Peters on Luther’s Catechisms: For Life and Death

In this fourfold direction the catechism is basic: As a true “lay bible,” it desires to offer what is foundational in the Christian faith. It desires to make the center of Scripture, expressed in the core parts of the churchly tradition [(Apostles Creed, etc.)], fruitful for daily life. By doing so, it desires to hammer into us what is decisive in life and death for our salvation. In this, the catechetical struggle of Christianity, as it reaches an apex in Luther’s Small Catechism, remains able to offer directive aid to us today. What is basic is presented in an equally simple yet profound way. It can be recognized and uttered as what is exemplary only in the spiritual discipline of the praying mind. In the twentieth century it is no less important than in the sixteenth to find what is decisive for our salvation. Today, as well as then, this does not happen by “security and boredom” but only by humble kneeling and through the disciplined thinking of faith. Time and again it remains impressive how little is truly decisive for salvation and, at the same time, how infinitely much this “little” is.

Commentary on Luther’s Catechisms: Ten Commandments by Albrecht Peters, 2009 CPH.

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