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The Theology of the Heidelberg Catechism: A Reformation Synthesis (Bierma)

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Westminster John Knox Press

The Heidelberg Catechism, first approved in 1563, is a confessional document of the Protestant movement considered one of the most ecumenical of the confessions. Published to coincide with the catechism's 450th anniversary, this book explores the Heidelberg Catechism in its historical setting and emphasizes the catechism's integration of Lutheran and Reformed traditions in all of its major doctrines. An appendix contains a translation of the Heidelberg Catechism recently prepared and adopted by three of the Reformed denominations that recognize the catechism as one of their confessions: the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), the Reformed Church in America, and the Christian Reformed Church in North America.


Table of Contents:

  1. Introduction
  2. Theme and Structure of the Heidelberg Catechism: Q/A 1-2
  3. Law and Gospel: Q/A 3-19
  4. Providence and Predestination: Q/A 20-28
  5. Christ and the Holy Spirit: Q/A 29-64
  6. The Sacraments: Q/A 65-85
  7. Covenant: Q/A 65-85
  8. Good Works and Gratitude: Q/A 86-129
  9. Ecumenical Reflections on the Heidelberg Catechism

Appendix: CRC-RCA-PC(USA) Translation of the Heidelberg Catechism (2011)



Lyle D. Bierma is Dean of the Faculty and the Jean and Kenneth Baker Professor of Systematic Theology at Calvin Theological Seminary. He is the author of Covenant Theology of Caspar OlevianusThe Doctrine of the Sacraments in the Heidelberg Catechism, and An Introduction to the Heidelberg Catechism.



"Bierma's metaphor for this defining text of the Reformed tradition is surprising: '...a grafting of Reformed branches on a Lutheran vine.' He brings the whole catechism and each of its parts into lucid conversation with the documents that have been suggested as sources. He makes his case thoroughly and convincingly." - Gary Neal Hansen, Associate Professor of Church History, University of Dubuque Theological Seminary, Dubuque, Iowa

"Lyle Bierma achieves several things at once in this remarkable work. His careful sleuthing into the theological sources and historical factions behind the Heidelberg Catechism will surely make this a definite work on this important Reformation document. At the same time, his accessible and clear writing about the theological topics of this warmly embraced confession makes this a wonderful aid for Reformed and Lutheran Christians who want to understand their faith more deeply. And finally, Bierma helps us see how the ecumenical theology and spirit of the catechism can be of continuing importance for both the Reformed and Lutheran traditions." - David L. Stubbs, Professor of Ethics and Theology, Western Theological Seminary, Holland, Michigan