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Product Close-up. Add To Cart. Westminster Catechism in Modern English. The Heidelberg Catechism - gift edition. Book of Catechisms: Reference Edition. Training Hearts, Teaching Minds. The Heidelberg Catechism with Scripture Texts. The Shorter Catechism with Scripture Proofs. Knowing God. Vos wrote a series of studies of the Larger Catechism that first appeared in Blue Banner Faith and Life and has never circulated widely. Vos's commentary will encourage a recommitment to the Larger Catechism's increased use and study. One measure of indifference to the Larger Catechism can be found in a comparison of commentaries.

Is the Larger Catechism Worthwhile?

Two dozen or more commentaries or study guides have been written on the Shorter Catechism over the past years, and without any trouble I have collected seven commentaries written on the Confession of Faith. Yet only one person, Thomas Ridgley, has penned a commentary on the Larger Catechism — and that was in the early s. Perhaps this indicates that everyone finds the Larger Catechism easy to understand; more likely, it indicates that the Catechism is rarely used.

Closer to home, another index of the relative unpopularity of the Larger Catechism among conservative Presbyterians may be its absence from their hymnals.

The Larger Catechism , so far as I can see, has never been printed in a major Presbyterian Hymnal, while both the Confession and Shorter Catechism are regularly included. And G. I Williamson, a minister of my own Presbyterian communion, wrote helpful studies on the Shorter Catechism and the Confession but has not yet graced the Larger Catechism with a study guide. Things are little different in evangelical living rooms: many families have memorized part of the Shorter Catechism, and some have taken forays into the Confession , but only rare individuals memorize or even read the Larger Catechism.

The main purpose of this article is to trace the history and outline the theology of the Larger Catechism. In addition, because the Larger Catechism deserves further use in homes and churches, this article also aims to function as a belated public relations effort for the Westminster Assembly and tries to raise the profile of the Larger Catechism by showing its importance and usefulness for the church today.


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To these ends, then, we will approach the Catechism from three angles. First we will ask why the Larger Catechism was written in the first place. The Westminster Assembly obviously thought there was a purpose to the Larger Catechism ; understanding this historical purpose may let us see one reason why the Larger Catechism might be worth studying today. Second, we will look at the Larger Catechism and compare it with previous catechisms.

This may let us see what the Assembly thought was lacking in other catechisms and aid us in spotting the unique contribution of the Larger Catechism compared to those catechisms. In the world, or at least Britain, was turned upside-down. English noblemen, barons, knights, gentlemen, citizens, burgesses, commoners of all sorts, and ministers of the gospel took up arms against their king, Charles I.

Some of their complaints were similar to those raised by Americans a hundred and thirty years later, but many of their grievances were specifically religious. Some of their number were reckless libertarians; many were Puritans, wanting a change in worship and theology that Protestant King Charles and his Roman Catholic wife strenuously opposed.

By the English Parliamentarians were losing too many battles to the royalist forces and appealed to the North, asking the equally unhappy Protestant Scots to help them against the king.

Thus the first purpose of the proposed catechism for the Westminster Assembly was, like every one of its documents, religious unity. Other catechisms existed and the Scots had their own catechisms, but both sides recognized the value in using identical confessional and catechetical documents. Of course, many ministers and members of both churches would have worded things differently if they were drafting a personal expression of their own faith, but they realized that they needed a document for creedal, ecumenical purposes.

A brief catechism would necessarily be a broad one that more people could subscribe to. Beginning in December of , the catechism committee of the Assembly worked on this catechism, reporting frequently back to the Assembly for public discussion. Other debates side-tracked the Assembly, and other committees made better speed: the divines completed the Confession of Faith first, and handed it over to Parliament for their perusal in December of The catechism, though, continued to be delayed. Finally, in January of the Assembly gave up on the idea of making one catechism suitable for all purposes.

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Westminster Larger Catechism, The by Johannes G. Vos | | Booktopia

As Professor W. The catechisms, therefore, would only be a distillation of the Confession. Philip Schaff, the well known nineteenth-century historian, and J. This statement of the Assembly reveals that the final declaration found in the directory was a deliberate one: the ministers at the Westminster Assembly did not think that the preacher should preach from a proposition, or argument, but only from the Scriptures themselves.

As important as the catechisms were, the Westminster divines did not want to follow the practice of the Reformed churches on the continent who preached from the Heidelberg Catechism. Having outlined the historical purpose of the Larger Catechism , it still seems appropriate to ask why the Catechism had to be written. Why could the Assemblymen not agree to use one of these catechisms for purposes of unity and instruction?

One answer has to do with the structure or format of earlier catechisms that the majority of Westminster divines did not like. Their Questions also are so framed, that any one of them may be asked singly and distinctly, without dependance on the Question foregoing. All of the main catechisms of the day required the user to memorize both question and answer in order to grasp the biblical doctrines of the catechism. Frequently one had to memorize a whole series of questions and answers, in order to grasp the doctrine under discussion.

Minister: To consider these things in order, and explain them more fully — what is the first point? Child: Because we are unworthy that he should show his power in helping us, or employ his goodness toward us. The content of the catechism is excellent, but the questions and answers, indeed, this entire section, requires knowledge of a long series of questions — a system hardly useful for memorization.

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The six catechisms popular in Scotland all used the more cumbersome style of question-dependent answers. Because the Larger Catechism supplements the Shorter Catechism on such topics as the church and the means of grace, Presbyterians dare not ignore it. This edition of J. Vos's commentary will encourage a recommitment to the Larger Catechism's increased use and study. Get A Copy. Paperback , pages. More Details Original Title.

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  1. The Westminster Larger Catechism: A Commentary.
  2. The Westminster Larger Catechism: A Commentary by Johannes Geerhardus Vos.
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  4. A solid resource on the Larger Catechism basically one of two available and the only one currently in print. Vos was a clear writer, obviously a gifted teacher, and a capable theologian. This would be a valuable resource for any office-holder in a Presbyterian church to own and consult often. Oct 13, Bruce rated it really liked it. This is a very long read, but very enjoyable.