New WELS catechism

For the fourth time in the 132-year history of the Wisconsin Synod a new edition of Luther's small catechism is being offered to its churches. On July 1 the Board for Parish Education published the new book, Luther's Catechism: The Small Catechism of Dr. Martin Lather and an Exposition for Children and Adults Written in Contemporary English.

The first catechism used by the Synod was the Dresden Catechism--in German, of course. This was followed by the Gausewitz catechism of 1917, written by Pastor Carl Gausewitz, who was the pastor of Grace Lutheran Church of Milwaukee from 1956 to 1927.The Gausewitz catechism was available in both English and German, but the German, according to one chronicler, "was never in much demand." In 1956 a thorough revision of the Gausewitz catechism was published, a cooperative work of eight years. The revision with its 247 pages added 100 pages to the Gausewitz original.

Professor David P. Kuske who teaches in the Christian education department at Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary wrote the 1982 edition of the catechism. The 247 pages of the Gausewitz revision are replaced by an entirely new exposition of 392 pages in a page size somewhat larger.

The prepublication offer lists a number of features in the new catechism:
* Bible passages from the New International Version
* Pertinent words and phrases of Bible passages in italics
* Original diagrams illustrating doctrines and Scriptural truths
* A glossary of terms and pronouncing vocabulary
* Two-color printing

The new catechism makes use of the new translation of Luther's six chief parts (the enchiridion). The new translation, in the process of revision for almost a decade, uses contemporary English and the NIV.

Accompanying the new catechism is a loose-leaf 228-page Handbook for the instructor with 66 full-page diagrams. It also contains illustrations, applications, topics for additional discussion and cognitive and affective goals for each section.

Rev. William E. Fischer, secretary of part-time education for the Board for Parish Education, served as editor of the catechism. "The response to our prepublication offer," he said, "has been gratifying. We have received some orders for every family in the parish."

The Gausewitz catechism, he said, "will not go out of print. We have been assured by the publishing house that it would be available as long as the demand justified the publication cost."