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Introduction$ 

Introduction

 

            The Westminster Larger Catechism (WLC) is a rich, but largely neglected classic treasure. The WLC was the last work produced by the Westminster Divines and, as such, represents their most mature thought. Holy men from diverse backgrounds, led by God, had discussed and struggled with eternal truths for years, sharpening one another as “iron sharpens iron,” yet coming to a consensus.

            The WLC has about twice as many questions and answers as the Westminster Shorter Catechism (WSC), and its answers are much more detailed. The WLC was written for those who already have a good grounding in the Christian faith. Consequently, readers who have not already read the editor’s translations of the Westminster Shorter Catechism and the Westminster Confession of Faith (WCF) are strongly encouraged to do so prior to reading the WLC. In those two works, the editor has been at pains to define and explain many words and theological concepts. The editor has given few such helps in this WLC translation on the assumption that the reader has, indeed, read the WSC and WCF translations first. 

            These documents include hyperlinks to the actual Scripture proof texts embedded in the document. Please be sure to read the Helpful Notes to the Reader to best take advantage of this feature.

            The original Westminster Larger Catechism (WLC) was finished by the Westminster Assembly with Scripture proof texts in 1648.[1] Since that time, various denominations have incorporated the WLC into their denominational standards. However, most denominations have either produced revisions of the WLC or declared exceptions to parts of the original WLC prior to incorporating the WLC into their denominational standards. Although some of these later editions of the WLC have been translated into twentieth-century English, the editor is not aware of an edition of the original 1648 WLC in contemporary American English.

 

            While the editor does not presume to replace any denomination’s standard text, the present translation is given in order to make the original richness of the 1648 WLC accessible and easily read by the contemporary reader, all to the glory, praise, and honor of God. The editor has endeavored to faithfully retain the meaning of the original text, translating word for word when possible. At the same time, the goal of readability is paramount with the intent that one may read with ease, focusing on the material without being distracted by antique spelling, vocabulary, grammar, or difficult sentence constructs. For this reason, there are times when the original text is quite considerably modified and rearranged. Details on the translation process and philosophy may be found in the Appendix.

 

            Regrettably, no human work can be translated without some loss of finer shades of meaning. It is the editor’s opinion, however, that this loss is small compared to the loss imposed on many readers by changes in word and phrase meanings over time. Readers interested in more detailed study are encouraged to consult the referenced Scriptures and commentaries on the WLC, as well as the original WLC itself.

 

            The editor has endeavored to translate faithfully without interjecting his own opinions. Nonetheless, the WLC is a human work that is a product of its place in history and geography. God has continued to raise up able theologians in the intervening 370 years, and we now know that there do exist a very few theological errors in the WLC. The editor is conscience-bound to point out these errors for fear of propagating that which is not in accordance with Scripture. All such editorial opinions are clearly designated in the footnotes. Let the reader be as the Bereans, searching the Scriptures, guided by the Holy Spirit. 

 

Change Log

 

            Unlike traditional paper book publishing, electronic publishing allows fairly rapid increments to new additions. This log allows the reader to know what changes have been made from an earlier version.

 

August 5, 2015

            (No changes since this is the first edition.)

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[1] Bower, 43–4.