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Thursday, March 30, 2017

"The New City Catechism Devotional" (Collin Hansen)

TITLE: The New City Catechism Devotional: God's Truth for Our Hearts and Minds (The Gospel Coalition)
AUTHOR: Collin Hansen
PUBLISHER: Wheaton, IL: Crossway Publishers, 2017, (240 pages).

How can we grow spiritually? In most churches, they would list the four main methods of growth: Bible, Prayer, Fellowship, and Outreach. Others would put the need to go to Church regularly, and to serve in some capacity faithfully. Unfortunately, the results are not very encouraging. Some believers, having gone through all these conventional paths still find it frustrating when they feel they have not grown beyond their comfort zones. One way our ancestors have done is through catechism. Catechisms are short question and answer format that are meant for new believers, new members, and those needing a refresher course on the fundamentals of the faith. There are already many old catechisms published. Why then do we need another catechism?

According to author Collin Hansen, catechisms were written for three purposes. First, they outline a comprehensive exposition of the gospel. Second, they counter heresies and false teachings. Third, they show believers ways to be Christlike, both individually and as a community. These three purposes apply today. People today need to be reminded and refreshed about what the gospel is. They also need to be equipped against false teachings that continue to deceive and distract. They need to re-examine both old and new ways of becoming more Christlike. In this book, Hansen attempts to refresh the catechisms with 52 basic questions and answers. It can be used on a weekly basis over a year. It is based on the historical catechisms like Calvin's Geneva Catechism, Westminster Shorter and Larger Catechisms, and the Heidelberg Catechism. Hansen structures it as follows:

  • Part 1: God, creation and fall, law (twenty questions)
  • Part 2: Christ, redemption, grace (fifteen questions)
  • Part 3: Spirit, restoration, growing in grace (seventeen questions)
This new catechism maintains the traditional format of question and answer, followed by a Bible verse. It is then followed by a commentary from the historic catechisms followed by a contemporary preacher. Each question ends with a prayer. Hansen even supplies a brief guide to help readers use the book. It is good for discussion, for memorization, for review, and for personal devotion. Follow along historical contributors like the early Church Fathers (Augustine and Athanasius), Puritans (Richard Baxtor and John Owen), Reformers (John Calvin and John Bunyan), and many more. Contemporary contributors include the popular Thabiti Anyabwile, Alistair Begg, Mark Dever, Kevin DeYoung, John Piper, and many more. This is testimony to a catechism that comprises of a community of contirbutors for a community of learners.

Catechisms have always fascinated me because of its simplicity and effectiveness in bringing across basic ideas through an easy to understand Question-and-Answer format. It is recommended for Church Sunday Schools, and basic courses on the Christian faith. It is easy to dismiss the use of the catechisms as some old knowledge that are relevant only in the past. That is simply not true. The world is changing and new threats continue to attempt to derail orthodox faith. If believers are not anchored on the basic doctrines and fundamental beliefs, something else would. The battle is on for young impressionable minds and old forgetful heads. Pick up this book and refresh your faith. Then encourage your fellow Church members to pester your pastor, teacher, or a teaching leader to hold a catechism class with this book.

Collin Hansen is a regular contributor to The Gospel Coalition, and has previously written books such as "Blind Spots" and "A God-Sized Vision." He worships at Reeemer Community Church in Birmingham, Alabama.

Rating: 4.5 stars of 5.


This book has been provided courtesy of Crossway Publishers and NetGalley without requiring a positive review. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.

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