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Welcome to the Larger Catechism Wiki!
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This page is a small example of a concept for a "Larger Catechism" designed to allow collaborative exposition of Lutheran doctrine beyond what is available in Luther's Small and Large Catechisms, as well as to speak to issues not directly addressed. Note that this wiki is not in any way final, however it serves as a brief introduction to the concept as well as offering ideas for further implementation.

Please visit Sanctification and the Christian Life to see a brief example of the format for articles. Note that most other pages do not have any useful content, but are in place to emulate some of the linking capability. A fuller description of the concept follows, with important features for future versions.

Catechesis, 2.0Edit

In a world that grows exponentially more complicated as each day passes, it seems fitting that the Church provides resources in an accessible format for the 21st century Christian. While the Bible serves as the ultimate guide in all matters for the Church and our Confessions aid in the reading and understanding of Holy Scripture, rapidly progressing science, technology, and shifting moral standards can leave the Christian befuddled as to what is contrary to God’s will, what is merely “permissible,” and what is “beneficial.”

Although many in our churches are well versed in the Bible and catechisms, some of our new members are less familiar with some of the “technical” terminology we so often take for granted. Articles are provided at all levels of experience from what may be considered more foundational knowledge through to more advanced, technical topics, providing the reader with the ability to delve into whatever topic interests them, and having the ability not only to access related resources after reading the article, but also to link to topics within the article, much as one sees at en.wikipedia.com. By using the same underlying structure that Wikipedia does, the Catechism Wiki allows for richer linking as the amount of articles increases.

Other sites, such as http://www.gutenberg.org, provide ready access to a wealth of Confessional writings, including the catechisms, however this site is designed to be different in that it presents the available topics in a non-linear format, allowing one to begin their examination of what we believe, teach, and confess at virtually any point, rather than favoring one section over another. Certainly, this is not to disparage written catechisms or expositions of the Christian faith; rather, it is to provide another avenue for the Church to provide resources to those inside and outside of the faith.

In the interest of developing and fostering the Catechism Wiki as a community resource, articles may be submitted on any subject related to the Christian faith. In the interest of providing the best quality of resources possible, resources will be peer reviewed by participating pastors, teachers, and/or professors. In addition to ensuring the quality of all resources, such a system allows the reader an informal network of “experts” who are further able to clarify the contents of an article in the Catechism Wiki. Readers can post additional questions that the writer and reviewers can answer and add to a “Frequently Asked Questions” section below each article. Beyond this cooperation in the development of articles, users are able to add “tags” to articles to facilitate easier searching for other readers. This allows a richer search experience that will recognize queries beyond the title of each article.

Because of the ubiquity of the Internet in homes, on phones, and beyond, the Wiki Catechism offers a new concept of sharing the teachings of the Church, fully embracing the new medium available for communication. While it certainly would be cliché (but not untrue) to refer to the Internet as an information revolution on the scale of the printing press, an undertaking like the Wiki Catechism allows the Church to work together to respond to pressing contemporary issues and questions, as well as provide further clarification about the timeless truths that have undergirded the Christian Church since its very beginnings.


Features Not Yet ImplementedEdit

Because of the limitations of this implementation of Wiki software, not all intended features are included in this concept site. Because of the limited time available to create the concept site, a freely available, limited version of Wiki software was used. For a production site, I would propose using MediaWiki, the freely available underpinnings for Wikipedia. Such a system allows much more fine-tuning of features that are available than this site, as well as no banner advertising. Following are some of the features that would be included in a complete, production-ready site:

  1. Dynamic Linking to Other Articles: While this site does not dynamically link to other articles, the full version of WikiMedia allows for dynamic linking, so that it is not necessary to link each word in each existing article whenever a new article is created.
  2. Pop-Up Scripture References: Through another freely available service, RefTagger, automatic link creation to a preferred Bible translation is possible from within articles. Such a feature allows the user to simply mouse over a Scripture reference. and the text of the cited verses will appear over the text of the page. Users can also customize their preferred translation from a list of approximately ten to have their favorite translation available from within the site. Wikia does not allow the use of outside scripts or programs, which are necessary for RefTagger to work.
  3. Footnote References: A major weakness of this implementation of Wiki software is that it does not allow the creation of footnotes within articles. Such a feature would allow linking not only to Bible passages, but also other external links (such as statements available at LCMS.org) or also writings available at Project Gutenberg.
  4. Mobile Version of this Site: WikiMedia allows for a parallel "mobile" version of a Wiki to be maintained alongside the full site that one views in a normal Internet browser. Such a feature is beneficial for users who access the site via mobile phone or other small format Internet devices, as the page is reformatted to be readable on the smaller screen.
  5. Peer-Reviewing Capability: The ability to track the peer-review status of articles in a meaningful way would be a great help to ensuring that the articles created are of the highest quality and also to allow multiple reviewers to expand the available linked references and resources from each article. Though Wikia allows any reader to submit changes, it seems wiser as well to limit contributors to those who are registered on the site. By expanding the number of reviewers, more "experts" are available to answer user questions and to further clarify the content of each article.
  6. Commenting Functionality: Commenting would allow readers to submit questions under each article, rather than generally. Such a feature would only send requests for comment to the appropriate reviewers and authors, and ensure that the question is answered in the proper article.

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