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The Belgic Confession, 1561

The oldest of the doctrinal statements of the "Reformed" (i.e. "Calvinist) churches is the Confession of Faith, popularly known as the Belgic Confession, following the seventeenth-century Latin designation "Confessio Belgica." "Belgica" referred to the whole of the Netherlands, both north and south, which today is divided into the Netherlands and Belgium. The confession's chief author was Guido de Bräs, a Dutch preacher who died a martyr to his faith in 1567.

The Confession was written to prove to the Catholic government that the adherents of the Reformed faith were not rebels but law-abiding citizens who professed the true Christian doctrine according to the Holy Scriptures. De Bräs prepared this confession in the year 1561. A copy was sent to King Philip II of Spain in 1562, 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 Bräs himself fell as one of the many thousands who sealed their faith with their lives, his work has endured and will continue to endure. In its composition the author availed himself to some extent of a confession of the Reformed churches in France, written chiefly by John Calvin, published two years earlier.

The work of de Bräs, 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 Antwerp. 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 office bearers in the Reformed churches were required to subscribe. The confession stands as one of the best symbolical statements of Reformed doctrine. The translation presented here is based on the French text of 1619.


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 Man
Article 15: The Doctrine of Original Sin
Article 16: The Doctrine of Election
Article 17: The Recovery of Fallen Man
Article 18: The Incarnation
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
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


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