Recently there has been a resurgence, especially within Reformed circles, to revive the evangelical churches attention to utilizing catechisms for discipling believers at church and at home. This is a wholesome emphasis that will only bear good fruit for generations to come. Catechisms have a way of narrowing down the essence of a particular belief in a way that is conducive to memorization. They provide the church with a helpful teaching tool regarding the truths of Scripture.
Starr Meade is well known for her solidly biblical and theological books for children such as Grandpa’s Box: Retelling the Biblical Story of Redemption and God’s Mighty Acts in Creation and Salvation. Her first book, Training Hearts, Teaching Minds: Family Devotions Based on the Shorter Catechism, wonderfully introduced Christians to how catechisms can be used not just in the church setting but also for family devotions in the home.
Thirteen years later Starr has made her second devotional book with a catechism based on the Heidelberg Catechism, Comforting Hearts, Teaching Minds: Family Devotions Based on the Heidelberg Catechism published by P&R. If you are familiar with Training Hearts, Teaching Minds then this book follows the same pattern.
The entire Heidelberg Catechism is separated into 52 weeks of devotional material in which one or more questions and answers are dealt with over a five day period. Each chapter begins with the questions and answers to be covered for the week. No doubt, it will be beneficial to review these each day before reading through the daily discussion and accompanying biblical text. This will also aid in memorizing the catechism should you decide to do that. Depending on the age of your children and your daily schedule, some families might find it hard to get five days a week in for devotions. I know it is for us sometimes. So, don’t let the 52 week structure be a prison. Though it would naturally work better if you can complete the weeks questions and accompanying discussions in during a week but if not don’t feel guilty. Take two weeks if necessary. This is a guide and you will not be graded for finishing in more than 52 weeks!
Since the book is designed for family devotions each days reading is geared towards making sure the entire family can benefit from the discussion. Naturally, the youngest children might have a harder time understanding some concepts or words but in time they will grow in their understanding. This also gives the parents a great opportunity to teach their children some of the more difficult parts of Scripture and the language of the faith, as I like to call it. There are some concepts that are harder to understand than others and taking two days to cover them might be more beneficial.
Comforting Hearts, Teaching Minds is a welcome addition to any families’ library of devotional books. It will help families and Christians renew an appreciation for catechisms. Though the language of the catechism itself is dated at times, Meade does a great job bringing truths of these old time tested teaching tools to bear on our lives. Though this book will find it way more into Reformed homes, I highly recommend it for all families.
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