‘The joy of Law: A revisitation of the usus normativus in the Heidelberg Catechism’

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    Abstract

    In this essay, the author studies the so-called third use of the law in the Heidelberg Catechism, as a representative creed in the Calvinistic confession. In the introduction several current problems surrounding the normative use of the law are investigated, which leads to the research question: How can this use in the Heidelberg Catechism contribute to current theology of renewal? The structures of this catechism and the interpretative framework for the treatment of the law are first described, this is followed by an assessment of how the third use of the law in this catechism functions according to its own theological structures. It becomes clear that the treatment of the Ten Commandments differs from the theological framework. While the structures of the Heidelberg Catechism guarantee spiritual liberty for the treatment of the Ten Commandments, in the practical functioning of the law this liberty is weakened. This is confirmed by the treatment of the law in the theological framework of the balanced relationship of mortification and quickening. The third use of the law for a current theology of renewal is then revisited and it is suggested that the discovery of the eschatological aspect of Christology can be applied to soteriology, which opens up the possibility of speaking about the fulfillment of the law by the Spirit in the hearts and lives of believers as an earnest of the future glory. In this way the joy of the law can function in a theological framework.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)166-181
    Number of pages16
    JournalJournal of Reformed Theology
    Volume9.2
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 2015

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