- Heidelberg Catechism
- The 1563 Heidelberg Catechism is still the most popular catechism for use by the Reformed churches around the world. It was initiated by Frederick III, the elector of the Palatinate, who like all German princes held the right under the 1555 Peace of Augsburg to choose the state religion. It was composed primarily by Zacharius Ursinus (1534-83) and Caspar Olevianus (1536-87), with help from the theological faculty at the University of Heidelberg, following the standard format of question and answer on the basic subjects of the Christian Faith. A church synod in Heidelberg in January 1563 approved the document; before the end of the year, two slightly revised editions and a Latin translation were published. Resourceful church leaders divided it into 50 sections so that it could be taught sunday by sunday through a calendar year.The large Lutheran minority in the Palatinate complained to the German imperial diet that the new catechism, written from a Reformed perspective, was heretical. Frederick was brought before the diet in 1566, but was able to exonerate himself with the assistance of Heinrich Bullinger, the Swiss Reformed leader from Zurich.Subsequently, the catechism spread throughout Europe, getting it biggest boost from the Synod of Dort (1618-19). As the Reformed Church became global in the 19th century, the catechism was translated into a number of Asian and African languages.The Christian Reformed Church of North America adopted "a modern and accurate [English] translation" as an official document in 1975.See also creeds/confessions of faith.Further reading:■ Karl Barth, The Heidelberg Catechism for Today (Richmond, Va.: John Knox Press, 1964)■ The Heidelberg Catechism (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Christian Reformed Church, 1975)■ Herman Hoeksema, Triple Knowledge, An Exposition of the Heidelberg Confession (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Kregel Publications, 1972)■ George W. Richards, The Heidelberg Catechism: Historical and Doctrinal Studies (Philadelphia: Reformed Church in the U.S., 1913)■ Zacharias Ursinus, Commentary on the Heidelberg Catechism, trans. and ed. by G. Willard (Philipsburg, Pa.: Presbyterian & Reformed Press, 1985).
Encyclopedia of Protestantism. Gordon Melton. 2005.