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My purpose in this essay is to consider Luther's Small Catechism as a resource for the spiritual formation of the faithful. That aim brings with it a number of automatic consequences. First, it requires that I take into account also Luther's Large Catechism--that book of advice to pastors in the spiritual formation of Christians. Second, it requires that I invite you to pay attention to the original setting and intention of Luther in writing and publishing his catechisms at the end of the first decade of reformatory activity in Germany. Third, it requires that we consider the catechisms in their ecclesial context, that is, as a part of the confessional writings of the churches of the Augsburg Confession. Fourth, it suggests that we make clear just what is included when we speak of Luther's Small Catechism; that is, we must give some attention to the more or less official content of that often-revised document. Fifth, it suggests that we let Luther's prose speak, as much as possible, for itself; accordingly, a portion of this essay will simply be an attempt to do so, composed of a catena of citations from the catechisms. Finally, it invites us to offer some practical suggestions for the implementation of what is gained from what I hope is a sensitive reading of Luther's manuals.

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