The Tercentenary Jubilee Of The Heidelberg Catechism -- By: Anonymous

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 020:79 (Jul 1863)
Article: The Tercentenary Jubilee Of The Heidelberg Catechism
Author: Anonymous

The Tercentenary Jubilee Of The Heidelberg Catechism

[This Article was prepared by Dr. Philip Schaff, and forms a fit appendix to Dr. Gerhart’s Article, published in our January number, on the German Reformed Church].

The Heidelberg Catechism is, the most generally received doctrinal symbol of the Reformed Confession, as distinct from the Roman Catholic, and the Lutheran. It is more particularly the creed of the German Reformed and Dutch Reformed churches in Europe and in this country. It was prepared at the request of Frederic III., justly surnamed the Pious, Elector or the Palatinate, Zacharias Ursinus and Caspar Olevianus, the former a pupil and intimate friend of Melanchthon, the latter a pupil of Calvin. After being examined and approved by a synod of the Palatinate convened for that purpose at Heidelberg in December 1562, it was first published January 19, 1563, at Heidelberg, the seat of the oldest German University, and at that time the capital of the Palatinate on the Rhine. Hence it is called generally the Heidelberg Catechism, after the city of its birth, or also the Palatinate Catechism, from the electorate of that name for which it was originally intended. It soon found extraordinary favor, and threw all the older Reformed Catechisms, even that of the great Calvin, into the shade. It was introduced as a guide of catechetical instruction and as a confession of faith into the various Reformed churches of Germany, into several Swiss cantons, into Hoi-

land, Hungary, and Poland. It was also approved by the Reformed church of Poland, and published among its doctrinal standards. It was translated into Latin, ancient and modern Greek, Hebrew, Arabic, all the leading languages of Europe, and several dialects of Asia. Innumerable commentaries and sermons were written on it, especially in Holland. For in several countries it was made the basis of catechetical discourses on Sunday afternoon. It is supposed that the Heidelberg Catechism was more frequently printed, translated, assailed, defended, analyzed, explained, and written about than any other catechism of the Christian religion.

The theology of the Heidelberg Catechism grew out of the combined influences of Zuinglianism, Calvinism, and Melanchthonian Lutheranism, which met in the Palatinate, and especially in the University of Heidelberg, about the middle of the sixteenth century. It represents the mildest form of Calvinism modified by the influence of the gentle and peaceful Melanchthon, who was himself a native of the Palatinate, who controlled the Reformation in that country, and who in his latter years decidedly leaned towards the Reformed Confession, especially in regard to the doctrine of the Lord’s Supper. The catechism occupies thus an intermed...

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