Oct 22

Help for Delighting in God: The New City Catechism

2012 | by Trent Hunter | Category: Recommended Link

Tim Keller and The Gospel Coalition have prepared a gift for Christ’s church: The New City Catechism. Catechisms serve God’s people by serving the truth of God and his Word to our minds and hearts so that we might delight in him.

Here’s an excerpt from Keller’s introduction:

Question 1.What is the chief end of man?
Answer: Man’s chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy him forever.

Question 1.What is your only comfort in life and death?
Answer: That I am not my own, but belong—body and soul, in life and in death—to my faithful Savior, Jesus Christ.

These words, the opening of the Westminster and Heidelberg Catechisms, find echoes in many of our creeds and statements of faith. They are familiar to us from sermons and books, and yet most people do not know their source and have certainly never memorized them as part of the catechisms from which they derive.

Today many churches and Christian organizations publish “statements of faith” that outline their beliefs. But in the past it was expected that documents of this nature would be so biblically rich and carefully crafted that they would be memorized and used for Christian growth and training. They were written in the form of questions and answers, and were called catechisms (from the Greekkatechein which means “to teach orally or to instruct by word of mouth”). The Heidelberg Catechismof 1563 and Westminster Shorter and Larger Catechisms of 1648 are among the best known, and they serve as the doctrinal standards of many churches in the world today.


At present, the practice of catechesis, particularly among adults, has been almost completely lost. Modern discipleship programs concentrate on practices such as Bible study, prayer, fellowship, and evangelism and can at times be superficial when it comes to doctrine. In contrast, the classic catechisms take students through the Apostles’ Creed, the Ten Commandments, and the Lord’s Prayer—a perfect balance of biblical theology, practical ethics, and spiritual experience.

. . . Because we have lost the practice of catechesis today: “Superficial smatterings of truth, blurry notions about God and godliness, and thoughtlessness about the issues of living—career-wise, community-wise, family-wise, and church-wise—are all too often the marks of evangelical congregations today.”

This catechism has several unique features:

  • Length: 52 questions, one for each week of the year.
  • Explanation: In addition to Scripture, written and video commentary supplement each question.
  • All Ages: Children’s answers are indicated by words highlighted from adult answers, allowing families to learn together.
  • Three Parts: 1) God, creation and fall, law (20 questions); Christ, redemption, grace (15 questions); Spirit, restoration, growing in grace (17 questions).
  • Several Formats: The catechism is available in iPad and web-based formats. Questions and answers are also available in Pdf form.

Along with the release of this project, The Gospel Coalition, Tim and Kathy Keller have published a number of articles at the TGC Blog:

Click here to get started at your own pace. Or, for a one-year plan that starts today (October 22), subscribe to weekly updates via e-mail or RSS on the New City Catechism blog.