The Marrow of the Baptist Catechism

An NCT brother wrote into the ‘Sound of Grace’ e-mail list today asking for recommendations on catechism resources for his church and family. Man of these folks seem to appreciate the historic Baptist works, but their consciences do not allow them to use works that (to their thinking) (1) smack of sacramental language, (2) bind men to the law of Moses, and (3) speak of covenant theology. Although I disagree with this assessment of the law (#2), and I don’t see how one can rightly understand God’s Plan of Salvation (Gen 1-2, Rom 5, and I Cor 15, etc) outside of a Federal (or representative) view, I *think* I can sympathize with these folks are looking for.

Having said that, I also would recommend staying within the realm of the proven and reliable historic Baptist faith and symbols, instead of creating new (lesser quality) works, turning to some lesser known works, or ignoring theological training altogether (the popular option for Baptists today). With this man’s conscience in mind, I’ve tried to cull the Baptist catechism down to a very small essential set of questions and answers that I think would still be recognizably related to Keach’s catechism and yet be widely accepted by NCT brethren.

This is only a first pass. My goal would be to trim this list to 52 questions (one-per-week, like the Heidlberg) and then to match Scriptures to each for memorization.



The Marrow of Baptist Catechism


Q. What is the chief end of man?
A. Man’s chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever.

Q. How do we know there is a God?
A. The light of nature in man, and the works of God, plainly declare that there
is a God; but His Word and Spirit only, do effectually reveal Him unto us for
our salvation.

Q. What is God?
A. God is a Spirit, infinite, eternal, and unchangeable in His being, wisdom,
power, holiness, justice, goodness and truth.

Q. Are there more gods than one?
A. There is but one only, the living and true God.

Q. How many persons are there in the Godhead?
A. There are three persons in the Godhead, the Father, the Son, and the Holy
Spirit; and these three are one God, the same in essence, equal in power and

The Word of God

Q. What is the Word of God?
A. The Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments, being given by divine
inspiration, are the Word of God, the only infallible rule of faith and

Q. How do we know that the Bible is the Word of God?
A. The Bible evidences itself to be God’s Word by the heavenliness of its
doctrine, the unity of its parts, its power to convert sinners and to edify
saints; but the Spirit of God only, bearing witness by and with the Scriptures
in our hearts, is able fully to persuade us that the Bible is the Word of God.

Q. What do the Scriptures principally teach?
A. The Scriptures principally teach what man is to believe concerning God and
what duty God requires of man.

The Works of God

Q. What are the decrees of God?
A. The decrees of God are His eternal purpose, according to the counsel of His
will, whereby for His own glory, He has fore-ordained whatsoever comes to pass.

Q. How does God execute His decrees?
A. God executes His decrees in the works of creation and providence.

Q. What is the work of creation?
A. The work of creation is God’s making all things of nothing, by the Word of
His power, in the space of six days, and all very good.

Q. What are God’s works of providence?
A. God’s works of providence are His most holy, wise, and powerful preserving
and governing all His creatures, and all their actions.


Q. How did God create man?
A. God created man male and female, after His own image, in knowledge,
righteousness, and holiness, with dominion over the creatures.

Q. Did our first parents continue in the estate wherein they were created?
A. Our first parents, being left to the freedom of their own will, fell from
the estate wherein they were created, by sinning against God.

Q. What was the sin whereby our first parents fell from the estate wherein they were created?
A. The sin whereby our first parents fell from the estate wherein they were
created, was their eating the forbidden fruit.

Q. Into what estate did the fall bring mankind?
A. The fall brought mankind into an estate of sin and misery.

Q. Wherein consists the sinfulness of that estate whereunto man fell?
A. The sinfulness of that estate whereunto man fell, consists in the guilt of
Adam’s first sin, the want of original righteousness, and the corruption of his
whole nature, which is commonly called original sin, together with all actual
transgressions which proceed from it.

Q. What is the misery of that estate whereunto man fell?
A. All mankind, by their fall lost communion with God, are under His wrath and
curse, and made liable to all the miseries of this life, to death itself, and to
the pains of hell forever.


