Original Research - Special Collection: Heidelberg Catechism

‘And thou shalt teach these words diligently …’: Remarks on the purpose of the Heidelberg Catechism regarding its teaching nature

Victor E. d’Assonville
In die Skriflig/In Luce Verbi | Vol 47, No 2 | a679 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ids.v47i2.679 | © 2013 Victor E. d’Assonville | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 14 December 2012 | Published: 16 October 2013

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Victor E. d’Assonville, Faculty of Theology, University of the Free State, South Africa and Reformatorisch-Theologisches Predigerseminar, Germany


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Abstract

As is well-known, the Heidelberg Catechism (HC) has not only become one of the most important confessions of faith since the 16th century, it has also been a significant aid to catechesis, even to this day. In this contribution, the catechetical purpose of the HC is examined with regard to its origins. Three texts that accompanied the first editions of the Heidelberg Catechism in 1563 are scrutinised: two prefaces by Frederick III, and the Palatine Church Order. The youth as well as the rest of the congregation, should be guided in the fear of the Lord so that they may attain sufficient knowledge of and a living faith in the Lord of Scripture. The HC does not merely have theoretical purposes. Its contents and structure were carefully composed to teach the most significant parts of Christian faith in a short and simple way on a regular and frequent basis. This teaching is not only the responsibility of the church or minister, but also of the parents and the teachers. In this comprehensive approach to instruction in the Christian faith, there is no contradiction between Scripture as the Word of God and the HC. Hence, teaching and preaching the HC does justice to the command that the gospel should be proclaimed, preached, taught, learned and understood.

Dit is algemeen bekend dat die Heidelbergse Kategismus nie net een van die belangrikste geloofbelydenisse sedert die sestiende eeu is nie, maar ook ’n buitengewone kategetiese hulpmiddel was en steeds is. In hierdie bydrae word die kategetiese doel van die Heidelbergse Kategismus onder die loep geneem met verwysing na die ontstaansgeskiedenis daarvan. Drie tekste uit die eerste jaar van die kategismus se 1563-uitgawe, naamlik twee verskillende voorwoorde deur Frederik III en die Kerkorde van die Palts word daarvoor ondersoek. Die jeug sowel as die res van die gemeente moet in die vrees van God tot voldoende kennis en ’n lewende geloof in die Here van die Skrif gelei word. Die Heidelbergse Kategismus het nie net teoretiese betekenis nie. Die inhoud en struktuur daarvan is noukeurig saamgestel om die jeug, sowel as die hele gemeente oor die belangrikste stukke van die Christelike geloof op ’n kort en eenvoudige manier asook op ’n gereelde basis, te onderrig. Die onderrig is nie die verantwoordelikheid van die kerk of die predikant alleen nie, maar ook dié van ouers en onderwysers. In hierdie omvattende benadering is daar geen teenstrydigheid tussen die Skrif as die Woord van God en die Heidelbergse Kategismus nie. Gevolglik laat die onderwys en die prediking van die Heidelbergse Kategismus reg geskied aan die opgawe dat die evangelie verkondig, gepreek, onderrig sowel as geleer en verstaan moet word.


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