The Heidelberg Catechism

Posted: September 22, 2009 by limabean03 in Christian Theology, Discipleship, Lutheran Theologians, Reformation Theology, The Christian Life

As I was clearing my inbox this morning I received an e-mail from a church member entitled “I find this helpful.”  Not really sure what I might find, I opened the e-mail and to my delight found the Heidelberg Catechism!  Hearing that church members are picking things up like this on their own initiative is enormously encouraging.  For those of you like my friend who find the great reformation catechism helpful, you may want to go over to Steve Wood’s blog TreadingGrain. He posts a devotional from the catechism every morning. 

11. Q. But is God not also merciful?

A. God is indeed merciful,[1] but He is also just.[2] His justice requires that sin committed against the most high majesty of God also be punished with the most severe, that is, with everlasting, punishment of body and soul.[3]

[1] Ex. 20:6; 34:6, 7; Ps. 103:8, 9. [2] Ex. 20:5; 34:7; Deut. 7:9-11; Ps. 5:4-6; Heb. 10:30, 31. [3] Matt. 25:45,46.

12. Q. Since, according to God’s righteous judgment we deserve temporal and eternal punishment, how can we escape this punishment and be again received into favour?

A. God demands that His justice be satisfied.[1] Therefore full payment must be made either by ourselves or by another.[2]

[1] Ex. 20:5; 23:7; Rom. 2:1-11. [2] Is. 53:11; Rom. 8:3, 4.

13. Q. Can we ourselves make this payment?

A. Certainly not. On the contrary, we daily increase our debt.[1]

[1] Ps. 130:3; Matt. 6:12; Rom. 2:4, 5.

14. Q. Can any mere creature pay for us?

A. No. In the first place, God will not punish another creature for the sin which man has committed.[1] Furthermore, no mere creature can sustain the burden of God’s eternal wrath against sin and deliver others from it.[2]

[1] Ezek. 18:4, 20; Heb. 2:14-18. [2] Ps. 130:3; Nah. 1:6.

15. Q. What kind of mediator and deliverer must we seek?

A. One who is a true[1] and righteous[2] man, and yet more powerful than all creatures; that is, one who is at the same time true God.[3]

[1] I Cor. 15:21; Heb. 2:17. [2] Is. 53:9; II Cor. 5:21; Heb. 7:26. [3] Is. 7:14; 9:6; Jer. 23:6; John 1:1; Rom. 8:3, 4.

16. Q. Why must He be a true and righteous man?

A. He must be a true man because the justice of God requires that the same human nature which has sinned should pay for sin.[1] He must be a righteous man because one who himself is a sinner cannot pay for others.[2]

[1] Rom: 5:12, 15; I Cor. 15:21; Heb. 2:14-16. [2] Heb. 7:26, 27; I Pet. 3:18.

17. Q. Why must He at the same time be true God?

A. He must be true God so that by the power of His divine nature[1] He might bear in His human nature the burden of God’s wrath,[2] and might obtain for us and restore to us righteousness and life.[3]

[1] Is. 9:5. [2] Deut. 4:24; Nah. 1:6; Ps. 130:3. [3] Is. 53:5, 11; John 3:16; II Cor. 5:21.

18. Q. But who is that Mediator who at the same time is true God and a true and righteous man?

A. Our Lord Jesus Christ,[1] whom God made our wisdom, our righteousness and sanctification and redemption (I Corinthians 1:30).

[1] Matt. 1:21-23; Luke 2:11; I Tim. 2:5; 3:16.

read the whole thing here

  1. Rick Lannoye says:

    There are several problems with these claims.

    One, we ought to be very sceptical of what a group of men from the late Middle Ages asserted to be true. After all, most of them probably also thought the sun revolved around the earth.

    Secondly, it is clearly injust for God to punish anyone eternally. If by justice we mean “an eye for an eye,” (which is really just revenge), then even by this poor standard, God would become unjust by causing anyone to suffer one moment past the point of whatever harm even the worst of us can do. With all eternity available, everyone would eventually pay for all their sins.

    But more to the point, Jesus rejected the idea of justice/revenge. I’ve actually written an entire book on this topic–“Hell? No! Why You Can Be Certain There’s No Such Place As Hell,” (for anyone interested, you can get a free Ecopy of my book at my website:, but if I may, let me share one more of the many points I make in it.

    If you’ll re-read the words of Jesus in the gospels, and look for where HE said his purpose for coming was to die as a blood sacrifice to PAY for our sins, guess what? YOU WON’T FIND IT. In fact, the one place where he does talk about sacrifice is where he says God doesn’t want it! He quotes Hosea, saying that God desire MERCY instead.

    Look in the book of Acts, at all those first Christian sermons. One would think that would be a real good time to explain what was Jesus’ main reason for coming, right? But in none of those sermons, do any of the apostles say Jesus was a blood sacrifice to pay for our sins!

    No, all these stuff about blood sacrifice was superimposed later on. Jesus actually said that God just forgives when we own up to our sins and repent. That’s it!

    If not, then Jesus/God asks us to do something he, himself, cannot do, to forgive others without demanding any sort of payment or to suffer some painful punishment.

  2. limabean03 says:

    I suppose your bible doesn’t have Mark 10.45. Oh well…

  3. danny says:

    Oh my,
    Rick, You’ve got to do more than a couple of paragraphs to dis the Heidleberg. Biblical gymnastics I suppose.

  4. limabean03 says:


  5. Danny, precisely. An impoversished post about the HC.

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