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A Happy Birthday for the Heidelberg Catechism
Out of The Horse's Mouth ^ | Jul.25, 2013 | Michael Horton

Posted on 07/25/2013 10:44:56 AM PDT by Gamecock

I’ve just returned from Heidelberg, Germany, where I joined brothers and sisters from around the world to celebrate the 450th anniversary of the Heidelberg Catechism. In addition to illuminating papers and warm fellowship, we enjoyed one of the city’s several museum exhibits celebrating the anniversary. Of special note was the Heidelberg Palace exhibit, “The Power of Faith: 450 Years of the Heidelberg Catechism.”

Frederick III, ruler of the Palatinate and imperial elector, was nicknamed “the pious” by fellow princes. Embracing Reformed teaching, he was distressed with the low level of knowledge of even the basics of the Christian faith in his territory. Drawing together the best theologians and pastors in the region, he oversaw (and even contributed to) the drafting of a catechism that would be taught in schools, churches, and homes.

Soon after publication in 1563, the Heidelberg Catechism was translated into various languages—including early modern Hebrew and Greek. It soon enjoyed wide use in the English-speaking world as well. Students learned this catechism at Oxford and Cambridge. Today, it is more widely known and used in Asia, Africa, and the Americas than in Europe or even North America. As my children repeat back the clear teaching of the gospel from this great catechism, I am reinvigorated in my own faith.

Yet in Germany itself, the story is rather different.

In Luther’s home state of Saxony-Anhalt, after nearly a century of atheistic indoctrination, only 19% of the population professes belief in God. Yet even more tragic is the widespread unbelief in the west, under the auspices of a privileged but largely apostate Protestant Evangelical Church (EKD). A union of Lutheran and Reformed bodies, the EKD and the Roman Catholic Church claimed 30% of the population each by the end of 2008. Affiliation, however, may mean no more than having been baptized. These Landeskirchen (established churches) continue to receive tax money to fund their undermining of the Christian faith. In recent decades, there have been free (i.e., independent of the state) Lutheran bodies maintaining evangelical convictions, but Arminian Baptist and Pentecostal groups are much larger.

Across the nation, 45% say, “I believe there is a God,” while among the youth the percentage drops to 30%, and 34% are “unaffiliated.” According to a 2010 Eurobarometer Poll, 55% of the total population claim to be atheists, agnostics, or “non-religious.” Germany has always been the vanguard of intellectual, cultural, and religious trends on the continent. What happens in Germany, for good or ill, has repercussions for the whole of Europe.

During my brief time in Heidelberg, I was impressed with the small group of committed believers who are longing and praying for a new Reformation. Spearheading this event last week was the Free Reformed Church (Selbstündige Evangelisch-Reformierte Kirche) in Heidelberg with the Rev. Sebastian Heck. I joined North American colleagues Joel Beeke, Lyle Bierma, Jason Van Vleet, and Jon Payne in giving some papers on the catechism, but for me it was definitely more blessed to receive than to give.

Among other speakers was Dr. Victor d’Assonville, an astute Reformed theologian. He leads a new seminary that holds great promise as a center for sound training of the small but growing band of future ministers, evangelists, and teachers. Students come from Lutheran and Reformed backgrounds and I had the pleasure of getting to know some of them at the conference. Many were raised in East Germany, where atheism was the state ideology. I was deeply moved by their stories of coming to understand the evangelical faith against all odds (including their own churches) and the depth of their zeal, knowledge, and clarity.

In other travels, I’ve seen first-hand the remarkable blessing of God on his means of grace. There is a hunger for Reformation Christianity around the world. And yet the land of the Reformation is now largely pagan. There is a great need for prayers and financial support for small but zealously faithful ministry in Germany.


TOPICS: Evangelical Christian; General Discusssion; History; Mainline Protestant
KEYWORDS: heidelberg; heidelbergcatechism; protestantism; reformation
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1 posted on 07/25/2013 10:44:56 AM PDT by Gamecock
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Heidelberg Catechism, Question 1. What is thy only comfort in life and death?

