Catechisms began in the Protestant church. I had no idea until I received Barksdale Baptist's newsletter this week.
The word comes from a Greek word meaning "to teach," and the books use a question and answer format to explain the faith. According to my church history class, Catholic catechisms developed to counter those written by reformers Martin Luther and John Calvin. But somehow the term catechism became synonymous with Catholic religious education. That probably came from the famous Baltimore Catechism, which all Catholics of a certain age can still quote reflexively.
So back to Barksdale Baptist - the pastor there has dug up a catechism written by Benjamin Keach, a 17th century English Baptist pastor, and he's using that in his Wednesday night prayer meetings. It's certainly an old-school format, but it's probably full of great information in a fairly easy to digest format. I would be interested to see what his members think...
And as part of my quest to find similarities in denominations here's a couple of excerpts:
From Keach's Catechism:
Q: What is the chief end of man?
A: Man's chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy him forever. (1 Cor. 10:31, Psalm 73:25-26)
From the Baltimore Catechism section titled "End of Man":
Q. Why did God make you?
A. God made me to know Him, to love Him, and to serve Him in this world, and to be happy with Him forever in heaven.