In 2013 the Heidelberg Catechism celebrated its 450th anniversary. I was reading the chapter devoted to it in Justin Holcomb’s new book Know the Creeds and Councils and found his discussion very informative. Consider this:
“As a document intended to squelch conflict rather than draw lines in the sane, the Heidelberg Catechism is the most inclusive of all the Reformed confessions.” (115)
“To aid in the education process, the writers of the Heidelberg Catechism pioneered the system of numbering the questions of the catechism, a system that has been followed by every major catechism subsequently written.” (116)
“[T]he Heidelberg Catechism does not take a hard stance on the doctrine of election, which was then becoming a hot topic largely because of Theodore Beza’s stance on double predestination. . . . the Heidelberg Catechism leaves any discussion of election or reprobation for the commentaries on the catechism, successfully rendering the catechism useful for religious groups from across the spectrum of the debates about predestination.” 116-17)
“However, the major dividing line of the day for Protestantism–the doctrine of the Eucharist, or the Lord’s Supper–is not exactly spelled out ‘inclusively.’ . . . While the authors threw a bone, so to speak, to the Lutherans in their rejection of the Catholic doctrine of transubstantiation (that the bread and wine become body and blood), it is doubtful that any person with a Lutheran view of the Eucharist would be satisfied by the symbolic interpretation written in the Heidelberg Catechism.” (117-18)
In honor of the anniversary Faith Alive Christian Resources released a fresh translation of it last year. It is a paperback with 76 pages and sells for $8.99.