Introducing a Baptist Larger Catechism

Just yesterday, a fellow 1689’r announced that he is working on putting together (in community) a Baptist Larger Catechism.

It has only been in recent years that I discovered the writings, confessions, and catechisms of the original 17th century Particular Baptists. I’ve enjoyed reading through The Baptist Catechism by Benjamin Keach and The Orthodox Catechism by Hercules Collins. Those two catechisms most closely align with the Westminster Shorter Catechism and the Heidelberg Catechism, respectively. What I’ve found interesting is that I haven’t seen a Particular Baptist version of the Westminster Larger Catechism, in which a thorough discussion of credobaptist distinctives have been given in catechetical form. So in my small attempt to pass down sound doctrine and tradition, I have decided to do a Baptist Larger Catechism. So, on a weekly basis, I will post a couple of questions from the catechism that I have completed. I view this as a community project for all other Reformed Baptists who would like to see a Larger Catechism in modern English so if you are interested in assisting in any way, feel free to comment. So, without further ado, here are the first couple of questions of a Larger Baptist Catechism.

Check it out:

Thoughts on The Baptist Catechism, Question One

The following was taken from some lecture notes I taught at my church a couple years ago from The Baptist Catechism.


Q.1: Who is the first and chiefest being?

A. God is the first and chiefest being.1

1Isaiah 44:6; 48:12; Psalm 97:9


Note: The first question and answer from the Westminster Confession of Faith begins with man and points to God:


Q.1: What is the chief and highest end of man?

A. Man’s chief and highest end is to glorify God and fully to enjoy Him forever.

The Baptist Catechism takes a decidedly more presuppositional and, I would argue, more Calvinistic approach. In Institutes of the Christian Religion, Calvin begins his instruction by asking whether man must first know himself in order to know God or know God in order to know himself. After much deliberation, he concludes:

“But though the knowledge of God and the knowledge of ourselves are bound together by mutual bond, it is only right that the former is given first place, and then we can come down to the latter.”[1]

Men must first be confronted with the character and nature of God before they can begin to properly assess themselves. God is both the source and the focal point of all truth. Every confession, every catechism, every creed, every gospel presentation should endeavor to begin and end with Him, not man.

God is the first and chiefest being.

Isaiah 44:6

“Thus says the LORD, the King of Israel and his Redeemer, the LORD of hosts:

‘I am the first and I am the last,

And there is no God besides Me.’”[2]


Isaiah 48:12

“Listen to Me, O Jacob, even Israel whom I called;

I am He, I am the first, I am also the last.”


Psalm 97:9

“For You are the LORD Most High over all the earth;

You are exalted far above all gods.”

“Should God then be chiefly loved? Yes. Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, Luke 10:27. And chiefly feared? Yes. Rather fear him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell, Matthew 10:28. And are those happy who are interested in him? Yes. Happy is that people whose God is the Lord, Psalm 144:15.”[3]


[1]John Calvin, The Institutes of Christian Religion (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1987), 24.

[2]All citation of the holy Scriptures are taken from the New American Standard Bible (NASB) except where otherwise noted.

[3]Benjamin Bedomme, A Scriptural Exposition of the Baptist Catechism (Birmingham, AL: Solid Ground Christian Books, 2006), 2.

A Brief History of Catechetical Instruction – Philip Schaff

“Religious instruction preparatory to admission to church membership is as old as Christianity itself, but it assumed very different shapes in different ages and countries. In the first three or four centuries (as also now on missionary ground) it always preceded baptism, and was mainly addressed to adult Jews and Gentiles. It length and method it freely adapted itself to various conditions and degrees of culture. The three thousand Jewish converts on the day of Pentecost, having already a knowledge of the Old Testament, were baptized simply on their profession of faith in Christ, after hearing the sermon of St. Peter. Men like Cornelius, the Eunuch, Apollos, Justin Martyr, Tertullian, Cyprian, Jerome, Ambrose, Augustine, needed but little theoretical preparation, and Cyprian and Ambrose were elected bishops even while yet catechumens. At Alexandria and elsewhere there were special catechetical schools of candidates for baptism. The basis of instruction was the traditional rule of faith or Apostles’ Creed, but there were no catechisms in our sense of the term; and even the creed which the converts professed at baptism was not committed to writing, but orally communicated as a holy secret. Public worship was accordingly divided into a missa catechumenorum for half-Christians in process of preparation for baptism, and a missa fidelium for baptized communicants or the Church proper.

“With the union of Church and State since Constantine, and the general introduction of infant baptism, catechetical instruction began to be imparted to baptized Christians, and served as a preparation for confirmation or the first communion. It consisted chiefly of the committal and explanation, (1) of the Ten Commandments, (2) of the Creed (the Apostles’ Creed in the Latin, the Nicene Creed in the Greek Church), sometimes also of the Athanasian Creed and the Te Deum; (3) of the Lord’s Prayer (Paternoster). To these were added sometimes special chapters on various sins and crimes, on the Sacraments, and prayers. Councils and faithful bishops enjoined upon parents, sponsors, and priests the duty of giving religious instruction, and catechetical manuals were prepared as early as the eighth and ninth centuries, by Kero, monk of St. Gall (about 720); Notker, of St. Gall (d. 912); Otfried, monk of Weissenbourg (d. after 870), and others. But upon the whole this duty was sadly neglected in the Middle Ages, and the people were allowed to grow up in ingnorance and superstition.  The anti-papal sects, as the Albingenses, Waldenses, and the Bohemian Brethren, paid special attention to catechetical instruction.

“The Reformers soon felt the necessity of substituting evangelical Catechisms for the traditional Catholic Catechisms, that the rising generation might grow up in the knowledge of the Scriptures and the true faith. Of all the Protestant Catechisms, those of Luther follow most closely the traditional method, but they are baptized with a new spirit” (Schaff, Creeds of Christendom, Vol. I: The History of Creeds, pp. 245-246).