Thursday, April 1, 2010
The Dutch Reformed Guy In Presbyterian Exile
I hope it will not get me defrocked by the Mississippi Valley Presbytery, but I am at long last willing to come out and say "I prefer the Heidelberg Catechism to the Westminster Catechisms!" Whew. What a relief. Let the chips fall where they may.
Why do I prefer Heidelberg? Well, firstly, because it wasn't written by committee. Shakespeare could not have been written by committee, nor could Psalm 103. They would have had lots of provisos and wherefores. The Heidelberg was written primarily by one man --a pastor scholar. Westminster was written by committee.
Now, thankfully, there are some beautiful and affecting passages in Westminster, on adoption and (surprisingly) the power of sin.
But, mostly I like Heidelberg because it is personal and subjective. Among many other struggles we have in the Reformed community is the struggle between the subjective and the objective. It is quite possible to err on either side. But, I do fear that many who claim the name of Reformed Christian are afraid of anything subjective --over-reacting against the subjectivism of the age, and the evangelical church at large.
Heidelberg is subjective in all the right ways. It is subjective in that it begins with "What is your only comfort in life and in death?" and answers it, "That I am not my own, but belong body and soul, both in life and in death to my faithful savior, Jesus Christ..." It is beautifully subjective in its definition of saving faith --that is without peer. "not only certain knowledge but also a hearty trust not only unto others, but to me also forgiveness of sins...given freely by God, merely of grace, and only for the sake of Christ's merits.
What do I see missing in so many places and people? Just the "not only to others, but to me also" part of faith. We can own a lot of truth, and fall short of Jesus. Not only certain knowledge, but also hearty trust, not only to others, but to me also, merely of grace.