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The Episcopal Catechism

Commonly called the Catechism
The text below is taken from the Book of Common Prayer, Episcopal (USA).

Topics included are as follows:

  • Concerning the Catechism
  • Human Nature
  • God the Father
  • The Old Covenant
  • The Ten Commandments
  • Sin and Redemption
  • God the Son
  • The New Covenant
  • The Creeds
  • The Holy Spirit
  • The Holy Scriptures
  • The Church
  • The Ministry
  • Prayer and Worship
  • The Sacraments
    1. Holy Baptism
    2. The Holy Eucharist
  • Other Sacramental Rites
  • The Christian Hope

    Concerning the Catechism

    This catechism is primarily intended for use by parish priests, deacons, and lay catechists, to give an outline for instruction. It is a commentary on the creeds, but is not meant to be a complete statement of belief and practices; rather, it is a point of departure for the teacher, and it is cast in the traditional question and answer form for ease of reference.

    The second use of this catechism is to provide a brief summary of the Church's teaching for an inquiring stranger who picks up a Prayer Book.

    It may also be used to form a simple service; since the matter is arranged under headings, it is suitable for selective use, and the leader may introduce prayers and hymns as needed.


    Human Nature

    Question 1:
    What are we by nature?
    Answer 1:
    We are part of God's creation, made in the image of God.

    Question 2:
    What does it mean to be created in the image of God?
    Answer 2:
    It means that we are free to make choices: to love, to create, to reason, and to live in harmony with creation and with God.

    Question 3:
    Why then do we live apart from God and out of harmony with creation?
    Answer 3a:
    From the beginning, human beings have misused their freedom and made wrong choices.
    Answer 3b:
    Because we rebel against God, and we put ourselves in the place of God.

    Question 4:
    What help is there for us?
    Answer 4:
    Our help is in God.

    Question 5:
    How did God first help us?
    Answer 5:
    God first helped us by revealing himself and his will, through nature and history, through many seers and saints, and especially the prophets of Israel.

    God the Father

    Question 6:
    What do we learn about God as creator from the revelation to Israel?
    Answer 6:
    We learn that there is one God, the Father Almighty, creator of heaven and earth, of all that is, seen and unseen.

    Question 7:
    What does this mean?
    Answer 7:
    This means that the universe is good, that it is the work of a single loving God who creates, sustains, and directs it.

    Question 8:
    What does this mean about our place in the universe?
    Answer 8:
    It means that the world belongs to its creator; and that we are called to enjoy it and to care for it in accordance with God's purposes.

    Question 9:
    What does this mean about human life?
    Answer 9:
    It means that all people are worthy of respect and honor, because all are created in the image of God, and all can respond to the love of God.

    Question 10:
    How was this revelation handed down to us?
    Answer 10:
    This revelation was handed down to us through a community created by a covenant with God.

    The Old Covenant

    Question 11:
    What is meant by a covenant with God?
    Answer 11:
    A covenant is a relationship initiated by God, to which a body of people responds in faith.

    Question 12:
    What is the Old Covenant?
    Answer 12:
    The Old Covenant is the one given by God to the Hebrew people.

    Question 13:
    What did God promise them?
    Answer 13:
    God promised that they would be his people to bring all the nations of the world to him.

    Question 14:
    What respons did God require from the chosen people?
    Answer 14:
    God required the chosen people to be faithful; to love justice, to do mercy, and to walk humbly with their God.

    Question 15:
    Where is this Old Covenant to be found?
    Answer 15:
    The covenant with the Hebrew people is to be found in the books which we call the Old Testament.

    Question :16
    Where in the Old Testament is God's will for us shown most clearly?
    Answer 16:
    God's will for us is shown most clearly in the Ten Commandments.

    The Ten Commandments

    Question 17:
    What are the Ten Commandments?
    Answer 17:
    The Ten Commandments are the laws give to Moses and the people of Israel.

    Question 18:
    What do we learn from these commandments?
    Answer 18:
    We learn two things: our duty to God, and our duty to our neighbors.

