Belgic (or Netherlands) Confession of Faith
is historically the first of our "Three
Forms of Unity" (Heidelberg Catechism,
Belgic Confession of Faith, and the Canons of Dordt),
having been composed in 1561. It is often called the Belgic Confession
because it was written in the southern Lowlands, now known as Belgium.
Its chief author was Guido de Bres, on of the several itinerant preachers
during those days of persecution, who died a martyr’s death.
Under Philip II, of Spain, an ally of the Romish Church, the Reformed
believers in the Lowlands were sorely persecuted as revolutionaries. This
Confession was written primarily as a testimony to the Spanish king to
prove that the Reformed believers were not rebels, as was charged, but
law-abiding citizens who professed only those doctrines which were the
teachings of Holy Scripture. In 1562 a copy was sent to the Spanish king,
accompanied by a petition for relief from persecution, in which the petitioners
declared that they were ready to obey the government in all lawful things,
although they would "offer their backs to stripes, their tongues
to knives, their mouths to gags, and their whole bodies to fire,"
rather than deny the truth of God’s Word.
The Confession and the petition had no effect on the Spanish authorities.
However, it served well as a means of instruction of Reformed believers
and thus became an expression of the faith of a people enduring suffering
for Christ’s sake. This is also reflected in its language. For while this
confession follows the objective doctrinal order in its articles, its
profoundly personal element is evident from the fact that every article
begins with such words as, "We believe…," "We believe
and confess…," or, "We all believe with the heart and confess
with the mouth…."
The confession was adopted by several National Synods in the sixteenth
century, and, after careful revision of the text, was approved and adopted
by the Synod of Dordrecht, 1618-1619, and ever since that time included
among our "Three Forms of Unity."