Heidelminicast: Belgic Confession Art. 9—The Trinity Is A Bible Doctrine

The Belgic Confession was written by a Reformed pastor, Guy de Bres (1522–1567), who adopted the Reformed faith as a young man and studied with several Reformed luminaries, including John Calvin, before serving as a pastor, church planter, and chaplain in France and the French-speaking Lowlands. He was martyred for the gospel in 1567 but the confession he drafted in 1561 was adopted by the Reformed churches in 1567 and most significantly at the Great Synod of Dort (1618–19). It is one of the three forms of unity (including the Heidelberg Catechism and the Canons of Dort). It is a warm, pastoral, and even powerful confession of God’s Word written by a faithful pastor and pilgrim even as Romanist troops sought to arrest him and silence the gospel in the Netherlands.

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  1. Does the Belgic Confession’s citation of 1 John 5:7 as Scripture mean Reformed churches adherence to the Belgic Confession implies acceptance of the Textus Receptus? Do Reformed churches have the freedom to deny certain parts of the Belgic Confession (such as spurious verses, or article 36 as pertaining to the government’s role in promoting the Kingdom of Jesus and destroying false worship)?

    • Shane,

      This is an interesting question. Some of the Dutch Reformed churches have revised the Belgic. The federation/denomination in which I serve has revised Belgic 36 (following Kuyper) to remove the most objectionable theocratic language.

      I don’t know that the URCs have taken a position on the textual critical question but I’ve never seen a candidate for ordination get into trouble for rejecting the longer reading of 1 John 5:7. I was a little surprised that, when the URCs revised the Belgic that they did not address this issue more explicitly. I take the footnote reference to the KJV in our edition to be a signal that the committee was aware of the issues. I’m confident that they were. There is some difference of opinion within the URCs on text-critical methods. For some years some of our ministers were taught the Majority Text position and most of the rest were taught (I presume) the eclectic approach. To the best of my knowledge this issue has never come up formally. We recognize, I suppose, that the Belgic is a creature of its time inasmuch as the textual resources available in the 16th century were fewer than than are now.

  2. In his book on the Confession, Gootjes argues that the Belgic Confession was adopted by the Reformed Churches before it was even published. That makes sense, given that it presents itself as the “Confession of Faith, made with common agreement by the faithful” in the Low Countries. The Confession throughout also uses the first person plural, indicating that it wasn’t a personal confession by de Bres.

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