    Question 19:
    What is our duty to God?
    Answer 19:
    Our duty is to believe and trust in God;

    1. To love and obey God and to bring others to know him;
    2. To put nothing in the place of God;
    3. To show God respect in thought, word, and deed;
    4. And to set aside regular times for worship, prayer, and the study of God's ways.

    Question 20:
    What is our duty to our neighbors?
    Answer 20:
    Our duty to our neighbors is to love them as ourselves, and to do to other people as we wish them to do to us;

    1. To love, honor, and help our parents and family; to honor those in authority, and to meet their just demands;
    2. To show respect for the life God has given us; to work and pray for peace; to bear no malice, prejudice, or hatred in our hearts; and to be kind to all the creatures of God;
    3. To use our bodily desires as God intended;
    4. To be honest and fair in our dealings; to seek justice, freedom, and the necessities of life for all people; and to use our talents and possessions as ones who must answer for them to God;
    5. To speak the truth, and not to mislead others by our silence;
    6. To resist temptations to envy, greed, and jealousy; to rejoice in other people's gifts and graces; and to do our duty for the love of God, who has called us into fellowship with him.

    Question 21:
    What is the purpose of the Ten Commandments?
    Answer 21:
    The Ten Commandments were given to define our relationship with God and our neighbors.

    Question 22:
    Since we do not fully obey them, are they useful at all?
    Answer 22:
    Since we do not fully obey them, we see more clearly our sin and our need for redemption.

    Sin and Redemption

    Question 23:
    What is sin?
    Answer 23:
    Sin is the seeking of our own will instead of the will of God, thus distorting our relationship with God, with other people, and with all creation.

    Question 24:
    How does sin have power over us?
    Answer 24:
    Sin has power over us because we lose our liberty when our relationship with God is distorted.

    Question 25:
    What is redemption?
    Answer 25:
    Redemption is the act of God which sets us free from the power of evil, sin, and death.

    Question 26:
    How did God prepare us for redemption?
    Answer 26:
    God sent the prophets to call us back to himself, to show us our need for redemption, and to announce the coming of the Messiah.

    Question 27:
    What is meant by the Messiah?
    Answer 27:
    The Messiah is one sent by God to free us from the power of sin, so that with the help of God we may live in harmony with God, within ourselves, with our neighbors, and with all creation.

    Question 28:
    Who do we believe is the Messiah?
    Answer 28:
    The Messiah, or Christ, is Jesus of Nazareth, the only Son of God.

    God the Son

    Question 29:
    What do we mean when we say that Jesus is the only Son of God?
    Answer 29:
    We mean that Jesus is the only perfect image of the Father, and shows us the nature of God.

    Question 30:
    What is the nature of God revealed in Jesus?
    Answer 30:
    God is love.

    Question 31:
    What do we mean when we say that Jesus was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and became incarnate from the Virgin Mary?
    Answer 31:
    We mean that by God's own act, his divine Son received our human nature from the Virgin Mary, his mother.

    Question 32:
    Why did he take our human nature?
    Answer 32:
    The divine Son became human, so that in him human beings might be adopted as children of God, and be made heirs of God's kingdom.

    Question 33:
    What is the great importance of Jesus' suffering and death?
    Answer 33:
    By his obedience, even to suffering and death, Jesus made the offering which we could not make; in him we are freed from the power of sin and reconciled to God.

    Question 34:
    What is the significance of Jesus' resurrection?
    Answer 34:
    By his resurrection, Jesus overcame death and opened for us the way of eternal life.

    Question 35:
    What do we mean when we say that he descended to the dead?
    Answer 35:
    We mean that he went to the departed and offered them also the benefits of redemption.

    Question 36:
    What do we mean when we say that he ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father?
    Answer 36:
    We mean that Jesus took our human nature into heaven where he now reigns with the Father and intercedes for us.

    Question 37:
    How can we share in his victory over sin, suffering, and death?
    Answer 37:
    We share in his victory when we are baptized into the New Covenant and become living members of Christ.

