Catechetical Preaching

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Idelette

Puritan Board Graduate
This was brought up in another thread and I just wanted to have a little more clarity on which denominations advocate preaching from the Catechism. Does anyone here use Catechetical Preaching? And which denominations have historically used it? It seems that many of the Dutch churches practiced it, but I'm unaware of any other denominations apart from the Dutch traditions. Any info. would be much appreciated!
 

greenbaggins

Administrator
Staff member
Historically, the Dutch Reformed have had catechetical preaching, often as the evening service. To this day, the CRC still does, and even strongly encourages it.
 

Idelette

Puritan Board Graduate
Yes, and I know that the OPC does as well. My old Pastor would often preach in the evening from the Catechisms.
 

fredtgreco

Vanilla Westminsterian
Staff member
I don't think I have seen it (beyond a single instance of so) outside of the Dutch Reformed. I have not, and would not, use the practice.
 

greenbaggins

Administrator
Staff member
Yes, and I know that the OPC does as well. My old Pastor would often preach in the evening from the Catechisms.

It's actually ironic, given the other thread, because I'm not actually in favor of catechetical preaching. I use the standards in worship every Sunday, with a very brief introduction to each section we're looking at. But I'm an expository preacher.
 

Idelette

Puritan Board Graduate
Yes, and I know that the OPC does as well. My old Pastor would often preach in the evening from the Catechisms.

It's actually ironic, given the other thread, because I'm not actually in favor of catechetical preaching. I use the standards in worship every Sunday, with a very brief introduction to each section we're looking at. But I'm an expository preacher.

Yes, actually I'm not in favor of it either. I'm glad you brought it up though, because I wasn't sure historically which churches practiced it.
 

Poimen

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
Yes, most if not all Dutch Reformed congregations expect catechetical sermons which means that I have been doing it for over six years. My conviction is as following:

Scripture contains doctrine and doctrine demands to be preached. (1 Timothy 4:13; Titus 1:9) Catechism preaching is one way in which this command may be fulfilled, and the advantage to doing it this way is that the congregation becomes acquainted with their own faith which they have professed before the Lord and His people (think of it as a kind of 'Shema' - Deuteronomy 6:4). As long as the catechism does not eclipse scripture (and I am always very careful not to allow that to happen) the the catechism can be used as a kind of template for our preaching.

Besides, we are confessional, Reformed churches. If we have a problem explaining the doctrine of our creeds then we need to re-evaluate our subscription since they we hold them to be a faithful summary of scripture and not something tagged on to it to improve its ambiguity.

And, finally, this type of preaching is by no means novel. Augustine has sermons addressed to his catechumens that are based on the apostle's creed; Luther preached from his own catechism and the Reformed have been using the Heidelberg as a basis for preaching since not long after it was written.
 
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Montanablue

Puritan Board Doctor
Dear me. I didn't realize this was still going on.

Is it common in the OPC? (I ask because as my fiance and I are looking at possible places to live, we're figuring out which denominations are close etc)
 

Idelette

Puritan Board Graduate
Dear me. I didn't realize this was still going on.

Is it common in the OPC? (I ask because as my fiance and I are looking at possible places to live, we're figuring out which denominations are close etc)

Well, I used to be part of the OPC, and I know for certain that my old church practiced it. My Pastor would preach from the Catechism in the evenings. I'm not sure how widespread it would be though. I did find this article that was in the New Horizons which is the OPC newsletter, so I would think that it is pretty common in the OPC. Catechetical Preaching
 

Jack K

Puritan Board Doctor
There's good preaching from the catechism and then there's bad. I grew up in the CRC and heard a number of good, Bible-based sermons that used the Heidelberg Catechism as their starting point. These are like a topical sermon rather than an expository one. It's not my favorite way to go, but can be good and helpful if the preacher still expounds Scripture. I also heard many, many poor sermons from the catechism.
 

kvanlaan

Puritan Board Doctor
We get one every Sunday evening and I don't find it any different (for the most part) than a regular sermon (save that yes, it is topical, not expository). This past Sunday, we had an excellent sermon on Lord's Day 39 from the HC: What is God's will for us in the Fifth Commandment? It was excellent and very in-depth and scripture, scripture, scripture. I often find that the evening services are more technical/theological than the morning services. It is like having a two-steak dinner.

Scripture contains doctrine and doctrine demands to be preached. (1 Timothy 4:13; Titus 1:9) Catechism preaching is one way in which this command may be fulfilled, and the advantage to doing it this way is that the congregation becomes acquainted with their own faith which they have professed before the Lord and His people (think of it as a kind of 'Shema' - Deuteronomy 6:4). As long as the catechism does not eclipse scripture (and I am always very careful not to allow that to happen) the the catechism can be used as a kind of template for our preaching.

Besides, we are confessional, Reformed churches. If we have a problem explaining the doctrine of our creeds then we need to re-evaluate our subscription since they we hold them to be a faithful summary of scripture and not something tagged on to it to improve its ambiguity.