Answer: That I with body and soul, both in life and death, (a) am not my own, (b) but belong unto my faithful Saviour Jesus Christ; (c) who, with his precious blood, has fully satisfied for all my sins, (d) and delivered me from all the power of the devil; (e) and so preserves me (f) that without the will of my heavenly Father, not a hair can fall from my head; (g) yea, that all things must be subservient to my salvation, (h) and therefore, by his Holy Spirit, He also assures me of eternal life, (i) and makes me sincerely willing and ready, henceforth, to live unto him. (j)

(a) Rom.14:7 For none of us liveth to himself, and no man dieth to himself. Rom.14:8 For whether we live, we live unto the Lord; and whether we die, we die unto the Lord: whether we live therefore, or die, we are the Lord's. (b) 1 Cor.6:19 What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? (c) 1 Cor.3:23 And ye are Christ's; and Christ is God's. Tit.2:14 Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works. (d) 1 Pet.1:18 Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; 1 Pet.1:19 But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: 1 John 1:7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin. 1 John 2:2 And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world. 1 John 2:12 I write unto you, little children, because your sins are forgiven you for his name's sake. (e) Heb.2:14 Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; 1 John 3:8 He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil. John 8:34 Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin. John 8:35 And the servant abideth not in the house for ever: but the Son abideth ever. John 8:36 If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed. (f) John 6:39 And this is the Father's will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day. John 10:28 And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. 2 Thess.3:3 But the Lord is faithful, who shall stablish you, and keep you from evil. 1 Pet.1:5 Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. (g) Matt.10:29 Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father. Matt.10:30 But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Matt.10:31 Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows. Luke 21:18 But there shall not an hair of your head perish. (h) Rom.8:28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. (i) 2 Cor.1:20 For all the promises of God in him are yea, and in him Amen, unto the glory of God by us. 2 Cor.1:21 Now he which stablisheth us with you in Christ, and hath anointed us, is God; 2 Cor.1:22 Who hath also sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts. 2 Cor.5:5 Now he that hath wrought us for the selfsame thing is God, who also hath given unto us the earnest of the Spirit. Eph.1:13 In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, Eph.1:14 Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory. Rom.8:16 The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: (j) Rom.8:14 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. 1 John 3:3 And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.

2 posted on 07/25/2013 10:47:15 AM PDT by Gamecock (Member: NAACAC)
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To: drstevej; OrthodoxPresbyterian; CCWoody; Wrigley; Gamecock; Jean Chauvin; jboot; AZhardliner; ...
GRPL Ping


3 posted on 07/25/2013 10:49:26 AM PDT by Gamecock (Member: NAACAC)
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To: Gamecock
Frederick III, ruler of the Palatinate and imperial elector, was nicknamed “the pious” by fellow princes. Embracing Reformed teaching, he was distressed with the low level of knowledge of even the basics of the Christian faith in his territory. Drawing together the best theologians and pastors in the region, he oversaw (and even contributed to) the drafting of a catechism that would be taught in schools, churches, and homes.

Soon after publication in 1563, the Heidelberg Catechism was translated into various languages—including early modern Hebrew and Greek. It soon enjoyed wide use in the English-speaking world as well. Students learned this catechism at Oxford and Cambridge. Today, it is more widely known and used in Asia, Africa, and the Americas than in Europe or even North America. As my children repeat back the clear teaching of the gospel from this great catechism, I am reinvigorated in my own faith.

Ping for later

4 posted on 07/25/2013 10:59:50 AM PDT by Alex Murphy
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To: Gamecock

I don’t understand the logic of sola scriptura doctrine with a catechism or confession.


5 posted on 07/25/2013 11:16:49 AM PDT by D-fendr (Deus non alligatur sacramentis sed nos alligamur.)
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To: Gamecock
This is a sincere question for Protestants who believe in Reformed theology: why would there be zeal to spread the Gospel if God has predestined some people to be saved and some people to be damned? If human beings do not have free will, what difference to their salvation does it make whether they go to church on Sunday? My point is, doesn't Reformed theology make it difficult to keep people actually going to church? Don't good people who believe in God just figure they are either saved already, or they won't be saved no matter what they do?
6 posted on 07/25/2013 11:34:59 AM PDT by utahagen
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To: utahagen
why would there be zeal to spread the Gospel if God has predestined some people to be saved and some people to be damned?