    The New Covenant

    Question 38:
    What is the New Covenant?
    Answer :
    The New Covenant is the new relationship with God given by Jesus Christ, the Messiah, to the apostles; and, through them, to all who believe in him.

    Question 38:
    What did the Messiah promise in the New Covenant?
    Answer :
    Christ promised to bring us into the kingdom of God and give life in all its fullness.

    Question 39:
    What response did Christ require?
    Answer 39:
    Christ commanded us to believe in him and to keep his commandments.

    Question 40:
    What are the commandments taught by Christ?
    Answer 40:
    Christ taught us the Summary of the Law and gave us the New Commandment.

    Question 41:
    What is the Summary of the Law?
    Answer 41:
    You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.

    Question 42:
    What is the New Commandment?
    Answer 42:
    The New Commandment is that we love one another as Christ loved us.

    Question 43:
    Where may we find what Christians believe about Christ?
    Answer 43:
    What Christians believe about Christ is found in the Scriptures and summed up in the creeds.

    The Creeds

    Question 44:
    What are the creeds?
    Answer 44:
    The creeds are statements of our basic beliefs about God.

    Question 45:
    How many creeds does this Church use in its worship?
    Answer 45:
    This Church uses two creeds: The Apostles' Creed and the Nicene Creed.

    Question 46:
    What is the Apostles' Creed?
    Answer 46:
    The Apostles' Creed is the ancient creed of Baptism; it is used in the Church's daily worship to recall our Baptismal Covenant.

    Question 47:
    What is the Nicene Creed?
    Answer 47:
    The Nicene Creed is the creed of the universal Church and is used at the Eucharist.

    Question 48:
    What, then, is the Athanasian Creed?
    Answer 48:
    The Athanasian Creed is an ancient document proclaiming the nature of the Incarnation and of God as Trinity.

    Question 49:
    What is the Trinity?
    Answer 49:
    The Trinity is one God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

    The Holy Spirit

    Question 50:
    What is the Holy Spirit?
    Answer 50:
    The Holy Spirit is the Third Person of the Trinity, God at work in the world and in the Church even now.

    Question 51:
    How is the Holy Spirit revealed in the Old Covenant?
    Answer 51:
    The Holy Spirit is revealed in the Old Covenant as the giver of life, the One who spoke through the prophets.

    Question 52:
    How is the Holy Spirit revealed in the New Covenant?
    Answer 52:
    The Holy Spirit is revealed as the Lord who leads us into all truth and enables us to grow in the likeness of Christ.

    Question 53:
    How do we recognize the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives?
    Answer 53:
    We recognize the presence of the Holy Spirit when we confess Jesus Christ as Lord and are brought into love and harmony with God, with ourselves, with our neighbors, and with all creation.

    Question 54:
    How do we recognize the truths taught by the Holy Spirit?
    Answer 54:
    We recognize truths to be taught by the Holy Spirit when they are in accord with the Scriptures.

    The Holy Scriptures

    Question 55:
    What are the Holy Scriptures?
    Answer 55:
    The Holy Scriptures, commonly called the Bible, are the books of the Old and New Testaments; other books, called the Apocrypha, are often included in the Bible.

    Question 56:
    What is the Old Testament?
    Answer 56:
    The Old Testament consists of books written by the people of the Old Covenant, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, to show God at work in nature and history.

    Question 57:
    What is the New Testament?
    Answer 57:
    The New Testament consists of books written by the people of the New Covenant, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, to set forth the life and teachings of Jesus and to proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom for all people.

    Question 58:
    What is the Apocrypha?
    Answer 58:
    The Apocrypha is a collection of additional books written by people of the Old Covenant, and used in the Christian Church.

    Question 59:
    Why do we call the Holy Scriptures the Word of God?
    Answer 59:
    We call them the Word of God because God inspired their human authors and because God still speaks to us through the Bible.

    Question 60:
    How do we understand the meaning of the Bible?
    Answer 60:
    We understand the meaning of the Bible by the help of the Holy Spirit, who guides the Church in the true interpretation of the Scriptures.

