Luther’s Large Catechism

The Large and Small Catechisms of Dr. Luther were born of pastoral necessity. In 1528, Luther and his colleagues visited the congregations in Saxony to assess their spiritual health. Luther was horrified. “Mercy!  Dear God, what great misery I beheld!” Thus Luther writes in his Preface to The Small Catechism. “The common person, especially in the villages, has no knowledge whatever of Christian doctrine. And unfortunately, many pastors are completely unable and unqualified to teach… Yet, everyone says they are Christians, have been baptized, and receive the holy Sacraments, even though they cannot even recite the Lord’s Prayer or the Creed or the Ten Commandments. They live like dumb brutes and irrational hogs… O bishops! What answer will you ever give to Christ for having so shamefully neglected the people and never for a moment fulfilled your office [James 3:1]?”

While the content of the Catechisms is the same, their individual forms are tailored for different purposes. The Large Catechism reads like a book of sermons. It is intended for pastors and the the head of the Christian household to read and study so they can impart the faith in preaching and home instruction.

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