The Heidelberg Catechism () was composed in the city of Heidelberg, soon became the most ecumenical of the Reformed catechisms and confes- sions. The Heidelberg Catechism, the second of our doctrinal standards, was written in fluential and the most generally accepted of the several catechisms of. The Heidelberg Catechism received its name from being composed in After the Catechism was approved by a Heidelberg Synod in January , three.
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Original Publication Data: The Commentary of Dr. Zacharias Ursinus on The Heidelberg Catechism. Translated from the original Latin by George W. Williard. Heidelberg Catechism. A.D. 1. Lord's Day. Question 1. What is thy only comfort in life and death? Answer: That I with body and soul, both in life and death. quarrel took place at the altar of the Church of the Holy Spirit in Heidelberg, CONTENT OF THE HEIDELBERG CATECHISM - ENGLISH VERSION OF.
There also he hurries on to the doctrines that can be deduced and to the comfort that the right application of this doctrine will bring to the elect. Nevertheless, many others valued it as an explanation of the catechism, though not without seeing the lacunas and with special praise for his refutation of heresies. The third question brings Ursinus closest to the words of the catechism, when he explains the work and the names of the Spirit.
He then asks by whom, to whom, and how the Spirit is given, and how He is retained.
Bringing up the example of Saul, Ursinus asks whether the Spirit can be lost. He closes with the necessity of having him and that by faith and repentance we may know that the Spirit dwells in us.
Ursinus is using the medieval quaestio-method to define what he believes concerning this doctrine. Each question forms a heading below which he defines, divides, and argues to defend Reformed teaching. All of this is amply confirmed by Biblical texts, which number vastly grows in subsequent editions.
He defends the doctrines against all possible objections through syllogisms.
Where Ursinus poses the same practical questions as Olevianus, his tone becomes more pastoral, different from other parts of his lecture on the Holy Spirit. What the name, spirit, signifieth. Who, and what the Holie Ghost, or spirite, is.
What is the holy Ghosts office. Of whom the holy Ghost is given, and wherefore. To whom he is given. How he is given, and received [cf.
How he is reteined and kept [cf. Whether he maie be lost, and how. Wherefore he is necessarie [cf. How we may know that he dwelleth in us [cf.
He expounds the principal words of the catechism text and follows its order and divisions carefully, though inserting arguments not found there. He extensively argues that the Spirit is God and the third person in the Trinity. The second part of the Answer concerns our own salvation: the Spirit given to us.
The catechism states that we know Him dwelling in us because of his work in us. Bastingius supplements from Romans that the Spirit also witnesses to our spirit. More than others he emphasizes the instrumental role of faith.
According to Bastingius the blessings of Christ are those mentioned already in Answer knowledge of Christ unto salvation, justification, and sanctification. As our comforter, the Spirit certifies us of our reconciliation with God and purifies our consciences. That He remains with us forever is not the least part of this comfort and it will spur us to a holy life.
Others did not follow this approach. Bastingius pays more attention to the shorter first part than to the much longer second part of the Answer. His approach is more or less analytical, though he does not often mention the words of the HC explicitly. On many points his commentary remembers us of Ursinus. Characteristic is his strict analytical approach to the text of the catechism. He always starts with an analysis of the Question, while others take that for 4 granted.
The motivation he detects in Q53 is that there are heretics that deny the deity of the Spirit and others that consider his work in the believer a fancy. If necessary, he subdivides these parts into smaller ones, and considers the words in turn, illustrating each by Biblical texts to show that even the smallest parts conform to Scripture.
He digresses only occasionally on points of difference with Catholics or Anabaptists. His language is plain, his exposition interspersed with comparisons with daily life, sayings, stories from church history or personal experience, and simple syllogisms, making his commentary a pleasure to read. He emphasizes that God is absolutely faithful and he points to lessons that can be learned.
Many a sentence as well as the introduction may come straight from his sermons. Nevertheless, his straightforward interpretation of the catechism was not what contemporaries were looking for.
This is still applies, at least in regard to the sixteenth century. Ursinus wished all theologians to be like Tossanus. If this also applies to his sermons, we do wise not to neglect these outlines. Tossanus opens his sermon by stating that he will now discuss the restoration of the image of God in man through the Spirit. This Spirit is a real person because He was active in creation. With some speaking examples he makes clear that we are not acceptable to God without the recreating work of the Spirit.
It is only in the last few paragraphs of his sermon that Tossanus touches upon the words of the catechism. The Spirit works the faith in us by which He makes us one with Christ. Tossanus also uses the titles of the Spirit to characterize his work: living water, seal, fountain, and paraclete.
We should make sure not to grieve this Holy Spirit. Professional theologians, of course, did not forget them. In the neo-orthodox theologian Karl Barth put this viewpoint to a group of teachers of religion: Why bother with the Heidelberg Catechism?
A little historical interest is not reason enough. It is not enough that until about a hundred years ago the catechism was used in church and school in Switzerland also. A historical argument is even less convincing in light of the fact that for the past hundred years the value of the catechism has been questioned from all sides not least from the side of modern pedagogy and finally laid aside.
But it is becoming clear just in our time that what the Heidelberg Catechism once represented cannot be destroyed by a short century of rejection.
This document deserves at least a respectful hearing. It is not of course an authority to be acknowledged without question. The Reformed Church knows only the one authority of Holy Scripture. But alongside or better: under Scripture there is also a legitimate witness to Scripture. That is what the Heidelberg Catechism intends to be. Some more conservative Protestant denominations have continued the use of catechisms. The section of the Presbyterian Church which did not go into union with the Methodists and Congregationalists in has also shown a renewed interest.
In the churches at large there has been some revival of interest in catechetical instruction since the middle of the twentieth century. New catechisms have been written and fresh approaches adopted. There has been a recognition that education which stresses experience and personal creativity is not sufficient without explicit attention to biblical and theological knowledge. At the same time there is a clear awareness that teaching must include training in the ability to ask—not just answer!
He assigned the task to the theological faculty of Heidelberg University. Ursinus was a scholar who combined fervent piety with deep learning, and Olevianus had been imprisoned in Treves for preaching the evangelical faith. With the approval of a church synod and the Elector himself the Catechism was published early in A Latin translation soon followed.
The Catechism was immediately popular, and three more German editions were called for in the same year. Mediaeval Christianity was often marked by uncertainty and fear. In the art of the cathedrals people were reminded of the last judgement, which they must seek to avoid by their good works, and from which they needed to flee to the Church and its sacraments. Into this world, at the Reformation, came the renewed message of comfort, security and assurance of salvation to —3— Comfort and Joy those who put their trust in Christ alone.
This message is clear and central in the Heidelberg catechism. The beauty of the Catechism is nowhere clearer than in the first question, which contains the central theme of the whole work. As Schaff comments, this question is unsurpassed for depth, comfort and beauty, and, once committed to memory, can never be forgotten. It represents Christianity in its evangelical, practical, cheering aspect, not as a commanding law, not as an intellectual scheme, not as a system of outward observances, but as the best gift of God to [humanity], as a source of peace and comfort in life and in death.
What can be more comforting, what at the same time more honouring and stimulating to a holy life than the assurance of being wholly owned by Christ our blessed Lord and saviour, who sacrificed his own spotless life for us on the cross? The first question and answer of the Heidelberg Catechism is the whole gospel in a nutshell.