Q. What is sin?
A. Sin is any want of conformity unto, or transgression of, the law of God.

Q. Is any man able perfectly to keep the commandments of God?
A. No mere man, since the fall, is able in this life, perfectly to keep the
commandments of God, but daily breaks them in thought, word, and deed.

Q. What does every sin deserve?
A. Every sin deserves God’s wrath and curse, both in this life, and in that
which is to come.


Q. Did God leave all mankind to perish in the estate of sin and misery?
A. God, out of His mere good pleasure, from all eternity, having chosen a
people to everlasting life, did enter into a covenant of grace, to deliver them
out of the estate of sin and misery, and to bring them into an estate of
salvation, by a Redeemer.

Q. Who is the Redeemer of God’s elect?
A. The only Redeemer of God’s elect is the Lord Jesus Christ, who, being the
eternal Son of God, became man, and so was and continues to be God and man, in
two distinct natures and one person, forever.

Q. How did Christ, being the Son of God, become man?
A. Christ, the Son of God became man by taking to himself a true body and a
reasonable soul; being conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit in the womb of
the Virgin Mary and born of her, yet without sin.

Q. What offices does Christ execute as our Redeemer?
A. Christ, as our Redeemer, executes the offices of a prophet, of a priest, and
of a king, both in His estate of humiliation and exaltation.

Q. How does Christ execute the office of a prophet?
A. Christ executes the office of a prophet, in revealing to us, by this Word
and Spirit, the will of God for our salvation.

Q. How does Christ execute the office of a priest?
A. Christ executes the office of a priest, in His once offering up of Himself,
a sacrifice to satisfy divine justice, and reconcile us to God, and in making
continual intercession for us.

Q. How does Christ execute the office of a king?
A. Christ executes the office of a king, in subduing us to Himself, in ruling
and defending us, and in restraining and conquering all His and our enemies.

Q. Wherein did Christ’s humiliation consist?
A. Christ’s humiliation consisted in His being born, and that in a low
condition, made under the law, undergoing the miseries of this life, the wrath
of God, and the cursed death of the cross, in being buried, and continuing under
the power of death for a time.

Q. Wherein consists Christ’s exaltation?
A. Christ’s exaltation consists in His rising again from the dead on the third
day, in ascending up into heaven, in sitting at the right hand of God the
Father, and in coming to judge the world at the last day.


Q. How are we made partakers of the redemption purchased by Christ?
A. We are made partakers of the redemption purchased by Christ, by the
effectual application of it to us, by His Holy Spirit.

Q. How does the Spirit apply to us the redemption purchased by Christ?
A. The Spirit applies to us the redemption purchased by Christ, by working
faith in us, and thereby uniting us to Christ in our effectual calling.

Q. What is effectual calling?
A. Effectual calling is the work of God’s Spirit, whereby, convincing us of our
sin and misery, enlightening our minds in the knowledge of Christ, and renewing
our wills, He does persuade and enable us to embrace Jesus Christ, freely
offered to us in the Gospel.

Q. What is faith in Jesus Christ?
A. Faith in Jesus Christ is a saving grace, whereby we receive and rest upon
Him alone for salvation, as He is offered to us in the Gospel.

Q. What is repentance unto life?
A. Repentance unto life is a saving grace, whereby a sinner, out of a true
sense of his sin, and apprehension of the mercy of God in Christ, does, with
grief and hatred of his sin, turn from it unto God, with full purpose of, and
endeavor after, new obedience.

Q. What benefits do they that are effectually called, partake of in this life?
A. They that are effectually called, do in this life partake of justification,
adoption, sanctification, and the several benefits which in this life do either
accompany or flow from them.

Q. What is justification?
A. Justification is an act of God’s free grace, wherein He pardons all our
sins, and accepts us as righteous in His sight, only for the righteousness of
Christ imputed to us, and received by faith alone.

Q. What is adoption?
A. Adoption is an act of God’s free grace, whereby we are received into the
number, and have a right to all the privileges of the sons of God.

Q. What is sanctification?
A. Sanctification is a work of God’s free grace whereby we are renewed in the
whole man after the image of God, and are enabled more and more to die unto sin,
and live unto righteousness.

