Dear Friends in Christ,
The 2013 convention of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod directed the Commission on Theology and Church Relations (CTCR), in concurrence with the Office of the President, to update the 1991 edition of Luther’s Small Catechism with Explanation (Res. 3-13A), noting especially the “many changes in the understanding of morals, civil law and natural law in church and society.”
All kinds of mind-boggling, society-altering changes have occurred in the 25 years since the last version of the “Explanation” was published. We have entered an age of computers, smartphones and virtual reality. In today’s world, bullying involves text messages as often as physical confrontations; Islam is in the news on a daily basis; and the word “marriage” has taken on a radically new, unscriptural meaning.
Along the way, Christianity has not only lost its privileged position, but its teachings are often scorned, and Christians themselves are sometimes treated with hostility. Those who are catechized today are faced with an old question that holds a new sobriety: “Do you intend to continue steadfast in this confession and Church and to suffer all, even death, rather than fall away from it?” (LSB Rite of Confirmation).
A first draft of the revised “Explanation” is now complete and ready for field-testing. The drafting committee and the CTCR have sought to prepare a fresh and faithful version of the “Explanation” that is:
- Rich in Scripture and in confessional Lutheran theology.
- Rich in contemporary application, seeking to address questions and topics that have emerged in recent years.
- Rich in apologetics, providing reason-focused and natural law-based arguments for the church’s moral and social teachings.
- Rich in practicality, adaptable for use in a variety of settings in addition to youth confirmation instruction (e.g., Bible classes, adult instruction, individual and family study and devotional use, sermon preparation, mission and evangelism settings).
This field-test version of the “Explanation” is set to be published and mailed to all LCMS congregations and rostered church workers by late July, soon after the 2016 Synod convention.
The catechism is about teaching the faith. Luther saw the absolute need for that in his day. Five hundred years later, our need is no less than his. Please give this proposed revision a careful look. Share your reactions and suggestions with us at surveygizmo.com/s3/2855978/2017-Catechism-Explanation-Revision.
You have until Oct. 31, 2016 (Reformation Day), to share your thoughts.
In Christ, the center of the faith we teach, believe and confess,
Rev. Dr. Joel D. Lehenbauer
Executive Director, CTCR and Chairman, Catechism Drafting Committee
Questions? Please contact the LCMS Church Information Center at 888-THE LCMS (843-5267) or firstname.lastname@example.org.