I love church history because it reminds me of several important truths:
- We’re not the first ones to live out the Christian faith.
- We’re not the first ones to struggle with certain challenges and attacks.
- We’re not inventing this as we go along. Millions have lived faithful lives of humble love for their Savior and their neighbors.
This year we celebrate the 450th anniversary of the Heidelberg Catechism. It was written in 1563, only 46 years after Martin Luther famously nailed his 95 Theses to the door at Castle Church in Wittenberg. The Heidelberg was written by a team of men, most likely headed by Casper Olevianus and Zacharias Ursinus. It’s one of the best-known and best-loved of the Reformation catechisms because of its warm, pastoral touch. The first question is especially beautiful:
Q: What is your only comfort in life and in death?
A: That I am not my own, but belong with body and soul, both in life and in death, to my faithful Saviour Jesus Christ. He has fully paid for all my sins with His precious blood, and has set me free from all the power of the devil. He also preserves me in such a way that without the will of my heavenly Father not a hair can fall from my head; indeed, all things must work together for my salvation. Therefore, by His Holy Spirit He also assures me of eternal life and makes me heartily willing and ready from now on to live for Him.
Such a succinct and helpful summary of the love of God for his own. If you’d like to see more on how European Christians applied the gospel to their daily lives in the midst of much suffering and tumult, check out this catechism. There’s a very helpful new website on it here.
You can also find the book at the WTS Bookstore here.