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Reformed Confessions.

A. Swiss Reformed.

1. The 67 Arts. of H. Zwingli* were prepared for, and maintained at, a pub. disputation in Zurich 1523 that practically decided the repudiation of RCm Art. 15: he that believes the Gospel will be saved; 17: Christ is the only eternal and highest priest; 18: the mass is not a sacrifice, but a commemoration of the sacrifice offered once on the cross and, as it were, a seal of the redemption procured by Christ; 49: I know no greater and more serious offense than to forbid priests to marry; 57: Holy Scripture knows no purgatory after this life.

2. 10 Theses of Bern (10 Conclusions of Bern; Theses Bernenses). Rev. by H. Zwingli* (written by others, including B. Haller*) for a 1528 discussion at Bern, Switzerland. Thesis 1: The holy Christian ch. is born of the Word of God; 4: The essential and corporeal presence of the body and blood of Christ can not be demonstrated from the Holy Scripture; 6: it is contrary to the Word of God to propose and invoke other mediators than Christ; 7: Scripture knows nothing of a purgatory after this life, hence all masses and other offices for the dead are useless; 8: Image worship is contrary to Scripture; 9: Matrimony is not forbidden in the Scripture to any class of men, but permitted to all.

3. H. Zwingli* tried, perhaps unsuccessfully, to get a confession of faith into the hands of Charles* V at Augsburg 1530; it differed from the AC mainly on original sin, the unbaptized, and the Sacraments.

4. The Exposition of the Christian Faith, which H. Zwingli* sent 1531 to Francis I (see France, 8), embodies statements of Zwingli's beliefs regarding, e.g., God; saints; Sacraments; Mary; the person and work of Christ; ch.; magistrates; forgiveness; faith and works; eternal life.

5. 1st Confession of Basel (Confessio fidei Basileensis prior; 12 arts.). Drafted 1531 by J. Oecolampadius*; put into final form 1532 by O. Myconius; pub. Basel 1534; adopted at Mühlhausen 2 or 3 yrs. later, hence also called Confessio Mühlhusana (or Mylhusiana); essentially agrees with confessions of H. Zwingli.*

6. The Helvetic Confessions are the most important documents of the Swiss Prot. chs. The 1st Helvetic Confession (Confessio Helvetica prior; also called 2d Confession of Basel [Confessio Basileensis posterior] because it was written there [see 5]) consisted of 27 arts. in the Ger. version (27 or 28 in the Lat.) and was drawn up 1536, (1) as a result of M. Bucer's* and W. F. Capito's* efforts to unite Luths. and Ref. and (2) in hope of a gen. council, by J. H. Bullinger,* S. Grynäus (see Grynäus, 1), L. Jud,* K. Megander,* O. Myconius.* Treats of Scripture, the ancient fathers, and human traditions (I–V): God, man, sin, free will, and salvation (VI–XIII); faith, ch., Word. ministry, holy assemblies, adiaphora, heretics and schismatics, civil govt., marriage (XIV-end).

In course of time this confession was deemed too short and was replaced by the 2d Helvetic Confession (Confessio Helvetica Posterior), which consists of 30 arts., was originally drawn up 1562 by Bullinger for his own use, and pub. at Zurich 1566. Treats Scripture, traditions, etc. (I–II); God (III); idols, and worship through Christ (IV–V); divine providence (VI); creation (VII); sin (VIII); free will (IX); predestination and election (X); Christ (XI); Law and Gospel (XII–XIII); repentance and justification by faith (XIV–XVI); ch., ministry, Sacraments, and holy assemblies (XVII–XXII); various other matters of doctrine and polity (XXIII–XXX). Adopted in Switz., Scot., Hung., Ft., Poland.

7. During his 1st stay at Geneva, Switz. (1536), J. Calvin* prepared a Fr. catechism (Geneva Catechism; Catechism of Geneva) consisting of 58 sections treating the religious constitution of man, the distinction bet. true and false religion, the knowledge of God, the original state of man, free will, sin, death, the way of salvation, the Law, faith, election and predestination, justification, sanctification, repentance, regeneration, good works, an exposition of the Apostles' Creed, the Lord's Prayer, Sacraments, ch., traditions, excommunication, and the civil magistrate. It appeared in French 1541 or 1542, Lat. 1545, was tr. into It. (1551 and 1556), Sp. (1550), Eng. (1556), Ger., Dutch, Hung., Gk., and Heb., and prepared the way and furnished material for a number of similar works that gradually superseded it (e.g., A. Nowell's,* the Heidelberg [see D 2] and Westminster* Confessions). See also Dordrecht, Synods of, 2.