Simple....

God commands that we do it.

Hoss

7 posted on 07/25/2013 12:00:18 PM PDT by HossB86 (Christ, and Him alone.)
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To: HossB86

Thanks you for your response.

OK, God commands you to spread the Gospel, but what reason are you giving listeners to join a church? If all you need to be saved is faith (not works) and God predestines some to be saved and some to be damned, wouldn’t listeners just reason, “Well, I believe in God and He’s already decided whether I’ll go to Heaven regardless of what I do, so why shouldn’t I sleep in on Sunday morning?”


8 posted on 07/25/2013 12:25:37 PM PDT by utahagen
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To: utahagen
"...so why shouldn’t I sleep in on Sunday morning?”

In no particular order.

To worship Him.

To worship Him along with others who love Him.

He commands it.

To hear the Word preached and thus to know the Lord and His Word more in our lives.

To be spurred on and to spur each other on to good works - prepared for us from before the beginning of the world

To grow in Him - and therefore, in sanctification and in His peace etc

9 posted on 07/25/2013 12:42:55 PM PDT by lupie
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To: lupie

OK, good answer. Thank you.


10 posted on 07/25/2013 12:47:58 PM PDT by utahagen
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To: D-fendr
I don’t understand the logic of sola scriptura doctrine with a catechism or confession.

I'm not surprised.

11 posted on 07/25/2013 12:57:49 PM PDT by Alex Murphy
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To: utahagen

not trying to be impertainent, and not a theologian, but in a small attempt to help, i’ll respond to your question(s) with a question in hopes of sparking you to do further research,, while hopefully not misleading (God forbid) or doing damage to you or anyone reading this.

i ask you to ponder: why did God require Moses to raise his arms to part the red sea when He clearly could have done it alone with no input whatsoever from moses?


12 posted on 07/25/2013 1:04:37 PM PDT by dadfly
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To: utahagen
I'm not giving listeners a reason to join a church; a church no more makes you a Christian than standing in a garage makes you a car. I want to give listeners the Gospel -- and yet, not me, but the Lord working through me to spread the Good News.

God commands we take the Gospel to the ends of the earth; it's what he does with it that matters; he is sovereign in all things. We don't know who he has predestined just by looking at them. We might have a hint by seeing their fruits... but ultimately we want to spread his Word because he commands it; and if we are saved, we want to do his will!

To take your thought a little farther: if all we need to do is to have faith and not works, "why shouldn't I just sleep in...?" Faith and faith alone saves; scripture plainly states that (Eph. 2:8-10) -- yet, we don't have the capacity to just "have" that faith. Does that mean no free will? Of course not. We do have free will. However, if we're not saved, our will is NOT to seek God in any way -- we have enmity with him -- our will is freely exercised, and it's exercised in sin. However, when the Lord saves us, he saves us from a state of death:

Eph. 2:1-10

1 And you were dead in the trespasses and sins 2 in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— 3 among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. 4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— 6 and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

bold mine

So, if we were dead, there is nothing we could ever do on our own; and if by his grace we are predestined to be saved, when we ARE saved, we want to do those things that he wants us to do; our "free will" now despises sin and seeks to serve God. Going to church is a subsidiary issue; it doesn't save you. God does.

Does "sleeping in" on Sunday morning damn you? No. But, if you're saved, it becomes something you want to do. Just like good works; they are a sign of salvation, not a way to salvation.

I'm sure there are MANY others that can give you a far more detailed response; Ephesians just happened to be at the front of my gourd when you posed the question. However, predestination is not something made up from whole cloth; it's in the Scriptures. Even Christ states that the only way we come to him is that the Father draw us... and if I recall correctly, that "draw" is a mild translation of the original; it should read more like "dragged, kicking and screaming." :D

Hoss

13 posted on 07/25/2013 1:19:54 PM PDT by HossB86 (Christ, and Him alone.)
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To: Alex Murphy
I'm not surprised.

I'm not surprised you're not surprised.

But that doesn't help answer the question of the logic of it.

