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Theological Term of the Week

Second Helvetic Confession
The “Reformation statement of faith written by Heinrich Bullinger in 1562, which became popular in many Reformed congregations in geographical areas such as Switzerland, Scotland, and France.”1

  • From the Second Helvetic Confession: 

    Of The Holy Scripture Being The True Word of God

    CANONICAL SCRIPTURE. We believe and confess the canonical Scriptures of the holy prophets and apostles of both Testaments to be the true Word of God, and to have sufficient authority of themselves, not of men. For God himself spoke to the fathers, prophets, apostles, and still speaks to us through the Holy Scriptures.

    And in this Holy Scripture, the universal Church of Christ has the most complete exposition of all that pertains to a saving faith, and also to the framing of a life acceptable to God; and in this respect it is expressly commanded by God that nothing be either added to or taken from the same.

    SCRIPTURE TEACHES FULLY ALL GODLINESS. We judge, therefore, that from these Scriptures are to be derived true wisdom and godliness, the reformation and government of churches; as also instruction in all duties of piety; and, to be short, the confirmation of doctrines, and the rejection of all errors, moreover, all exhortations according to that word of the apostle, “All scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof,” etc. (II Timothy 3:16-17). Again, “I am writing these instructions to you,” says the apostle to Timothy, “So that you may know how one ought to behave in the household of God,” etc. (I Timothy 3:14-15). 

    SCRIPTURE IS THE WORD OF GOD. Again, the selfsame apostle to the Thessalonians: “When,” says he, “You received the word of God which you heard from us, you accepted it, not as the word of men but as what it really is, the Word of God,” etc. (I Thess. 2:13) For the Lord himself has said in the gospel, “It is not you who speak, but the Spirit of my Father speaking through you”; therefore “He who hears you hears me, and he who rejects me rejects him who sent me” (Matt. 10:20; Luke 10:16; John 13:20)

  • From Reformed Confessions Harmonized edited by Joel R. Beeke and Sinclair B. Ferguson:
  • The Second Helvetic Confession … began life in the form of a personal confession and testimony written by Heinrich Bullinger in 1562. In 1564, during the plague which Bullinger contracted when it ravaged Zurich, he revised his earlier work in anticipation of his death. Although his wife and three daughters died, Bullinger survived. Asked by Frederick III, Elector of the Palatinate, to provide an exposition of the Reformed faith, Bullinger provided him with a copy of his work. Frederick had it translated into German before his appearance to defend himself against Lutheran criticism at the Imperial Diet of 1566. …

    The Second Helvetic Confession is in fact a compact manual of Reformed theology, containing thirty chapters and extending to some twenty thousand words. … Beginning with Scripture it moves through the loci of systematic theology, striking characteristic Reformed and Calvinian notes: the preaching of the Word of God is the word of God (ch. 1); Christ is the mirror in which we are to contemplate our election (ch. 10); providence and predestination are given separate treatments; the body and blood of Christ are received not carnally but spiritually, that is by the Holy Spirit. But practical religious issues are also of major concern; prayer and singing, the question of holy days, catechizing, visitation of the sick, and burial of the dead are discussed (chs. 23—26) as well as issues surrounding marriage and celibacy and the role of the magistrate (chs. 29—30). 

    The Second Helvetic Confession was thus a mature statement of Reformed theology for the second half of the sixteenth century. Well-received internationally, it was translated into Dutch, English, Polish, Italian, Magyar, Turkish, and Arabic. It stands as a worthy testimony to the labors and faith of Heinrich Bullinger.

Learn more:

  1. Christian Classics Ethereal Library: The Second Helvetic Confession
  2. Philip Schaff: Notes on the Second Helvetic Confession
  3. Believe Religious Information Source: The Second Helvetic Confession of Faith
Related terms:

Filed under Creeds and Confessions.

1From The Christian Faith by Michael Horton.

Do you have a term you’d like to see featured here as a Theological Term of the Week? If you email it to me, I’ll seriously consider using it, giving you credit for the suggestion and linking back to your blog when I do.

Clicking on the Theological Term graphic at the top of this post will take you to a list of all the previous theological terms in alphabetical order.


Status Report: December

Sitting…at the table that serves as my desk. It’s facing a window that looks out onto the front yard and street so I can watch the world go by as I work.

Seeing…that there isn’t much world going by this morning. Yesterday afternoon and evening brought 11 inches of snow in my subdivision and things out there seem pretty slow.

