(redirected from Catechisms)
Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus.
Related to Catechisms: catechesis


(kăt`əkĭzəm) [Gr.,=oral instruction], originally oral instruction in religion, later written instruction. Catechisms are usually written in the form of questions and answers. Almost as old as Christianity, they were used especially for the instruction of converts and children. Catechisms were popular in the later Middle Ages and assumed even greater significance in the Reformation through Martin Luther's emphasis on the religious education of children. His Small Catechism (1529) is still the standard book of the Lutheran church. The greatest Calvinist catechism was the Heidelberg Catechism (1563). It was revised at Dort (1619) and was used in Dutch and German Reformed churches; other catechisms are the Longer and Shorter Catechisms of 1647 and 1648, drawn up to supplement the Westminster Confession; they are used in Presbyterian churches. The catechism for the Anglican Communion is included in the Book of Common Prayer.

A catechism long in use in the Roman Catholic church was that prepared by the Jesuit Peter Canisius, which appeared in 1555. The catechism of the Council of Trent, a document of high authority issued in 1566, was essentially a manual of instruction for use by the clergy in combating the Protestant Reformation; nonetheless it remained influential for over four centuries. The best-known Catholic catechism in England for many years was the Penny Catechism, adopted by the bishops of England and Wales; that in the United States was the Baltimore Catechism. The first new universal catechism of the Catholic church since that of the Council of Trent was released in French in 1992 and in English in 1994. The book forgoes the traditional question-and-answer format, instead providing a compendium of Roman Catholic teaching and belief. A summary of the catechism that employs a question-and-answer formate was released in 2005.



(1) A handbook containing the basic principles of Christian doctrine. During the first centuries of Christianity, the catechism was the oral instruction of those about to be baptized as Christians. Beginning with the 16th century the catechism became a book, a manual of instruction, which popularly set forth (usually in the form of questions and answers) the teachings of the Christian church. The Orthodox, Catholic, and Protestant churches each have their own catechism.

(2) In the figurative sense, a catechism is a work written in theform of questions and answers.


instruction by a series of questions and answers, esp a book containing such instruction on the religious doctrine of a Christian Church
References in periodicals archive ?
In 11 papers from a May 2014 conference, scholars of church history look at cultural translation, missionary linguistics, and Catholic catechisms in the early modern age; translating Christian terms; translated Christian practices; and translating the Christian faith with pictures.
I don't know if it was coming out of fear that they're losing Catholics in the pews, and so there's less money coming in, and so "we've gotta do something," "let's tighten up the belt," or "let's go back to the Baltimore Catechism.
Often these national catechisms were in a question-and-answer format, bringing to life the very meaning of
The sixty pages of the Supplement are divided under ten headings, each of which indicates major deficiencies in the theology of the Catechism, some of them straightforward omissions: 1) Creation (specifically the existence of angels and devils; also the direct creation of the human soul); 2) Original Sin (and sin in general); 3) The Virgin Birth; 4) The Satisfaction offered by Jesus to the Father; 5) The Sacrifice of the Mass; 6) The Eucharistic Presence and Change; 7) Infallibility of the Church; 8) Priesthood and Authority in the Church; 9) Various points of dogmatic theology (including the nature of Jesus, miracles, and life after death); 10) Various points of moral theology (including the married state and the indissolubility of marriage).
Depending on how they are used, I believe catechisms can be a helpful tool in providing Christians of all ages with the words and concepts they need to articulate their faith," she says.
But it is only now with the publication of Dr Green's monumental and admirable study of catechizing and catechisms that the most obvious point of contact between clerical teaching and popular belief has been properly investigated.
In his introduction to the Catechism, John Paul II makes a point of the fact that he intends the Catechism not to replace previously approved regional catechisms but to "encourage and assist in the writing of new local catechisms, which take into account various situations, and cultures, while carefully preserving the unity of faith and fidelity to catholic doctrine.
With deliberate speed it moves through Reformation, Trent, Counter Reformation, evangelization in Latin America, vernacular catechisms in England and Ireland, conflict between Enlightenment and neo-Scholasticism, Vatican I, the Baltimore Catechism, catechisms after Vatican II, the new universal catechism, and obstacles to its English translation.
She also contends that codicil catechisms sought to teach catechumans to dissolve the material distinction between codex and person, so see certain clusters of words as constellations of meaning, to see specific words together as texts.
This essay examines one small piece of Luther's wide-ranging commentary on the Ten Commandments within his catechisms in the hopes of gaining more clarity on Luther's interpretation of the commandments and the role they played in his overall theology.