Synod of Dort Part 3: Persecution in the Netherlands

In 1555, the Holy Roman Emperor was growing old and decided to split up his large kingdom. He gave the seventeen provinces of the Netherlands to Philip II of Spain. Philip the II was an ardent Roman Catholic who believed he had to wipe out any opposition to that view of Christianity, including those who now believed in the teachings of the Reformation.

While the Holy Roman Emperor had given a lot of freedom to the Netherlands, Philip II tightened his control. He set up a Dutch Inquisition to find those who believed in the teachings of the Reformation and force them to convert back to Catholicism or have them killed.

In the Netherlands, the growing Reformation now struggled under the persecution by Philip II. People were imprisoned or killed for believing the truths of Scripture that had been brought to light by the Reformation.

In 1561, Guido de Brès wrote what we now call the Belgic Confession. He was a preacher in the Netherlands who would be imprisoned and killed for his faith. A year after he wrote the Belgic Confession, it was sent to Philip II with a plea from Reformed believers in the Netherlands asking for Philip II to grant them freedom to worship God as they believed the Bible taught. Philip II ignored their plea and continued the persecution.

While the Belgic Confession didn’t convince Philip II to allow the Reformed believers in the Netherlands freedom to worship, the confession became one of the Three Forms of Unity.


Something to think about:

With your parents, discuss the importance of the Belgic Confession. Why do we consider it one of the Three Forms of Unity today?