The ACELC exists "to give a united voice against errors that are officially adopted in convention, tolerated, and/or promoted in the LCMS.”

What Is Catechesis?

 

At the 2022 ACELC conference, Pastor Peter Bender presented a paper which asked the question, “What is catechesis?” This was not a trick question – his answer was simple: catechesis is to know Christ. As Confessional Lutherans, we understand the importance of catechizing the faithful with pure doctrine. We know of the many heretics, both ancient and modern, who have sought to tempt (if it were possible) the Church away from her Lord. And so, we offer a hearty, “This is most certainly true,” to Pastor Bender’s thesis – to have the doctrine (catechesis) of Christ is to have Christ himself (2 John 1:9.)

Followed by our, “This is most certainly true,” most of us would be likely also to ask, “What does this mean?” The above definition of catechesis is certainly in accordance with God’s Word, but how is it to be applied in practice? To aid our understanding, Pastor Bender offers two additional definitions of catechesis to go along with the first:

  1. Catechesis is, “God’s way of teaching to convert sinners to the new life of faith in Christ for the forgiveness of sins.”
  2. It is also, “teaching the Word of God and passing on the language of our holy faith, so that the baptized faithful learn how to receive God’s gifts in the Divine Service, how to pray, how to confess (their sin and their faith), how to forgive, and how to live where God has called them – in the freedom of the forgiveness of sins, with faith in Christ and love to the neighbor.” (This second definition is taken from Pastor Bender’s Lutheran Catechesis, 2nd edition, published by Concordia Catechetical Academy.)

These definitions bring catechesis to the forefront of every aspect of Christian life, from baptism and conversion, to the sacramental life of the Church, the new obedience, the doctrine of vocation, and evangelism. According to Pastor Bender, catechesis is not merely the menial task of hammering the text of the Small Catechism into lackadaisical young adults, but is an integral, fundamental act of the Office of Holy Ministry – it is to preach to the catechumens the whole counsel of God as the source of Christian life itself.

Pastor Bender’s paper returns us to proper Christian perspective. It brings the reader directly to the Word of God in order to discover what catechesis truly is, and what it entails. Pastor Bender writes with an eye carefully attuned to Scripture, with the highest attention given to the overlap between catechesis and pastoral care. I highly recommend that you read this excellent paper as soon as you are able.

Lord Jesus Christ, in your infinite wisdom and mercy you have granted to us the Holy Scriptures. Grant that Your Church be devoted to the hearing of the pure doctrine found therein, and that through this hearing, faith would be nourished to grow and bear fruit, as befits it; for You live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Mr. Alex Lancaster

Holy Cross Lutheran Church

Albany, OR

Conferences
ACELC Video

This video serves as a great discussion prompter for congregations, gatherings of circuit pastors, districts—all who care about the spiritual well-being of our brothers and sisters in Christ within the Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod. It spells out clearly the issues of doctrine and practice that continue to cause division within our synod and threaten our ability to walk together. It also shows our desire assist in the return to faithfulness within our synod.

We encourage you to watch this video, and use the study guides, as we together seek to deal with such issues, guided by the Holy Scriptures and the Lutheran Confessions. We pray that these resources, and others available through the ACELC website, will be a blessing to you and our synod. We welcome your feedback.

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