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catechism

catechism (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.

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Catechism

Catechism (Gk., katēcheō, ‘instruct’). An elementary manual of Christian doctrine. In the Middle Ages books were produced containing explanations of the Lord's Prayer and creed, lists of mortal sins, etc. It was the Reformation, however, with its insistence on religious instruction, which brought forth the catechisms known today. Catechisms normally contain expositions of the creed, Lord's Prayer, and the Ten Commandments; RC ones add instructions on the Hail Mary, sacraments, virtues and vices, and extend into virtually every area of doctrine and behaviour.

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catechism

cat·e·chism / ˈkatəˌkizəm/ • n. a summary of the principles of Christian religion in the form of questions and answers, used for the instruction of Christians. ∎  a series of fixed questions, answers, or precepts used for instruction in other situations. DERIVATIVES: cat·e·chis·mal / ˌkatəˈkizəməl/ adj.

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catechism

catechism a summary of the principles of Christian religion in the form of questions and answers, used for the instruction of Christians. The word is recorded from the early 16th century and comes via ecclesiastical Latin from ecclesiastical Greek katēkhizein ‘instruct orally, make hear’.

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catechism

catechism Manual of instruction in Christian church teachings, for use by the young or by any candidate preparing for admission to membership of a church. In some sects, it provides a medium of instruction for baptized members. A catechism often takes the form of question and answer.

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