Christian Formation

Christian Formation

AN OUTLINE OF FAITH COMMONLY CALLED THE CATECHISM

Derived from the Greek verb “to echo,” a catechism is a manual of religious instruction typically arranged in the form of questions and answers used to instruct, win converts, and testify to the faith. Some early handbooks of instruction were prepared by the Church Fathers, including St. Augustine of Hippo, St. John Chrysostom, and St. Cyril of Jerusalem. Many handbooks of instruction were prepared throughout the Middle Ages.

The Anglican Catechism was not published separately. Rather, it was included in the 1949 Book of Common Prayer. The Anglican Catechism provided a series of questions and answers “to be learned of every person before he be brought to be confirmed by the Bishop.” It included the Lord’s Prayer, the Apostles’ Creed, and the Ten Commandments, with teaching about the Sacraments.

The Episcopal Church produced a new catechism for the 1979 Book of Common Prayer. Offered in a question-and-answer format, the catechism found in the back of the 1979 Book of Common Prayer helps teach the essential truths of the Christian faith and how Episcopalians live those truths. It is organized so as to “provide a brief summary of the Church’s teaching for an inquiring stranger who picks up a Prayer Book,” with headings such as Human Nature, God the Father, The Old Covenant, The Ten Commandments, Sin and Redemption, God the Son, The New Covenant, The Creeds, The Holy Spirit, The Holy Scriptures, The Church, The Ministry, Prayer and Worship, The Sacraments, Holy Baptism, The Holy Eucharist, Other Sacramental Rites, and The Christian Hope.