Hearing the words “16th Century Catechism” will cause a myriad of reactions, depending on your religious background. For some, memories of a classroom and rote memorization spring to mind. Others will recoil at the thought of “some moldy document” that purports to impart truth. Others embrace the document’s antiquity and seek to make it relevant for today by updating it. All of these responses, real and valid though they may be, would be inappropriate for this 16th Century Catechism – the Heidelberg Catechism.
In The Good News We Almost Forgot, Pastor Kevin DeYoung takes a careful and studious look at the Heidelberg Catechism, penned largely by Zacharias Ursinus and published in the mid-16th Century, and finds that its truths do not need to be recovered as much as they need to be preserved. The truth has not gone away or faded, it is our memory of the truth that corrupts and must be guarded. A catechism is a wonderful tool in this regard.
Taking simple questions and presenting answers in an easily read, understood and memorized format is a simple way to teach doctrinal truth in a systematic way. This is exactly Pastor DeYoung’s plan: to utilize the 52-week division of the Catechism in order to present articles of reflection upon the teachings of the catechism.
Originally prepared for DeYoung’s congregation, the reader is quickly engaged with the text of the Catechism and Pastor DeYoung’s commentary highlights which expand on the simple questions and answers under consideration. The richness of the catechism is only accentuated by the insightful and thought-provoking comments. Readers can readily feel the heartbeat of a pastor for his congregation’s learning and edification while progressing through the study.
DeYoung succinctly states “everything we need to learn is what we’ve already forgotten. The chief theological task now facing the Western church is not to reinvent or to be relevant but to remember.” After reading his treatise on the Heidelberg Catechism, one feels better equipped to remember what really matters.
This book would be helpful for any student of the Bible. It is basic enough for new believers and conveys much depth for the seasoned saint. I recommend it heartily. – Pastor Charles L. Eldred, www.ChristianBookPreviews.com
If there is "nothing new under the sun" then perhaps the main task now facing the Western church is not to reinvent or be relevant, but to remember. The truth of the gospel is still contained within vintage faith statements. Within creeds and catechisms we can have our faith strengthened, our knowledge broadened, and our love for Jesus deepened.
In The Good News We Almost Forgot, Kevin DeYoung explores the Heidelberg Catechism and writes 52 brief chapters on what it has shown him. The Heidelberg is largely a commentary on the Apostle's Creed, the Ten Commandments, and the Lord's Prayer and the book deals with man's guilt, God's grace, and believers' gratitude. The result is a clear-headed, warm-hearted exploration of the faith, simple enough for young believers and deep enough for mature believers. As DeYoung writes, "The gospel summarized in the Heidelberg Catechism is glorious, it's Christ gracious, it's comfort rich, it's Spirit strong, it's God Sovereign, and it's truth timeless." Come and see how your soul can be warmed by the elegantly and logically laid out doctrine that matters most: We are great sinners and Christ is a greater Savior!