Preaching with the Heidelberg Catechism today
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This project is designed to give an overview of catechetical preaching today. It is intended to aid ministers in preparing for and practicing catechetical preaching in the churches of today and to today's congregations by presenting methods whereby catechetical preaching can be both exegesis of Scripture and exposition of the Heidelberg Catechism.
Chapter One looks at the present state of catechetical preaching and the various attitudes toward catechetical preaching. The practice of catechetical preaching is now in decline, both in quality and quantity. The ethos of our churches is changing, with the result that topical catechetical preaching is no longer as willingly accepted as it was when churches of Reformed persuasion were more European in ethos and outlook.
Chapter Two deals with the problems of catechetical preaching. It is often repetitious from year to year and therefore boring. Preachers sometimes brings theological presuppositions to their preaching that are different from the views expressed by the Heidelberg Catechism. The Heidelberg Catechism is sometimes used in preaching as if it were the Bible or equal in authority to the Bible. Sometimes there is audience resistance against catechetical preaching. The preacher is not always adequately trained or equipped for catechetical preaching.
Chapter Three gives us reasons why catechetical preaching can still be useful and relevant. The Heidelberg Catechism provides us with a useful framework of thought and confession. Its emphasis on the promises of God can be a very effective antidote to legalism and cold orthodoxy. Various parts of the Catechism are especially valuable for instructing and edifying the Church.
Chapter Four studies and critiques the approaches to catechetical preaching of Peter Y. DeJong, the Dutch Pietists, Heinrich Ott, Eugene Heideman, Shinji Masuda, and Paul Calvin Zylstra.
Chapter Five explores ways in which the Heidelberg Catechism can be preached with Scripture texts so that catechetical preaching will be, at the same time, valid and faithful exegesis of the chosen text and useful exposition of the Heidelberg Catechism.
A method is discussed by which a non-traditional congregation can be introduced to catechetical preaching and the Catechism presented as a reminder of what the Bible teaches.
Various ways of developing sermons are suggested that will result in the sermon being both faithful exegesis of atext or texts and serious exposition of the Heidelberg Catechism:
- Ignoring the Lord's Day divisions and taking questions and taking questions and answers as units.
- Taking the questions of the Catechism and answering them from the Bible.
- When a question and answer is too broad too broad to harmonize with any single text, several texts can be used in one sermon.
- A sermon can be based on a text that has a basic idea which is reflected in a question and answer of the Heidelberg Catechism.
- The sermon can be built around key words in a text when such key words reflect an emphasis of Heidelberg Catechism.
As appendices, sermons on various Questions and Answers of the Catechism are presented as paradigms of these methods.