14 posted on 07/25/2013 1:29:23 PM PDT by D-fendr (Deus non alligatur sacramentis sed nos alligamur.)
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To: HossB86
Wow! You’ve given me much to think about. I’ll read your post carefully. Thank you.
15 posted on 07/25/2013 1:39:23 PM PDT by utahagen
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To: dadfly

I get your point...I think...I’ll keep thinking about this.


16 posted on 07/25/2013 1:39:56 PM PDT by utahagen
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To: utahagen
This is a sincere question for Protestants who believe in Reformed theology: why would there be zeal to spread the Gospel if God has predestined some people to be saved and some people to be damned?

Of course, ultimately it's because the Bible commands it, as another poster noted. How and why is quite simple: because people can not see into the future.

Today's persecutor of the Church can be tomorrow's newest sinner saved by Grace through faith.

We have no way of knowing who, upon hearing the Word of God, will become convicted of their own sins, repent, and come to have faith in God.

Not knowing who will be saved in the future, all we can do is offer testimony and quote Scripture when the situation arises. Faith cometh by hearing the Word of God.
17 posted on 07/25/2013 1:44:13 PM PDT by PieterCasparzen (We have to fix things ourselves)
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To: utahagen
they are either saved already, or they won't be saved no matter what they do?

In Calvinism, that's the disconnect. The loss of meaning.

18 posted on 07/25/2013 1:59:01 PM PDT by D-fendr (Deus non alligatur sacramentis sed nos alligamur.)
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To: utahagen

“keep thinking.”

excellent advice for us all. may God continue to be with us on our journeys.


19 posted on 07/25/2013 2:02:06 PM PDT by dadfly
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To: utahagen

There are several good answers to your question. Another is that is how God has decided that people would be saved. We are given the privilege to participate in the redemption of God’s elect through spreading the Gospel, to all tongues, tribes and nations.

Because we know the elect are out there we are embolded in our witness, for we KNOW that God’s word will save all who he has foreordained. To us it is not a theoretical exercise, but we are acting on a promise. A promise that all whom He wills to be saved, will be saved.


20 posted on 07/25/2013 2:08:14 PM PDT by Gamecock (Member: NAACAC)
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To: utahagen
>>why would there be zeal to spread the Gospel if God<<

Any truly saved person with the indwelling of the Holy Spirit could answer that question without hesitation. It’s because when one is save Christ indwells that individual and changes their heart to want to please God and detests the sin that his/her human nature still tends towards. When indwelt by the Holy Spirit the desire to obey and please God is a desire that becomes part of the changed heart.

>>what difference to their salvation does it make whether they go to church on Sunday?<<

It doesn’t but the changed heart wants as much interaction with other truly saved people and desire to praise and worship causes the truly saved to want to attend. Only those who don’t understand true salvation don’t understand that desire but think it’s a duty.

>>or they won't be saved no matter what they do?<<

There again, the truly saved understand that it’s not “no matter what they do” but the desire changes to not want to do those things contrary to God’s will.

21 posted on 07/25/2013 2:53:33 PM PDT by CynicalBear (For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ)
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To: D-fendr; Alex Murphy

Yes, please explain it. Why the need for a catechism (another book) if the One Book has all the answers one needs?

Also, where is there mention of confession in the article? I don’t see it.


22 posted on 07/25/2013 3:51:19 PM PDT by piusv
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To: D-fendr; Gamecock
I don’t understand the logic of sola scriptura doctrine with a catechism or confession.

A catechism is nothing more than a statement of belief. If you say, "I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.", that is a catechism and you can cite scripture to support your catechism. Catechisms organizes our doctrine.

Here is the Heidelberg Catechsim.

23 posted on 07/25/2013 6:10:16 PM PDT by HarleyD
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To: piusv

It’s there reread it.


24 posted on 07/25/2013 6:23:58 PM PDT by Gamecock (Member: NAACAC)
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To: D-fendr
OK. Fair enough.

What is your understanding of the REFORMED definition of the term "Sola Scriptura?"

25 posted on 07/25/2013 6:26:02 PM PDT by Gamecock (Member: NAACAC)
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To: HarleyD

Thanks Harley.

