Although not uniquely Lutheran, the use of a catechism for instruction in Christian beliefs and life continues to shape Lutheran ways of cultivating spirituality. Martin Luther'sSmall Catechismis the theological book most familiar to contemporary Lutherans.
As adolescents they poured over its questions and answers, some even committing the words to memory. For nearly five centuries this small book has served as the basis of basic theological education for Lutherans, and it continues to shape Lutheran spirituality.
The 16th century Lutheran reformers insisted that believers understand the teachings of the church. When Luther visited congregations in the 1520s he was appalled at the ignorance he encountered. "What wretchedness I beheld!" he wrote. "They live as if they were pigs and irrational beasts.
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