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Martin Luther’s Catechisms: Forming the Faith

ISBN: 9780800621315

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Reformation scholar Timothy Wengert has studied Luther’s catechisms for the light they shed on the maturing Reformation faith but also for the fascinating lens they afford into the social world of Wittenberg in those years: children, clergy, education and publishing, marriage customs, devotion and prayer, and celebration of the Lord’s Supper in this period, along with Luther’s own hearty faith, are all illumined by these Western classics.

In this volume, which also includes the texts of the catechisms, Wengert follows the traditional catechism order to demonstrate the dynamic faith exhibited in the catechisms in their original context and ours. An ideal resource for college and seminary classes, as well as individual and group reading, this volume will be a valued vehicle for understanding Reformation faith for many years to come.

In the Logos edition of Martin Luther’s Catechisms, you get easy access to Scripture texts and to a wealth of other resources in your digital library. Hovering over Scripture references links you instantly to the verse you’re looking for, and with Passage Guides, Word Studies, and a wealth of other tools from Logos, you can delve into God’s Word like never before!

Resource Experts
  • Preface by the author
  • Texts of the catechisms
  • Bibliographical references and index

Top Highlights

“Have I done enough? It is precisely that religion that Martin Luther set out to break in the catechisms. And he did it in one simple stroke. He changed the order. The old order was the order of musts—from creed to commandments to prayer. Here is what you must believe; now that you believe, here’s what you must do; now that you feel guilty, here are the right words to pray. The new order was the order of baptism: from death to resurrection, from terror to faith and comfort; from commandments to creed, that is, from law to gospel.” (Page 6)

“The chief function of the law is not to show us an easy way to heaven, which (with a little hard work) we can reach, but to show us our sin—how infinitely far we are from heaven, God, and our neighbor (who is Christ in our midst!).” (Page 40)

“‘The Catechism is a little book. It can be bought for less than six bucks, but six thousand worlds could not pay for it. If the Lutheran Church had brought no other benefit into the world than that it made this Catechism known to the people, it would have done more than all the universities and seminaries on earth.’2 It is all that and more.” (Pages 2–3)

“‘It is the trust and faith of the heart alone that make both God and idol.’3 Faith, then, is the heart of the matter for all the commandments.” (Page 26)

“Commandments were not busywork; they revealed the best God intends for humanity.” (Page 32)

In the risky sea of spiritual self-help books, Wengert’s retrieval and exposition of Luther’s basic educational tools is a pedagogical lifeboat. It will steer readers to a reform of intergenerational Christian education.

—Eric W. Gritsch, professor of Church history, Lutheran Theological Seminary

  • Title: Martin Luther’s Catechisms: Forming the Faith
  • Author: Timothy J. Wengert
  • Publisher: Augsburg Fortress
  • Publication Date: 2009
  • Pages: 176

Timothy Wengert, teaches and does research in Reformation History and the Lutheran Confessions. In 1981 he discovered and published notes on two of Martin Luther’s sermons from 1520. His dissertation, published by Librairie Droz in Geneva Switzerland, investigates Philip Melanchthon’s interpretation of John’s Gospel. While a representative for the ELCA on the Commission on Faith and Order of the National Council of Churches, he co-edited a book for Eerdmans publishing house on the role of church history in ecumenism, Telling the Churches’ Stories. In 2000 a new English edition of The Book of Concord appeared edited jointly by Robert Kolb and Timothy Wengert (Minneapolis: Augsburg Fortress Publishers). His translation of Luther’s Small Catechism from that volume is used widely throughout the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. He has written two other books on Philip Melanchthon: Human Freedom, Christian Righteousness (Oxford University Press) focuses on Melanchthon’s relation to Erasmus. Law and Gospel (Baker Books) concentrates on his relation to John Agricola and the third use of the law. In 1997, for the 500th anniversary of Melanchthon’s birth, he edited a book for Sheffield Academic Press entitled Philip Melanchthon (1497-1560) and the Commentary. In February 2000, the city of Bretten, Germany (Melanchthon’s birth place) awarded him Melanchthon Prize for contributions to the field of Reformation scholarship, especially for his book on Melanchthon and Erasmus.


3 ratings

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  1. Pastor Kay

    Pastor Kay


  2. NB.Mick



    This is a great book on the catechisms - Wengert shares many insights (typically in a warm tone of voice). We get thoughts on why and how the catechisms came to be, and comments on the main sections (ten commandments, creed and the others). Most of all it makes one want to look at the catechisms again, especially the Small one, which many readers may have memorized in parts in their youth. There's one caveat: Despite the publisher blurb that crept into this Logos product page and the resource info, the book does not contain the actual text of the catechisms - those would be found e.g. in Kolb/Wengert's "Book of Concord" https://www.logos.com/product/8832/the-book-of-concord (the translation of the Small Catechism there is by Wengert, and here he sometimes explains his translation choices). This is not an omission by Faithlife's resource production as readers of the paper version remark on this as well and Augsburg Fortress use an updated text on their own product page for the book now.
  3. Michael Borgstede


Print list price: $18.00
Save $4.01 (22%)