A Book Review from Books At a Glance
by Kristin Stiles
Many parents would agree that it would be a great thing to teach our children the various catechisms that expound the great truths of biblical doctrine. But then when we go to approach that task, it almost seems overwhelming. There are so many questions and answers to teach/learn. The language is often antiquated and words and phrases are unfamiliar to children today. Where do we even begin such a noble, but seemingly impossible task? Well, like eating an elephant, you need to start with one bite at a time.
In her book, I Belong, Joyce Holstege takes the smallest incremental steps to teach your child the Heidelberg Catechism Question and Answer 1. That’s it. A whole book – 50 pages – for one catechism question and answer. You can be assured, though, by the time you finish this book with your child, he or she will be able to recite the question and answer and explain what it means. How does she do it?
Holstege first presents the question (What is thy only comfort in life and death?) with its rather lengthy answer at the beginning of the book with a note to the parents. She encourages parents to work through this book one phrase at a time and only one phrase per week. Then, starting with the question, she restates it in simpler words and then provides an entire page explaining what it means in language that is simple and filled with examples and analogies that a child age 4-7 would understand. She continues the rest of the book by taking the very briefest of phrases, like “That I with body” or “both in life” or “henceforth to live with him” and she applies that same formula: rephrase and explain. She completes each page with a verse that fits very nicely with the concept being presented. As she works her way through this catechism question in 23 lessons, she clearly presents the character of God, our lost condition, the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, and the hope of salvation. Spending this kind of focused time on a single catechism question will ensure that it is internalized by your child. There are 23 verses s/he can memorize along the way and, by the end, have a solid knowledge base of doctrine.
I am very impressed with this book. Holstege clearly put a great deal of thought and study into presenting this material to young children. I am hopeful that she will make this into a series that explores many more, if not all, of the Heidelberg Catechism questions.
Kristin Stiles is a home-school mom, a Sunday School teacher, and helps lead the “Young, Reading, & Reformed” children’s ministry at Reformed Baptist Church of Franconia, PA.
Buy the books
I BELONG: HEIDELBERG CATECHISM QUESTION AND ANSWER 1 FOR CHILDREN, by Joyce Holstege