A Year With The New City Catechism at Westminster

A Year With The New City Catechism at Westminster

By Pastor Ruttan

[Note: Parts of this post are adapted from the Introduction to the Catechism itself.]

In 2021 we will be journeying as a congregation through The New City Catechism (NCC).

It is a modern-day resource aimed at helping adults and children learn the core doctrines of the Christian faith through 52 questions and answers.

The word “catechism” means “to teach orally or to instruct through word of mouth.” It’s a process designed to teach deep, biblical truths in short statements.

Catechesis used to be common among Christians. Today the practice is almost totally gone. As a result, we may be able to quote some bible verses, but we often lack a bigger-picture understanding about how these passages connect up to the larger biblical themes and truths that run through the entirely of Scripture.

Catechesis is a biblical practice. In Galatians, Paul writes, “Let the one who is taught the word share all good things with the one who teaches” (Galatians 6:6). The Greek word for “the one who is taught” is katechoumenos, one who is catechized. In other words, Paul is talking about a body of Christian doctrine (catechism) that was taught to them by an instructor (here the word catechizer). The words “all good things” probably mean financial support as well. In this light, the word koinoneo—which means “to share” or “to have fellowship”—becomes even richer. Catechesis is not just one more service to be paid for, but is a rich fellowship and mutual sharing of the gifts of God.

If we re-engage in this biblical practice in the church, we will find again God’s message (word) “dwelling in us richly” (see Colossians 3:16), because the practice of catechesis takes truth deep into our hearts. It will help us think in biblical categories and concepts as soon as we can reason (instead of simply accepting the categories and concepts that our wider society tries to teach us).

The NCC is broken down into three categories:

Part 1: God, creation and fall, law (twenty questions)
Part 2: Christ, redemption, grace (fifteen questions)
Part 3: Spirit, restoration, growing in grace (seventeen questions)

There is also an App that is available for iPhone, iPad, and Android devices. As a part of that, it includes suggested Scripture readings, short prayers, and devotional commentary, as well as kid-friendly songs designed to help children memorize each question and answer. After you download it, you can toggle between adult and child settings in the top right hand corner.

Each Sunday, Pastor Ruttan will introduce and take us through one more question during worship.

If the wording of some of the questions sounds familiar to some of you, it is most likely because the NCC is based on and adapted from the Westminster Shorter and Larger Catechisms, from Calvin’s Geneva Catechism, and especially from the Heidelberg Catechism. These are historic faith statements in Reformed Protestantism (of which Westminster is a part).

Some of you may want to memorize each weekly question and answer. Some of you may want to think about it and pray about it. Some may want to look up the accompanying Scripture passage and memorize that. Some of you will want to read through the commentary, or access the children’s resources.

However you engage The New City Catechism, I hope you are fortified in these deep and enduring biblical truths.

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