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The Confession of Faith, popularly known as the Belgic Confession, is a doctrinal standard document to which many of the Reformed churches subscribe. The Confession is part of the Three Forms of Unity.

The name Belgic Confession follows the seventeenth-century Latin designation Confessio Belgica. Belgica referred to the whole of the Netherlandsmarker, both north and south, which today is divided into the Netherlands and Belgiummarker. The confession's chief author was Guido de Bres, a preacher of the Reformed churches of the Netherlands, who died a martyr to the faith in 1567.

History

During the sixteenth century the churches in the Netherlands were exposed to terrible suppression by the Roman Catholic government. To protest against this suppression, and to prove to the Catholic authorities that the adherents of the Reformed faith were not rebels, as was laid to their charge, but law-abiding citizens who believed they professed the true Christian doctrine according to the Holy Scriptures, de Bres prepared this confession in 1561. In the following year a copy was sent to King Philip II, together with an address in which the petitioners declared that they were ready to obey the government in all lawful things, but that they would "offer their backs to stripes, their tongues to knives, their mouths to gags, and their whole bodies to the fire," rather than deny the truth expressed in this confession. Although the immediate purpose of securing freedom from persecution was not attained, and de Bres himself fell as one of the many thousands who sealed their faith with their lives, his work has endured. In its composition the author availed himself to some extent of a confession of the Reformed churches in Francemarker, written chiefly by John Calvin, published two years earlier.

The work of de Bres, however, is not a mere revision of Calvin's work, but an independent composition. In 1566 the text of this confession was revised at a synod held at Antwerpmarker. In the Netherlands it was at once gladly received by the churches, and it was adopted by national synods held during the last three decades of the sixteenth century. The text, not the contents, was revised again at the Synod of Dort in 1618-19 and adopted as one of the doctrinal standards to which all officebearers in the Reformed churches were required to subscribe.

Composition

The Belgic Confession consists of 37 articles which deal with the doctrines of God (1-2, 8-13), Scripture (3-7), humanity (14), sin (15), Christ (18-21), salvation (16-17, 22-26), the Church (27-36), and the end times (37).

Further reading

  • The Belgic Confession: Its History and Sources by Nicolaas Hendrik Gootjes


  • The Church's Witness to the World by P. Y. DeJong


  • With Heart and Mouth: An Exposition of the Belgic Confession by Daniel R. Hyde


  • Faith of our Fathers (a study guide/workbook) by Al Bezuyen


External links



Notes

  1. Preface to the Belgic Confession



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