8. Continued debates bet. Luths. and Ref. regarding the Lord's Supper led to the Consensus of Zurich (Consensus Tigurinus; Zurich Consensus), consisting of 24 propositions in the 1st draft (1548) drawn up by J. Calvin* and annotated by J. H. Bullinger,* 26 arts. in the final form (1549). Adopted by various Swiss centers, creating unity. Contains Calvinistic doctrine adjusted to the Zwinglian; asserts that we receive Christ's body and blood in the Lord's Supper by the power of the Spirit and the lifting of our souls to heaven, but that the internal effect of the Sacraments appears only in the elect.

9. The Consensus of Geneva (Consensus Genevensis; Geneva Consensus), pub. 1552 (written 1551?), is an elaborate argument by J. Calvin* defending absolute predestination; occasioned by attacks of A. Pighius* and Jérôme Hermès Bolsec (d. ca. 1585; b. Paris, Fr.; Carmelite, then Prot.; in Geneva he differed with Calvin on predestination; banished from Geneva and Bern; rejected in Fr.; RC again; wrote libel against Calvin 1577, 1588).

10. Helvetic Consensus Formula (Formula Consensus Helvetica); 1675; 26 arts. After adoption (1620, 1623) of the canons of the 1618–19 Syn. of Dordrecht* by the Ref. Ch. in Fr., a more liberal school arose at Saumur, France. See Amyraut, Moïse; Cappel, Louis; Place, Josue de la. In defense against the theol. of Saumur, J. H. Heidegger,* L. Gernler,* and F. Turrettini* wrote the Formula consensus ecclesiarum helveticarum reformatarum, which defended, e.g., inspiration (even of vowel points), absolute predestination, immediate imputation of Adam's sin.

B. Ref. Confessions in France. The Gallican Confession (Confession Gallicana; Confession of Rochelle; French Confession of Faith), 40 arts., was drawn up by J. Calvin,* rev. by A de la R. Chandieu* and adopted 1559 by a syn. at Paris, rev. and ratified at a syn. at La Rochelle 1571. Summarizes Calvin's doctrines. See also Waldenses.

For the subsequent hist. of Protestantism in Fr., including the Fr. Revolution, which for a time seemed to sweep away the whole Fr. ch., see France, 5, 7–13.

The Declaration of Faith of the Ref. Ch. in Fr., proposed by C. Bois (see Bois, 1), was adopted by a syn. at Paris 1872.

C. Ref. Confessions in the Neth..

1. The Belgic Conf.; 37 arts.; with the Heidelberg Catechism (see D 2) the recognized symbol of the Ref. chs. in Holland and Belg. and of the Ref. (Dutch) in Am.; prepared 1561 by G. de Bres*; adopted by syns. at Antwerp 1566, Wesel 1568, Emden 1571, Dordrecht 1574, Middelburg 1581, Dordrecht 1619; contents follow the order of the Gallican Conf. (see B) but are less polemical and more elaborate, esp. on the Trin., incarnation, ch., and Sacraments.

2. Opposition of Arminians (see Arminianism) to Calvinistic doctrines on predestination led the Neth. States Gen. to convene the 1618–19 Syn. of Dordrecht,* attended by representatives of the provinces, the States Gen., the academies, and for. countries including the Palatinate, Nassau, Hesse, E. Friesland, Switz., Eng., and Scot.; Luths. were not represented. Calvinism* triumphed. See also Remonstrants. Canons were adopted, confined to 5 points or “Heads of Doctrine” that summarize the Calvinistic system both positively and negatively (rejecting Arminian errors): I. Predestination (18 arts.); II. Christ's death and man's redemption (9); III–IV. Man's corruption and conversion (17); V. Perseverance (15).

See also Reformed Churches, 2.

D. Ref. Confessions in Germany.

1. Tetrapolitan Confession (Confessio Tetrapolitana; Confessio Suevica; Swabian Confession; Strasbourg Confession; Confessio Argentinensis [Argentorati]; Confessio Quatuor Civitatum; Confession der Vier Städte; Vierstädte-Bekenntniss); 23 arts.; oldest Ref. symbol in Ger.; prepared in haste by M. Bucer,* W. F. Capito,* C. Hedio,* and Jakob Sturm* at the Diet of Augsburg 1530 (see Lutheran Confessions, A 2) for Konstanz, Lindau, Memmingen, Strasbourg; tried to effect a compromise bet. Luths. and Ref., esp. on the Lord's Supper.

2. Heidelberg Catechism (Palatinate Catechism); drawn up 1562 by Z. Ursinus* and C. Olevianus* by order of Frederick* III (1515–76), who professed the Ref. faith as distinct from the Luth. It mentions election to holiness and salvation in Christ but says nothing of double predestination and is polemic on the mass. Its 129 questions are divided: I. Man's misery; II. Man's redemption; III. Thankfulness.