Q. What are the benefits which in this life do accompany or flow from justification, adoption, and sanctification?
A. The benefits which in this life do accompany or flow from justification,
adoption, and sanctification, are, assurance of God’s love, peace of conscience,
joy in the Holy Spirit, increase of grace, and perseverance therein to the end.


Q. What is Prayer?
A. Prayer is an offering up of our desires to God, for things agreeable to His
will, in the name of Christ, with confession of our sins and thankful
acknowledgment of His mercies.

The Church

Q. What is the visible church?
A. The visible church is the organized society of professing believers, in all
ages and places, wherein the Gospel is truly preached and the ordinances of
Baptism and the Lord’s Supper rightly administered.

Q. What is the invisible church?
A. The invisible church is the whole number of the elect, that have been, are,
or shall be gathered into one under Christ the head.

The Ordinances

Q. Wherein do Baptism and the Lord’s Supper differ from the other ordinances of
A. Baptism and the Lord’s Supper differ from the other ordinances of God in
that they were specially instituted by Christ to represent and apply to
believers the benefits of the New Covenant by visible and outward signs.

Q. What is Baptism?
A. Baptism is an holy ordinance, wherein the washing with water in the name of
the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, signifies our ingrafting into Christ
and partaking of the benefits of the [New Covenant], and our engagement to be
the Lord’s.

Q. To whom is Baptism to be administered?
A. Baptism is to be administered to all those who actually profess repentance
towards God, faith in, and obedience to our Lord Jesus Christ; and to none

Q. What is the duty of those who are rightly baptized?
A. It is the duty of those who are rightly baptized to join themselves to some
visible and orderly church of Jesus Christ, that they may walk in all the
commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless.

Q. What is the Lord’s Supper?
A. The Lord’s Supper is a holy ordinance, wherein, by giving and receiving
bread and wine, according to Christ’s appointment, His death is showed forth,
and the worthy receivers are, not after a corporeal and carnal manner, but by
faith, made partakers of His body and blood, with all His benefits, to their
spiritual nourishment, and growth in grace.

Q. What is required to the worthy receiving of the Lord’s Supper?
A. It is required of them that would worthily (that is, suitably) partake of
the Lord’s Supper, that they examine themselves, of their knowledge to discern
the Lord’s body; of their faith to feed upon Him; of their repentance, love, and
new obedience: lest, coming unworthily, they eat and drink judgment to

The Last Things

Q. What benefits do believers receive from Christ at death?
A. The souls of believers are at death made perfect in holiness, and do
immediately pass into glory, and their bodies, being still united to Christ, do
rest in their graves till the resurrection.

Q. What benefits do believers receive from Christ at the Resurrection?
A. At the resurrection, believers become raised up in glory, shall be openly
acknowledged and acquitted in the day of judgment, and made perfectly blessed in
the full enjoyment of God to all eternity.

Q. What shall be done to the wicked at death?
A. The souls of the wicked shall at death, be cast into the torments of hell,
and their bodies lie in their graves till the resurrection and judgment of the
great day.

Q. What shall be done to the wicked at the day of judgment?
A. At the day of judgment, the bodies of the wicked, being raised out of their
graves, shall be sentenced, together with their souls, to unspeakable torments
with the devil and his angels forever.


21 thoughts on “The Marrow of the Baptist Catechism

  1. I really appreciate what you are doing here. I wholeheartedly agree with your choice of Keach as a base catechism to work with. I have been using this, and carrying it everywhere with me for many years. I can certainly understand the difficulty in attempting to eliminate another question to arrive at 52. I would not recommend removing any of the remaining 53. I am more concerned about the 65 questions you left out from Keach! When I have a chance to look them over I will respond. I would want to include the following from the Heidelberg Catechism, and the Westminster Larger Catechism, especially if adults were being catechized. These questions and answers and so important and so well stated that I hate to see them fall out of use. Of course, if these 7 were interspersed with your selection from Keach above, the list would now have grown to 60!

