Belgic Confession Article 37 - "The Consciences"

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TheInquirer

Puritan Board Sophomore
I am just about finished with a project of going through many of the major reformed confessions and catechism statements that correlate to the confessions and came across this statement in the Belgic Confession Article 37 concerning The Last Judgment:

Then the books (that is, the consciences) will be opened,
and the dead will be judged
according to the things they did in the world,
whether good or evil.

https://www.rca.org/resources/belgic-confession-article-37-last-judgment

I have never heard of the books being interpreted as "consciences" before. Is that a fairly standard interpretation or is it unique to the Belgic Confession?
 
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Guido's Brother

Puritan Board Junior
Interesting question. I don't have an answer, but I would point out that while the original Belgic Confession did have this interpretation, not all modern editions do. For example, the BC of the Canadian Reformed Churches, Free Reformed Churches of Australia, and Reformed Churches of New Zealand doesn't have it.
 

timfost

Puritan Board Senior
The confession as my denomination received it:

"Then books shall be opened, and the dead judged (Rev. 20:12) according to what they shall have done in this world, whether it be good or evil."

I wish I could answer the specific question...
 

Guido's Brother

Puritan Board Junior
Generally speaking, the more seriously a church takes subscription, the more likely you'll find deviations from the original 1561 text of the Belgic Confession. On the other side, the more a church views the Confession merely as a historical artifact of the church's heritage (but not really binding on the church today), the more likely the church will be to preserve the text as received.

Another classic example is the original text of article 4 saying that Hebrews was written by Paul. If you take subscription seriously, you're bound to that. But since many no longer believe there's good evidence for Pauline authorship of Hebrews, then the text of the confession should be changed to reflect that. And so it has been in churches like those mentioned above.
 

Stephen L Smith

Administrator
Staff member
For example, the BC of the Canadian Reformed Churches, Free Reformed Churches of Australia, and Reformed Churches of New Zealand doesn't have it.
Wes, the situation is a little more complicated for the New Zealand churches. The book "The Creeds, Confessins and Liturgical Forms of the Reformed Churches of New Zealand" does not have it as you noted. However the edition on the website does have it. See http://www.rcnz.org.nz/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/belgic.pdf

Trust the bushfires in Tasmania have not affected your congregation, Wes.
 

Guido's Brother

Puritan Board Junior
Wes, the situation is a little more complicated for the New Zealand churches. The book "The Creeds, Confessins and Liturgical Forms of the Reformed Churches of New Zealand" does not have it as you noted. However the edition on the website does have it. See http://www.rcnz.org.nz/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/belgic.pdf

Trust the bushfires in Tasmania have not affected your congregation, Wes.

When I was in New Zealand in October, I mentioned a similar issue in one of my talks. Ed Havelaar was kind enough to let me know that the issue had been fixed in the official version of the RCNZ BC. The version on the website has not yet been updated. But the one in the book is the synodically adopted, official text for the RCNZ.

No, the bushfires have all been at some distance from us, thankfully.
 

Stephen L Smith

Administrator
Staff member
When I was in New Zealand in October, I mentioned a similar issue in one of my talks. Ed Havelaar was kind enough to let me know that the issue had been fixed in the official version of the RCNZ BC. The version on the website has not yet been updated. But the one in the book is the synodically adopted, official text for the RCNZ.
You are right, Wes. The RCNZ synod adoped this official version of the BC in 2011. They used the edition of the Canadian Reformed Churches :)

Interesting that this subject came up as I was about to contact one of the confessional committee members, my friend the Rev John Haverland, to ask why the RCNZ has adopted the Westminster Confession but not its beloved catechisms. I know of at least one RCNZ congregation that uses the Shorter Catechism even though it is not a confessional standard of the church!

A blessing the bushfires have not affected you.
 
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