Building the Minister’s Library: The Heidelberg Catechism
John G. Bales
Certainly the most familiar and beloved of the standards of unity within the Reformed tradition is the Heidelberg Catechism. Its simplicity and warm devotion have nurtured Reformed laypeople for hundreds of years. I like how Howard Hageman concluded his essay in Thompson’s book, “Here is the summary of the faith, but one that can be said on the knees. A whole faith for a whole man for the whole of his life – and for the whole church. This is an instrument for Christian nurture. This is the Heidelberg Catechism.”
Ames, William. A Sketch of the Christian's Catechism. Grand Rapids, Mich: Reformation Heritage Books, 2008. One might not have imagined Ames, a British puritan and Ramist, writing a commentary on the Heidelberg, but here it is with a helpful introduction by Joel Beeke and Todd Rester. Upon further examination one will notice that this is not truly a commentary on the Catechism, but a commentary on the Scripture of the Catechism.
DeYoung, Kevin. The Good News We Almost Forgot: Rediscovering the Gospel in a 16th Century Catechism. Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers, 2010. DeYoung shows us that one can be a pastor on the cutting edge and remain confessional and theologically orthodox. This book is an answer to his earlier book, Why We’re Not Emergent…because we believe we that the Scriptures, as summarized by our confessions, are sufficient for the shaping of our pastoral ministry.
Klooster, Fred H. Our Only Comfort: A Comprehensive Commentary on the Heidelberg Catechism. Grand Rapids, Mich: Faith Alive Christian Resources, 2001. Klooster provides us a contemporary (and yes comprehensive!) commentary on the Heidelberg, writing with the church in view.
Olevian, Caspar, and Lyle D. Bierma. A Firm Foundation: An Aid to Interpreting the Heidelberg Catechism. Carlisle [England]: Paternoster Press, 1995. In this edition Olevian comments on Days 5 through 24. This study is mostly for students, edited by one of the most competent scholars on this subject.
Spijker, W. van 't, and Gerrit Bilkes. The Church's Book of Comfort. Grand Rapids, Mich: Reformation Heritage Books, 2008. Van’t Spijker headlines a list of Dutch scholars who contribute essays on the history, theology and impact of the Catechism.
Thompson, Bard. Essays on the Heidelberg Catechism. Philadelphia: United Church Press, 1963. Includes several accessible articles on the Catechism’s historical background and Christian nurture.
Ursinus, Zacharias. The Commentary of Dr. Zacharias Ursinus on the Heidelberg Catechism. Phillipsburg, NJ: Presbyterian and Reformed Pub. Co, 1985. The standard commentary used by many generations to catechize and preach.
Veldkamp, Herman. Children of the Lord's Day: Notes on the Heidelberg Catechism. Eugene, Or: Wipf and Stock Pub, 2002. Extremely beneficial for anyone tasked with the responsibility of teaching the Catechism.
Williamson, G. I. The Heidelberg Catechism: A Study Guide. Phillipsburg, N.J.: P & R Pub, 1993. A study with brief comments and questions for discussion which can be used for teaching or leading a group.