The Westminster Larger Catechism: A Commentary, by Johannes G. Vos, edited by G. I. Williamson. Published by P&R, 2002. Paperback, 639 pages, list price $19.99. Reviewed by editor Larry Wilson.
If you don’t buy another book this year, make sure you get and use The Westminster Larger Catechism: A Commentary, by J. G. Vos!
Johannes G. Vos (1903- 1983), after pastoring two RPCNA congregations and serving as a missionary in Manchuria, was a professor at Geneva College for many years. He also edited a quarterly magazine of Bible and doctrinal instruction, Blue Banner Faith and Life, for twenty-nine years. He wrote most of the articles himself, using his God-given gift for digesting complex material and explaining it simply and clearly.
G. I. Williamson has performed a tremendous service by combing through old issues of Blue Banner Faith and Life, where this material first appeared as serial articles, and collecting it into this volume. Don’t let the word commentary in the title scare you away. Prof. Vos wrote with great simplicity and clarity. His pastoral heart shines through on every page. He comments on the Larger Catechism by first listing Scripture proof texts and summarizing their import for the point at hand. Then he gives a series of brief questions and answers, explaining various aspects and ramifications of the question he is discussing.
An excellent article by W. Robert Godfrey – “An Introduction to the Westminster Larger Catechism” – introduces this volume. In it, Dr. Godfrey explains the continuing value of the Larger Catechism for the church today. The Larger Catechism provides outstanding summaries of doctrine, perhaps even improving on the Confession of Faith in certain places. It provides an especially full discussion of the Ten Commandments. Whereas the Shorter Catechism focuses on individual believers, the Larger Catechism focuses more on the Christian community and develops a full-orbed doctrine of the church – which is much needed in our day.