More than two-thirds of the presbyteries have approved a new translation of the Heidelberg Catechism — which means that translation will now go to the 2014 General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) for a determination of whether it will be included in the denomination’s The Book of Confessions. If it is approved, the new translation will replace the translation of the Heidelberg Catecheism currently in The Book of Confessions.
As of late May, 122 of 173 presbyteries had voted in favor of the new translation — more than the 116 “yes” votes needed for approval (and with about 40 presbyteries yet to vote).
Amendments to the PC(USA)’s constitution require approval from a majority of the presbyteries (87 of 173 presbyteries). Amendments to The Book of Confessions need a two-thirds majority vote (116 of 173 presbyteries), plus approval from the next General Assembly.
This proposed change has been more than five years in the making. The revision was crafted in partnership with the Reformed Church in America and the Christian Reformed Church in North America. At issue were translation concerns involving five responses of the Heidelberg Catechism — including the question of whether earlier translators added the phrase “homosexual perversion” to the response to Question 87, as that phrase was not found in the original German version of the catechism written 450 years ago, in 1563.
In 2008, the General Assembly created a special committee to address possible problems in the Heidelberg Catechism and instructed it to fix several mis-translations and add the original Scripture texts of the German Heidelberg Catechism.