Note:  Do not rely on this information. It is very old.


Catechism literally means oral instruction, and an the early elays of Christianity was applied to the teaching given to the candidates for baptism. It was afterwards extended so as to include a compendium of the faith to be required of Christians, arranged in the form of questions and answers. Luther propounded a catechism, and the Calvinists of Geneva issued a larger and a smaller catechism which was adopted in Scotland by the reformers in 1560. The Society of Friends commonly use a catechism compiled by Robert Barclay. In the Roman Church the Tridentine catechism of 1503 is of authority, but each diocese has a discretionary power to use one of its own, and most dioceses in England chiefly employ the penny catechism. The Eastern Church issued a larger catechism in 1640, and at Peter the Great's command a smaller was compiled in 1723, but these are both now superseded. The authors of the Church of England Catechism, as set forth in the Book of Common Prayer, are unknown; but the second part relative to the Sacraments of Baptism and the Lord's Supper was added by the Hampton Court Conferonce in 1604. This has been much modified by the Episcopal churches in Ireland and America. The Presbyterians possess a larger and a shorter catechism, the former for the use of adults, the latter for that of children. The Church of England in the Baptismal Office commands that children be instructed in the Church Catechism before being presented for confirmation.