What is the Belgic Confession?Question: "What is the Belgic Confession?"
Answer: The Belgic Confession (1561) is a statement of faith for the Reformed Church in Holland (Belgica), written primarily by Guido de Brès. It is the oldest confession of faith used by the Christian Reformed Church and the Reformed Church in America and is readily available online.
At the time the Belgic Confession was written, King Phillip II of Spain was bent on stamping out all forms of Protestantism in his realm. At this time he was Lord of the Seventeen Provinces (the Hapsburg Netherlands), an area that corresponds to modern-day Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, and some of France. At Phillip’s hand, Protestant churches were subject to severe persecution. The author of the confession, a Reformed preacher, was martyred in 1567.
The Belgic Confession is a plea for tolerance as the author sought to make clear what the Reformed faith believes and how it is consistent with the ancient creeds. The document seeks to demonstrate that Reformed believers were not rebels and were willing to be subject to the king in all matters that do not contradict the laws of God in Scripture. However, they were willing to suffer and die, if necessary, for the truth of what they believed. The Belgic Confession also explains what differentiates Reformed faith from Catholicism and Anabaptism.
The Belgic Confession did not accomplish the goal of securing relief for persecuted churches; however, the Reformed congregations readily received it, and it became a source of unity for them.
The Belgic Confession is thoroughly evangelical. The Articles listed below will give a sense as to the topics covered:
Article 1: The Only God
Article 2: The Means by Which We Know God
Article 3: The Written Word of God
Article 4: The Canonical Books
Article 5: The Authority of Scripture
Article 6: The Difference Between Canonical and Apocryphal Books
Article 7: The Sufficiency of Scripture
Article 8: The Trinity
Article 9: The Scriptural Witness on the Trinity
Article 10: The Deity of Christ
Article 11: The Deity of the Holy Spirit
Article 12: The Creation of All Things
Article 13: The Doctrine of God’s Providence
Article 14: The Creation and Fall of Humanity
Article 15: The Doctrine of Original Sin
Article 16: The Doctrine of Election
Article 17: The Recovery of Fallen Humanity
Article 19: The Two Natures of Christ
Article 20: The Justice and Mercy of God in Christ
Article 21: The Atonement
Article 22: The Righteousness of Faith
Article 23: The Justification of Sinners
Article 24: The Sanctification of Sinners
Article 25: The Fulfillment of the Law
Article 26: The Intercession of Christ
Article 27: The Holy Catholic Church (here, Catholic simply means “universal,” as opposed to “Roman Catholic”)
Article 28: The Obligations of Church Members
Article 29: The Marks of the True Church
Article 30: The Government of the Church
Article 31: The Officers of the Church
Article 32: The Order and Discipline of the Church
Article 33: The Sacraments
Article 34: The Sacrament of Baptism
Article 35: The Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper
Article 36: The Civil Government
Article 37: The Last Judgment
Recommended Resource: Christianity Through the Centuries by Earle Cairns
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