For the Cause of the Son of God

The Missionary Significance of the
Belgic Confession

by Dr. Wesley L. Bredenhof

ISBN 9 780977 344253
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For the Cause of the Son of God

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Book Description
Table of Contents
Biography on Wesley Lloyd Bredenhof
Endorsements
Introduction to this book
Introduction to Reformed Mission History Series
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Book Description

The Reformation is usually not associated with missionary fervor.  Similarly, the confessions of faith produced by Reformed churches have seldom been viewed as missionary statements.  This book argues for a reconsideration of these positions   The focus is on the Belgic Confession of faith written in 1561 by the Belgian martyr, Guy de Bres.  Bredenhof argues that the Belgic Confession was an effort on the part of de  Bres and the Reformed churches of the Low Countries to reach those they considered to be non-Christians.  He demonstrates how the structure of the Confession represents a contextualized witness to the sixteenth century Europe.  For the Cause of the Son of God also looks at missionary uses of the Belgic Confession in the seventeenth and twentieth centuries, both from theoretical and practical perspectives.  The church will surely be enriched by a more careful reflection on the relationship between confessions such as the Belgic and the call of Christ to bring the gospel to the ends of the earth. 

 

The context which gave birth to this book were discussions which surfaced in the 1950s and especially the 1960s within the Christian Reformed Church (CRC) about whether the Three Forms of Unity (Belgic Confession, Heidelberg Catechism and Canons of Dort) were liabilities or assets when it came to the church’s missionary calling. A consensus developed that these documents had little to do with mission or missiology. The Belgic Confession was particularly singled out as being inadequate at best. For the Cause of the Son of God re-examines this question using more recent historiographical methods and insights into the context out of which the Belgic Confession emerged.

 

The contemporary missiological strengths and weaknesses of the Confession are considered in depth and an attempt is made to provide a missiological commentary on selected articles of the Confession. For the Cause of the Son of God also considers the use of the Confession by a seventeenth-century Reformed theorist of mission (Gisbertus Voetius) and a seventeenth-century Reformed practitioner of mission (Johannes Megapolensis). Attention is given to discussions of the Belgic Confession in the Christian Reformed Church in the 1950s-1980s; discussions which led to the development of the "Contemporary Testimony: Our World Belongs to God".  Finally, the book considers the relationship between Reformed missiology and the confessions, as well as the perennial issue of what it means to be a church ready to confess.

 

Table of Contents

   ix
Introduction                                                                                                     1
CHAPTER 1 — BRIEF HISTORY AND
                       BACKGROUND      
7
   1.0 Introduction                                                                      7
    1.1 The Broader Context                                                       7
       1.1.1 Locating the Belgic Confession Historically                  7
          1.1.1.1 A Sixteenth-Century Confession                            7
          1.1.1.2 A Sixteenth-Century (Reformed) Protestant Confession   9
          1.1.1.3 A Confession of the Lowlands                             11
                 1.1.1.3.1 The Dutch Revolt                                    11
                 1.1.1.3.2 Brief History of the Reformation in the Lowlands   13
     1.1.2 Locating the Belgic Confession Socio-Politically:
             
