While today is better known for Halloween in the US, in church history, it is best known for being Reformation Day! It started with Martin Luther October 31, 1517. The dates of the Reformation are different considering who your source is. Some say it ended in 1648 when the Westminster Confession and Catechisms were published. Others say it ended earlier in 1555, closer to the time the men started working on the Heidelberg Catechism. Hopefully, it didn’t really end. Maybe, they mean all the fighting and persecution that went with it ended.
The Heidelberg Catechism was commissioned to be written 1559-1576
The Heidelberg Catechism was commissioned to be written 1559 to 1576 by Ursinus and Olavianus, two young professors in their 20’s. They had input from the faculty of Heidelberg University in Germany and it was approved by the Synod as a teaching tool for instructing youth and guiding pastors and teachers.
It was written about 100 years before the Westminster Shorter Catechism and other portions of the Westminster Confession of Faith. They were put together by a group from the Westminster Assembly. It was a combination of pastors and elders from the Church of Scotland (the stronger of the two groups at the time) and the Church of England who came together from 1643-1649 to do something very similar. They made both Catechisms: Shorter and Larger that are used to this day to teach doctrine to children and adults in mostly reformed churches. They also created the Westminster Confession of Faith which was a theological teaching tool for elders and pastors, but not limited to them. It is all heavily footnoted with Scripture and continues to be used today in many Reformed and Presbyterian Churches. These important works were completed in1646 and approved by parliament in 1648 with a few changes. (This is a free church history lesson. It gives context to both the Heidelberg Confession and the Reformation.)
Some feel that the Heidelberg Catechism is stated a little more personally. than the Westminster Catechisms and Confession. See what you think. Of course, they are each laid out a bit differently.
#1. Q. What is your only comfort in life and death?
A. That I am not my own, but belong with body and soul, both in life and in death,
to my faithful Saviour Jesus Christ. He has fully paid for all my sins with His precious blood,
and has set me free from all the power of the devil.
He also preserves me in such a way that without the will of my heavenly Father
not a hair can fall from my head; indeed, all things must work together for my salvation.
Therefore, by His Holy Spirit He also assures me of eternal life
and makes me heartily willing and ready from now on to live for Him.
 I Cor. 6:19, 20
 Rom. 14:7-9.
 I Cor. 3:23; Tit. 2:14.
 I Pet. 1:18, 19; I John 1:7; 2:2.
 John 8:34-36; Heb. 2:14, 15; I John 3:8.
 John 6:39, 40; 10:27-30; II Thess. 3:3; I Pet. 1:5.
 Matt. 10:29-31; Luke 21:16-18.
 Rom. 8:28.
 Rom. 8:15, 16; II Cor. 1:21, 22; 5:5; Eph. 1:13, 14.
 Rom. 8:14.
#2. Q. What must you know to
live and die in the joy of this comfort?
A. Three things:
first, how great my sin and misery are;1
second, how I am set free from all my sins and misery;2
third, how I am to thank God for such deliverance.3
–Heidelberg Catechism, questions 1 and 2
I just included the first two questions but you can see how warmly they are stated including the Biblical footnotes. Don’t you get the sense that the people writing the truly love Jesus and appreciated what He had done for them?
This is the last day of this series. The time went fast. I hope you have enjoyed it. Personally, I have found it helpful. I hope you have as well. These are topics we don’t often discuss.