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  • THEHEIDELBERG CATECHISM

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  • THEHEIDELBERG CATECHISM

    A STUDY GUIDE

    G. I. Williamson

    P U B L I S H I N GP.O. BOX 817 PHILLIPSBURG NEW JERSEY 08865

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  • 1993 by G. I. Williamson

    All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or byany means, except for brief quotations for the purpose of review, comment, orscholarship, without written permission from the publisher, Presbyterian andReformed Publishing Company, P.O. Box 817, Phillipsburg, New Jersey 08865.

    The text of the Heidelberg Catechism is from the Psalter Hymnal, 1959 edi-tion. Used by permission of CRC Publications. Scripture quotations within thatedition of the Catechism are from the American Standard Edition of the Re-vised Bible, 1929, the International Council of Religious Education.

    Unless otherwise indicated, Scripture quotations within the commentary por-tion of this volume are from The New King James Version. Copyright 1979,1980, 1982, Thomas Nelson, Inc.

    Questions for Study and Discussion at the end of each chapter have been gra-ciously contributed by Bruce Hoyt.

    Manufactured in the United States of America.

    Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

    Williamson, G. I. (Gerald Irvin), 1925The Heidelberg catechism : a study guide / G. I. Williamson.

    p. cm.Includes the entire text of the catechism in English.Includes index.ISBN-10: 0875525512ISBN-13: 978-08755255181. Heidelberger Katechismus. I. Heidelberger Katechismus. English.

    1993. II. Title.BX9428.W55 1993238'.42dc20 9336201

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  • To

    Dick G. Vanderpyl

    An Elder who never stopped growing.

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  • CONTENTS

    Foreword ixIntroduction 1Lords Day 1: Questions 12 5

    Part I: Sin and MiseryLords Day 2: Questions 35 13Lords Day 3: Questions 68 17Lords Day 4: Questions 911 21

    Part II: DeliveranceLords Day 5: Questions 1215 27Lords Day 6: Questions 1619 31Lords Day 7: Questions 2023 36Lords Day 8: Questions 2425 41Lords Day 9: Question 26 44Lords Day 10: Questions 2728 48Lords Day 11: Questions 2930 52Lords Day 12: Questions 3132 56Lords Day 13: Questions 3334 61Lords Day 14: Questions 3536 65Lords Day 15: Questions 3739 69Lords Day 16: Questions 4044 73Lords Day 17: Question 45 78Lords Day 18: Questions 4649 81Lords Day 19: Questions 5052 86Lords Day 20: Question 53 90Lords Day 21: Question 54 94Lords Day 21Continued: Questions 5556 98Lords Day 22: Questions 5758 102

    vii

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  • Lords Day 23: Questions 5961 106Lords Day 24: Questions 6264 110Lords Day 25: Questions 6568 114Lords Day 26: Questions 6971 119Lords Day 27: Questions 7274 123Lords Day 28: Questions 7577 127Lords Day 29: Questions 7879 131Lords Day 30: Question 80 136Lords Day 30Continued: Questions 8182 139Lords Day 31: Questions 8385 143

    Part III: GratitudeLords Day 32: Questions 8687 149Lords Day 33: Questions 8891 153Lords Day 34: Questions 9293 158Lords Day 34Continued: Questions 9495 165Lords Day 35: Questions 9698 169Lords Days 36 and 37: Questions 99102 173Lords Day 38: Question 103 179Lords Day 39: Question 104 183Lords Day 40: Questions 1057 187Lords Day 41: Questions 1089 192Lords Day 42: Questions 11011 197Lords Day 43: Question 112 201Lords Day 44: Questions 11315 205Lords Day 45: Questions 11619 208Lords Day 46: Questions 12021 212Lords Day 47: Question 122 215Lords Day 48: Question 123 217Lords Day 49: Question 124 221Lords Day 50: Question 125 224Lords Day 51: Question 126 227Lords Day 52: Question 127 230Lords Day 52Continued: Questions 12829 233

    viii PREFACE

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  • FOREWORD

    Looming over the river Neckar, and watching over the ancient city, isthe great castle of Heidelberg, once the seat of Elector Frederick III. Itwas here in ancient Heidelberg that the Lord long ago began a greatwork of reformation in the hearts of the people and their rulers. Last-ing testimony of this fact is the so-called Heidelberg Catechism, com-missioned by Frederick III himself not long after his accession in 1559,to be a proclamation of the biblical faith to the world.