Isn’t the theory since Luther that scripture is readable and its interpretation obvious? Why would you need to pick one interpretation organize that into a statement of belief?

I think you may be saying it’s just a different wording or organization; but isn’t it also to say what you believe versus what others believe - based on the same scripture, alone?


26 posted on 07/25/2013 10:12:02 PM PDT by D-fendr (Deus non alligatur sacramentis sed nos alligamur.)
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To: Gamecock

Thanks Gamecock.

I believe the term depends on who you ask. I’ve heard ones that seem more reasonable, but less sola. And ones less reasonable and more sola.

So it depends. And I think that is part of my point. If the meaning of scripture is obvious, why the need to define beliefs and doctrines?


27 posted on 07/25/2013 10:13:34 PM PDT by D-fendr (Deus non alligatur sacramentis sed nos alligamur.)
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To: D-fendr; Gamecock
Why would you need to pick one interpretation organize that into a statement of belief?

I think you may be saying it’s just a different wording or organization; but isn’t it also to say what you believe versus what others believe - based on the same scripture, alone?


28 posted on 07/26/2013 1:45:05 AM PDT by HarleyD
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To: D-fendr

So if I understand what you are saying, your interpretation of Sola Scriptura is all (my word) Scripture is obvious?

A lot of folks claim Sola Scriptura, that is why I am asking your understanding of the Reformed formulation.


29 posted on 07/26/2013 6:02:25 AM PDT by Gamecock (Member: NAACAC)
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To: HarleyD

I see your point here: to separate, distinguish from Catholic.

But, a lot of Protestants have the same creeds and there are definitely confessional arguments and distinctions between them.

My main question still is the one I think Luther ran into: if your doctrine is all you need is scripture and it’s meaning is obvious, what happens when someone gets a different meaning than you from it?

CF: Luther and Zwingli.


30 posted on 07/26/2013 8:11:35 AM PDT by D-fendr (Deus non alligatur sacramentis sed nos alligamur.)
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To: Gamecock

I think “the meaning is obvious (or the same because it is the same scripture) is one underlying assumption of sola scriptura.

I think when Luther discovered that this was not the case, interpretative catechisms/confessions became necessary. And this revealed a problem with sola sciptura - really, almost regardless of the specific definition.

So the logic of sola scriptura is violated if you need another document that says what doctrine you get from scripture in order to be of the Reformed faith.

thanks for your reply


31 posted on 07/26/2013 8:15:28 AM PDT by D-fendr (Deus non alligatur sacramentis sed nos alligamur.)
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To: D-fendr; HarleyD

Ok, I think I understand your confusion. You are comparing apples and oranges.

Sola Scriptura NEVER clings to all of Scripture being understandable to every Christian. Simply put, Sola Scriptura means that Scripture is the sole rule of faith for the Christian.

The Confessions and Catechisms are not, in any way, given superior or equal status to Scripture. Rather they are a summery of essential doctrines of the Christian faith.

I can think of this working it’s way out in three ways.

1. It protects God’s people from erroneous teaching. Let’s say a pastor gets in the pulpit and preaches we are saved by out own works. A Saint in the congregation know this is wrong, but will have to through Scripture trying to remember how to refute that statement. Or he can just open his handy Confession/Catechism and then approach the preacher and ask if he heard the preacher right. If the preacher confirms what the member heard, the summery of Scripture can be used to bring charges in a church court.

2. While Scripture is the Sole Rule of faith, the confessions and Catechisms are useful for instructing children and new believers. The footnotes prove what is being taught.

3. Let’s say Bod stands up in a small group and proclaims an new understanding. Rather than pour through Scripture, the catechism easily refutes false views brought out in small groups. Now the other side of the coin what if members of a church or group start pouring false teaching on a member. The member can double check, quickly, if he is right or the group, without have to spend hours studying Scripture.


32 posted on 07/26/2013 11:33:18 AM PDT by Gamecock (Member: NAACAC)
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To: Gamecock; D-fendr

Yes. In the Presbyterian church I’m attending we often have pastors from other denominations addressing the congregation. If one is rooted in the main tenants of the faith, the other issues take care of themselves.


