Original Research - Special Collection: Heidelberg Catechism

Towards a better understanding of forgiveness of sins in the first commentaries on the Heidelberg Catechism

Pieter C. Potgieter
In die Skriflig/In Luce Verbi | Vol 47, No 2 | a648 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ids.v47i2.648 | © 2013 Pieter C. Potgieter | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 24 August 2012 | Published: 17 September 2013

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Pieter C. Potgieter, Department of Systematic Theology, University of the Free State, South Africa


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Abstract

With regard to the issue of the forgiveness of sins in the Heidelberg Catechism, this paper shows that not only was there agreement and the same basic approach to issues of faith to be found in the commentaries of Ursinus and Olevianus, but also a valuable complementing of each other’s work. The influence of Calvin, with whom both of them have studied in Geneva, is obvious in their doctrinal approach. Whereas Ursinus tended more towards an academic correctness in his Explicationum Catecheticarum, Olevianus added a pastoral and spiritual dimension in his Vester Grundt. Although some theologians questioned the role of Olevianus in the compilation of the Heidelberg Catechism, recent research adequately shows that both of them were indeed involved, and were well-endowed with the necessary background for providing a further exposition of the Catechism. Both of them emphasise the unquestionable and sole merit of Jesus Christ, through his vicarious death on the cross, as the only ground for God’s gracious forgiveness of the sinner. It is God’s free gift, appropriated through faith and trust in the merit of Christ.

Hierdie artikel toon aan dat daar, wat die vergifnis van sonde betref, nie net groot ooreenstemming en dieselfde basiese benadering ten opsigte van geloofskwessies in die kommentare van Ursinus en Olevianus op die Heidelbergse Kategismus is nie, maar dat daar ook ’n waardevolle wedersydse aanvulling van mekaar se werk is. Albei het by geleentheid in Genéve onder Calvyn gestudeer: sy invloed is onmiskenbaar in hulle leerstellige benaderings. In Ursinus se Explicationum Catecheticarum weeg die akademiese korrektheid swaarder, terwyl daar in Olevianus se Vester Grundt ook ‘n pastorale en spirituele dimensie bykom. Olevianus se betrokkenheid by die opstel van die Heidelbergse Kategismus is soms sterk bevraagteken, maar nuwe navorsing laat genoegsaam blyk dat albei teoloë inderdaad deel gehad het daaraan, en ook goed toegerus was met die nodige agtergrond om ’n nadere verklaring van die Kategismus die lig te laat sien. Albei benadruk die onbetwisbare en enigste verdienste van Jesus Christus deur sy middellike dood aan die kruis as enigste grond vir God se genadige vergifnis van die sondaar. Dit is God se vrye guns, wat aangeneem word in geloof en vertroue deur die verdienste van Christus.


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