The 1563 Heidelberg Catechism, which is among the three unity forms, is a document meant for confession by Protestants while utilizing several questions with answers, whose role was to facilitate in teaching the restructured Christian faith. The document composition took place in Heidelberg Germany in 1563. The original documents title translates to Christian Instruction or Catechism according to the ways that Electoral Palatinate schools use it. The Electoral Palatinates prince-elector commissioned it, hence leading it to adopt the term Palatinate Catechism severally. The document exists in various languages while also serving as among the most powerful among the reformed catechisms (Bierma, Gunnoe, Maag, & Fields, 2011).
Elector Frederick III, who served as Electoral Palatinates sovereignty between 1559 and 1576, took part in commissioning the new Catechism composition to serve the needs of the territory he administered. Even though the introduction of catechism associates the theological foundation at University of Heidelberg, as well as all the church notable servants and superintendents in composing the catechism, many consider Zacharius Ursinus as the key author of the catechism. Casper Olevianus (1536-1587), formerly served as the documents co-author, even though the theory witnessed significant rejection in the contemporary scholarship (Bierma, , 2013). Other individuals considered to have made certain contribution to the catechism in certain degrees comprise of Piterre Boquin, Johannes Brunner, Michael Miller, Thomas Erastus, Johannes Willing, Adam Neuser, and Johan Sylvan. In the case of Fredrick III, he was responsible for overseeing the writing of the preface as well as closely monitored the writing and publication process (Russell & Cohn, 2012).
As for Fredrick III (Fredrick: 1559-1576), he used to serve as Rhines Elector Palatine. He was born on February 1515 while he was the son of Johan II, Pfalz-Simmerns Count Palatine. He took over from his father as Simmerns Count in 1557 before serving as Elector Palatine after the death of Otto Heinrich in 1559, as Heinrich did not have any children. Friedrich married Maria of Brandenburg-Kulmbach in 1537. His wife had significant influence on him based on the strong belief she had in Protestant faith, leading him to make a public profession concerning the same faith in 1546. Therefore, while standing to oppose his father, Friedrich had adopted Lutheranism. Nevertheless, eventually, Friedrich witnessed significant repulsion by certain disintegration in Lutheranism, and while witnessing opposition from about all his followers, he concluded that Calvin had managed to penetrate profoundly to the Holy Scriptures. During January 1561, Friedrich had integrated with the Calvinist position entirely. Since then Heidelberg emerged as the Reformed Churchs stronghold, while Heidelberg Catechism emerged as the notable Reformed faiths expression (Russell & Cohn, 2012).
Showing determination that was unusual to Calvinism, Friedrich took action to repel other doctrines. Just as it was with numerous pious Protestant and catholic rulers that prevailed at the time, he felt he had an obligation to God to support his subjects salvation. Most of the Palatines did not shift from believing ion the old church, although they would not witness any form of molestation in case they refrained from exercising any form of worship. A considerable number of Lutheran pastors abandoned their positions, since they did not want to deny their faith. Since Calvin led to taking of Servetus to stakes for denying the trinity, the same case happened to Inspector Johannes Silvanus, after execution in one of Heidelbergs open market place for engaging in a similar error. During 11 April 1571, the Friedrich signed sentence for death (Russell & Cohn, 2012).
During the previous day, April 10, Friedrich had decided to invite the Anabaptists to a Frankenthals disputation. He had previously showed unwillingness with respect to enforcing strict laws, as he perceived them as simple, poor, good, although they ended up misleading the people. Hence, their preachers and elders needed to express themselves in an open manner, conduct themselves safely for a period of two week before and after the process of disputation as well as free lodging. In each village and city, the invitation posted publicly while it was read twice form pulpits. Only about 15 of the participants came. However, Friedrich became apparent during the opening while the daily report was issued to him while in Heidelberg. While he saw the good intentions he had of winning them to the church of the state as well as forester faith unity during his administration, he believed he would manage to end failure irrespective of the efforts, since he was wrought up in a conceivable manner. He expressed bitter expressions concerning the bad fellows (Bierma, Gunnoe, Maag, & Fields, 2011). He prevented them from baptizing or preaching while threatening extreme penalties in case they participated in such actions. At a 1573 synod, magicians and sorcerers dominated them. In this sense, he believed he would the children would not be allowed to reach around eight years of age before being baptized. However, Friedrich failed to eradicate the Anabaptists. Rather, he wanted to enforce extreme church discipline within Geneva while following the light side of his heart. As such, he opted to meet partly with members practicing resistance, despite the false doctrines they practices, while also showing certain elements of dull apathy. Here, one might assume that he did not wish to overlook the notion that the Anabaptists, irrespective of the false doctrines they followed, they used to follow the Christian teachings concerning the way of life unlike the case of numerous Reformed congregation members (Bierma, 2013).
About Friedrich, he used to serve as a serious individual, who used to exercise certain forms of harsh treatment while at the same time not exercising total honesty. While handling a state, this kind of practice would be impossible or difficult. Friedrich died on October 1576. In his will, he mandated that the Palatinate should not deviate from Calvinism. Nevertheless, Ludwig VI (1539-1583), who served as his elder son, despite being raised by his mother to live as Lutheran, he failed to follow the wishes of his father (Bierma, Gunnoe, Maag, & Fields, 2011). As such, the religion of the state emerged as Lutheran once again. In the case of most preachers, they showed unwillingness with respect to making changes, leading to their dismissal from service. While under the leadership of Johann Casimir, Ludwigs brother, as well as Friedrich IV, Ludwigs son, the Reformed Church was restored, while Lutheran teachers and preachers encountered the same fate that the Reformed witnessed previously. However, in the case of the people, they showed apathetical acceptance to the changes as they did when the weather changed. Nonetheless, questions prevail as to whether this form of spiritual violence leaves its marks on people character. Many individuals remained Lutheran in their minds despite the notion that the service order was reformed (Russell & Cohn, 2012).
Bierma, L. (2013). The Theology of the Heidelberg Catechism: A Reformation Synthesis. Berlin: Westminster John Knox Press.
Bierma, L., Gunnoe, C., Maag, K., & Fields, P. (2011). An Introduction to the Heidelberg Catechism: Sources, History, and Theology. Michigan: Baker Publishing Group.
Russell, J., & Cohn, R. (2012). Frederick Iii, Elector Palatine. New York: Book on Demand.
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