    But the great castle in Heidelberg did not prove the fortress it ap-peared to be. Heidelberg was sacked and occupied several times duringthe Thirty Years War. The castle itself often fell prey to ravaging fire.The moat leaked badly and was in fact never able to be filled. Todaythere is not much left of the castle, or of the Reformation in Heidel-berg. Tours of the ancient city and castle ruins are available, but notone word is spoken of its role in the Reformation. A question directedabout the Heidelberg Catechism itself is more likely to leave the tour-guide with a blank unknowing expression.

    Yet praise be to our Lord that the labor of the Reformation in Hei-delberg has not been completely lost to us. The Catechism, transportedto the Netherlands, took root and, since its inception, has become it-self a dearly loved guide for generations of Reformed people. But theCatechism doesnt present a tour of ancient ruins. It maps out for thebeliever the path of salvation revealed in the Scriptures, demonstratingthe love of God for a fallen world.

    Traditionally the writing of this Catechism has been ascribed toCaspar Olevianus and Zacharias Ursinus. Yet further research in thiscentury has shown that Ursinus alone should be considered the majorcontributor. Olevianus had no more input in its production than theother theologians and pastors of Heidelberg (i.e., to check it over). Al-

    ix

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  • though most of the debate has been in German, a good English sum-mary of the discussion can be found in Frederick H. Kloosters articleThe Priority of Ursinus in the Composition of the Heidelberg Cate-chism, in Controversy and Conciliation: The Reformation and the Palati-nate 15591583, ed. Derk Visser (Allison Park, Pa: Pickwick, 1986).Such research in identifying both the major contributor and his sourceshas been helpful in understanding the background to our Catechism. Itnow leaves only the desire that more of the theological works of Ursi-nus would be translated and published, particularly his Apologia Cate-chismi (Defense of the Catechism), written in 1564 to defend the doctrineof the Catechism against various attacks. A new edition of Ursinusscommentary on the Catechism is also long overdue. While that ofG. W. Williard (first published 1851, reprinted by Presbyterian and Re-formed) can be most helpful, yet his translation is unfortunately oftenrather inaccurate, sometimes even leading to serious misunderstanding.

    Although there is still a need for scholarly historical study of theCatechism, this cannot be said for the equally necessary study guide forthe churches. G. I. Williamson has once again done the church an in-valuable service by providing this study on the Heidelberg Catechism.In simple and clear language he has opened up the wealth of the Cat-echism for all to see. G. I.s long experience as a teacher of catechismhas given him the expertise and wisdom that make his study guides sosuccessful. As a former pupil of his I can personally vouch for his ded-ication to this method of teaching. For that, I myself shall be eternallygrateful. When G. I. asked me to write a foreword for this volume, I wasonly too pleased to oblige. It is my prayer that the Lord will bless itsuse throughout his churches for the upbuilding of his people.

    The value of the Heidelberg Catechism is not restricted to any oneage or people, but insofar as it maps the saving doctrines of the Scrip-tures, it will continue to be used with profit the world over. Perhaps thebest way of showing its timeless value is to read once again the intro-duction attached to the first editions (see the following). I can think ofno better introduction to the Catechism or its use.

    R. Dean Anderson, Jr.

    x FOREWORD

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  • ORIGINAL INTRODUCTION TO THEHEIDELBERG CATECHISM

    A catechism in our Christian Religion is the name given toa brief and simple orally given summary of the main parts ofChristian doctrine in which the youth and beginners are ex-amined and heard on what they have learned. For from the be-ginning of the Christian church all the godly have been dili-gent to instruct their children in the fear of the Lord, at home,at school and in church. They did so undoubtedly for the fol-lowing reasons which shall induce us also to do the same.

    In the first place they rightly took into consideration thefact that inborn wickedness would get the upper hand and thenpervert churches and civil governments unless it were counteredin time by means of salutary doctrine.

    In the second place they had the express command of Godin Exod 12 and 13 and in Deut 4, 6, and 11 where the

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