Interplay between Religion and Politics                        
15
     1.1.3 Sixteenth-Century Understanding of the Relationship
               between the Gospel, the Church and the World            
17
    1.2 The Narrower Context                                                                     21
      1.2.1 Authorship of the Confession                                21
        1.2.2  Influences and Sources                                                 22
      1.2.3 The Writing of the Confession, Provenance
                  and Text History                                                           
23
CHAPTER 2 — THE DEFINITION OF MISSION(S)              27
   2.0 Introduction: A Question of Exegesis                        31
    2.1  Biblical Data                                                                 31
       2.1.1 The Old Testament                                                      31
       2.1.2 The New Testament                                                      31
           2.1.2.1   John 20:21                                                                        34
           2.1.2.2 Matthew 28:18-20                                            36
           2.1.2.3 Mark 16:9-20                                                      38
           2.1.2.4   Luke 24:46-49                                                                          42
           2.1.2.5   Acts 1:8                                                                                  43
           2.1.2.6 Romans 10:14-15                                                      44
    2.2 Defining Mission                                                                 45
   2.3 Distinguishing Mission and Evangelism                  47
    2.4 Mission and Missions                                                          48
    2.5 Missiology and Missiological                                              50
   2.6 The Concept of Mission in the Sixteenth Century            50
      2.6.1 Martin Bucer                                                               51
      2.6.2 Adrian Saravia                                                            56
   2.7 Conclusion                                                                  59
CHAPTER 3 — ORIGINAL MISSIONARY NATURE
                         AND INTENT                                     
63
   3.0 Introduction                                                                    63
   3.1 The Belgic Confession, Martyrdom and Mission             63
      3.1.1 Martyrdom and Persecution in Scripture and History 63
      3.1.2 Martyrdom and Mission                                            66
           3.1.1.1 Kevin Vanhoozer                                                    68
           3.1.1.2 John Piper                                                             71
           3.1.1.3 Missiological Foundation of Martyrdom and Suffering 75
           3.1.1.4 Missiological Message of Martyrdom and Suffering     76
           3.1.1.5 Missiological Result of Martyrdom and Suffering      77
      3.1.3 Martyrdom as Metanarrative for the Belgic Confession 78
      3.1.4 The Belgic Confession as Martuj                          90
    3.2 Missionary Perspective: Antithetical Religions             91
      3.2.1 Magisterial Protestant Reformers                                       91
      3.2.2 Reformed Churches in the Lowlands                                99
      3.2.3 Guido de Brès                                                            102
      3.2.4 The Belgic Confession                                                 110
    3.3 Missionary Perspective: The Non-European World    118
    3.4 Conclusion                                                         119
CHAPTER 4 — RELATING STRUCTURE TO NATURE
                           AND INTENT                                                 
121
   4.0 Introduction 121
   4.1 The French Confession and The Institutes:  Structural Models      122
      4.1.1 The French Confession  122
      4.1.2 The Institutes          123
      4.1.3 Structural Model for Calvin: Locus Method 124
   4.2 Structure of the Belgic Confession — Sixteenth-Century
        Contextualization 
128
      4.2.1 Contextualization      129
      4.2.2 Options for Confessional Structures in Sixteenth-Century
              Europe
138
      4.2.3 Intention and Effect: Rationale for Locus Method
              in Belgic Confession
139
   4.3 Conclusion 140
CHAPTER 5 — MISSIOLOGICAL STRENGTHS AND
                        AND WEAKNESSES
143
    5.0 Introduction  145
     5.1 Missiological Strengths 145
         5.1.1   Confession of a Church Under the Cross  145
       5.1.2 An Elenctic Confession — a Confession of the
                Antithesis
148
        5.1.3 A Catholic Confession     152
        5.1.4 Redemptive Historical Framework 155
       5.1.5 A Confession Providing a Doctrinal Foundation for the
               Further Development of Reformed Missiology
158
     5.2 Missiological Weaknesses 185
        5.2.1 A European Confession Over 400 Years Old 185
        5.2.2 Limited Perspective on World Religions 188
        5.2.3 The Holy Spirit 190
        5.2.4 Role of the Civil Government 195
    5.3 Conclusion & Evaluation                 195
CHAPTER 6 — SEVENTEENTH-CENTURY USES 197
    6.0 Introduction 197
    6.1 The First Reformed Missiologist: Gisbertus Voetius 197
        6.1.1 Overview of Voetius’ Missiology  199
        6.1.2 Use of the Belgic Confession 202
        6.1.3 Evaluation 206
   6.2 The Belgic Confession in New Netherland &
           Johannes Megapolensis  
208
        6.2.1 Overview of Dutch Reformed Mission Work in New Netherland 208
        6.2.2 Johannes Megapolensis: Pioneer Reformed Missionary
                 to the Mohawks
210
        6.2.3 Use of the Belgic Confession 215
        6.2.4 Evaluation    220
     6.3 Conclusion 223
CHAPTER 7 — LATE TWENTIETH-CENTURY JUDGMENTS 225
     7.0 Introduction  225
     7.1 Robert Recker   225
        7.1.1 “An Analysis of the Belgic Confession as to its Mission Focus” 225
        7.1.2 Evaluation 232
    7.2 The Christian Reformed Church in North America 235
       7.2.1 Background: 1950s & 1960s   236
       7.2.2 Development of “Contemporary Testimony: Our World
              
Belongs to God.
242
       7.2.3 Reception of “Contemporary Testimony Our World Belongs
               to God."
258
       7.2.4 Evaluation 261
    7.3 Conclusion 266
CHAPTER 8 — CONFESSION AND REFORMED
                          MISSIOLOGY
269
   8.0 Introduction 269
   8.1 The Confession and Reformed Theology 269
   8.2 The Confession and Reformed Missiology 272
    8.3 Status Confessions 275
      8.3.1 Abraham Kuyper: Confessional Revision 278
      8.3.2 Robert Bertram: A New Confession? 282
      8.3.3 Evaluation 285
    8.4 Conclusion 290
BIBLIOGRAPHY 293
    People and Places 317
     Subject  322

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