Timothy J. Wengert provides detailed background into the development of Luther's popular Small Catechism, which began with Luther's early sermon series on the Ten Commandments, the Lord's Prayer, and the Apostles' Creed. Luther wrote his catechism because many requested he do so but also as a response to his 1528 visitation of parishes in Saxony and Meissen, where he discovered an abysmal level of Christian instruction.
Luther's Small Catechism explains the basics of Christian faith in a way resonant with his understanding of justification by faith, which also implied, for Luther, the proper distinction between law and gospel. This is applied to his explanations of the parts of the Catechism. Wengert's translation also includes Luther's own preface to the 1531 edition, the Sacrament of Baptism, Sacrament of the Altar, instructions to the head of the household, Household Chart of Bible Passages, Marriage Booklet for Pastors, and Baptismal Booklet.
This volume is excerpted from The Annotated Luther series, volume 4 (Pastoral Writings). Each volume and selection in the series contains new introductions, extensive annotations, illustrations, and notes to help shed light on Luther's context and to interpret his writings for today.