Decorating…nothing yet. My youngest son usually helps me with the Christmas and he’s not had time for it yet. Maybe I should just go ahead and do it myself. It would save the arguing we do over whether the Christmas decorating should be tastefully restrained and beautiful, or gaudy and over-the-top, with a tacky display in every inch of the house. (Don’t worry, it won’t hurt son’s feelings that I wrote this. “Gaudy and over-the-top is what Christmas is all about,” says he.)

Listening…to the Dividing Line live. I’m multitasking, something I’m not very good at, so excuse any typos, please.

Wondering…if multitasking should have a hyphen. 

Looking…it up.

Finding…that I spelled it right. Woohoo for me.

Reading…Eighteen Words by J. I. Packer (This is the book I have tucked in my purse to read in the grocery line-up, while I wait for appointments, and while Natalie is sleeping when I am babysitting her.); The World-Tilting Gospel by Dan Phillips (Just started this one, and have only just finished the first chapter); and O Love That Will Not Let Me Go by Nancy Guthrie, a collection of essays by various authors on the subject of facing death.

Thinking…that I’m not going to finish reading The Cross of Christ by John Stott. While the first 2/3 of the book was excellent, the last chapters were getting a little weird. Some of Stott’s stranger views seem to be making an appearance and I’m just not interested in finishing, so I won’t.

Feeling…energetic for the first time in a while. I had a difficult fall for many reasons, but things are returning to normal. A big hooray for that.

Anticipating…Christmas with grandbaby. And thanks to Carla, we will celebrate with a new ornament.


See all of Carla’s custom ornaments here.

Walking…nowhere with no one until it warms up, and when the dogs and I do go walking it will be more a trudge than a walk. For me, that is. Like Tigger, dogs think new snow is for bouncing. 

Wishing…it would warm up again.


A Catechism for Girls and Boys

Part II: Questions about The Ten Commandments

54. Q. What does the fifth commandment teach us?
        A. To love and obey our parents.

(Click through to read scriptural proof.)

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Book Review: The Promised One 

Click on image to purchase at Amazon.comSeeing Jesus in Genesis by Nancy Guthrie.

The Promised One is intended for use in a study for group of women. It’s purpose is to help us see pointers to Christ in Genesis, the first book of the Old Testament. “You search the Scriptures,” Jesus said to the Jewish religious leaders, “but the Scriptures point to me!” He was, of course, referring to our Old Testament. So we should expect to see Jesus in Genesis, and this study was written to help us do that.

Guthrie’s goal is an important one. The Jewish leaders missed the Messiah because they did not see that Scripture was pointing them to a redeemer who would suffer. They were familiar with Scripture, but failed to see the big picture. We don’t want to be like them, and yet, too many of us read the Bible piecemeal (if we read it at all), and don’t have a good grasp of the whole storyline. 

Included in The Promised One are ten studies made up of three parts each. First, each study has a workbook section with questions on the section’s passage to be filled out by each participant in preparation for the group study. Then there is a teaching chapter to explain and apply the passage, including, at the end, a few paragraphs that show us how the themes in the passage that point us to Christ will be fulfilled completely at his second coming, when all the threads that begin in Genesis are tied up into a perfect whole cloth. Finally, there is a discussion guide with questions for use in group discussion.

I’ve not used this book in group study, but I have worked through each section, filling out the questions, reading the teaching chapter, and thinking about the discussion questions. I asked myself, as I worked through it all, how it would work in a group of the women I know. 

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Sunday's Hymn: See Amid the Winter's Snow

See amid the winter’s snow,
Born for us on earth below,
See, the gentle Lamb appears,
Promised from eternal years.


Hail that ever blessèd morn,
Hail redemption’s happy dawn,
Sing through all Jerusalem:
Christ is born in Bethlehem.

Lo, within a manger lies
He who built the starry skies;
He who, thronèd in height sublime,
Sits amid the cherubim.

Say, you holy shepherds, say,
Tell your joyful news today.
Why have you now left your sheep
On the lonely mountain steep?

As we watched at dead of night,
Lo, we saw a wondrous light;
Angels singing ‘Peace on earth’
Told us of the Savior’s birth.

Sacred Infant, all divine,
What a tender love was Thine,
Thus to come from highest bliss
Down to such a world as this.

Teach, O teach us, holy Child,
By Thy face so meek and mild,
Teach us to resemble Thee,
In Thy sweet humility.

Ed­ward Cas­wall


Other hymns, worship songs, sermons etc. posted today:

Have you posted a hymn (or sermon, sermon notes, prayer, etc.) today and I missed it? Let me know by leaving a link in the comments or by contacting me using the contact form linked above, and I’ll add your post to the list.