More from the Heidelberg Catechism

Question 60. How art thou righteous before God?

Answer. Only by a true faith in Jesus Christ; so that, though my conscience accuse me that I have grossly transgressed all the commands of God, and kept none of them, and am still inclined to all evil; notwithstanding God, without any merit of mine, but only of mere grace, grants and imputes to me the perfect satisfaction, righteousness, and holiness of Christ; even so, as if I never had had, nor committed any sin; yea, as if I had fully accomplished all that obedience which Christ hath accomplished for me; inasmuch as I embrace such benefit with a believing heart.


The doctrine of justification, which now follows, is one of the chief articles of our faith, not only because it treats of those things which are fundamental, but also because it is most frequently called in question by heretics. The controversies between the church and heretics have respect principally to two points: the one is concerning God, and the other concerning the justification of man in the sight of God. And such is the importance of these doctrines that if either one of them be overthrown, the other parts of our faith easily fall to pieces. Hence it becomes necessary for us to fortify and establish ourselves, especially in these doctrines, against all the assaults of heretics.

Our Only Comfort in Life and Death

The Heidelberg Catechism states-

Question 1. What is thy only comfort in life and death?

Answer. That I with body and soul, both in life and death, am not my own, but belong unto my faithful Saviour Jesus Christ, who, with his precious blood, hath fully satisfied for all my sins, and delivered me from all the power of the devil; and so preserves me that, without the will of my heavenly Father, not a hair can fall from my head; yea, that all things must be subservient to my salvation: and therefore, by his Holy Spirit, he also assures me of eternal life, and makes me sincerely willing and ready henceforth to live unto him.

Ursinus offers this exposition:

The question of comfort is placed, and treated first, because it embodies the design and substance of the catechism. The design is, that we may be led to the attainment of sure and solid comfort, both in life and death. On this account, all divine truth has been revealed by God, and is especially to be studied by us. The substance of this comfort consists in this that we are ingrafted into Christ by faith, that through him we are reconciled to, and beloved of God, that thus he may care for and save us eternally.

I don’t know how familiar you are with this Catechism but it is so very good- so very meaningful.  I love it.  So I’m going to share bits of it for a few weeks.  I hope at the very least you’ll be encouraged to read it for yourself.

The Anniversary of the Death of Zacharias Ursinus, The Author of the Heidelberg Catechism

427px-zacharias_ursinusA reforming theologian, Ursinus was born Breslau in 1534 and studied at Wittenberg from 1550 to 1557. He then moved to Geneva for further study and from there took a teaching post in his native city of Breslau. His doctrine of the Lord’s Supper led to his dismissal from Breslau in 1559. But in 1561, thanks to his mentor Peter Martyr Vermigli, received an invitation from Elector Frederick III to come to Heidelberg as director of the theological academy.

It was at Heidelberg that with Caspar Olevianus he made his most notable contribution to church life by drafting the Heidelberg Catechism (1563). He also undertook the defense of the Catechism against Lutheran objections.

From 1562 he added the professorship of dogmatics to his administrative duties and also prepared a new liturgy. Zanchius relieved him the burden of teaching in 1568, but Ursinus became involved in a difficult struggle to bring in a new discipline on the Genevan model (1570). The death of the electtor in 1577 opened the way for Lutheran influences. Ursinus, with Zanchius, move to Neustadt in 1578 and spent his last year there. In addition to his work on the Catechism, he also wrote an important treatise on the Lutheran Book of Concord and did much to promote Peter Martyr’s Loci.*

He died on this date (March 6) in 1583.  He is a theological superstar.


Where Can We Find Authentic Comfort?

The Heidelberg Catechism has it right:

Question 1. What is thy only comfort in life and death?

Answer: That I with body and soul, both in life and death, am not my own, but belong unto my faithful Saviour Jesus Christ; who, with his precious blood, has fully satisfied for all my sins, and delivered me from all the power of the devil; and so preserves me that without the will of my heavenly Father, not a hair can fall from my head; yea, that all things must be subservient to my salvation, and therefore, by his Holy Spirit, He also assures me of eternal life,  and makes me sincerely willing and ready, henceforth, to live unto him.

Learning the Faith Through the Heidelberg Catechism- Part 2

Question 2. How many things are necessary for thee to know, that thou, enjoying this comfort, mayest live and die happily?

