Archive for the ‘The Standards’ Category

Fred H. Klooster in his commentary of the Heidelberg Catechism (HC) makes a seemingly bold statement when discussing the questions and answers on the Ascension of Christ.  He says, “In fact, if there had been no theological controversy concerning the ascension of Christ after the completion of his earthly ministry, there might never have been a Heidelberg Catechism (v. 1, 592).”  Then he proceeds discuss the historical environment the HC was birthed from.  First, he makes the reader aware that the Catechism itself shows this in that there is only one Q & A over the the resurrection, an accepted doctrine by all, and four on the ascension.  Then he notes that the main theological issue was the ubiquity of Christ.  That is, Christ, in both his divinity and humanity, is omnipresent (or present everywhere).  This issue erupted in then Reformed leaning but German Heidelberg.  The Lutheran church in 1559 adopted the doctrine of Ubiquity, thus separating it from the wing of Lutheranism that was influenced by Philip Melanchthon and from the Reformed church following John Calvin.  Melanchthon and Calvin taught that Christ’s human nature is ascended and remains in heaven, and that Christ is present with us through the Holy Spirit, not physically but Spiritually.  

So, great debate exploded in Heidelberg, Germany but the elector could not subscribe to the doctrine of Ubiquity and thus needed a new catechism – prior to this they used a Lutheran catechism.  As a result, the Heidelberg Catechism was created and has been cherished by many around the world.  And sometimes we take such documents for granted, not realizing the struggle that they were created in.  Just think, a Christianity with the great Q & A 1 that so aptly points us to our true comfort in life and death.  It is especially interesting, that in light of this the ascension of Christ is often over looked by many Christians today.


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The movement of Christian pietism has long tried to split the Church between true and false believers.  Canons of Dort point 1, article 16 clearly speaks to this (though it preceded the movement): (more…)

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Q. What do you mean by saying, “He ascended to heaven”? 
A. That Christ was taken up from the earth into heaven before the very eyes of his disciples and remains there on our behalf until he comes again to judge the living and the dead.

Q. But isn’t Christ with us until the end of the world as he promised us? 
A. Christ is truly human and truly god. In his human nature Christ is not now on earth; but in his divinity, majesty, grace, and Spirit he is never absent from us.

Q. If his humanity is not present wherever his divinity is, then aren’t the two natures of Christ separated from each other? 
A. Certainly not. Since divinity is incomprehensible and everywhere present, it must follow that the divinity is indeed beyond the bounds of the humanity which it has taken on, and is nonetheless ever in that humanity as well, and remains personally united to it.

Q. How does Christ’s ascension to heaven benefit us? 
A. First, he is our advocate in heaven in the presence of his Father. Second, we have our flesh as a full guarantee in heaven that Christ our head, will also take us, his members up to himself. Third, he sends us, as a guarantee on earth, his Spirit by whose power we seek what is above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God, and not things that are on earth.

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Q. What do you believe when you say, “I believe in God the Father almighty, maker of heaven and earth”?
A. That the eternal Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who out of nothing created heaven and earth and everything in them, who still upholds and rules them by eternal counsel and providence, is my God and Father because of Christ, God’s Son. I trust God so much that I do not doubt that God will provide whatever I need for body and soul, and will turn to my good whatever adversity God sends me in this sad world. God, being almighty God, is able to do this; God, being a faithful Father, desires to do this.


Q. What do you understand by the providence of God?
A. The almighty and ever present power by which God upholds heaven and earth and all creatures, and so rules them that leaves and grass, rain and drought, fruitful and unfruitful years, food and drink, health and sickness, riches and poverty, and everything else, come to us not by chance but from God’s sustaining hand.

Q. How does the knowledge of God’s creation and providence help us?
A. We can be patient when things go against us, thankful when things go well, and for the future we can have good confidence in our faithful God and Father that nothing will separate us from God’s love. All creatures are so completely in God’s hand that without the divine will they can neither move nor be moved.

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     The Heidelberg Catechism is well known for its devotional tone, and for this reason many inside and outside of the Reformed community have come to appreciate it.  Most people who are familiar with confessions and catechisms end up having their favorite parts.  For me Q & A 54 has been one of those.  It reads:

Q. What do you believe concerning “the holy catholic church”?

A. I believe that the Son of God through his Spirit and Word, out of the entire human race, from the beginning of the world to its end, gathers, protects, and preserves for himself a community chosen for eternal life and united in true faith.  And of this community I am and always will be a living member.

     Here I won’t give an exhaustive commentary on this statement, but I will pull out a few things that stick out to me:


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