And, finally, this type of preaching is by no means novel. Augustine has sermons addressed to his catechumens that are based on the apostle's creed; Luther preached from his own catechism and the Reformed have been using the Heidelberg as a basis for preaching since not long after it was written.

:up:
 

BertMulder

Puritan Board Junior
We have catechism preaching once every Lord's day. The reason our fathers mandated catechism preaching, is so that no doctrine is left untreated. The pastor is thus not left to simply preach on things that may be his hobby horses....
 

fredtgreco

Vanilla Westminsterian
Staff member
BertMulder said:
We have catechism preaching once every Lord's day. The reason our fathers mandated catechism preaching, is so that no doctrine is left untreated. The pastor is thus not left to simply preach on things that may be his hobby horses....
And here I thought that preaching through books of the Bible would avoid that!
 

Gage Browning

Puritan Board Freshman
BertMulder said:
We have catechism preaching once every Lord's day. The reason our fathers mandated catechism preaching, is so that no doctrine is left untreated. The pastor is thus not left to simply preach on things that may be his hobby horses....
And here I thought that preaching through books of the Bible would avoid that!
:ditto::scholar:
 

bookslover

Puritan Board Doctor
And here I thought that preaching through books of the Bible would avoid that!

Which leads me to say that we could use a lot more theological sermons. I'm NOT in favor of catechetical preaching. And preaching through books of the Bible is fine (of course) but it's not the only legitimate way to preach. Lots of Christians have sat under expository ministries for years but couldn't articulate even the most basic Christian doctrines. I once heard John MacArthur preach a theological sermon in an evening service. It was great! He supported each theological point in his exposition of the doctrine (I forget which one it was - it was a long time ago) with loads of Scripture. It was refreshing to hear something besides a regular exposition through a text. Now, if HE can do it, think how great a theological sermon could be from a Reformed perspective!

As for catechetical preaching: no. In my experience, I've run across too many people who are confused as to which is more important - the Bible or the standards. Let's not confuse them even more by taking the standards into the pulpit.
 

Poimen

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
BertMulder said:
We have catechism preaching once every Lord's day. The reason our fathers mandated catechism preaching, is so that no doctrine is left untreated. The pastor is thus not left to simply preach on things that may be his hobby horses....
And here I thought that preaching through books of the Bible would avoid that!

As I noted in my post above, and as Bert summarizes here, our Reformed fathers implemented this practice. They did this as those who were committed to Sola Scriptura all the while realizing that the members of the congregation need to be instructed in doctrine from those standards which we believe faithfully summarize scripture. I don't have a problem with those who do not wish to practice this but in doing so they are opposing a rich tradition which has support from many of our forefathers.

Yes, as others have pointed out, there is a danger in this practice, namely eclipsing the scriptures themselves. But there is also a danger when we do not explain our doctrine from the confessional summary of scripture: ignorance of our confessional standards which can lead to people advocating non-Reformed doctrines in the name of misunderstood and unappreciated creedal statements.

Furthermore, if churches can have Sunday school classes from the catechism, I don't see why it is wrong to have sermons from the catechism's summary of scripture.
 

yeutter

Puritan Board Senior
I am shocked at how few Christians, even in Reformed circles, can adequately describe the Trinity. One could preach a series of expository sermons and teach this essential doctrine. It seems to me an easier way would be to give a straight forward doctrinal sermon.
Sermon audio SermonAudio.com has many wonderful catechism sermons but does not have a catechism sermon category.
 

Montanablue

Puritan Board Doctor
I think this kind of thing is much better suited to Sunday School or a Wed night lecture series. Its not that I have a problem with teaching the catechism, I just don't want it taking the place of Scripture as the main text of a sermon.
 

N. Eshelman

Puritan Board Senior
The best catechism preaching that I have heard exposit a text that describes/defends the doctrine that the Catechism teaches at this point. I have also heard some bad ones that are doctrinal lectures and would hardly classify as sermons.

There is also some evidence that points to the Larger Catechism being divided into 52 sections so that it could be preached as well.
 

BertMulder

Puritan Board Junior
BertMulder said:
We have catechism preaching once every Lord's day. The reason our fathers mandated catechism preaching, is so that no doctrine is left untreated. The pastor is thus not left to simply preach on things that may be his hobby horses....
And here I thought that preaching through books of the Bible would avoid that!

And suppose, for a moment, that a preacher would begin preaching Genesis 1:1, and the succeeding text each succeeding sermon...

1. How long would it take a preacher to cover all the essential doctrines, using that method... He would be emeritus by the time he reached eschatology and Revelations..., he would probably be in another congregation before he was even finished with Genesis.
2. If he picked and choose text, say one or two every chapter or so... That is exactly the problem the HC addresses... He would be able to avoid doctrines he did not like or did not understand...
3. Ever spend any time with the HC? Did you note all the actual (Bible) text references? What is to prevent the preacher, using the order and material from the HC, to actually pick one of those text as his text for this sermon? And that is how normally the HC is used in preaching... So no doctrine is left untreated.
 
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