    Heidelberg Catechism, Lord’s Day 1
    Q.1: What is your only comfort in life and in death?
    A.1: That I, with body and soul, both in life and in death, am not my own, but belong to my faithful Savior Jesus Christ, who with His precious blood has fully satisfied for all my sins, and redeemed me from all the power of the devil; and so preserves me, that without the will of my Father in heaven not a hair can fall from my head; indeed, that all things must work together for my salvation. Wherefore, by His Holy Spirit, He also assures me of eternal life, and makes me heartily willing and ready from now on to live unto Him.

    Heidelberg Catechism, Lord’s Day 7
    Q21: What is true faith?
    A21: True faith is not only a sure knowledge, whereby I hold for truth all that God has revealed to us in His Word, but also a hearty trust, which the Holy Ghost works in me by the Gospel, that not only to others, but to me also, forgiveness of sins, everlasting righteousness, and salvation are freely given by God, merely of grace, only for the sake of Christ’s merits.

    Heidelberg Catechism, Lord’s Day 10
    Q27: What do you understand by the providence of God?
    A27: The almighty, everywhere present power of God, whereby, as it were by His hand, He still upholds heaven and earth with all creatures, and so governs them that herbs and grass, rain and drought, fruitful and barren years, meat and drink, health and sickness, riches and poverty, indeed, all things come not by chance, but by His fatherly hand.

    Q28: What does it profit us to know that God created and by His providence upholds all things?
    A28: That we may be patient in adversity, thankful in prosperity, and for what is future have good confidence in our faithful God and Father, that no creature shall separate us from His love, since all creatures are so in His hand, that without His will they cannot so much as move.

    Heidelberg Catechism, Lord’s Day 45
    Q116: Why is prayer necessary for Christians?
    A116: Because it is the chief part of thankfulness which God requires of us, and because God will give His grace and Holy Spirit only to those who earnestly and without ceasing ask them of Him, and render thanks unto Him for them.

    Q117: What belongs to such prayer which is acceptable to God and which He will hear?
    A117: First, that with our whole heart we call only upon the one true God, who has revealed Himself to us in His Word, for all that He has commanded us to ask of Him; second, that we thoroughly know our need and misery, so as to humble ourselves in the presence of His divine majesty; third, that we be firmly assured that notwithstanding our unworthiness He will, for the sake of Christ our Lord, certainly hear our prayer, as He has promised us in His Word.

    Westminster Larger Catechism
    Q77: Wherein do justification and sanctification differ?
    A77: Although sanctification be inseparably joined with justification, yet they differ, in that God in justification imputeth the righteousness of Christ; in sanctification his Spirit infuseth grace, and enableth to the exercise thereof; in the former, sin is pardoned; in the other, it is subdued: the one doth equally free all believers from the revenging wrath of God, and that perfectly in this life, that they never fall into condemnation; the other is neither equal in all, nor in this life perfect in any, but growing up to perfection.

    Soli Deo Gloria.

    John T. “Jack” Jeffery
    Pastor, Wayside Gospel Chapel
    Greentown, PA

    • Thanks Pastor Jeffery.

      I only made a quick attempt to remove obligations to the moral law, but once I noticed that I got somewhere near 52, I thought it would be nice to have a 52 question set – one per week of the year. I think I may further develop this with Scripture references for memorization.

      Regarding the questions you culled from Heidelburg – wow! I’m only faintly familiar with it and this sample you’ve provided is EXCELLENT! I’ve heard that Hercules Collins Baptized the Heidelberg for Baptizing congregations and I bet we could find that on the net someplace – it might be worth looking into. I think Westminster would be easier to memorize, but this appears far more devotional.

  2. Good post Jack, I really enjoy the Heidelberg… Have you folks read Kraft’s modified covenant theology? It’s a hybrid between Lutheran and Reformed theology.

    CT vs. NCT vs. MCT – a short comparison
    CT = Covenant Theology
    NCT = New Covenant Theology
    MCT = Modified Covenant Theology

    CT: Adam was perfectly righteous before he fell.
    NCT: Same as CT.
    MCT: Adam was righteous according to the laws given to him but still needed the righteousness of Christ.

    Adam’s legal arrangement and the fall
    CT: If Adam had kept the law he would have merited eternal life. This is known as the “covenant of works”. Adam broke the covenant of works and merited eternal death.

