Rev. Lyle Bierma has traveled to several international conferences speaking about the Heidelberg Catechism, the historic statement of faith that celebrates its 450th anniversary this year.
One of these stops was in Heidelberg, the German city where the catechism was written at the request of the local ruler, who wanted a document to which Reformed Christians could adhere.
Bierma, a professor of systematic theology at Calvin Theological Seminary, said that the audiences to whom he spoke at the various conferences responded with great interest to the themes he presented.
“As one might expect, the scholarly conferences tended to treat the catechism more as a topic of historical and cultural interest than as a document that still lives and breathes in the church today,” he said.
“At the more popular conferences, I was struck by the great appreciation people still have for the Heidelberg Catechism 450 years after its birth—but also by their willingness to wrestle with questions about how well the catechism can serve confessional Reformed churches in the 21st century,” he added.
Published in German and Latin in 1563, the Heidelberg was written as a tool for teaching young people the precepts of the church, as a guide for preaching, and as a source of unity for a range of Protestant churches.
In January, Bierma spoke at the Third Annual Canadian Reformed Theological Seminary Lecture Series on the topic “Your Only Comfort: Celebrating 450 Years with the Heidelberg Catechism.”
He spoke in Leuven, Belgium, on “The Heidelberg Catechism in Ecumenical Perspective.”
In May, he spoke in Heidelberg on “Profile and Impact of the Heidelberg Catechism.”
Bierma spoke in June on “The Spirituality of the Heidelberg Catechism” at the Theological University of Apeldoorn.
In July, he addressed the 4th annual Heidelberg Conference on Reformed Theology. “This was a more popular conference, with such speakers as Joel Beeke, Michael Horton, and John Payne, and was attended by about 100 lay people, military chaplains, members of a Reformation Heritage tour (all from the U.S. and Canada), and seminary students. I spoke on the historical background of the Heidelberg catechism,” said Bierma.