Wilhelm Loehe was a German Evangelical Lutheran from the mid-1800’s and was very influential in the starting up of confessional Lutheranism in America. One of the ways that he encouraged the continuation of a sound Lutheran Church body was through tracts. He would write up many tracts because he knew they were a quick way to catechize people. It’s along these lines that I enjoy writing these newsletter articles for I consider them a short form of catechesis as well. They will keep the reader of such materials well catechized as to what they believe, teach, and confess as a Lutheran.
Now some might not be familiar with this word ‘catechesis.’ It’s a word that our English language has picked up from the Latin language, and a word that the Latin language took directly from Greek. “Catechesis” means “to sound forth, ring out, peal.” When looking at the word in the Holy Scriptures (that is, the Greek version) it becomes clear that the term was used to indicate Christian instruction (in other words, it was about - teaching).
Teaching was an important aspect within God’s activity of salvation toward man. To Moses God gave the assurance, “Now therefore go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall speak.” (Exodus 4:12)
Moses was made aware that God wanted the people to learn His commandments, and so before his death he makes the very important point that it is not only the responsibility of the called servants of God to do the teaching. God spoke to parents through Moses saying, “You shall teach them diligently to your children, talking of them when you are sitting in your house, and when you are walking by the way, and when you lie down and when you rise.” (Deut. 11:19)
Deuteronomy 17:19 reads, “He shall read it [God’s Word] all the days of his life, that he may learn to fear the Lord his God...” Take note what is said here: “all the days of his life.” As long as we have sinful flesh, we need to be catechized in the life-giving truths of God’s Word which guide us in the way of Christ crucified and keep us steadfast in the faith.
Jesus also reveals the importance of catechesis:
“And opening His mouth [Jesus] began to teach them.” (Matthew 5:2)
“He [Jesus] saw a great multitude, and He felt compassion for them because they were like sheep without a shepherd; and He began to teach them many things.” (Mark 6:34)
“And He [Jesus] began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again.” (Mark 8:31)
And Jesus came and spoke to them [His Apostles] saying, “All authority has been given to me in heaven and earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you...” (Matthew 28:18-20)
The very fact that you have now read this article means that you have received catechesis - you have been taught something! With most things in life, if something is being done incorrectly, it’s most likely because a person never received proper teaching, was taught incorrectly, or the person didn’t care to be taught (to their own detriment). I look forward to the future articles and all the catechesis (teaching) that will come about from them.
Lord’s blessings upon your Lententide (that’s another word for the season of Lent – see, more catechesis.)
With you IN Christ,