    The Church

    Question 61:
    What is the Church?
    Answer 61:
    The Church is the community of the New Covenant.

    Question 62:
    How is the Church described in the Bible?
    Answer 62:
    The Church is described as the Body of which Jesus Christ is the Head and of which all baptized persons are members. It is called the People of God, the New Israel, a holy nation, a royal priesthood, and the pillar and ground of truth.

    Question 63:
    How is the Church described in the creeds?
    Answer 63:
    The Church is described as one, holy, catholic, and apostolic.

    Question 64:
    Why is the Church described as one?
    Answer 64:
    The Church is one, because it is one Body, under one Head, our Lord Jesus Christ.

    Question 65:
    Why is the Church described as holy?
    Answer 65:
    The Church is holy, because the Holy Spirit dwells in it, consecrates its members, and guides them to do God's work.

    Question 66:
    Why is the Church described as catholic?
    Answer 66:
    The Church is catholic, because it proclaims the whole Faith to all people, to the end of time.

    Question 67:
    Why is the Church described as apostolic?
    Answer 67:
    The Church is apostolic, because it continues in the teaching and fellowship of the apostles and is sent to carry out Christ's mission to all people.

    Question 68:
    What is the mission of the Church?
    Answer 68:
    The mission of the Church is to restore all people to unity with God and each other in Christ.

    Question 69:
    How does the Church pursue its mission?
    Answer 69:
    The Church pursues its mission as it prays and worships, proclaims the Gospel, and promotes justice, peace, and love.

    Question 70:
    Through whom does the Church carry out its mission?
    Answer 70:
    The church carries out its mission through the ministry of all its members.

    The Ministry

    Question 71:
    Who are the ministers of the Church?
    Answer 71:
    The ministers of the Church are lay persons, bishops, priests, and deacons.

    Question 72:
    What is the ministry of the laity?
    Answer 72:
    The ministry of lay persons is the represent Christ and his Church; to bear witness to him wherever they may be; and, according to th gifts given them, to carry on Christ's work of reconciliation in the world; and to take their place in the life, worship, and governance of the Church.

    Question 73:
    What is the ministry of a bishop?
    Answer 73:
    The minsitry of a bishop is to represent Christ and his Church, particularly as apostle, chief priest, and pastor of a diocese; to guard the faith, unity, and discipline of the whole Church; to proclaim the Word of God; to act in Christ's name for the reconciliation of the world and the building up of the Church; and to ordain others to continue Christ's ministry.

    Question 74:
    What is the ministry of a priest or presbyter?
    Answer 74:
    The ministry of a priest is to represent Christ and his Church, particularly as pastor to the people; to share with the bishop in the overseeing of the Church; to proclaim the Gospel; to administer the sacraments; and to bless and declare pardon in the name of God.

    Question 75:
    What is the ministry of a deacon?
    Answer 75:
    The ministry of a deacon is to represent Christ and his Church, particularly as a servant of those in need; and to assist bishops and priests in the proclamation of the Gospel and the administration of the sacraments.

    Question 76:
    What is the duty of all Christians?
    Answer 76:
    The duty of all Christians is to follow Christ; to come together week by week for corporate worship; and to work, pray, and give for the spread of the kingdom of God.

    Prayer and Worship

    Question 77:
    What is prayer?
    Answer 77:
    Prayer is responding to God, by thought and by deeds, with or without words.

    Question 78:
    What is Christian Prayer?
    Answer 78:
    Christian prayer is response of God the Father, through Jesus Christ, in the power of the Holy Spirit.

    Question 79:
    What prayer did Christ teach us?
    Answer 79:
    Our Lord gave us the example of prayer knows as the Lord's Prayer.

    Question 80:
    What are the principle kinds of prayer?
    Answer 80:
    The principle kinds of prayer are adoration, praise, thanksgiving, penitence, oblation, intercession, and petition.

    Question 81:
    What is adoration?
    Answer 81:
    Adoration is the lifting up of the heart and mind to God, asking nothing but to enjoy God's presence.

