Do We Need a New Catechism and Why Should One Be Written?

The “New Reformation Catechism on Human Sexuality” was recently published and is being distributed through Reformation Heritage Books. When I began this project, I knew that an effort like this might be viewed as an arrogant attempt of an individual to impose upon the church authoritative teaching without any ecclesiastical oversight. I understand the concern.

As I state in the preface, what’s not appreciated is that pastors regularly wrote catechisms in the 16 and 17th centuries to clarify issues that were not addressed in ecclesiastically approved creeds and confessions of the church. This is exactly the purpose of this present catechism. It is a pastoral attempt to provide clarification on the issue of human sexuality as the culture is seeking to submit everyone to new way of sexuality that stands in direct opposition to God’s creation norms. Christians needs resources to combat this vicious assault on our faith, and it is to our demise that little has been provided by way of catechesis to address what has become a Nebuchadnezzerian golden image to which the culture is demanding our allegiance.

To be clear, this catechism underwent intense scrutiny of many well-respected theologians and pastors, and has received ecclesiastical approval by the elders of the Escondido United Reformed Church to ensure that the teaching is in agreement with the Reformed standards.

I pray, dear reader, that God would use this catechism to help children, schools, Sunday school classes, and pastors with sermon series to address these important issues that seek to overturn the creation norms of Genesis 1-3. With God’s blessing, I pray this will help to bring clarity and light to our present darkness on these issues. Herewith is the preface to the new catechism for your consideration.

The historic creeds and confessions of Protestant churches have served to preserve Christians in the truth of the gospel for centuries. We are deeply indebted to those who took the time to formulate, with great accuracy and clarity, the precious truths of our faith. We are faced with a unique challenge in our times, however, with regard to new movements that are harming the integrity of what we believe.

Of particular interest is how the current sexual revolution has completely overturned what God established at creation as good. This is a unique challenge that has been answered by many helpful writers on the topic. The problem is that not enough Christians are taking the time to read current books that address this issue. Further, few resources are available that are intended to bring families, study groups, and churchgoers together around confessional-like statements that address the challenges of our day.

Creeds and confessions were originally written to provide summary truths of the Christian faith in the face of great theological error. Catechisms in particular provided short, concise summary statements, in question-and-answer format, on some particular doctrine of the Christian faith. These documents are intended to help Christians, especially children and those new to the faith, to have their minds trained in what Scripture teaches on a given point of Christian doctrine. To this day, catechizing is one of the most effective method of preserving Christians from error.
The culture is daily catechizing us and our children in the ideas they want impressed upon minds. It has been to our own demise that Christians have not taken seriously enough the call to combat this vicious assault on our faith through catechizing God’s people in his truth. The great need of the moment is a robust recovery in training Christians in the truths of what we confess.

Many of our older confessional statements do not address our current challenges with any amount of specificity. Sadly, due to the fear that any new confession or catechism will challenge the integrity of the confessional statements that we already have, or compromise our present unity, we have avoided the writing of new confessions or catechisms that address current issues.
What is not appreciated, however, is that catechisms in particular were regularly written by Reformed pastors in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Richard Greenham, the great Elizabethan Puritan preacher, second only in influence to William Perkins, wrote a well- known short form of catechizing on the basic principles of the Christian faith. Greenham produced a masterful catechism that helped to provide further clarity on issues that were not specified in ecclesiastically approved Reformed creeds and confessions.

This is precisely the purpose of the present catechism that is being presented to you. There are official, ecclesiastically approved creeds, confessions, and catechisms of the church, that have official authority and serve the churches in the preservation of the truth. This catechism is not an official, ecclesiastical document and does not have the same authority. As a Reformed minister, I have written a pastoral catechism based on the Heidelberg Catechism of 1563 to help Christians have their minds catechized in the truth of biblical human sexuality.

This catechism is intended to be used devotionally around the table, providing an opportunity for parents to talk with their children about these issues. This catechism is also intended to provide opportunities for Bible studies, Sunday school classes, and sermon series for pastors in addressing the current challenges surrounding human sexuality.

I have submitted this catechism to many well-respected scholars and pastors to receive feedback and correction where needed. In particular, I would like to thank Rosaria Butterfield, Christopher Yuan, R. Scott Clark, W. Robert Godfrey, Carl Trueman, David VanDrunen, Michael Brown, Doug Barnes, Wes Bredenhof, Chad Vegas, Mark Stromberg, Jonathan Cruse, and Jon Payne for their excellent help in producing this catechism.

I hope you will receive this, dear reader, as a humble attempt to help Christians enjoy the creational, sexual ethic that God established from the beginning for our good.
Christopher J. Gordon Escondido, CA