Wednesday, October 26

The Belgic Confession

The Belgic Confession, published in 1561, was a clear, concise, and uncompromised declaration of Reformed faith. King Philip II had unleashed the full power of the Inquisition, determined to stamp out every remnant of Protestantism in Europe. Guido de Brès composed the work in French as an apology for the persecuted Reformation community suffering under his harsh rule. The Hapsburg Emperor was king of Spain, Sardinia, Sicily, Portugal, and Milan. Briefly during his marriage to Mary Tudor, he was also the titular king of England and Ireland. But even that failed to satisfy his voracious appetite.

Like his father Charles V, who confronted Martin Luther at the Diet of Worms, Philip was obsessive in his desire for unchallenged authority. Global hegemony was his aim. He rightly perceived that the Reformed faith and its adherents were obstinate obstacles in his grand pursuit.

In the Belgic Confession, de Brès carefully adhered to the Bible teaching he had learned from his mentors, John Calvin and Theodore Beza, taking a cue from their French Reformed Confession published two years earlier. Even so, de Brès pioneered the pattern for most of the confessions that would follow in the succeeding years: starting with the doctrine of God (Theology Proper), and then moving on to the doctrines of man (Anthropology), Christ (Christology), salvation (Soteriology), the church (Ecclesiology), and last things (Eschatology).

Translated into Dutch in 1562, the Belgic Confession became a rallying point for resistance to Hapsburg rule in the Lowlands. In 1567, de Brès was martyred for his faith. Yet, “he being dead, still speaks.” To this day, his confession remains one of the essential Three Forms of Unity.

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