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Sunday, June 3, 2012

June 2012

After Martin Luther sparked the Reformation in the 16th Century by recovering the Gospel (that is, the teaching that salvation is by grace alone, through faith alone on account of Christ alone) he was interested in finding out what sort of impact the Gospel was having on those congregations which had begun teaching this glorious message. He and his companion Phillip Melancthon journeyed throughout Germany to see the results. They were shocked by what they discovered! The pastors were not competent enough in the Christian faith to teach the people what it meant to be a Christian. People believed they were Christians, but they had no knowledge of the Lord's Prayer, the Apostle's Creed, or the Ten Commandments. They were baptized and attended to the Lord's Supper, though they had no idea why. The situation drove Luther to prepare a teaching booklet, or catechism, with basic questions and answers that explained what it is Christians believed. In fact, he prepared two books: the Small Catechism and the Large Catechism. The Small Catechism was written for students to learn the faith and the Large Catechism was written for pastors and the household leaders (especially fathers) so that they could teach the content of the Small Catechism to the family. This Catechism is a great treasure in our Lutheran heritage.

One would think that the situation has changed dramatically since Luther's day. Unlike the people in the 16th Century, a larger majority of people are literate and have access to Bibles so that they are able to read and learn what God's Word says for themselves. However, if statistics can be believed, then the situation has not changed that much from Luther's day. The statistics continue to show us that, though the average Christian owns more than one Bible, that same average Christian isn't reading it. So, though literacy is up, Biblical literacy is way down. We are seeing more and more a decline in the basic knowledge of what we believe and why we believe it.

This is part of the reason we emphasize growing in our faith and knowledge of the Word of God around here. It is critical for us, not simply to know what the Bible says, but to be equipped to hand the faith on to our family members and loved ones. (By the way, we have a number of Bible Studies in which you can come and grow in your knowledge and love of God's Word.) To aid us in this process, I am going to begin dedicating the Pastor's Column to the teachings gifted to us in the Small Catechism. This will be a place where we can learn afresh the Ten Commandments, Apostle's Creed, Lord's Prayer, and the biblical teachings on the sacraments and what it all means. If you do not own one already, I highly recommend you purchase a Small Catechism. If you are the head of your household, you need to own a Large Catechism as well so that you can be more equipped to teach your family the truths of God's Word. Such tools are true blessings which equip us for the good work of living out the Christian life. (2 Timothy 3:17)

Pastor Bob

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Faith Lutheran Church • 123 Park Lane • Moorpark, CA 93021 • (805) 532 1049 • Send Email