The Reformation / Post Reformation Era (~ 1520 – 1680):  Confessions, Catechisms, and Creeds


Post Tenebras Lux:   ”After Darkness… Light”


The Protestant Revolt – This is an excellent set of 11 free online videos, filmed on location mainly in Europe.  Professionally produced by Westminster Seminary Philadelphia, explaining the movement that

John Piper video A brief video set in Geneva with Piper explaining some of the ministry of John Calvin


In the 16th century, Christian leaders began firmly rejecting the authoritative stance the Roman church had arrogated (falsely, improperly assumed) to itself regarding certain central issues of faith:  foundational authority (Scripture vs. tradition), theology (the gospel, justification, sanctification, faith vs. works in salvation, etc.), ecclesiology (worship, church leadership, etc.), not to mention the rampant moral and ethical corruption that flowed from a worldly, spiritually corrupt organization – the Church of Rome.  In large part the spiritual, intellectual, theological, ecclesiastical ferment of those time was made possible by the invention and explosive growth of movable type (the printing press) in the previous century,

greatly spurred on by the explosive growth of the printing press and discovery / rediscovery of Scripture and the classic works of ancient philosophers, writers of various sorts, and theologians.  That study led to the recognition of the need to produce clear summaries of sound, biblically faithful theological truths, that Christians might be soundly taught and leaders clearly guided in proper Christian thinking and conduct.

Three main families of Confessional writings, intended as instructive guides to an accurate understanding of essential biblical truths, came from this period:


The Swiss Family (1536 – 1675):

This group includes the First (1536) and Second (1566) Helvetic Confessions and the Helvetic Consensus Formula (1675).  The term Helvetic is derived from the Latin Helvetii for the people of East Gaul (now Switzerland), people eventually conquered by Rome in the first century A.D.


The Scottish – English Family (1560 – 1658):

This family includes the Scots Confession (1560), the Thirty-Nine Articles (1563, Anglican), The Westminster Confession of Faith and Shorter and Larger Catechisms (1647, Presbyterian), and the Savoy Declaration (1658, Congregationalists / Independents).


The Dutch – German Family (1561 – 1619):

These are represented by the Three Forms of Unity:  the Belgic Confession (1561), the Heidelberg Catechism (1563), and the Canons of Dort (1619).


Thanks to Reformed Confessions Harmonized, Beeke and Ferguson for some of the information on these and following pages.

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