An Updated, Revised, and Free to Download E-reader of Wilhelm Loehe's, "Questions and Answers to the Six Parts of the Small Catechism of Dr. Martin Luther"

"The Catechism should become engraved in the memory of the child for its entire life”- Wilhelm Löhe

By: Pastor Donavon Riley

As Rev. Dr. John Pless writes, “The great twentieth century scholar of Luther’s Catechisms, Albrecht Peters notes that the Luther’s Small Catechism is marked by four aspects: (1) It is a brief summary and digest of the Bible, laying out in simple terms the heart of the Scriptures’ content: salvation through faith in Christ; (2) The Catechism enunciates the spiritual core of Scripture not as the insights of a spiritually-gifted individual but on the basis of catholic texts; (3) The Catechism looks at the concrete daily life of ordinary Christians set within the context of a coordinate system of creaturely and historical relations; (4) The Catechism moves Scriptures, the confession of the Church, and our daily lives into the light of the Last Day.

Each of these four aspects can be discerned in Wilhelm Löhe’s approach to the Catechism and catechization based on its content and aims. Löhe (1808-1872) was nurtured on the Small Catechism and as a pastor, he sought to impart its wealth to the flock he shepherded. Löhe’s catechetical work would reach far beyond the bounds of his parish in Neuendettelsau. His impact can be seen in the work of the outstanding American Lutheran catechetical scholar, J.Michel Reu (1869-1943) whose exposition of the Small Catechism for parish use and seminary textbook, Catechetics have influence down to the present day…

For Löhe, the Small Catechism linked the life of the congregation gathered around sermon and sacrament with the life of the family gathered in homes around the reading of Holy Scriptures and prayer. It was the Small Catechism that provided both preachers and hearers of the Word of God with a common vocabulary so that the Gospel could be proclaimed and received. Catechization for Löhe was both an exposition of Christian teaching and a dialogue engaging the catechumen in conversation with and response to the catechist. Knowledge is not innate to the catechumen. The Word of God must first pass from mouth to ear and from ear to the heart of the hearer before the lips can be opened to make confession…

Thus Löhe’s form is marked by brevity and precision. It is a way of providing pastoral care for the young as they are prepared to receive the Lord’s body and blood in the Sacrament of the Altar and live from the energies of Christ’s forgiveness their vocation of His holy people in lives of faith and love.”