Some History of Catechism


History of Baptist Catechism

No sooner had the glorious revolution of 1688 expelled a Popish tyrant from the throne, and thus freed the Baptists from his sanguinary persecutions, than they began to concert measures for their enlargement and stability as a denomination under the beneficent reign of William and Mary. Upwards of a hundred congregations assembled by their delegates in London and agreed to a Confession of Faith, which was put forth July 3, 1689. The General Assembly thus formed continued to meet annually in London. At the meeting of the London Assembly in 1693, it was resolved that a catechism be drawn up containing the substance of the Christian religion “for the instruction of children and servants and that brother William Collins be desired to draw it up.”

NOTE: This catechism, though written by William Collins, is popularly known as Keach’s Catechism and is the one found on this site.

When the Baptist Catechism was released, it contained a section called “To the Reader“, which states,

From this, we learn that our Baptist forefathers desired, by their Confession and Catechism, to demonstrate their harmony with the Presbyterians and Independents, but also desired not to use the teaching materials of those groups, but rather to modify them in order to show their own Baptist distinctives.

Exposition of the Baptist Catechism

An exposition of the Baptist catechism was written in 1752 by Benjamin Beddome. Beddome was a beloved preacher and a prolific hymn writer. He was the son of the Rev John Beddome pastor of the Baptist Church in the Pithay Bristol and was born at Henley January 23 1717. He was baptized in London by the Rev Samuel Wilson of Prescott Street in the year 1739, and by that church …he was called to the work of the ministry. [H]e went to Bourton on the Water in July 1740 and was ordained pastor of the church September 23, 1743.

The introduction to Beddome’s Catechism states:

Brief History of Catechism

In the introduction to the 1849 publishing of the Beddome Exposition, JL Reynolds writes, in part, the following regarding the history of catechizing:

Catechetical instruction although earnestly recommended and practiced by most of the early fathers and enjoined by ecclesiastical canons, gradually sank into neglect and desuetude, and with it the people sank into that condition of profound and brutal ignorance in which they were found by the first reformers. It is only in flourishing periods of Christianity that the lambs and the poor of Christ’s flock are duly fed. Hence, whenever any reformers arose they invariably directed their attention to catechetical instruction. This observation is true of the Waldenses, John Wiclif, and John Huss, who composed a catechism while he was in prison at Constance. The sagacious mind of Luther was early directed to this subject, and he availed himself of the religious training of the young as his most effective auxiliary in achieving the great reformation…

It is well known that the religious training of youth constituted a prominent feature in the character of the colonists of New England. The lessons of the shorter Catechism were as familiar as household words in their dwellings, their churches, and their colleges. The generations that grew up under such salutary influences were distinguished for sound religious principle, and a piety which drew its daily nutriment from the Word and Spirit of God.

With the development of the scheme of Sabbath Schools, the parent in many instances, transferred his responsibility to the weekly teacher. New manuals of instruction were adopted. That which savored of the past or was cherished in past ages, as if almost for that reason came to be esteemed inferior…

The Need for the Catechism

In Beddome’s introduction to his exposition, he states simply why he felt a need to re-release the catechism to families and churches:

 

Beddome’s Exposition can be found HERE.

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One thought on “Some History of Catechism

  1. Pingback: Some More History of the Baptist Catechism « Abraham's Seed

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