33 posted on 07/26/2013 3:37:29 PM PDT by HarleyD
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To: Gamecock
say Bod stands up in a small group and proclaims an new understanding. Rather than pour through Scripture, the catechism easily refutes false views

What if Bob via sola scriptura says his understanding is correct and yours wrong? Which rules? Catechism or scripture?

34 posted on 07/29/2013 9:14:31 AM PDT by D-fendr (Deus non alligatur sacramentis sed nos alligamur.)
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To: HarleyD
If one is rooted in the main tenants

Who determines the main tenets and on what authority? What if another disagrees on something like salvation by election?

35 posted on 07/29/2013 9:16:24 AM PDT by D-fendr (Deus non alligatur sacramentis sed nos alligamur.)
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To: D-fendr

If the church courts determine Bob to have a true understanding, the catechism may be changed.

If he is proven wrong, then it won’t be taught in the church. If he insists he is correct, and can’t in good faith worship in that church, then he should peacefully leave that church.


36 posted on 07/29/2013 10:35:12 AM PDT by Gamecock (Member: NAACAC)
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To: Gamecock

Thanks Gamecock, that makes sense.

Still...

:)

This seems to place a church court authority over scripture, something I thought was verbotten.


37 posted on 07/29/2013 10:42:31 AM PDT by D-fendr (Deus non alligatur sacramentis sed nos alligamur.)
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To: D-fendr
This seems to place a church court authority over scripture

Nah. The church court is subordinate to Scripture.

38 posted on 07/29/2013 10:52:28 AM PDT by Gamecock (Member: NAACAC)
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To: Gamecock

How so? What if they become Bobs?

Does the catechism rule them?


39 posted on 07/29/2013 12:16:02 PM PDT by D-fendr (Deus non alligatur sacramentis sed nos alligamur.)
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To: D-fendr

It goes back to 32.


40 posted on 07/29/2013 12:19:56 PM PDT by Gamecock (Member: NAACAC)
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To: D-fendr
Who determines the main tenets and on what authority?

All good catechisms are rooted in scripture. If it's really good it will have more than one.

What if another disagrees on something like salvation by election?

Before someone disagrees to a catechism, they better have a good answer to the scriptures supporting it. I honestly know where someone is coming from when they say, "Well, that's a mystery..." to a doctrine. I could never understand Romans or the book of John. It didn't make sense. So that is what I often said when I couldn't reconcile a piece of scripture or these books. "I guess it's a mystery and I'll find out when I get to heaven."

Here's a secret from a relatively new Reformer. Reformers aren't arrogant although they might seem like it. They simply are reading the scriptures in their entirety. The problem is others are not and they don't want to reconcile the differences because it will affect their preconcieved notions.

Where I think people are on shakey ground is when they will argue with a clear piece of scripture with a, "Ya but....". They are not thinking about what the scripture is trying to teach them.

41 posted on 07/29/2013 2:40:06 PM PDT by HarleyD
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To: Gamecock

Isn’t it then ultimately a democratic system? Majority rules?


42 posted on 07/29/2013 3:19:41 PM PDT by D-fendr (Deus non alligatur sacramentis sed nos alligamur.)
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To: HarleyD

Correct me if I’m wrong here:

If there’s disagreement, they argue it out using scripture and reason/logic.

Yes?


43 posted on 07/29/2013 3:20:50 PM PDT by D-fendr (Deus non alligatur sacramentis sed nos alligamur.)
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To: D-fendr

No. Scripture rules.

If you must draw a parallel it is a republic.

In a nutshell, with some variation:

The congregation elects elders, who then oversee the local body. In the Presbyterian church this group of men is called a Session. They rule over the local body.

Members of the session represent the local body at higher courts, called synods or presbyteries.

Higher and higher up until they the highest court is met. In the PCA this is called the General Assembly. Each level keeps an eye on the doctrinal purity of the level below it.

If this is sounds somewhat familiar, the US constitution is loosely based on Presbyterian church government.

In the Congregational church system majority rules. They vote on everything. Most jumped the rail a long time ago.


44 posted on 07/29/2013 3:54:11 PM PDT by Gamecock (Member: NAACAC)
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To: Gamecock

Thanks.

