Q. What is a Christian Catechism? A Christian Catechism is an instruction in the orthodox Christian faith, to be taught to every Christian, to enable him to please God and save his own soul. Q. What is the meaning of the word Catechism? It is a Greek word, signifying instruction, or oral teaching, and has been used ever since the Apostles' times to denote that primary instruction in the faith which is needful for every Christian. (Luke 1:4; Acts 18:25.) Q. What is necessary in order to please God and to save one's own soul? In the first place, knowledge of the true God, and a right faith in him; in the second place, a life according to faith and good works. Q. Why is faith necessary in the first place? Because, as the Word of God testifies, without faith it is impossible to please God. (Heb. 11:6.) Those who believe shall not be condemned. (Mark 16:16.) Q. Why must a life according to faith, and good works, be inseparable from this faith? Because, as the Word of God testifies, Faith without works is dead. (James 2: 20.) Q. What is faith? According to the definition of St. Paul, Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen (Heb. 11:1.); that is, a trust in the unseen as though it were seen, in that which is hoped and waited for as if it were present. Q. What is the difference between knowledge and faith? Knowledge has for its object things visible and comprehensible; faith, things which are invisible, and even incomprehensible. Knowledge is founded on experience, on examination of its object; but faith on belief of testimony to truth. Knowledge belongs properly to the intellect, although it may also act on the heart; faith belongs principally to the heart, although it is imparted through the intellect. Q. Why is faith and not knowledge only, necessary in religious instruction? Because the chief object of this instruction is God invisible and incomprehensible, and the wisdom of God hidden in a mystery; consequently, many parts of this learning cannot be embraced by knowledge, but may be received by faith. Faith, says St. Cyril of Jerusalem, is the eye which enlighteneth every man's conscience; it giveth man knowledge. For, as the prophet says, If ye will not believe, ye shall not understand. (Isa. 7:9; Cyr. Cat. v.) Q. Can you illustrate further the necessity of faith? St. Cyril thus illustrates it: It is not only amongst us, who hear the name of Christ, that faith is made so great a thing; but everything which is done in the world, even by men who are unconnected with the Church, is done by faith. Agriculture is founded on faith; for no one who did not believe that he should gather in the increase of the fruits of the earth would undertake the labor of husbandry. Mariners are guided by faith when they intrust their fate to a slight plank, and prefer the agitation of the unstable waters to the more stable element of the earth. They give themselves up to uncertain expectations, and retain for themselves nothing but faith, to which they trust more than to any anchors. (Cyr. Cat. v.) Divine Revelation Q. Whence is the doctrine of faith derived? From divine revelation. Q. What is meant by the words divine revelation? That which God himself has revealed to men, in order that they might rightly and savingly believe in him, and worthily honor him. The four living creatures, each of them with six wings, are full of eyes all around and inside. Day and night they unceasingly sing, “Holy, holy, holy, the Lord God the Almighty, who was and is and is to come.” Whenever the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to the one who is seated on the throne, who lives unto the ages of ages, the twenty-four presbyters fall before the one who is seated on the throne and worship the one who lives forever and ever; they cast their crowns before the throne, singing,“You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created.” (Rev. 48-11) Q. Has God given such a revelation to all men? He has given it for all, as being necessary for all alike and capable of bringing salvation to all; but, since not all men are capable of receiving a revelation immediately from God, he has employed special persons as heralds of his revelation, to deliver into all who are desirous of receiving it. Q. Why are not all men capable of receiving a revelation immediately from God? Owing to their sinful impurity, and weakness both in soul and body. (Isa. 6:1-10) Q. Who were the heralds of divine revelation? Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, and other Prophets, received and preached the beginnings of divine revelation; but it was the incarnate Son of God, our Lord Jesus Christ, who brought it to earth, in its fullness and perfection, and spread it over all the world by his Disciples and Apostles For No man knoweth the Son but the Father; neither knoweth any man the Father save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him. (I Cor, 11:7; John 1:8; Matt. 11:27.) Q. Cannot man, then, have any knowledge of God without a special revelation from him? Man may have some knowledge of God by contemplation of those things which he has created; but this knowledge is imperfect and insufficient, and can serve only as a preparation for faith, or as a help towards the knowledge of God from his revelation. For the invisible things of him, from the creation of the world, are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead. (Rom. 1: 20.) Q. Is it therefore impossible to have any knowledge of God without a special revelation from Him? Human being may have some knowledge of God by contemplation of those things which he has created. However, this knowledge is imperfect and insufficient, and can serve only as a preparation for faith, or as a help towards the knowledge of God from his revelation. On Holy Tradition and Holy Scripture. Q. How is divine revelation spread among men and preserved in the true Church? By two channels—Holy Tradition and Holy Scripture. Q. What is meant by the name Holy Tradition? By the name Holy Tradition is meant the doctrine of the faith, the law of God, the sacraments, and the ritual as handed down by the true believers and worshipers of God by word and example from one to another, and from generation to generation. Q. Is there any sure repository of Holy Tradition? All true believers united by the Holy Tradition of the faith, collectively and successively, by the will of God, compose the Church; and she is the sure repository of Holy Tradition, or, as St. Paul expresses it, The Church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth. (1 Tim. 3:15.) St. Irenæus writes thus: We ought not to seek among others the truth, which we may have for asking from the Church; for in her, as in a rich treasure-house, the Apostles have laid up in its fullness all that pertains to the truth, so that whosoever seeketh may receive from her the food of life. She is the door of life. (Adv. Hæres. lib. iii. c. 4.) Q. What is that which you call holy Scripture? Certain books written by the Spirit of God through men sanctified by God, called Prophets and Apostles. These books are commonly termed the Bible. Q. That does the word Bible mean? It is Greek, and means the books (τὰ βιβλία). The name signifies that the sacred books deserve attention before all others. Q. Which is the more ancient, Holy Tradition or Holy Scripture? The most ancient and original instrument for spreading divine revelation is Holy Tradition. From Adam to Moses there were no sacred books. Our Lord Jesus Christ himself delivered his divine doctrine and ordinances to his Disciples by word and example, but not by writing. The same method was followed by the Apostles also at first, when they spread abroad the faith and established the Church of Christ. The necessity of tradition is further evident from this, that books can be available only to a small part of mankind, but tradition to all. Q. Must we follow Holy Tradition , even when we possess Holy Scripture? We must follow that tradition which agrees with the divine revelation and with Holy Scripture, as is taught us by Holy Scripture itself. The Apostle Paul writes: Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word or our epistle. (2 Thess. 2:15.) Q. Why is Tradition necessary even now? As a guide to the right understanding of holy Scripture, for the right ministration of the sacraments, and the preservation of sacred rites and ceremonies in the purity of their original institution. Scripture was written by the members of the Church, for the members of the Church, and not as an instructional text for the uninitiated. Thus, it is not possible to correctly interpret and understand Scripture without the guidance of the Church who wrote it. Merely translating does not convey the message adequately without the apostolic tradition of the Church. The Devil is not a myth, but a real entity who often distorts the words of the Holy Scripture and leave believers astray.