Different kinds of people find their way into Reformed churches. Sometimes, they are newly converted to the Christian faith or they had experienced a time of backsliding. At other times, they are from a church that has become liberal or severely misguided. It is this latter group of people that may hear “Catechism Preaching” and become wary, since it may remind them of the topical sermons they’re trying to leave behind. It can also sound like the catechism is being preached instead of the Bible, as if a catechism is being elevated to same level. We do not believe any document or set of traditions is on par with Scripture. Scripture alone is the ultimate authority for the Church, and it is by Scripture alone (Sola Scriptura) that we learn of God’s will concerning our salvation. For a few reasons, catechism preaching does not contradict this. In fact, it helps promote our love and appreciation for Scripture.
I have yet to be part of a church that completely rejects doctrinal sermons. Normally, preachers will spend a few Sundays to cover matters of special importance. For example, you might have had a series on the Trinity, the Atonement, the Incarnation, or Baptism. During these doctrinal sermons, a preacher brings multiple texts of Scripture to bear upon the doctrinal topic at hand. This is exactly what catechism preaching is. The catechism, which is a summary of essential Christian doctrine (not obscure hobby-horses), merely provides the doctrine. The preacher, then, demonstrates that the doctrine naturally arises from Scripture, explains the doctrine, and applies it to the lives of the congregation. The catechism summarizes the Bible’s teaching, and the minister is responsible for ensuring that the congregation never puts the catechism on par with Scripture.
The reason this is a wonderful practice is that this type of preaching demonstrates the unity of Scripture. In reality, different texts from various authors and generations testify to a unified body of truth. This manner of preaching ensures that we develop a Christian mind and understanding of what this body of truth is. Another way of thinking about this is that we consider the trees in our first service, since we focus on a particular text of Scripture. And in our second (the Sunday School Service), we consider the forest, since we learn how a particular doctrine arises from many biblical texts.