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Review: Three Men Came to Heidelberg and Glorious Heretic

The Reformation of the 16th century produced many great documents, including the beloved Heidelberg Catechism and the thorough Belgic Confession.  For their 400th anniversaries, about 50 years ago, Thea B. Van Halsema wrote the stories of how these two influential documents were written.

Three Men Came to Heidelberg tells the story of the Heidelberg Catechism.

Frederick was a Protestant German prince who wished to put an end to vicious quarrels in his realm.  He was told to ‘seek peace and moderation in all things by holding carefully to a fixed doctrinal position.’ Heeding this advice, he ransomed Olevianus, a preacher, for 20,000 florins, and brought him to Heidelberg.  He also called on Ursinus, a professor who had once almost drowned while trying to save Frederick’s eldest son.

The prince, the preacher, and the professor worked together to create one of the greatest documents to come out of the Reformation era, the Heidelberg Catechism. This catechism created a stir and eventually the emperor summoned Frederick to answer for himself….

Glorious Heretic:  The Story of Guido de Bres tells the thrilling history of the Belgic Confession.

After Philip II, son of Charles V and husband of Bloody Mary, came to the throne, he began to carry out his ambition to crush the Protestant heretics, focussing much of his attention on the Lowlands that make up modern Belgium and the Netherlands.

Guido de Bres, a stained glass artist in Belgium, studied his forbidden Bible faithfully.  When he was older, he journeyed to both England and Switzerland to learn more, but repeatedly he returned to his own country, in disguise, to pastor churches there.

Eventually, it became obvious that someone needed to explain the Protestant faith to the king to show that it was not related to rebellion.  De Bres carefully completed his Confession, and on the night of Nov 1, 1561 a small package addressed to King Philip and containing the Confession was tossed over a castle wall.  Suddenly the search for the heretic preacher became more intense….

In a clear, engaging style Thea B. Van Halsema presents history as a tale that will appeal to teens and adults.  Anyone who wishes to understand either the reformation or the history of Europe in the 16th century will profit from reading this slim book.  Those of the Reformed faith will see how their brothers risked their lives to understand the Word of God and to tell others about it.  This book is highly recommended for its exciting stories.  It is also a fascinating resource for both European history and church history.

Three Men Came to Heidelberg and Glorious Heretic:  The Story of Guido de Bres  by Thea B. Van Halsema is available from Inheritance Publications.

Disclosure:  I received a review copy of Three Men Came to Heidelberg and Glorious Heretic:  The Story of Guido de Bres in order to share my honest opinions with you.

This is my 16th book in the 52 Books in 52 Weeks Challenge and is also linked to Saturday Review of Books.


  1. Sherry Early says:

    These two stories look wonderful. I’d like to to read both and learn about episodes in history of which I am unaware or at least uninformed.

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