Because Luther’s Catechisms remain a wonderful summary of Scriptural teaching, we created this page, in effect, to help people visualize where, and how, Christian life questions are answered and addressed by catechism topics.
If you look at the table of contents, even of Luther’s Large Catechism, you will not see listings for ethics, finance and property, or the like. What about commentary on secular culture or contemporary issues? You won’t even find some of the phrases Lutheranism is now commonly known for, such as vocation, Two Kingdoms, and theology of the cross.
These things, and much more, however, are very much present throughout the Church in every form: in the brothers and sisters of Christ, congregations of believers, and the written professions of faith that confess Christ with His Scriptures!
Luther’s remarkable brevity hits upon many of our most pressing issues. At the same time, the Lord’s teaching is presented as a whole. The Small Catechism guides our understanding and practices in earthly life while confessing and inculcating salvation by faith alone, Scripture alone, and grace alone.
In other words, overarching revelations of the Incarnation, Justification, the Means of Grace, and more are foundational, yet additional perspectives from Christian life benefit from Scripture’s additional details about God and His work throughout creation.
Headings for the Catechism Topic will eventually link to additional resources.
By Catechism Topic
Part 1. The Ten Commandments
Relationship with God & Relationships with Others
Which is the greatest commandment in the Law? Jesus said, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 22: 36-40 ESV)
The Triune God alone is God, and He has given us His holy Name to call upon. He is the source of all and so we receive His gifts and His Commands, even as He invites us to respond in the fruits of the spirit.
In the first paragraph on the Ten Commandments in the Large Catechism, Luther detailed that a god is a source of good or refuge in distress. Ideas, practices, people, and things can all, sadly, be idolized by fallen hearts.
Even good things, blessed things, can be idolized. Such is the extent of sin.
Despite a plethora of tremendous blessings in Creation, fallen man is not content to share, nor does he trust God to provide. Hence, he can be selfish not only in his desires from God, but also from God’s gifts of marriage, children, workers, animals, and other aspects of creation.
Family & Marriage
Marriage and parenthood are significant as gifts and vocations from God. Rather than acting as milestones or personal accomplishments, both are watched as seriously as God watches murder, theft, etc.
Furthermore, family relations are bound more closely to God than a stage of growth or age. In Ephesians 3:14–15, God the Father is described as the one from whom all fatherhood is known (ESV note). Likewise, God sends the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!”
property, ownership, and God’s gifts
God gives His gifts according to His good pleasure. Yet He neither gives everyone the same gifts nor the same proportion of gifts. His promise is to provide abundantly and He does; however, He does so in a wide variety of circumstances.
Our Lord recognizes personal property as He has worked through creation, and continues to work through creation, in all things.
Coveting, therefore, whether wishing for material goods, relationships, or some other form of personal standing is not only an inward defect but an upward rebellion against God.
Part 2. The Apostles Creed
The theological significance of this confession cannot be affirmed strongly enough. The Creator, Redeemer, and Sanctifier envelope the entire human existence, freely providing all that is needed, even into eternity.
This article affirms both the Creator and the Creation. Christians need not fall into either materialism or gnosticism, but are blessed to rejoice in God’s gifts physical and otherwise. This article allows a proper place for reason without either idolizing it or deconstructed the ordered universe our Lord has wrought.
God endows the physical with His own chosen attributes. He blesses through food and drink, marriage and womb, and so much more. And, of course, He gives us His Word through sound waves, optic nerves, paper, ink, etc.
That the one true God is revealed as Creator impacts every aspect of our lives. No thing is left to chance!
Furthermore, the Creator provides all that is necessary for life, including our daily bread. Therefore, the First Article also addresses relates topics of fear, anxiety, finances, helpless, hopeless, and more.
- Joy in Creation and Justification, James Nestingen
- Creation and Justification in Worship – Faith and Created Things, John Pless
This article, grounded in the works of God and the Incarnation of the Son, puts life and death into perspective.
It also asks, “Who is the judge of Christ’s life and actions? The Lord. Who is judge of the world? Christ.” Yet the world is quick to sit in judgment against God, His Will, His Law, and even His beloved Son.
Sin is so extreme that Christ went to the cross. He certainly did not rewrite Scripture and its morality, as though God’s Law changes with time. Heaven and hell are real and were experienced by no less than Love, Truth, Wisdom, and the very Light of the world!
Faith Despite Sight
- Justification by Faith Alone, Part 1, John Pless
- Justification by Faith Alone, Part 2, John Pless
- “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us” by James Nestingen
- CA III, IX, X – The Gospel of the Two Natures of Christ and the Means of Grace, James Nestingen
The confession of the Third Article impacts how we understand ourselves, Christ’s church, unity, forgiveness, life on this earth, and life everlasting.
This section of the catechism also clearly teaches how we ought to understand both believers and unbelievers, human limitations, and the breadth of the Holy Spirit’s work.
There is one holy Church. There is communion of saints. There is the forgiveness of sins, the life everlasting, and the resurrection of the body!
- I Cannot by my own Reason or Strength, by John Pless
- From the Outside – Election, the Means of Grace and the Christian Community, James Nestingen
Part 3. The Lord’s Prayer
How can we call upon God as our father? Who will deliver us from these bodies of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!
How are we to approach God? How are we to see ourselves in relation to Him? May we really ask and make requests?
How does God hallow His Name? How do we? How do we bear His Name and call upon it?
The Lord’s Prayer asks for the end of the world: “Thy Kingdom come.” And what is this Kingdom? What is its relationship with this fallen world?
Trust: We want God’s Will to be done on earth.
Needs as they arise on a daily basis
Trespasses, Boundaries, Guilt
We are Sinned Against
Part 4. Baptism
The Call of Baptism relates to every Christian vocation.
Baptism as an Ongoing Reality and Influence in Christian Life
Part 5: The Office of the Keys and Confession
A Christian life may not appear different from an unbelievers.
Centrality of forgiveness within faith
Centrality of forgiveness in our relationships with others.
- Set Free: Confession and Absolution, James Nestingen
- Eschatological and Therapautic – Luther on Forgiveness, James Nestingen
- What is Confession? A Biblical and Church Historical Review, James Nestingen
Part 6: The Lord’s Supper
Prayers for Daily Use
The Family Altar: The Discipline of Table Devotions for Daily Sanctification, John Kleinig
Tables of Duties
In what ways are we free and in what ways are we bound?
What is the distinction between freedom and liberty?
How should we act when we don’t know what may be “best”?
Mercy and Witness/Evangelism, John Pless
On Law & Gospel
- Law & Gospel in Christian Witness, Part 1, John Pless
- Law & Gospel in Christian Witness, Part 2, John Pless
- Law & Gospel in Christian Witness, Q &A, John Pless
On the Catechism Itself
- Luther’s Catechism: A Field Manual for Disciples, John Pless
- Reformation Catechesis, John Pless
- Luther as Carer of Souls, John Pless
- The Catechism as Handbook for the Christian’s Worship, Prayer, and Calling, James Nestingen