Thursday, January 22, 2009

Ursinus Catechism Humor

Zacharius Ursinus, co-author of the Heidelberg Catechism, and author of a commentary on the same, also prepared two other catechisms, the Larger and the Smaller Catechisms. While he had a profound gift for communication and catechising, that noble endeavor by which a teacher instructs a student often by the question and answer method, I can't help but wonder if he also had a sense of humor at times. To wit, this extract from the Larger Catechism (1561), notably Q. 275 (Source: Lyle D. Bierma, An Introduction to the Heidelberg Catechism, p. 213):

274 Q. What are sacraments?

A. They are signs of the covenant between God and believers in Christ, or seals of the righteousness of faith.[274]

275 Q. Say that more clearly.

A. Sacraments are ceremonies instituted by God and added to the promise of grace, so that he might represent to them the grace promised in the gospel, that is, the communication of Christ and all his benefits; and so that, by these visible pledges and public testimonies, as it were, he might assure all those who use these ceremonies in true faith that this promise certainly belongs to them and will be valid for them forever; and so that those using them might, on their part, bind themselves to perseverance in true faith and piety toward God.[275]

[274] SC 54; HC 66
[275] SC 54

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