Answer: Three; (a) the first, how great my sins and miseries are; (b) the second, how I may be delivered from all my sins and miseries; (c) the third, how I shall express my gratitude to God for such deliverance. (d)

(a) Matt.11:28 Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Matt.11:29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. Matt.11:30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. Luke 24:46 And said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day: Luke 24:47 And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. Luke 24:48 And ye are witnesses of these things. 1 Cor.6:11 And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God. Tit.3:3 For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another. Tit.3:4 But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared, Tit.3:5 Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; Tit.3:6 Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour; Tit.3:7 That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life. (b) John 9:41 Jesus said unto them, If ye were blind, ye should have no sin: but now ye say, We see; therefore your sin remaineth. John 15:22 If I had not come and spoken unto them, they had not had sin: but now they have no cloke for their sin. (c) John 17:3 And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent. Acts 4:12 Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved. Acts 10:43 To him (Jesus) give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins. (d) Eph.5:8 For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light: Eph.5:9 (For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth;) Eph.5:10 Proving what is acceptable unto the Lord. Eph.5:11 And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them. 1 Pet.2:9 But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light: 1 Pet.2:10 Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy. Rom.6:1 What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? Rom.6:2 God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein? Rom.6:12 Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. Rom.6:13 Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God.

Learning the Faith Through the Heidelberg Catechism

The Heidelberg Catechism is one of the most profoundly helpful introductions to the Christian Faith that has ever been composed.  For the next 129 days I’ll be posting one of the questions and answers (along with the scriptural supports).  Enjoy.

Question 1. What is thy only comfort in life and death?

Answer: That I with body and soul, both in life and death, (a) am not my own, (b) but belong unto my faithful Saviour Jesus Christ; (c) who, with his precious blood, has fully satisfied for all my sins, (d) and delivered me from all the power of the devil; (e) and so preserves me (f) that without the will of my heavenly Father, not a hair can fall from my head; (g) yea, that all things must be subservient to my salvation, (h) and therefore, by his Holy Spirit, He also assures me of eternal life, (i) and makes me sincerely willing and ready, henceforth, to live unto him. (j)

(a) Rom.14:7 For none of us liveth to himself, and no man dieth to himself. Rom.14:8 For whether we live, we live unto the Lord; and whether we die, we die unto the Lord: whether we live therefore, or die, we are the Lord’s. (b) 1 Cor.6:19 What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? (c) 1 Cor.3:23 And ye are Christ’s; and Christ is God’s. Tit.2:14 Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works. (d) 1 Pet.1:18 Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; 1 Pet.1:19 But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: 1 John 1:7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin. 1 John 2:2 And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world. 1 John 2:12 I write unto you, little children, because your sins are forgiven you for his name’s sake. (e) Heb.2:14 Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; 1 John 3:8 He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil. John 8:34 Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin. John 8:35 And the servant abideth not in the house for ever: but the Son abideth ever. John 8:36 If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed. (f) John 6:39 And this is the Father’s will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day. John 10:28 And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. 2 Thess.3:3 But the Lord is faithful, who shall stablish you, and keep you from evil. 1 Pet.1:5 Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. (g) Matt.10:29 Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father. Matt.10:30 But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Matt.10:31 Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows. Luke 21:18 But there shall not an hair of your head perish. (h) Rom.8:28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. (i) 2 Cor.1:20 For all the promises of God in him are yea, and in him Amen, unto the glory of God by us. 2 Cor.1:21 Now he which stablisheth us with you in Christ, and hath anointed us, is God; 2 Cor.1:22 Who hath also sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts. 2 Cor.5:5 Now he that hath wrought us for the selfsame thing is God, who also hath given unto us the earnest of the Spirit. Eph.1:13 In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, Eph.1:14 Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory. Rom.8:16 The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: (j) Rom.8:14 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. 1 John 3:3 And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.

Theologie als Bekenntnis: Karl Barths kontextuelle Lektüre des Heidelberger Katechismus

978-3-525-56446-2Barth’s lectures on the Catechism are some of his very best. It’s great, then, to see a new study on the great man’s most interesting lectures. Barthians all around will want to give this a read, I’m certain.

Karl Barth war bekennender Theologe. Leidenschaftlich hat er sich der Theologie gewidmet, leidenschaftlich nahm er von dort aus Anteil an politischen und zeitgeschichtlichen Ereignissen. Hanna Reichel widmet sich Karl Barth als kontextuellem Theologen, der vom Wort Gottes als Grund-Text jeder Theologie stets neu in der Interpretation der Bekenntnisse und seiner eigenen Situation ansetzt. Mit keinem Bekenntnistext hat sich Barth jedoch so ausführlich auseinandergesetzt wie mit dem Heidelberger Katechismus.

Reichel stellt detailliert seine Auslegungen dar, die zum größeren Teil nur in bislang unveröffentlichten Dokumenten greifbar sind. Sie zeigt, wie sich Barths Verhältnis zum Heidelberger Katechismus von großer Skepsis zu großer Hochschätzung wandelt, gerade weil das Kriterium der Bewertung – die Bezogenheit auf Jesus Christus – konstant bleibt. Barths Bekenntnisinterpretation, die je neu das Christuszeugnis im Text der Tradition sucht, wird dabei selbst zum Bekenntnis gegenüber der jeweiligen Situation.

