Original Research - Special Collection: Heidelberg Catechism

From reformation to counter-reformation to further reformation: A picture of the anti-Roman background of the Heidelberg Catechism

Erik van Alten
In die Skriflig/In Luce Verbi | Vol 47, No 2 | a680 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ids.v47i2.680 | © 2013 Erik van Alten | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 14 December 2012 | Published: 23 August 2013

About the author(s)

Erik van Alten, Jonathan Edwards Centre, University of the Free State, South Africa


Share this article

Bookmark and Share

Abstract

The anti-Roman sentiment of the Heidelberg Catechism is well-documented. In its contents the Catechism often seeks to combat Roman doctrine. However, this anti-Roman sentiment did not have its origin from textbooks and it was not merely an academic exercise. It was first and foremost a reaction to the ecclesiastical context of that time. At the same time that Elector Frederick III commissioned the writing of the Heidelberg Catechism, the Council of Trent was meeting on the other side of the Alpine mountains. Remarkably, this meeting had only recently decided to write a catechism of its own. It is very likely that the decision-makers in Heidelberg were aware of what was happening in Trent, and reacted accordingly. Underlying the decision to commission and write the Heidelberg Catechism was the acknowledgment of the importance of catechetical teaching. In several documents, which are closely related to the Heidelberg Catechism, the importance of catechetical teaching is highlighted. Interestingly, however, these documents also contrast the reformed principal of catechetical teaching with the Roman sacrament of confirmation. Whereas catechetical teaching leads children on the way from their baptism to the Lord’s Supper, the sacrament of confirmation takes away the urgency for any form of catechetical teaching.

Daar is reeds baie geskryf oor die anti-Roomse sentiment wat uit die Heidelbergse Kategismus spreek. Inhoudelik voer die Kategismus dikwels ’n stryd met die Roomse leer. Die oorsprong van hierdie anti-Roomse sentiment kom egter nie net uit handboeke nie en dit was ook nie bloot ’n akademiese oefening nie. Dit was eerstens veral ’n reaksie op die kerklike konteks van daardie tyd. Dieselfde tyd toe Keurvors Frederick III opdrag gegee het vir die opstel van die Heidelbergse Kategismus, het die Konsilie van Trente aan die oorkant van die Alpe vergader. Dit is merkwaardig dat hierdie vergadering kort voor dit besluit het om op sy eie ’n kategismus op te stel. Die besluitnemers in Heidelberg was heel waarskynlik volkome bewus van wat in Trente gebeur het en het dienooreenkomstig opgetree. Onderliggend aan die besluit om opdrag te gee tot die opstel van die Heidelbergse Kategismus, was die besef van die belangrikheid van kategese. In verskeie dokumente wat nóú aan die Heidelbergse Kategismus verwant is, word die belangrikheid van kategese beklemtoon. Dit is egter interessant dat hierdie dokumente ook die kontras tussen die gereformeerde beginsel van kategetiese onderrig en die Roomse sakrament van die vormsel aantoon. Terwyl kategetiese onderrig kinders vanaf hulle doop tot by die nagmaal begelei, misken die sakrament van die vormsel die noodsaaklikheid van enige vorm van kategetiese onderrig.


Keywords

Heidelberg Catechism; Frederick III; Catechetical teaching; Roman confirmation

Metrics

Total abstract views: 2233
Total article views: 7303


Crossref Citations

No related citations found.