Reading: Belgic Confession Articles 1-7
Reproduced below are the first seven articles of a Reformation (written in 1651) confession called The Belgic Confession. These articles give us a refined look at the development of the canon as the self-revelation of God. For the entire confession, please see http://www.crcna.org/welcome/beliefs/confessions/belgic-confession
We all believe in our hearts
and confess with our mouths
that there is a single
whom we call God--
and the overflowing source
of all good.
Article 2: The Means by Which We Know God
We know God by two means:
First, by the creation, preservation, and government
of the universe,
since that universe is before our eyes
like a beautiful book
in which all creatures,
great and small,
are as letters
to make us ponder
the invisible things of God:
God's eternal power and divinity,
as the apostle Paul says in Romans 1:20.
All these things are enough to convict humans
and to leave them without excuse.
Second, God makes himself known to us more clearly
by his holy and divine Word,
as much as we need in this life,
for God's glory
and for our salvation.
Article 3: The Written Word of God
We confess that this Word of God
was not sent nor delivered "by human will,”
but that "men and women moved by the Holy Spirit
spoke from God,”
as Peter says.1
Afterward our God--
with special care
for us and our salvation--
commanded his servants, the prophets and apostles,
to commit this revealed Word to writing.
God, with his own finger,
wrote the two tables of the law.
Therefore we call such writings
holy and divine Scriptures.
Article 4: The Canonical Books
We include in the Holy Scripture the two volumes
of the Old and New Testaments.
They are canonical books
with which there can be no quarrel at all.
In the church of God the list is as follows:
In the Old Testament,
the five books of Moses--
Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy;
the books of Joshua, Judges, and Ruth;
the two books of Samuel, and two of Kings;
the two books of Chronicles, called Paralipomenon;
the first book of Ezra; Nehemiah, Esther, Job;
the Psalms of David;
the three books of Solomon--
Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and the Song;
the four major prophets--
Isaiah, Jeremiah*, Ezekiel, Daniel;
and then the other twelve minor prophets--
Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah,
Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk,
Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi.
In the New Testament,
the four gospels--
Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John;
the Acts of the Apostles;
the fourteen letters of Paul--
to the Romans;
the two letters to the Corinthians;
to the Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, and Colossians;
the two letters to the Thessalonians;
the two letters to Timothy;
to Titus, Philemon, and to the Hebrews;
the seven letters of the other apostles--
one of James;
two of Peter;
three of John;
one of Jude;
and the Revelation of the apostle John.
* "Jeremiah” here includes the Book of Lamentations as well as the Book of Jeremiah.
Article 5: The Authority of Scripture
We receive all these books
and these only
as holy and canonical,
for the regulating, founding, and establishing
of our faith.
And we believe
without a doubt
all things contained in them--
not so much because the church
receives and approves them as such
but above all because the Holy Spirit
testifies in our hearts
that they are from God,
and also because they
to be from God.
For even the blind themselves are able to see
that the things predicted in them
Article 6: The Difference Between Canonical and Apocryphal Books
We distinguish between these holy books
and the apocryphal ones,
which are the third and fourth books of Esdras;
the books of Tobit, Judith, Wisdom, Jesus Sirach, Baruch;
what was added to the Story of Esther;
the Song of the Three Children in the Furnace;
the Story of Susannah;
the Story of Bel and the Dragon;
the Prayer of Manasseh;
and the two books of Maccabees.
The church may certainly read these books
and learn from them
as far as they agree with the canonical books.
But they do not have such power and virtue
that one could confirm
from their testimony
any point of faith or of the Christian religion.
Much less can they detract
from the authority
of the other holy books.
Article 7: The Sufficiency of Scripture
that this Holy Scripture contains
the will of God completely
and that everything one must believe
to be saved
is sufficiently taught in it.
For since the entire manner of service
which God requires of us
is described in it at great length,
even an apostle
or an angel from heaven,
as Paul says--2
ought to teach other than
what the Holy Scriptures have
already taught us.
For since it is forbidden
to add to the Word of God,
or take anything away from it,3
it is plainly demonstrated
that the teaching is perfect
and complete in all respects.
Therefore we must not consider human writings--
no matter how holy their authors may have been--
equal to the divine writings;
nor may we put custom,
nor the majority,
nor the passage of times or persons,
nor councils, decrees, or official decisions
above the truth of God,
for truth is above everything else.
For all human beings are liars by nature
and more vain than vanity itself.
Therefore we reject with all our hearts
everything that does not agree
with this infallible rule,
as we are taught to do by the apostles
when they say,
"Test the spirits
to see if they are from God,”4
"Do not receive into the house
or welcome anyone
who comes to you
and does not bring this teaching.”5
3Deut. 12:32; Rev. 22:18-19
41 John 4:1
52 John 10