This week’s Free Stuff Friday is sponsored by Christian Focus Publications. They are offering copies of The Illustrated Westminster Shorter Catechism five winners.
Each generation must not only come face to face with the truth of the gospel, receiving and embracing it for themselves; they must also guard that which is entrusted to them, in turn passing on and entrusting to yet another generation.
Stretching back to the early Church (in fact one could even say right back to Old Testament times), each successive generation has been taught in one way or another through a catechism. The Westminster Shorter Catechism stands in a long line of catechisms that has been used as a tool to help teach ‘the faith once delivered to the saints’ (Jude v3) down through the ages and which has endured and remained with us. Alongside the Heidelberg Catechism, the Westminster Shorter Catechism was penned during the Reformation period; Heidelberg in 1563 and the Shorter Catechism in 1647.
Since then, the Shorter Catechism has been used in Reformed and Presbyterian churches, becoming both well-loved and well-worn (though not a universal experience, otherwise we would not have felt the need for the project!) Yet it remains that it has stood the test of time – a testimony to the work of the Assembly of Divines – and there are many children and young people learning such great truths and a great many older folk who still remember what they were taught in their day by a previous generation too.
But if you ask people about learning from a catechism you will receive mixed responses. For some it is dry and antiquated, the reserve of students, theologians, and those folks in tweed jackets. Others ‘had’ to work through it for membership class and now see no further use. Some may have fond memories of a parent, grandparent, or loved Sunday School teacher who lovingly taught them so many years ago and still remember clearly what they memorised. Some of us may have no more familiarity than beyond the iconic Question 1. But does it have to be so?
The project to publish the Illustrated Westminster Shorter Catechism wanted to help provide a tool to continue the use of catechism as a learning tool and form of discipleship. It aimed to put the catechism back in hands of families, children, young people, and church leaders too; hopefully to encourage those who already practice catechetical learning; and, to introduce it – or even reintroduce it (perhaps removing some barriers at the same time) – to those not in the practice. As already alluded to, there can be an image of catechism as dusty, old, outdated, irrelevant, and so the aim was to undertake the project in a contemporary, accessible, and visually attractive way.
Knowing the great heritage that we were working with, how much meaning, theology, and doctrine are behind every word, great care was taken when seeking to modernise and simplify the language and phrasing, ensuring that nothing new was written or introduced. Hopefully by updating some of the language and phrasing many more people will be introduced to the teaching of the catechism. With the help of beautiful, carefully thought out artwork, it is hoped that the illustrations will aid teaching and learning and understanding the questions and answers of the catechism. In our day and age, people are accustomed to great illustrations and graphics, but more than being only aesthetically attractive the illustrations used seek to capture something of the main point being covered. We need to engage our children and young people and discuss the faith, to help them understand what they are learning – ‘what they believe and why they believe it’ type conversations. Why not engage them with a contemporary voice that is accessible and creative?
Ultimately, we are convinced by the truth the catechism teaches – something undertaking this project only helped reinforce – and we want you to experience that, holding fast, receiving, and embracing the truth the catechism teaches. The Shorter Catechism is worthy of the reading and study of all Christians for the truth it so concisely contains. You may not be able to memorise it; but you can engage with it, use it, talk about it, discuss it, be amazed and humbled by it. You can pass it on, even to another generation.
Again, there are five copies to win. And all you need to do to enter the draw is to drop your name and email address in the form below, which will add you to Christian Focus’ mailing list.
Giveaway Rules: You may enter one time. Winners will be notified by email. The giveaway will end on September 12th, 2022.
Christian Focus are giving away copies of The Illustrated Westminster Shorter Catechism to five randomly selected lucky winners who sign up to their mailing list below.