Today is the official launch of the New City Catechism, which is marked by an extraordinary combination of fortes.
Produced by The Gospel Coalition and Redeemer Presbyterian Church of New York, this new catechism has a lot to be excited about in the various strengths coming together in this project. The New City Catechism
- both draws from the riches of history (being adapted from three outstanding Reformation-era catechisms — Calvin's Geneva Catechism, the Westminster Shorter and Larger Catechisms, and in particular the Heidelberg Catechism) and takes care to address the kind of questions people are asking today
- is both substantive and conveniently sized — with 52 questions, one for each week of the year (compare with Heidelberg's 129 or Westminster Shorter's 107), opportune for church and family calendars
- includes with each question both a short written commentary from a historical figure and a brief video exposition from a living teacher
- is friendly to both presbyterians and baptists (see Question 44)
- is available for free both online at newcitycatechism.com and as an interactive iPad app (the best way to view it)
- is designed for both parents and kids, both for adults and children — which could prove to be a serious catechetical breakthrough for many families and churches
Why a New Catechism
Here’s how the team that put it together explains the rationale for the new catechism.
Historically catechisms were written with at least three purposes. The first was to set forth a comprehensive exposition of the gospel — not only in order to explain clearly what the gospel is, but also to lay out the building blocks on which the gospel is based, such as the biblical doctrine of God, of human nature, of sin, and so forth. The second purpose was to do this exposition in such a way that the heresies, errors, and false beliefs of the time and culture were addressed and counteracted. The third and more pastoral purpose was to form a distinct people, a counter-culture that reflected the likeness of Christ not only in individual character but also in the church's communal life.
When looked at together, these three purposes explain why new catechisms must be written. While our exposition of gospel doctrine must be in line with older catechisms that are true to the Word, culture changes, and so do the errors, temptations, and challenges that we must be equipped to face and answer.
John Piper is one of the living teachers featured in the short video commentaries. Of the 52 questions, Piper provides commentary on three:
- Question 4: How and why did God create us?
- Question 32: What do justification and sanctification mean?
- Question 38: What is prayer?
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