Please click here if you missed the Introduction,  Part 3 or Part 4, the articles of faith (Apostle’s Creed, mentioned in Q14 below).

Q14. By what means does God’s Spirit work this faith in you?

A. By the Word of God.

Q15. What do you call the Word of God?

A. The Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testament.

All Christians accept 66 books as canonical, or belonging to the group of books received as sacred Scripture. Roman Catholics accept 7 additional books, some of which were written during the 400 years of prophetic silence between the prophet Malachi and the arrival of John the Baptist, which began the New Testament period. These are Judith, Tobit, Baruch, 1 and 2 Maccabees, Sirach (Ecclesiasticus) and Wisdom (of Solomon). Protestants regard these as useful for study but not both inspired by God and without error. Jewish Dead Sea Scrolls have uncovered Tobit, Sirach, Wisdom of Solomon, and Baruch (parts in Cave 7) written in ancient Aramaic.

Orthodox Christians accept 17 additional books to the 66 common books of the Bible. These are 1 Esdras, Tobit, Judith, Additions to Esther, Wisdom of Solomon, Ecclesiasticus, Baruch, Epistle of Jeremiah, Song of the Three Children, Story of Susanna, Bel and the Dragon, Prayer of Manasseh, 1 Maccabees, 2 Maccabees, 3 Maccabees, 4 Maccabees and Psalm 151.

Q16. By what means does God’s Spirit confirm this faith in you?

A. By the same Word and by the Sacraments.

Q17. What do you call the Sacraments?

A. They are visible signs and seals ordained of God for the confirmation of my faith.

Q18. How do they confirm your faith?

A. By receiving them as pledges that Christ crucified (represented and offered in them) is given to me in particular to be my Savior.

Q19. How many Sacraments are there?

A. Two. Baptism and the Lord’s Supper.

All Christians accept these two as sacraments. Roman Catholics also include Confirmation, Reconciliation (formerly known as ‘Penance’), Marriage, Anointing (formerly known as ‘Extreme Unction’ or last rites), Ordination (of bishops, priests, deacons), also known as “Holy Orders”.

While Protestants consider these to be very important, they do not consider them sacraments since they were not started by Christ with direct commands (Matthew 28:19-20, Luke 22:14-20). Whether they are called sacraments or not is largely semantics; there is no real dispute about their importance. Protestants disagree with some aspects of Reconciliation. It is ironic that there is deep (and perhaps unnecessary) division over the two main sacraments (Baptism and the Lord’s Supper).

Orthodox Christians recognize these major Sacraments: the Eucharist, Baptism, Chrismation, Confession, Holy Orders, Marriage and the Anointing of the Sick (Holy Unction). The Orthodox Church has never formally determined a particular number of Sacraments; informally these are known as the Seven Sacraments. There are many other Blessings and Special Services which complete the major Sacraments, and which reflect the Church’s presence throughout the lives of her people.


Discussion questions for fifth session:

  1. Do you believe that the Word of God confirms your faith? (Q14)
  2. If you are Protestant, have you ever read the extra books in the Catholic Bible? Did you know they used to be included in Protestant Bibles and were considered useful books for study?
  3. If you have read the entire Bible multiple times, consider adding the deuterocanonical books to your reading list.
  4. If you have never read the entire Bible, consider studying it through one of the many “read through the Bible in a year” programs. Even if it takes you a few years, it will be worthwhile.
  5. What would you think of a new ecumenical Bible translation that would be acceptable to Protestant, Catholic and Orthodox Christians, with the deuterocanonical books placed at the end of the Old Testament?
  6. How do the Sacraments confirm your faith? (Q17 & 18) Discuss how your faith tradition strengthens you in belief in Jesus in this regard.
  7. Next time, we’ll dig into the differences in views between the two main sacraments.
  8. As you take prayer requests for members of your study group, remember to pray for leaders in your workplace, other churches, and government leaders of all nations.

Hymns for fifth session (click to see the text and listen):

O Sacred Head Now Wounded                    Bernard of Clairvaux (1090-1153) / Passion Chorale, Hans Leo Hassler, 1601, Arr. by Johann Sebastian Bach, 1729

The Church’s One Foundation                   Samuel J. Stone, 1866 / Samuel S. Wesley, 1864

Crown Him with Many Crowns                  Matthew Bridges, 1851 / George J. Elvey, 1868

Matthew Bridges was a Roman Catholic convert and wrote the hymn with Godfrey Thring, an Anglican cleric


For a hymn that goes with the Introduction to the Ecumenical Catechism (and questions 1-4) and the history behind the hymn, click on Praise to the Lord, the Almighty.

A second hymn with its history and a great picture of the August 21, 2017 solar eclipse can be found at This is My Father’s World.

A third hymn (He Hideth My Soul in the Cleft of the Rock) is by America’s Hymn Queen, Fanny Crosby.

Part 3 of the Ecumenical Catechism has questions 5-12.

Part 4 of the Ecumenical Catechism discusses the Apostle’s Creed, which is believed by Christians of all denominations.


For biographies of the authors of the Ecumenical Catechism, click here.
Permission is granted to copy this catechism and italicized comments in its entirety for non-commercial purposes. The copyright on the original 1641 catechism has obviously long since expired. Some minor rewording of the 1959 edition cited above was done.

Dale Murrish
Troy, Michigan
Copyright 2005, 2017 by Dale Murrish. All rights reserved except as noted above.
Version 3.97, August, 2017

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