Review of Reformed Confessions of the 16th and 17th Centuries in English Translation: 1523-1552

Many people in the 21st century (at least in America) call themselves “Reformed.” However, do many of us even know what we mean when we say that, and can we give a defense for what we call “Reformed”? Regardless if you truly are Reformed or are simply using that title, this is a volume that is a must-have for your library. Those today that call themselves Reformed – true or not – need to take a look back into the history of their fathers and understand their time and, most of all, their confessions, which show how the true Reformers stood for truth and doctrine against the evils of their day. This book is the first of a 3-volume set that James T. Dennison will be working on for the next two years, which sets forth a translation of a number of the Reformed Confessions that have never been in English until today. Some may wonder how this project differs from that of what Phillip Schaff has done in his 3-volume Creeds of Christendom. The answer to that is that there are three main areas in which Dennison’s differs from Schaff’s:

1.     Dennison’s works include a number of the Reformed Confessions that are not in Schaff’s, which have never before been translated into the English language.

2.     Dennison’s project is much more focused on only the Reformed statements and confessions of the past, whereas Schaff brings creeds and confessions from a number of different spectrums of Christendom.

3.     Dennison’s 4-volume set will be far narrower in its focus, to give a much deeper perspective on the Reformed faith alone, through the Reformation and after.

By no means am I going to argue that Dennison’s work is better, or that it is set to bring down Schaff’s. The main point is that this new project may have a particular appeal to those that are interested in having a set of books that solely focuses on the Reformed faith and includes a number of different confessions that have never before been available.

This volume that is set to release October 31st (Reformation Day) is one that includes a number of different Reformed Confessions from during the 16th and 17th centuries. For the next two years, Reformation Heritage Books is aiming to release the coming volumes on Reformation Day in 2009 and 2010. This project, done by both James Dennison and Reformation Heritage Books, gives the English-speaking world a deeper look into the Reformed faith and their own confessions, which were made during the time of the Reformation itself. During the Reformation the need for correct theology was a must in order to stand firm, and during the dark times in which we (Americans) live today, we also must know where we stand, along with knowing our past, where our church stood, and what they stood for. Dennison’s project brings forth just that! Bringing together these confessions, volume one goes over 33 different confessions during the time of 1523 – 1552.

Some of the Reformed Confessions that you will read in volume one include: Zwingli’s Catechisms, Calvin’s Catechisms, The Geneva Confession, The First Helvetic Confession, Waldensian Confessions of 1541 and 1543, Consensus Tigurinus, The Anglican Catechism and many, many more. This invaluable resource is great for every personal library, and is well worth the $38.00 from Reformation Heritage Books. The statements of faith that were much needed during these first 30 years of the Reformation around Europe are still needed for the postmodern day. So, if you tend to be among the many in the “American Reformed movement,” this is a set to study deeply, read carefully, learn from, and hold-to dearly. This will help many of us that tend to jump on America’s popular bandwagons to actually know what we are, where we come from, and what we are to stand upon for the gospel. As my mentor and dear friend Dr. Joel Beeke says, “Every Reformed pastor, professor, seminary student, library, and thoughtful layman should buy and study this remarkable collection.”


Table of Contents

1. The Sixty-Seven Articles of Huldrych Zwingli (1523)

2. Zwingli’s Short Christian Instruction (1523)

3. The Ten Theses of Bern (1528)

4. Confession of the East Friesland Preachers (1528)

5. William Farel’s Summary (1529)

6. Zwingli, Fidei ratio (1530)

7. The Tetrapolitan Confession (1530)

8. Waldensian Confession (1530)

9. Zwingli, Fidei Expositio (1531)

10. The Bern Synod (1532)

11. Waldensian Synod of Chanforan (1532)

12. The Waldensian Confession of Angrogna (1532)

13. The First Confession of Basel (1534)

14. The Bohemian Confession (1535)

15. The Lausanne Articles (1536)

16. The First Helvetic Confession (1536)

17. Calvin’s Catechism (1537)

18. Geneva Confession (1536/37)

19. Calvin’s Catechism (1538)

20. Waldensian Confession of Merindol (1541)

21. Waldensian Confession of Provence (1543)

22. The Waldensian Confession of Merindol (1543)

23. The Walloon Confession of Wesel (1544/45)

24. Calvin’s Catechism (1545)

25. Juan Diaz’s Sum of the Christian Religion (1546)

26. Valdes’s Catechism (1549)

27. Consensus Tigurinus (1549)

28. Anglican Catechism (1549)

29. London Confession of John a Lasco (1551)

30. Large Emden Catechism of the Strangers’ Church, London (1551)

31. Vallerandus Poullain: Confession of the Glastonbury Congregation (1551)

32. Rhaetian Confession (1552)

33. Consensus Genevensis: Calvin on Eternal Predestination (1552)


Some other reviews/post that you may want to as well take a look at:

1. Tony Reinke’s Blog

2. Ligonier Ministries Blog

One Comment on “Review of Reformed Confessions of the 16th and 17th Centuries in English Translation: 1523-1552”

  1. […] Dewalt looks at a scholarly tome: James Dennison’s Reformed Confessions of the 16th and 17th Centuries in English Translation: 1523-1552: “This book is the first of a 3-volume set that James T. Dennison will be working on for the […]

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