A new evening series will follow the topics addressed in the 52 Lord’s Days of the Heidelberg Catechism, which conveniently match 52 weeks of the year. On occasion a Lord’s Day sermon will be moved to the morning. As we embark on this endeavor, keep in mind that we do not “preach” the catechism at Covenant as it is a document of man, but we preach the word of God. The catechism does, however, serve as a good tool for teaching and preaching biblical truth. For those of you interested in this kind of thing, this will necessitate a fusion of topical and expository preaching.
You may wonder why I am not using the Shorter Catechism, as the Westminster Standards serve as our doctrinal documents. The simplest answer is the convenience of the format. In addition to that, is the fact that the two catechisms are complimentary, not contradictory to one another as they were both designed to reflect the truth of God’s Word following Reformed convictions.
I trust and pray this will be a profitable experience for all of us, and that it will inspire us to know God better, love Him more deeply and put into practice what He has called us to do under His grace.
During this series, our regular bulletin devotional blurb will be replaced by the Catechism questions and answers for that day.
In the morning, I intend to move ahead in our James series, completing it by early February, at which time we will move into our next book series. The Lord willing, of course. Your regular prayers for the preaching ministry of Covenant are profoundly appreciated.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with the Heidelberg Catechism, here is a summary borrowed from the Website of Westminster Seminary:
The Heidelberg Catechism – The Heidelberg Catechism was written in Heidelberg at the request of Elector Frederick III, ruler of the most influential German province, the Palatinate, from 1559 to 1576. This pious Christian prince commissioned Zacharius Ursinus, twenty-eight years of age and professor of theology at the Heidelberg University, and Caspar Olevianus, twenty-six years old and Frederick’s court preacher, to prepare a catechism for instructing the youth and for guiding pastors and teachers. Frederick obtained the advice and cooperation of the entire theological faculty in the preparation of the Catechism. The Heidelberg Catechism was adopted by a Synod in Heidelberg and published in German with a preface by Frederick III, dated January 19, 1563. A second and third German edition, each with some small additions, as well as a Latin translation were published in Heidelberg in the same year.
The Catechism was soon divided into fifty-two sections, so that a section of the Catechism could be explained to the churches each Sunday of the year. In the Netherlands, this Heidelberg Catechism became generally and favorably known almost as soon as it came from the press, mainly through the efforts of Petrus Dathenus, who translated it into the Dutch language and added this translation to his Dutch rendering of the Genevan Psalter, which was published in 1566. In the same year, Peter Gabriel set the example of explaining this catechism to his congregation at Amsterdam in his Sunday afternoon sermons.
The National Synods of the sixteenth century adopted it as one of the Three Forms of Unity, requiring office-bearers to subscribe to it and ministers to explain it to the churches. These requirements were strongly emphasized by the great Synod of Dort in 1618-19. The Heidelberg Catechism has been translated into many languages and is the most influential and the most generally accepted of the several catechisms of Reformation times.