In the early 1560s Frederick III (1516-76), Elector Palatine
desired that his subjects be led to a 'devout knowledge and fear of
the Almighty and his holy Word of salvation'. He commissioned a
group of theologians and ministers to compose a catechetical
summary of biblical truth that could be committed to memory and be
an encouragement to personal faith and growth in Christ. The final
version was approved by the Synod in Heidelberg (1563), the city
lending its name to the catechism.
The Heidelberg Catechism follows the pattern of the Epistle to
the Romans. It opens with the question 'What is your only comfort
in life and in death?', and then examines the realities of human
sin and misery (Rom. 1-3:20); salvation in Christ, including faith
and repentance (Rom. 3:21-11:36); and the Christian life of
thankful obedience in response to God's grace in Christ (Rom.
12-16). The catechism stands as a faithful testimony to the ancient
Christian faith in its scripturally derived shape and content, and
further expressed in its exposition and application of the
Apostles' Creed, the sacraments of baptism and the Lord's Supper,
the Ten Commandments, and the Lord's Prayer. FROM THE FOREWORD BY
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