Biblical catechism. A Catechism is a method of teaching that seeks to explore questions and provide answers from Scripture. Within our Baptist tradition there have been a few catechism produced for catechesis (Keach’s Catechism in 1677, Spurgeon’s Catechism on the 1689 Confession, John A. Broadus in 1892). There is a long line of catechetical tradition going back to the Puritans, who used catechisms to teach and instruct their children in the way of the Lord.
The following catechism (see PDF below) follows the first 10 articles of the Baptist Faith and Message 2000. It provides a clear explanation of Biblical teaching concerning God, Scripture, and Salvation. The catechism is fairly general as it this allows parents to graciously shepherd their children into the knowledge of the truth. Parents should take the liberty to explain and expound the rich truths of theology to their children. This can be used during family worship following the model of the puritans. There is an answer for older children, following the language of the BFM2000 and then a simplified answer for younger children.
To use the catechism is simple: read the question and answer, followed by the Scripture Proof. Within each article you will notice Echoes from the Past, an Exposition, an Application, and a stanza from a Hymn. The sections are short allowing the family to move through one question at a time or multiple if desired. As a side note, I would encourage parents to listen to the hymns on www.hymnary.org if they are not familiar with the particular hymn selected.
You’ll find that this catechism is a simplified version compared to others, however, it draws from other historical catechisms.
While I strongly believe that we as parents have the Biblical responsibility to instruct our children in the truths of the Christian tradition, particularly related to our Baptist heritage, I also must encourage you to live out an ethical catechesis in the eyes of your children. Not only do they need to hear about Biblical teaching, they also need to see it in action. You – Mom and Dad – are the primary means of a Biblical witness to your children. The responsibility to train your children does not fall to your pastor or their youth pastor, rather God has placed them into your hands. As a result we must take care of them by shepherding their souls and nurturing their hearts in the Truth.
Ethical catechesis is my way of describing “intentional and instructive Christian living.” Your life is a catechetical means of demonstrating the gospel to your children. You live what you truly believe. Thus, we instruct our children by practicing what we preach. Far too often, parents convey the “do as I say and not as I do” mentality to their children – what a shame. As Christian parents we must be intentional in our living to represent the gospel well to those whom God has placed under our care. There might be times when you have to ask forgiveness from your children. Use that moment to discuss the importance of Christ’s forgiveness. There may be a time when you withhold discipline to demonstrate mercy and grace. Making it to church on time reveals the importance of the Lord’s Day. Go out of your way to love your neighbors so your children can understand the corresponding Biblical truth.
Your life should reveal what you believe about God. In the end we aim to shape our children by the Bible, not by our standards. We should parent out of grace, always directing our children to the gospel of Jesus. May we seek to instruct radical disciples for Jesus and not religious Pharisees, who may know all the right answers but fail to live them out. This begins with us. Mom and Dad…you need the gospel just as much as your children. Embrace it, live it, and share it with your children.