30 Sep 2008

Rediscovering catechism

How shall a young man cleanse his way?
Let him with care Thy word observe.
With all my heart I have Thee sought;
From Thy commands let me not swerve.

Thy word I've treasured in my heart,
That I give no offense to Thee.
Thou, O Jehovah, blessed art;
Thy statutes teach Thou unto me.

I with my lips have oft declared
The judgments which Thy mouth has shown,
More joy Thy testimonies gave
Than all the riches I haveknown.

I'll on Thy precepts meditate,
And have respect to all Thy ways.
I in Thy statutes will delight,
Thy word remember all mydays.

Psalm 119B 9-16 The Book of Psalms for Singing

We began catechising our daughter using a conservatively modernised text of the Westminster Shorter catechism prepared by Rowland Ward when Jemimah was three - at the same time as she began learning Scripture memory verses. At this stage, of course, she had no idea what she was saying, but as time goes on she is able to grasp more and more of the truths contained in these questions and answers. We learn slowly and thoroughly using the method I blogged about here.

Recently I have been profoundly influenced by the words in this interesting book by Donald Van Dyken, pastor of the Orthodox Christian Reformed Church in Sunnyside, Washington.

Pastor Van Dyken believed that the best way to prepare our children for a call by God is by a return to catechism teaching, a method of instruction in biblical truth that the church has used for centuries. His book is divided into two sections. The first half covers the meaning and history of catechising; the second is the practicalities of how to catechise productively. You can read either section first.

What I found most interesting about the book is its application to Scripture catechism, not just to the Confessions. We can use the principles of review and repetition to teach our children help them understand, and most importantly to retain, the major truths of the Bible as well as the Confessions.

Matthew Henry wrote a Scripture catechism for, said he, "The history of Scripture is most proper to acquaint your children with in the first place."

The Scripture catechism we have chosen to use with great success is free online!! Yes, another free resource!! You can find it here on the Reformed Sovereign Grace Literature Homepage.

Containing only the Q's&A's, you simply read the passage of Scripture and reinforce with the questions. What could be more simple than that!! The first books are for the early primary years - the course runs through to sixth grade.

Give catechising a go - it has worked for us!!

1 comment:

  1. Hi Jeanne,

    We are a homeschooling family from Singapore, and we do the Westminster Shorter catechism with our children too. We are using "Training hearts, teaching minds" by Starr Meade, a family devotion based on the Shorter Catechism, and enjoying it! Thanks for your wonderful blog!


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