Has there been a Presbyterian Church with this structure that has “jumped the rails”?


45 posted on 07/29/2013 5:08:46 PM PDT by D-fendr (Deus non alligatur sacramentis sed nos alligamur.)
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To: Gamecock

Also on:

>>>No. Scripture rules.

I’m still unclear on the catechism here. Is it accepted that catechism = right interpretation of scripture? Is is possible for someone to find an error in the catechism based on scripture?

Or is this essentially saying they no longer hold the same beliefs as those of churches who accept the catechism? I.e., they need to change where they belong.


46 posted on 07/29/2013 5:31:49 PM PDT by D-fendr (Deus non alligatur sacramentis sed nos alligamur.)
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To: D-fendr
If there’s disagreement, they argue it out using scripture and reason/logic. Yes?

Is there a specific example you can provide? You will find the Westminster Confession and the London Baptist Confession uses only scripture. There isn't much to argue about. One could argue about the mode of baptism since the Westminster Confession holds to infant baptism and the London Baptist Confession holds to immersion. But they both have scriptural context for what they assert and if one were to honestly review history, it is a confusing doctrine (please see Augustine). So on this specific issue one has to follow their heart of what they believe the scripture is saying-not some magistrate telling you what you should believe.

Now let's look at a section of the Catechism of the Catholic Church-Article 3, Man's Freedom and Responsibility. Please note the references:

I don't have time to go into all of the problems, but you will note these references 1) don't always support the catechism being taught, 2) in some cases very loosely interpreted, 3) are not all scriptural references, and 4) several of them are vague as to what it's referring to(like the last one).

The problem Protestants have is that they don't read on know their confessions. If they did there would be much less arguing among Protestants.

The problem Catholics have is that they don't accept scripture to be the basis of their teaching. It doesn't matter what the scriptures state. What matters is what the church is teaching. If you think this is a little harsh then please note the catechism:

There is no basis in scripture for this statement. And, it goes completely against the First Amendment of our Constitution. Now what do you believe? This catechism of the Catholic Church or the First Amendment of the Constitution?
47 posted on 07/29/2013 6:03:08 PM PDT by HarleyD
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To: D-fendr

***Is it accepted that catechism = right interpretation of scripture?***

I answered that above, perhaps your Catholic paradigm is the barrier here.

Think of the Westminster Confession of Faith and the Shorter and Larger Catechism as a summery of the faith, not an interpretation. (This goes for the Three Forms of Unity used by our Continental Reformed brothers and Sisters as well)

They form a protective sandbag wall around Scripture. Our friend Bob has to chip away at the Confessions to prove his point. It is conceivable that he may have a valid Biblical point that was missed by the Devines, and if that happens the confessions would be changes.

Theses documents aren’t comprehensive to cover all aspects of life. For example, the Muslim issue. I know that the Catholic Catechism addresses homosexuality. Ours doesn’t. We have position papers on that issue that are separate documents that address this and other social issues.


48 posted on 07/29/2013 6:18:25 PM PDT by Gamecock (Member: NAACAC)
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To: D-fendr

**Has there been a Presbyterian Church with this structure that has “jumped the rails”?**

Yes, the Presbyterian Church(USA).

It started in the 1800’s with undermining the Confession, then when that was out of the way, they did away with the nature of Scripture. They said it was a book about God written by man. We say it is a book about God inspired by God.

Once you do away with the authority of Scripture, you start having all sorts of problems, as seen in today’s headlines regarding the PC(USA).


49 posted on 07/29/2013 6:22:25 PM PDT by Gamecock (Member: NAACAC)
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To: HarleyD
A quick response here on one point:

>>>"You will find the Westminster Confession and the London Baptist Confession uses only scripture. There isn't much to argue about."

Then again, what is the purpose. I know the idea of a summary, but there is not a meaning or interpretation or dogma/doctrine derived then what's the point, really?

I guess I'm not accepting the answer: it's only scripture. Scripture is short enough.

50 posted on 07/29/2013 8:04:25 PM PDT by D-fendr (Deus non alligatur sacramentis sed nos alligamur.)
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