Dies geschieht beispielsweise in Abgrenzung vom Neuprotestantismus in den Göttinger Jahren, in der Verwendung des Heidelberger Katechismus als Ressource der Barmer Theologischen Erklärung, im theologischen Wiederaufbau nach dem Krieg oder in der Struktur dogmatischen Denkens in der Kirchlichen Dogmatik.

Barth zeigt sich als kontextueller Denker, der aus der Christologie zunehmend Textur gewinnt und den Heidelberger Katechismus als Kontra-Texte seiner Situation gegenüber in Anspruch nimmt. Barths konstanter Neuanfang beim Text zeigt sich als catechesis viatorum in konsequenter Exegese und Treue zum Text. Darin gewinnt Barths anti-konfessionalistisches reformiertes Selbstverständnis ebenso Kontur wie die Bekenntnishaftigkeit seiner Theologie.

The Crucifixion of Jesus in the Heidelberg Catechism

220px-Heidelberger_Katechismus_1563Question 39. Is there anything more in his being “crucified”, than if he had died some other death?

Answer: Yes there is; for thereby I am assured, that he took on him the curse which lay upon me; (a) for the death of the cross was accursed of God. (b)

(a) Gal.3:13 Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree: (b) Deut.21:23 His body shall not remain all night upon the tree, but thou shalt in any wise bury him that day; (for he that is hanged is accursed of God;) that thy land be not defiled, which the LORD thy God giveth thee for an inheritance.

And here is Ursinus’ explanation:


The death of the cross is an aggravation of the punishment of Christ, and a confirmation of our faith. For if Christ was crucified, then he has taken upon himself the curse, because the death of the cross was a figure, or sign of the curse; and not only so, but he has also endured the curse for us, inasmuch as he was righteous in himself.

God, therefore, willed that his Son should endure the punishment of such an ignominious death, for these most satisfactory reasons:

1. That we may know that the curse which was laid upon him was due on account of our sins; for the death of the cross was accursed of God, according to what is written, “Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree.” (Deut. 21:23.)

2. That the punishment might thus be made the heavier, and that we may, so much the more, be confirmed in faith, confidently believing that Christ, by his death, has taken upon himself our guilt, and endured the curse in our behalf that he might deliver us therefrom. Paul teaches this when he says, “Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us; for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth upon a tree.” (Gal. 3:13.)

3. That we may be excited to greater gratitude, considering what a detestable thing sin is, inasmuch as it could not be expiated unless by the most bitter and ignominious death of the only begotten Son of God.

4. That there might be a correspondence between the truth and the types. This was necessary in order that we may know that the types are all fulfilled in Christ. For the ancient sacrifices, which shadowed forth the sacrifice of Christ, were laid upon the wood, and before they were burned, they were lifted up on high by the priest, that it might be signified thereby that Christ should be lifted up upon the cross, that he might offer himself a holy sacrifice to the Father in our behalf. The same was adumbrated in Isaac who was laid upon the wood for the purpose of being sacrificed by his father. Finally, the brazen serpent, which Moses set upon a pole in the wilderness, was a type of Christ, as is evident from the application which Christ himself made of it when he said, “As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up.” “And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.” (John 3:14; 12:32.)

What, therefore, is it to believe in Christ crucified? It is to believe that Christ was made subject to the curse for me; that he might deliver me therefrom.

Der Heidelberger Katechismus – ein reformierter Schlüsseltext

9783290177096The wonderful folk of the Theologischer Verlag sent some time back a copy of this new work for review.

Der Heidelberger Katechismus gehört zu den am weitesten verbreiteten theologischen Texten deutscher Sprache. Seit der Erstveröffentlichung im Jahr 1563 wurde er in rund vierzig Sprachen übersetzt und verbreitete sich über alle Kontinente. Menschen in aller Welt und Generationen bis heute lernten und lernen anhand seiner Fragen und Antworten, was es heisst, Christ zu sein. In manchen Teilen des reformierten Protestantismus gilt er nach wie vor als Grundlagentext.

Die Autorinnen und Autoren fragen in diesem Band nach der aktuellen Bedeutung des Heidelberger Katechismus. Sie zeigen seine theologischen Akzente, fragen nach seinen vielfältigen Wirkungen und beleuchten seine ökumenische Bedeutung. Gemeinsam ist ihren Beiträgen die Auffassung, dass der Heidelberger Katechismus auch heute Antworten für ein zeitgemässes Christsein bereithält.

My review is here.