    NCT: There is no “covenant of works”. If Adam had obeyed the laws given to him, he could stay in the garden but that wouldn’t merit eternal life. He broke the law and merited eternal death.

    MCT: There is a covenant of works. If Adam had obeyed the laws given to him, he would have stayed in the garden, but not merit eternal life. However the point of giving this covenant of works was to cause the fall to demonstrate Adam’s need for an alien righteousness and point him to Christ. The Old Covenant is another form of this covenant of works.

    Moral Law
    CT: The “moral law” is fully expressed in the Decalogue.

    NCT: There is no “moral law”.

    MCT: All men are cursed by some form of law, not necessarily the same laws found in the original covenant of works or the Law at Sinai. There is a “moral law” that is revealed in nature which all men are obligated to obey. The OC Decalogue shines further light on this law.

    Covenant of Redemption
    CT: The three persons of the Trinity covenanted with each other for the purpose of salvation of the elect.
    NCT: There is no covenant of redemption. There was just an eternal decree.
    MCT: Same as CT.

    Covenant of Grace
    CT: God made a covenant of grace with Christ and His people. Christ’s people are found in all ages of history including Adam. The OC is a form of the covenant of grace.
    NCT: There is no covenant of grace. God redeems His elect from every age; but the OC was a law covenant; therefore the term “covenant of grace” must not be used to describe these various covenants.
    MCT: There is a covenant of grace which is best understood as the new covenant instituted in eternity and constituted on the cross. All the elect of all ages are partakers of the covenant of grace. However, unlike CT, the OC at Sinai is not an administration of the covenant of Grace; but is a law covenant meant to bring condemnation.

    Christ’s Imputed Righteousness
    CT: Christ kept the law for His people in the Covenant of Grace thus fulfilling the Covenant of Works which merited for them eternal salvation.

    NCT: Christ kept the law for His people to become the perfect sacrifice, but the righteousness wrought through this obedience is not imputed to the elect. Only Christ’s righteousness through “passive obedience / death” is imputed to the elect. (not all NCT people deny vicarious law keeping.)

    MCT: Same as CT. However, Christ’s active obedience involves far more than legal obedience; it was obedience apart from the law – obedience to the Father’s will in everything thus fulfilling the covenant of redemption. Christ’s righteousness is a divine righteousness which was imputed to all of His elect on the cross.

    View of the different Covenants
    CT: The covenant of grace can be found in all the covenants (excluding the covenant of works) because they are derived from the covenant of redemption.
    NCT: Since there is no covenant of redemption, all covenants are related and culminate in the new covenant.
    MCT: The covenant of grace is best understood as the new covenant which is an overarching covenant and represented in all other covenants excluding administrations of the covenant of works (eg. Sinai).

    Abraham’s Seed
    CT: The main heir to Abraham was Israel, the “church” of the OC. (Some would affirm agreement with NCT).
    NCT: The main heir to Abraham is Christ and His Sheep (spiritual Israel).
    MCT: Same as NCT

    The Holy Spirit
    CT: The Holy Spirit has taken up residence in and indwelt in believers of all ages.
    NCT: The Holy Spirit didn’t indwell believers until after the cross. (Some would affirm agreement with CT).
    MCT: Same as CT

    The law as a rule of living
    CT: The OC law is a rule for living, but only the “moral law”. The ceremonial and civil laws were abolished.
    NCT: All of the OC law was abolished and only the laws of the NT apply to the believer.
    MCT: The OC was a covenant of works. The believer’s rule of living has always been Christ regardless of what age in which they lived. The OC law was given to drive the elect to Christ and cause them to rest in His vicarious obedience to the Father, including the fulfillment of the revealed law because this truly defines righteousness in terms of His life. Commandments involving timeless principles (from all covenants) are good as a rule of conduct, but the law of God is written on the heart of every believer and thus every believer is motivated to obey the law to Christ out of love and gratitude instead of obligation.

    Sign of the New Covenant

    CT: The sign of the new covenant is baptism just like circumcision was in the OC. Many believe babies ought to be baptized just like babies were circumcised in the OC.

    NCT: The sign of the new covenant is baptism and only believers ought to be baptized.

