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Protestant and Roman Catholic Catechisms.
Luther's Small Catechism, the Heidelberg Catechism, the Catechism of the Book of Common Prayer, and the Westminster Shorter Catechism, all having ecclesiastical authorization, are printed in full in this volume. Calvin's Catechism, which had 372 questions and answers, is treated in Volume I, pp. 467–70. The author of the first Roman Catholic catechisms, Peter Canisius, 1521–97, has recently been canonized and made a doctor of the Church. Leo XIII.'s encyclical on Canisius, 189¹). included a severe condemnation of the Protestant Reformation and Reformers. The following Protestant catechisms of recent origin have had Church approval.
1. The Evangelical Free Church Catechism for Use in Home and School, 1898, was prepared by a committee under the direction of the National Council of the Evangelical Free Churches of England. The committee consisted of Congregationalists, Baptists, Wesleyan Methodists, Primitive Methodists, representatives of the Methodist New Connexion, and United Methodist Free Church, Presbyterians, and Bible Christians. The object of the catechism was 'to express the Christian doctrines held in common by all Evangelical Free Churches.' It consists of fifty-two questions and answers, the first question being "What is the Christian Religion?"
2. The School Catechism, 1904, was prepared by a "Conference of Members of the Reformed Churches in Scotland" namely ministers of the Wesleyan Methodist Church, the Congregational Union, the Episcopal Church in Scotland, the Church of Scotland and the United Free Church of Scotland. The conference convened at the invitation of the Church of Scotland. The catechism was "designed not to supersede the distinctive catechisms officially recognized by the several Churches" but to serve in schools where "the children of various Churches are taught together." It has 64 questions and answers, followed by the Apostles Creed, its first question being "Who created the heavens and the earth?"
3. The Intermediate Catechism, 1913, prepared by a committee appointed by the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in the U. S. A., was approved by the Assembly of 1913 in so far as it 'directed the Board of Publication to print the catechism for distribution in the hope that it will be the means of advancing the cause of religious instruction in the home and in our churches.' It contains seventy-two questions and answers, with proof texts. The first question is "What do we most need to know?" Roman Catholic catechisms of high authority are:
1. A Catechism of Christian Doctrine, prepared and enjoined by order of the Third Plenary Council of Baltimore, 1884, has appeared in several forms adapted to different ages and bears the imprimatures of Cardinals McCloskey, Gibbons, Hayes, and other high American dignitaries. It opens with the question, "Who made the world?"
2. Catechismo della dottrina cristiana—Catechism of Christian Doctrine,—1912, contains 433 questions and answers and opens with the question, 'Who created us?' It is 'published by the order of his Holiness, Pope Pius X.' In a letter, dated Oct. 18, 1912, Pius X., after declaring that from the first days of his pontificate he had cherished the greatest concern for the religious instruction of Christian people and in particular children, 'approved and prescribed the catechism for the dioceses and ecclesiastical province of Rome' and called upon priests, teachers, and Christian parents to teach it with all zeal. In 1924, it was ordered by the Italian government taught in the primary schools of Italy. A number of Italian manuals have appeared explaining the answers by historic illustrations and doctrinal explanations. The Manual issued in Turin, 1914, containing 590 pages, is dedicated to Pius X.
The definitions of the Church given in these five catechisms are the following:
The Evangelical Free Church Catechism:22492249Rev. William Price Hughes, Cont. Rev., Jan., 1899, expressed this high expectation which has not been fulfilled: 'Before we are twenty years older, all men will realize that this little catechism is one of the most wonderful and far-reaching facts of the wonderful century now hastening to its close.'
The Holy Catholic Church is that Holy Society of believers in Christ Jesus which He founded, of which He is the only Head, and in which He dwells by His Spirit; so that, though made up of many communions, organized in various modes, and scattered throughout the world, it is yet One in Him.
The School Catechism:
The Church of God is the whole body and brotherhood of Christian People of all countries and all times united by the Holy Spirit to the one Head, the Lord Jesus Christ.
The Intermediate Catechism defines the Church in two answers:
There is only one Church, in which all the saved, in heaven and on earth, are included, and of which Jesus Christ is the Head. The Church on earth is the whole body of those who confess Christ as Lord and Saviour, together with their children.
The catechism of the Baltimore Plenary Council repeats the customary Roman Catholic definition and devotes a number of questions to the nature and authority of the Church:
The Church is the congregation of all those who profess the faith of Christ, partake of the same Sacraments, and are governed by their lawful pastors under one visible Head.
This definition is followed by the statement that 'Our Holy Father the Pope, the Bishop of Rome, is the Vicar of Christ on earth and the visible Head of the Church.' The Catechism of Pius X.:
The Church is the company of true Christians, that is the baptized who profess the faith and doctrine of Jesus Christ, participate in his sacraments, and obey the pastors instituted by him. . . . The Church of Jesus Christ is the Catholic-Roman Church because it alone is one, holy, catholic, and apostolic, as He wanted it to be.
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