Small Catechism is the abridged version of Luther's Large Catechism. Written in the traditional catechism form of a query followed by an answer, these brief Q and As explain the backbone of Lutheran theology.
The question asked for each section of the Ten Commandments, Apostle's Creed, and Lord's prayer is "What does this mean?" while the sections on the sacraments include questions like "What does baptism give?" and "How can physical eating and drinking do such great things?"
For over nearly five centuries, the Small Catechism has served as the basic instruction book for the church bearing the name of the great Reformer, Martin Luther.
Its staying power goes beyond love for tradition. The Catechism directs us to clear passages from God’s Word. It distinguishes carefully between the two chief teachings of the Bible: the Law and the Gospel. It also points to the only source for spiritual life, the Means of Grace: the Word and Sacraments.
Students of the Catechism should be led to see the importance of the truths from God’s Word for their lives and should grow in their deep appreciation for all that the Lord Jesus Christ has done as their Savior.
"This sermon is designed and undertaken that it might be an instruction for children and the simple-minded." So begins Martin Luther's preface to his book Large Catechism.
But this declaration should not scare away any readers, be they old or young, because Large Catechism is a masterpiece of doctrine that clearly explains the basic tenets of Luther's theology. He intended the writings to be read to children in order that they might learn the catechism and begin to memorize it, but the volume has become a beloved tool for teaching new Lutherans of all ages.
Luther's Large Catechism consisted of works written by Martin Luther and compiled Christian canonical texts, published in April of 1529. This book was addressed particularly to clergymen to aid them in teaching their congregations.
The doctrines broken down in the Catechism are: The Ten Commandments, The Apostles' Creed, The Lord's Prayer, the sacrament of baptism, and the sacrament of communion. Each is broken down further into its parts (each commandment, the articles of the creed, etc.) and the fundamentals are explained in simple language.
The order with which Luther proceeds in the Large Catechism is deliberate, with a distinct theological rationale; the Commandments express God’s expectations; the Creed proclaims God’s promise; the Lord’s Prayer translates law and gospel into a personal discourse with God; and the sacraments offer tangible expressions of God’s grace and signs to lean on in faith.
This summation of Lutheran doctrine has survived the centuries, and the relatively short document is a necessity for Lutherans and those interested in the founding father of Protestantism.
The Large Catechism of Martin Luther was written to aid the spiritual leaders of the Lutheran Church. Martin Luther wanted to remind his followers that they should live a godly life instead of a worldly life.
Surprisingly, though, nowhere in this book does Luther suggest that anyone should leave their worldly life behind in order to pursue their godly life. Blunt and straightforward, this book is remains an inspiration.