    Question 82:
    Why do we praise God?
    Answer 82:
    We praise God, not to obtain anything, but because God's Being draws praise from us.

    Question 83:
    For what do we offer thanksgiving?
    Answer 83:
    Thanksgiving is offered to God for all the blessings of this life, for our redemption, and for whatever draws us closer to God.

    Question 84:
    What is penitence?
    Answer 84:
    In penitence, we confess our sins and make restitution where possible, with the intention to amend our lives.

    Question 85:
    What is prayer of oblation?
    Answer 85:
    Oblation is an offering of ourselves, our lives and labors, in union with Christ, for the purposes of God.

    Question 86:
    What are intercession and petition?
    Answer 86:
    Intercession brings before god the needs of others; in petition, we present our own needs, that God's will may be done.

    Question 87:
    What is corporate worship?
    Answer 87:
    In corporate worship, we unite ourselves with others to acknowledge the holiness of God, to hear God's Word, to offer prayer, and to celebrate the sacraments.

    The Sacraments

    Question 88:
    What are the sacraments?
    Answer 88:
    The sacraments are outward and visible signs of inward and spiritual grace, given by Christ as sure and certain means by which we receive that grace.

    Question 89:
    What is grace?
    Answer 89:
    Grace is God's favor toward us, unearned and undeserved; by grace God forgives our sins, enlightens our minds, stirs our hearts, and strengthens our wills.

    Question 90:
    What are the two great sacraments of the Gospel?
    Answer 90:
    The two great sacraments given by Christ to his Church are Holy Baptism and the Holy Eucharist.

    Holy Baptism

    Question 91:
    What is Holy Baptism?
    Answer 91:
    Holy Baptism is the sacrament by which God adopts us as his children and makes us members of Christ's Body, the Church, and inheritors of the kingdom of God.

    Question 92:
    What is the outward and visible sign in Baptism?
    Answer 92:
    The outward and visible sign in Baptism is water, in which the person is baptized in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.

    Question 93:
    What is the inward and spiritual grace in Baptism?
    Answer 93:
    The inward and spiritual grace in Baptism is union with Christ in his death and resurrection, birth into God's family the Church, forgiveness of sins, and new life in the Holy Spirit.

    Question 94:
    What is required of us at Baptism?
    Answer 94:
    It is required that we renounce Satan, repent of our sins, and accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior.

    Question 95:
    Why then are infants baptized?
    Answer 95:
    Infants are baptized so that they can share citizenship in the Covenant, membership in Christ, and redemption by God.

    Question 96:
    How are the promises for infants made and carried out?
    Answer 96:
    Promises are made for them by their parents and sponsors, who guarantee that the infants will be brought up within the Church, to know Christ and be able to follow him.

    The Holy Eucharist

    Question 97:
    What is the Holy Eucharist?
    Answer 97:
    The Holy Eucharist is the sacrament commanded by Christ for the continual remembrance of his life, death, and resurrection, until his coming again.

    Question 98:
    Why is the Eucharist called a sacrifice?
    Answer 98:
    Because the Eucharist, the Church's sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving, is the way by which the sacrifice of Christ is made present, and in which he unites us to his one offering of himself.

    Question 99:
    By what other names is this service known?
    Answer 99:
    The Holy Eucharist is called the Lord's Supper, and Holy Communion; it is also known as the Divine Liturgy, the Mass, and the Great Offering.

    Question 100:
    What is the outward and visible sign in the Eucharist?
    Answer 100:
    The outward and visible sign in the Eucharist is bread and wine, give and received according to Christ's command.

    Question 101:
    What is the inward and spiritual grace given in the Eucharist?
    Answer 101:
    The inward and spiritual grace in the Holy Communion is the Body and Blood of Christ give to his people, and received by faith.

    Question 102:
    What are the benefits which we receive in the Lord's Supper?
    Answer 102:
    The benefits we receive are the forgiveness of our sins, the strengthening of our union with Christ and one another, and the foretaste of the heavenly banquet which is our nourishment in eternal life.

