For hundreds of years, the training of Christian young people involved the learning of a catechism. A catechism was a set of instructions on Christian doctrine. Essentially, it was a list of questions and answers used to instill the fundamentals of the faith in the hearts of children. Many of the Reformed confessions, such as the Westminster Confession, included catechisms. Martin Luther considered his short catechism to be one of his two most important books. Even the great Baptist preacher, Charles Spurgeon, wrote a catechism for young children.
Being an American and a Baptist, the very notion of a catechism seems incredibly foreign to me. But as I’ve studied church history and learned of the important role catechisms have played since the Reformation, I’ve actually been on the lookout for a simple catechism to employ with my own children. Since I’ve never used a catechism before, I was looking for something easy to use and also quite simple \”“ as my daughters who I’d be teaching, are between the ages of 4 and 7.
Carine MacKenzie’s My First Book of Questions and Answers is what I found and so far, my children are eating it up. MacKenzie’s book is based on the Westminster Shorter Catechism. It consists of 114 questions broken up into 26 topics. The questions are direct and the answers are short and to the point. A Scripture reference is supplied for each answer.
The following topics are covered by the questions and answers. Who God is. Creation and sin. What the consequences of sin is. Salvation. Jesus as Prophet, Priest and King. The Ten Commandments \”“ what they are and what they mean for us. Keeping God’s Laws. The Way to be Saved. Baptism and the Lord’s Supper. Prayer and Bible Reading. Death, Hell and Heaven.
The book is pocket sized with large font and catchy graphics. It’s a bright, cheery book that young readers will like to read. My 7 year old has been reading some of the questions and answers we haven’t yet covered.
I’ve found the catechism format works well as a tool for parents wanting to teach their children. You can easily use the questions to probe how well they understand the answers given in the book. You will be able to have a pulse on what questions your children have when it comes to the gospel. And on another level, my kids think the questions and answers are a lot of fun. It’s a game to them, and they are excited about some small incentives my wife and I have planned for them as they learn these questions.
I should add a word about the theology behind this book. The baptism and Lord’s Supper section is generic enough to be accepted by Presbyterians and Baptists alike. There is a Reformed bent to the questions throughout, which I appreciate. However, any of the questions and answers could easily be edited by a conscientious parent.
My First Book of Questions and Answers is an ideal \”first book\” for parents seeking to use a catechism (like myself). You will find it to be a great little tool for instilling biblical teaching into the hearts and minds of your young children. Even though this book is quite small, if used by prayerful parents, it promises to have an eternal impact. May God bless the use of this book in the lives of many Christian parents and their children!
This book is part of a line up that Carine MacKenzie has of 7 “My First” books. The other titles are My First Book of Bible Prayers, My First Book of Christian Values, My First Book of Memory Verses, My First Book of Bible Promises, My First Book about Jesus, and My First Book about the Church. I encourage you to check them all out.
Pick up a copy of this book at Westminster Bookstore, Amazon.com or direct from Christian Focus Publications. See an expanded version of this review, with additional content and resources, at CrossFocusedReviews.com.
Westminster Bookstore also has a deal on the entire set of 7 “My First” books.
Disclaimer: This book was provided by Christian Focus Publications for review. The reviewer was under no obligation to offer a favorable review.