The Church Order of the Christian Reformed Church states in Article 54b: “At one of the services each Lord’s day, the minister shall ordinarily preach the Word as summarized in the Heidelberg Catechism, following its sequence.” This is a good requirement. Catechism preaching has been a source of great blessing in the denomination for many years. The Heidelberg Catechism is a beautiful piece of writing, and the fact that Christian Reformed people are still grounded somewhat in Biblical doctrine can be attributed, among other things, to catechism preaching.

Catechism preaching keeps our preaching balanced. I believe it is safe to say that if it were not for catechism preaching certain truths of God’s Word would seldom be touched upon in sermons.

Catechism preaching is doctrinal preaching based on the Scriptures. Because of the prevalence of many doctrinal errors today, Catechism preaching is relevant, practical, and necessary. It is truly one of our strongholds. Let us keep it that way.

Because of the above considerations, catechism preaching should not be camouflaged. The reading of the particular Lord’s Day in the Catechism should not be omitted before the sermon is proclaimed. The Lord’s Day under consideration should be referred to throughout the sermon. Ministers are to preach the Word as summarized in the Catechism. It should be clear to the congregation that the sermon is based on Scripture and that it is a Catechism sermon. By means of Catechism preaching the congregations receive systematic teaching in the fundamental truths of Scripture. This is needed especially in our day. All Christians should be doctrinally grounded (II Tim. 3:16, 17). Besides, Christians need comfort (Lord’s Day 1), and the proper understanding of Scripture will strengthen one’s comfort.

Let us appreciate a precious heritage. Let us not engage in camouflaging.


Andrew J. Van Schouwen is pastor of the Christian Reformed Church of Oakland, Michigan.


There is a procedure in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church that ought to be followed in the Christian Reformed Church. It has to do with ministers moving from one presbytery (classis) to another. Every time this sort of thing occurs, the minister who moves to the new presbytery is obliged to submit to a short theological examination. The examination is not at all as detailed as the Classical Examination when he enters the ministry. But nonetheless it is an examination of his views regarding the issues presently confronting the church.

The object of all this is the simple observation that many men and ministers change their minds from time to time regarding many subjects, not the least of which is theology. And when this happens, the c1assis or presbytery in which the minister now takes up his labors, has the duty to know where the brother now stands relative to the issues of the day.

The practical wisdom of this procedure can be seen immediately, it seems to me. There are new winds of doctrine constantly blowing around us. Many of these new winds are more recent than our graduation from seminary. Therefore, in many cases at least, those in the ministry have not been able to benefit from a thoroughly Reformed analysis and critique of these positions. Nevertheless these ideas are prevalent in religious periodicals that we read, and we might unintentionally imbibe such thinking into our theology. A periodical examination would help us to reevaluate our own thinking, and it would help the classis to know what its ministers are thinking too.

So our brethren in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church, who have learned the bitter cost of diversive theology, have established this kind of checks and balances in terms of their ministry. It seems to me that we can learn from their history also in this procedure that an ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure.


Henry B. Vanden Heuvel is pastor of the Bethel Christian Reformed Church of Sioux Center, Iowa.


The conservative has long been accused, among other things, of a lack of appreciation for the unity and mission of the church. It has become a growing conviction with this observer that disruption of unity within the church is caused not so much by the conservative’s lack of understanding of the nature of the church as by the dishonesty of members of the church who remain within it although they can no longer accept the interpretation of the Word or the confessional standards founded upon it held by the church.

Harold H. Lytle once wrote: “I salute the Unitarians and others who, when they had basic differences with their former affiliations, were honest enough to leave and institute a different church under a different name rather than take over the existing church and radically change its statement of faith” (Christianity Today, August 18, 1967). There seems to be little of such honesty today. Those who find themselves in basic conflict with the doctrine of the church often seck to accommodate the teachings of the church to their ideas by pouring unorthodox meanings into accepted terminology. Some even disparage or ignore the creeds because they no longer agree with them. Such ought to recognize their dishonesty and heed the words of C. S. Lewis in the essay, “On Moving with the Times”:

“But I insist that wherever you draw the lines, bounding lines must exist, beyond which your doctrine will cease either to be Anglican or to be Christian: and I suggest also that the lines come a great deal sooner than many modern priests think. I think it is your duty to fix the lines clearly in your own minds: and if you wish to go beyond them you must change your profession.

“This is your duty not specially as Christians or as priests but as honest men.”

Those who dishonestly use the pulpit, the classroom, or the pen to propagate ideas which do violence to the Scriptures and the Reformed faith are guilty of disrupting the church. Against them the conservatives must speak unitedly for it is as John Calvin once wrote: “A dog barks when his master is attacked. I would be a coward, if I saw that God’s truth is attacked and yet would remain silent, without giving any sound.”


Arthur Besteman is pastor of the Messiah Christian Reformed Church of Hudsonville, Michigan.