The Heidelberg Story by DR. EDWARD J. MASSELINK Baker Book House, Grand Rapids, Michigan 121 pages, illustrated. $2.50
The Heidelberg Story is also Calvinism’s story. Through four centuries of church history Calvinism and the Heidelberg Catechism have gone hand in hand around tho world; so much so that some have expressed (ear the Calvinist might sometime allow tho Catechism to supplant the Bible. The Calvinist’s first book always has been and will be his Bible. In his other hand, as study guide and creed, is his Catechism. As the author of The Heidelberg Story observes there is not much danger the Catechism will ever displace the Bible. There are many churches in which the Bible is an obsolete book, but never has this happened in a church where the Catechism is in use.
The Heidelberg Story is told by a mali singularly well suited to the telling. Those of us who know him are not surprised by his avid interest in a document as strongly doctrinal and evangelical all as this creed that has come down through the centuries from the land of his ancestors. By careful study of historical data, voluminous reading, and visits to the city of Heidelberg itself, he has steeped himself in the facts that make up tho story. By thoughtful insight he has evaluated and interpreted these facts. Though not a large volume. the book covers the story with surprising completeness. It is accurate as well as concise. Along with the story of the Catechism the reader is treated to little tidbits on the sideboard…such as the few sentences describing the occasion for the development of the Erastian form of church government, the “Philosophen Wandel,” and the like. The author is a stylist and has succeeded in couchIng historical facts in mort readable prose.
The Heidclberg Story is not a Heidelberg commentary. It was not the author’s purpose to present an analytical study of the document itself. Yet those who read the story are sure to lay the book down with a better understanding of the Catechism. Already in the second chapter (“Three Steps to Happiness”) is the kind of reference to the content of the Catechism that the reader continues to meet in following pages. The book does more than introduce us to the historical figures who wrote the Catechism: it gives insights into the warmth of the Catechism and its perennial relevance to human needs.
The Heidelberg Story is a story also for young people. For churches whose custom it is to present young people with a significant book upon making public profession of faith, this book could well be added to tho list of other fine selections available. It should be in all Calvinist homes. It would make fine summer reading for teen-agers in anticipation of the opening of the next Catechism season.
“The story of tile Catechism is a story of divine grace, one of the many that have come out of the history of man. Those who may have forgotten what a precious heritage God gave His church in the Catechism should read this book for a new appreciation of God’s provision for the strengthening of the children of the Reformation.
W. VANDER HOVEN