By Robin G. Jordan
A catechism is used to instruct children and adult converts in the Christian faith. It usually takes the form of a series of questions and answers and summarizes or explains the doctrine of a particular Church—what it believes is taught in the Bible. It is an important doctrinal statement.
The Book of Common Prayer of 1662 includes a catechism. It is basically the catechism of the reformed 1552 Prayer Book with a section on the sacraments—Baptism and the Lord’s Supper, which was added in 1604. It was adapted from Alexander Nowell’ A Catechism.
A number of Anglican provinces revised the Prayer Book Catechism in the twentieth century and the early twenty-first century. Unfortunately these revisions have introduced teaching into the Prayer Book, which is not consistent with the Bible and the historic Anglican formularies, including the two Books of Homilies. They have contributed to the doctrinal incoherence of the Anglican Communion and have highlighted the need for the renewal of biblical Anglicanism in the Communion.
To promote the renewal of biblical Anglicanism, a new catechism that conforms closely to the teaching of the Bible and the doctrine of the historic Anglican formularies is needed for the instruction of children and adult converts. Church Armour: A Short Catechism for Young Churchmen, Chiefly on the Thirty-Nine Articles, published as Church Association Tract 59 in the nineteenth century, is an example of the kind of catechism that is needed.
Where the Prayer Book Catechism has been misinterpreted, particularly the section on the sacraments, further clarification may be required. False teaching has plagued Christ’s Church since apostolic times. Like weeds in a field or garden, it is quick to spring up and very difficult to eradicate. Human beings are drawn to error and superstition like moths to a flame.