Book Review: Gadsby’s Catechism

The Things Most Surely Believed Among Us (Gadsby’s Catechism), by William Gadsby;

Pamphlet; 24 pages;

Published by The Gospel Standard Trust Publications.

This is “Gadsby’s catechism,” published in his early days as God’s servant at Manchester.

William Gadsby published his catechism to be a help to children in understanding the truth. Like all catechisms, this asks questions and then gives the answer – the idea being that the children should learn both the question and the answer.

Why did Mr. Gadsby publish his own catechism?

He tells us that parts of it are taken from what he calls “the Baptist catechism,” but his fear was that this catechism put words into a child’s mouth he was not capable of uttering.

For instance: “Adoption is an act of God’s free grace whereby we are received into the number, and have a right to all the privileges, of the sons of God.”

So he compiled his own.

The largely Church of England Gospel Magazine favourably reviewed the catechism in 1809.

If there is a criticism, it is that the catechism is too hard for young children, and also that some things are emphasized more than others. For instance, at this time Mr. Gadsby was involved in his controversy on “the believer’s rule of conduct” so this figures in a marked way in the catechism.

In reprinting this catechism over 180 years later, the purpose is not so much for children – though it will be valuable for children. But here is a small body of divinity, couched in the simplest of terms. Here we have clearly stated “the things most surely believed among us.”

We hope that the republication of Gadsby’s catechism, under the blessing of the Lord, will be a means of establishing both young and old in “the faith once delivered unto the saints.”

By B.A. Ramsbottom

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