    MCT: The sign of the covenant of grace is the circumcision of the heart which is the inner testimony and assurance of the Holy Spirit in the gift of saving faith. Water baptism is an outward testimony commanded by Christ to celebrate the reality of participation in Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection through Holy Spirit regeneration unto belief in the gospel.

  3. I believe I have seen this before, or at least something very similar. I find some of his statements inaccurate, or simplistic at best, which is often the case when attempts are made to characterize the positions of others with whom we do not agree.

  4. By the way, in certain points I find myself sympathetic to the MCT position Kraft lays out, while sharply disagreeing elsewhere. As he has indicated at certain points there is not unanimity within a given system, and overlap may be observed between systems. It is good that he has picked up on this at least to the extent annotated.

  5. It was interesting. He seemed to have a similar reaction to my, although from his quite different perspective.

  6. Pingback: John Broadus Scripture Memorization « Abraham's Seed

  7. Pingback: A *Modified* Covenant Theology? « Abraham's Seed

  8. On Hercules Collins and his “Orthodox Catechism”:

    An online version is available at [accessed 29 MAR 2011].

    Jason (JM) posted this link on the Puritan Board (20 SEP 2008) at [accessed 29 MAR 2011].

    See Steve Weaver’s post on Hercules Collins (5 FEB 2008) at [accessed 29 MAR 2011]. He posted the following comment (14 APR 2008) in response to a question from a reader:


    The Orthodox Catechism is now available in print in James Renihan’s True Confessions available for purchase here. In this work, Dr. Renihan places the text of the Heidelberg Catechism and the Orthodox Catechism in parallel columns so that the alterations are clearly seen.

    I don’t know of an online version of the Orthodox Catechism.”

    Also, an excerpt is found on the Reformed Reader at [accessed 29 MAR 2011]. This excerpt is explained elsewhere:

    “…Collins follows the order and wording of the Heidelberg Catechism until he arrives at the Baptismal questions. At that point he departs radically and inserts fourteen question and answer exchanges clearly expressing the Baptist view. The longest of these is listed here.

    “Baptist Catechisms, To Make Thee Wise Unto Salvation”, Tom J. Nettles”

    Source: Reformed Reader at [accessed 29 MAR 2011].

    See also: Thomas J. Nettles, “An Encouragement to Use Catechisms”, 3 parts, on Founders Journal (Issue 10, Fall 1992; Issue 12, Spring 1993; and Issue 13, Summer 1993) at: [accessed 29 MAR 2011], [accessed 29 MAR 2011], and [accessed 29 MAR 2011].

    • Thanks again Pastor J.

      I realized a few minutes ago that I actually have a link to the Collins catechism on my blog, but I haven’t looked at it in a while. I’ll enjoy looking through all the links you posted here and learning more about the man and his work.


    • JM –

      I second Pastor Jeffery. If you ever finish up the modernized Orthodox Catechism, I’d like to see it (link to it). From what I understand, the Westminster styled catechism is a more scholastic approach and the Heidelberg approach is more devotional. They are an interesting contrast.

      By the way, there is a new blog that posts a question and answer from the Baptist Catechism daily. You can see it on the top right of the home page of my blog.

  9. I think you are right about the human quality of the Heidelberg. Even though I prefer Keach overall, I still must intersperse the Heidelberg. I may have to reassess my preference though, if you ever finish your “JM revised edition of the Hercules Collins revision of the Heidelberg Catechism”! I just posted a note on your blog about this.

  10. A quote from Rev. Hanko,

    The Heidelberg Catechism, written in 1563, arose out of the controversy which tore at Germany because of the introduction of Calvinism into what was predominantly a Lutheran region. The immediate occasion was a fight at the communion table between the Lutheran Tileman Heshusius and Deacon Klebitz, a Zwinglian. When efforts to resolve the controversy failed, Frederick III entrusted the work of writing a confession to Casper Olevianus and Zacharias Ursinus. The two-fold purpose was: 1) to secure harmony of teaching in the Palatinate; 2) to prepare a foundation for the religious instruction of the upcoming generation.[end]

    It was written within a different context, a different setting and mindset.

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