3. Brandenburg Confessions.

a. John* Sigismund, though pledged 1593 to Lutheranism by his father, prepared his own confession 1614 endorsing Ref. doctrine, but with the reservation that God is not the author of damnation.

b. Efforts were made at the 1631 Leipzig* Colloquy to unite Luths. and Ref. to present a common front against the enemy; but differences persisted on the omnipresence of Christ's human nature, Eucharist, and election.

c. Declaration of Thorn; 1645; careful statement of the Ref. faith drawn up for a colloquy (conf., syn.) at Thorn*; divided into a gen. part and a special declaration; signed by noblemen and clergy from Poland, Lithuania, and Brandenburg. See also Poland, 4.

d. Less important confessions: Catechism of Emden, 1554; Confession of Elector Frederick* III (1515–76), pub. 1577; Confession of Nassau, 1578; Confession of Anhalt (Repetitio Anhaltina, i. e., Repetition of the AC), 1581; Bremen Confession (Consensus Ministerii Bremensis), 1598; Hessian Confession, adopted at Cassel 1607, pub. 1608; Confession of the Heidelberg Theologians, 1607.

E. Ref. Confessions of Boh., Poland, and Hung.

1. A catechism called The Smaller Questions (51 questions for children; 3 divisions: Faith, Hope, and Love), probably written before 1500, served confessional purposes among Waldenses* in Boh.

2. Boh. Catechism, 1521; 75 questions; follows The Smaller Questions (see 1) in gen. arrangement, but also treats the Beatitudes and has more on idolatry, Mariolatry, saints and martyrs, and the Lord's Supper.

3. The Bohemian* Brethren wrote 34 confessions 1467–1671. The 1st, Bohemian Confession of 1535, was presented at Vienna to Ferdinand (1503–64; brother of Charles* V; b. Alcalá de Henares, Sp.; king of Hung. and Boh. 1526, Ger. 1531; Holy Roman emp. as Ferdinand I 1556–64); resembles the AC in form and content; Luther disapproved the arts. on celibacy and justification, but after changes had been made he pub. it with a favorable preface. See also Bohemia, Lutheran Theology in, 3; Speyer, Diets of, 1–3.

4. Maximilian II (1527–76; son of Ferdinand I [see 3]; b. Vienna, Austria; king of Boh. and of the Romans [i. e. Germans] 1562, of Hung. 1563; Holy Roman emp. 1564–76) allowed the Prots. to submit their own confession of faith to a diet at Prague; Utraquists, Luths., Calvinists, and Boh. Brethren agreed on a moderate statement prepared by Paul Pressius and M. Krispin; it was adopted with some changes by the diet and presented to the emp. 1575. This 2d Boh. Confession (25 arts.) agrees essentially with the AC and the older Boh. Confession but conforms to P. Melanchthon's* later view of the Lord's Supper.

5. The 1570 Consensus of Sandomierz (Sandomir; Sendomir; Consensus Sendomiriensis) is the only important confessional document of the ev. chs. in Poland. It states that the 3 ev. chs. (Luths., Calvinists, and Boh. Brethren) agree on the doctrines of God, Trin., incarnation, person of Christ, justification by faith, and other fundamental doctrines; in the Lord's Supper it distinguishes bet. the earthly form and the heavenly substance. See also Poland, 2.

6. Hung. Confessions include the Hung. Confession (Confessio Czengerina), prepared and adopted at a syn. in Czenger 1557 (1558?), printed 1570 at Debrecen. It opposes the “sacramentarian” view of a purely symbolic presence of Christ in the Lord's Supper; holds that Christ is truly though spiritually present; defends infant baptism; teaches free election; is silent on reprobation; denies that God is the author of sin; has only secondary hist. importance; was practically superseded by the 2d Helvetic Confession (see A 6). The Heidelberg Catechism (see D 2) was also introd. See also Hungary. EL

See also Presbyterian Confessions.

Die Bekenntnisschriften der reformierten Kirche, ed. E. F. K. Müller (Leipzig, 1903); Schriften zur reformirten Theologie, I: Die Bekenntnisschriften der reformirten Kirchen Deutschlands, ed. H. L. J. Heppe (Elberfeld, 1860); P. Schaff, Bibliotheca symbolica ecclesiae universalis: The Creeds of Christendom, I. The History of Creeds and III. The Evangelical Protestant Creeds, with translations, 4th ed., rev. and enl. (New York, 1919); Reformed Confessions of the 16th Century, ed. A. C. Cochrane (Philadelphia, 1966).

Edited by: Erwin L. Lueker, Luther Poellot, Paul Jackson
©Concordia Publishing House, 2000, All rights Reserved. Reproduced with Permission

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Content Reproduced with Permission

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