For various reasons, the Westminster Larger Catechism (WLC) has not been overly influential in American Presbyterian circles the last 100-200 years or so. I won’t discuss those reasons here now. However, I do want to take a moment to encourage our readers to read and study the WLC, since, as W. Robert Godfrey wrote, “The Larger Catechism is a mine of fine gold theologically, historically, and spiritually.”
From an essay he wrote in the introduction to J. G. Vos’ helpful commentary on the WLC, Godfrey gave a few ways the WLC is valuable for Christians today. I’ll summarize the first ones, and give most of the final point below.
First, the value of the catechism should be seen in some of the outstanding summarizes of doctrine to be found there.
Second, some expositors of the catechism (i.e. John Murray) have argued that the Larger Catechism on some doctrinal points is superior to the formulations in the Westminster Confession of Faith.
Third, the Larger Catechism provides an especially full and rich exposition of the Ten Commandments.
Fourth, the value of the Larger Catechism rests in its presentation of the doctrine of the church. The Larger Catechism develops a full-orbed doctrine of the church – a subject almost entirely absent from the Shorter Catechism.
A final and most important value of the Larger Catechism is that it is a full, balanced, edifying summary of the Christian faith. The Larger Catechism is a useful and worthy aid to the believer as he grows in the knowledge of God’s truth. The catechism is not at all difficult to read and understand. In fact, it is simpler in its statements than the Confession…. The difficulty of using the Larger Catechism is mainly in the length of its sentences, which can be daunting for the contemporary reader. It is in fact easy to understand if taken one clause at a time.”
“The Westminster Assembly was remarkable in many ways. The standards it produced are one of the great treasures in Christ’s church. The Larger Catechism is a crucial part of that treasure, and churches of the Reformed tradition – especially Presbyterian churches – impoverish themselves if they fail to use it.”
W. Robert Godfrey, from the introduction to The Westminster Larger Catechism: A Commentary by J. G. Vos.
rev shane lems