    Question 103:
    What is required of us when we come to the Eucharist?
    Answer 103:
    It is required that we should examine our lives, repent of our sins, and be in love and charity with all people.

    Other Sacramental Rites

    Question 104:
    What other sacramental rites evolved in the Church under the guidance of the Holy Spirit?
    Answer 104:
    Other sacramental rites which evolved in the Church include confirmation, ordination, holy matrimony, reconciliation of a penitent, and unction.

    Question 105:
    How do they differ from the two sacraments of the Gospel?
    Answer 105:
    Although they are means of grace, they are not necessary for all persons in the same way that Baptism and the Eucharist are.

    Question 106:
    What is Confirmation?
    Answer 106:
    Confirmation is the rite in which we express a mature commitment to Christ, and receive strength from the Holy Spirit through prayer and the laying on of hands by a bishop.

    Question 107:
    What is required of those to be confirmed?
    Answer 107:
    It is required of those to be confirmed that they have been baptized, are sufficiently instructed in the Christian Faith, are penitent for their sins, and are ready to affirm their confession of Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord.

    Question 108:
    What is Ordination?
    Answer 108:
    Ordination is the rite in which God gives authority and the grace of the Holy Spirit to those being made bishops, priests, and deacons, through prayer and the laying on of hands by bishops.

    Question 109:
    What is Holy Matrimony?
    Answer 109:
    Holy Matrimony is Christian marriage, in which the woman and man enter into a life-long union, make their vows before God and the Church, and receive the grace and blessing of God to help them fulfill their vows.

    Question 110:
    What is Reconciliation of a Penitent?
    Answer 110:
    Reconciliation of a Penitent, or Penance, is the rite in which those who repent of their sins may confess them to God in the presence of a priest, and receive the assurance of pardon and the grace of absolution.

    Question 111:
    What is Unction of the Sick?
    Answer 111:
    Unction is the rite of anointing the sick with oil, or the laying on of hands, by which God's grace is given for the healing of spirit, mind, and body.

    Question 112:
    Is God's activity limited to these rites?
    Answer 112:
    God does not limit himself to these rites; they are patterns of countless ways by which God uses material things to reach out to us.

    Question 113:
    How are the sacraments related to our Christian hope?
    Answer 113:
    Sacraments sustain our present hope and anticipate its future fulfillment.

    The Christian Hope

    Question 114:
    What is the Christian hope?
    Answer 114:
    The Christian hope is to live with confidence in newness and fullness of life, and to await the coming of Christ in glory, and the completion of God's purpose for the world.

    Question 115:
    What do we mean by the coming of Christ in glory?
    Answer 115:
    By the coming of Christ in glory, we mean that Christ will come, not in weakness but in power, and will make all things new.

    Question 116:
    What do we mean by heaven and hell?
    Answer 116:
    By heaven, we mean eternal life in our enjoyment of God; by hell, we mean eternal death in our rejection of God.

    Question 117:
    Why do we pray for the dead?
    Answer 117:
    We pray for them, because we still hold them in our love, and because we trust that in God's presence those who have chosen to serve him will grow in his love, until they see him as he is.

    Question 118:
    What do we mean by the last judgment?
    Answer 118:
    We believe that Christ will come in glory and judge the living and the dead.

    Question 119:
    What do we mean by the resurrection of the body?
    Answer 119:
    We mean that God will raise us from death in the fullness of our being, that we may live with Christ in the communion of the saints.

    Question 120:
    What is the communion of saints?
    Answer 120:
    The communion of saints is the whole family of God, the living and the dead, those whom we love and those whom we hurt, bound together in Christ by sacrament, prayer, and praise.

    Question 121:
    What do we mean by everlasting life?
    Answer 121:
    By everlasting life, we mean a new existence, in which we are united with all the people of God, in the joy of fully knowing and loving God and each other.

    Question 122:
    What, then, is our assurance as Christians?
    Answer 122:
    Our assurance as Christians is that nothing, not even death, shall separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

    Amen.