The Difference Between Reformed and Roman Catholic- From the Heidelberg Catechism

Question 80. What difference is there between the Lord’s supper and the popish mass?

Answer: The Lord’s supper testifies to us, that we have a full pardon of all sin by the only sacrifice of Jesus Christ, which he himself has once accomplished on the cross; and, that we by the Holy Ghost are ingrafted into Christ, who, according to his human nature is now not on earth, but in heaven, at the right hand of God his Father, and will there be worshipped by us.  But the mass teaches, that the living and dead have not the pardon of sins through the sufferings of Christ, unless Christ is also daily offered for them by the priests; and further, that Christ is bodily under the form of bread and wine, and therefore is to be worshipped in them; so that the mass, at bottom, is nothing else than a denial of the one sacrifice and sufferings of Jesus Christ, and an accursed idolatry.


Found: A 1774 Edition of the Heidelberg Catechism

Heidelberger_Katechismus_1563I wish something like this would happen to me…

Wie lange mag das Büchlein wohl in einer Ritze in der Empore gesteckt haben? Die Ausgabe des Heidelberger Katechismus, die vor Weihnachten bei Arbeiten in der Stadtkirche gefunden worden war, ist auf jeden Fall ein historisch bedeutender Fund: Sie stammt aus dem Jahr 1774. “Gedruckt und verlegt bei der Witwe Sitzmann in Kleve, königl. preuß. Hofbuchdruckerin”. So steht es auf dem gut erhaltenen Deckblatt geschrieben. Mitarbeiter der Firma Riedel hatten den Katechismus entdeckt, als sie das Pliesterwerk unterhalb der Empore in der Stadtkirche öffneten. Das Moerser Wahrzeichen ist wegen dringend notwendiger Sanierungsarbeiten seit März 2011 geschlossen.

Read the rest.

Readers in Asia, Take Note

Refo500 informs us that

In celebration of the 450th anniversary of the Heidelberg Catechism, Refo500 Asia and Chongshin University organize from February 17-19, 2014 the Second Heidelberg Catechism Academy under the title: An Alternative of Church Education in Post-modern Society, Heidelberg Catechism!

Read all the details here-

But Why Are You Called a Christian? An Introduction to the Heidelberg Catechism

ISD awhynd V&R have courteously sent along this new volume on the Heidelberg Catechism.

The Heidelberg Catechism is one of the world’s foremost and prevailing Christian faith documents throughout the centuries, due to its intellectual clarity as well as personal style. At the same time, the book invites the reader to engage the Heidelberg Catechism in conversation with contemporary Christian faith.

Margit Ernst-Habib aims not only at describing the traditional uses of the HC in churches so far, but also at engaging the reader on different levels, and eventually enabling him or her to begin answering the vital question: “But why are you called a Christian?”

My review is here.

Celebrations for the Heidelberg Catechism Continue

2013 wird der Heidelberger Katechismus 450 Jahre alt. Ein kleines Buch mit großer Persconferentie_Heidelberg_31032010_foto_1Wirkung für reformierte und unierte Kirchen weltweit. Eröffnet wurde die Ausstellung am 08. September um 17.00 Uhr in der Johannes a Lasco Bibliothek Emden mit einem öffentlichen Vortrag von Prof. Dr. Michael Beintker aus Münster mit dem Titel: “Ein Lehrbuch, das trösten kann – 450 Jahre Heidelberger Katechismus”.

“450 Jahre Heidelberger Katechismus – Entstehung, Inhalt, Wirkung”, so lautet der Titel der Wanderausstellung, die der Reformierte Bund zum Katechismusjubiläum 2013 herausgibt. Das Anliegen mit dieser Ausstellung ist, diesen Katechismus vorzustellen, über ihn zu informieren: Wie und warum er entstanden ist, was sein Inhalt ist, wie seine Wirkung war und ist.

Die Ausstellung kann bis zum 06. Oktober zu den üblichen Öffnungszeiten der Johannes a Lasco Bibliothek besichtigt werden.

Hier lesen Sie mehr.

Karl Barth’s Lecture on the Heidelberg Catechism is Online

Ah… Karl Barth:

“Nur für Nicht-Theologen” warnte Barth – humorvoll ironisch?! – vor seiner Lesung im Mai 1936 über den Heidelberger Katechismus: “… ‘Ich bin meines Herrn Jesus Christus eigen.’ Der Trost, nach dem da gefragt wird, er besteht einerseits in einem sehr radikalen Angriff, der auf den Menschen gemacht wird. Man kann den Trost nur als Trost hören, indem man sich diesen Angriff gefallen lässt.”

Die unveröffentlichte Vorlesung jetzt online:

Here!  And directly to the PDF of the lecture here.  This is brilliant!