1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Helvetic Confessions

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HELVETIC CONFESSIONS, the name of two documents expressing the common belief of the reformed churches of Switzerland. The first, known also as the Second Confession of Basel, was drawn up at that city in 1536 by Bullinger and Leo Jud of Zürich, Megander of Bern, Oswald Myconius and Grynaeus of Basel, Bucer and Capito of Strassburg, with other representatives from Schaffhausen, St Gall, Mühlhausen and Biel. The first draft was in Latin and the Zürich delegates objected to its Lutheran phraseology.[1] Leo Jud’s German translation was, however, accepted by all, and after Myconius and Grynaeus had modified the Latin form, both versions were agreed to and adopted on the 26th of February 1536.

The Second Helvetic Confession was written by Bullinger in 1562 and revised in 1564 as a private exercise. It came to the notice of the elector palatine Friedrich III., who had it translated into German and published. It gained a favourable hold on the Swiss churches, who had found the First Confession too short and too Lutheran. It was adopted by the Reformed Church not only throughout Switzerland but in Scotland (1566), Hungary (1567), France (1571), Poland (1578), and next to the Heidelberg Catechism is the most generally recognized Confession of the Reformed Church.

See L. Thomas, La Confession helvétique (Geneva, 1853); P. Schaff, Creeds of Christendom, i. 390–420, iii. 234–306; Müller, Die Bekenntnisschriften der reformierten Kirche (Leipzig, 1903).

  1. Some of the delegates, especially Bucer, were anxious to effect a union of the Reformed and Lutheran Churches. There was also a desire to lay the Confession before the council summoned at Mantua by Pope Paul III.