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A Turn of Events – From Chaos to Comfort – A History of the Heidelberg Catechism (2)

More chaos was in the land in 1560. Two leading men had been cast out of the Protestant town of Heidelberg, Germany: the Lutheran Dr. Hesshuss and the Calvinist Klebitz. Their wrestling match during a church service was the last straw. But the views they had been fighting over—views about the Lord’s supper—were far from settled. The Reformed faith was still new to many people. People saw the truth of the new doctrines, but they did not fully understand them. Because the printing process was also new, not everyone owned a Bible yet, and not many catechism books had been written. The few catechisms they had were either too short or too long to be useful for teaching children. The result of all of this was much confusion over the Lord’s supper and many doctrines— confusion for those who were trying to teach, and confusion for those who were trying to learn.

Elector Frederick III saw the need. As ruler of the land, he had only recently come on the throne. He was a very educated man and had been brought up in the best of Roman Catholic schools because his father had been a strict Roman Catholic. So how was it that Frederick now saw the need for teaching clear and consistent Reformed doctrine to the church and its children?

As a young man he began to see the corruption and hypocrisy that was in the church of Rome. As a young prince it was proper that he marry a young princess—even if she was a Lutheran one. Under her influence, it was not long until he was converted to Protestantism. Frederick’s father was not happy about his conversion. He kept Frederick, his wife, and the children they would have nearly penniless for many years. At times this royal family lived like the poorest of paupers in the land, persecuted by their own ruling father.

But now Frederick’s father was dead, and so was the former elector of Heidelberg. Now it was Frederick’s lot to rule in Heidelberg, Germany. It was in the providence of God that he was here in this place at this time. It was in the providence of God that he saw the need for teaching doctrine to the youth of the church. It was in the providence of God that he would have the desire and the means to do something about it.

Frederick knew that Heidelberg was an important city for the work of the Reformation, and with Hesshuss gone, Heidelberg needed a new professor and a new preacher who would help to correct this state of confusion. But who?

God was preparing two young men for the work. They would boldly and faithfully preach and teach the doctrines of Scripture in truth. They would work to teach those doctrines to the church and its children. They would work to change the chaos and confusion in the land to comfort and order. Such would be the turn of events…