The Helvetic Confessions are two documents expressing the common belief of Calvinist churches, especially in Switzerland.

Heinrich Bullinger, the primary author of the Helvetic Confessions.



First Helvetic Confession

Latin & German manuscript, Confessio Helvetica Prior

The First Helvetic Confession (Latin: Confessio Helvetica prior), known also as the Second Confession of Basel, was drawn up in Basel in 1536 by Heinrich Bullinger and Leo Jud of Zürich, Kaspar Megander of Bern, Oswald Myconius and Simon Grynaeus of Basel, Martin Bucer and Wolfgang Capito of Strasbourg, with other representatives from Schaffhausen, St Gall, Mühlhausen and Biel. The first draft was written in Latin and the Zürich delegates objected to its Lutheran phraseology. However, Leo Jud's German translation was accepted by all, and after Myconius and Grynaeus had modified the Latin form, both versions were agreed to and adopted on February 26, 1536.[1] It was an attempted Reformed-Lutheran symbol of unity and brought by Bucer and Capito to Martin Luther, who ultimately rejected it.[2]

Chapters of the First Helvetic Confession:

Latin[3] English[4]
I. De Scriptura Sacra. I. On the Sacred Scripture.
II. De Interpretatione Scripturæ. II. On the Interpretation of Scripture.
III. De Antiquis Patribus. III. Of the Ancient Fathers.
IV. De Traditionibus Hominum. IV. On the Traditions of Men.
V. Scopus Scripturæ. V. The scope of Scripture.
VI. Deus. VI. God.
VII. Homo et Vires ejus. VII. Man and his strengths.
VIII. Originale Peccatum. VIII. Original Sin.
IX. Liberum Arbitrium. IX. Free will.
X. Consilium Dei Æternum de Reparatione Hominis. X. The Eternal Counsel of God on the Restoration of Man.
XI. Jesus Christus et quæ per Christum. XI. Jesus Christ and the things that come through Christ.
XII. Scopus Evangelicæ Doctrinæ. XII. The scope of the Evangelical Doctrine.
XIII. Christianus et Officia ejus. XIII. Christian and his Responsibilities.
XIV. De Fide. XIV. Faith.
XV. Ecclesia. XV. Church.
XVI. De Ministerio Verbi. XVI. On the Ministry of the Word.
XVII. Potestas Ecclesiastica. XVII. Ecclesiastical power.
XVIII. Electio Ministrorum. XVIII. Election of Ministers.
XIX. Pastor Quis. XIX. Who is the shepherd.
XX. Ministrorum Officia. XX. The Responsibility of the Ministers.
XXI. De Vi et Efficacia Sacramentorum. XXI. On the Strength and Effectiveness of the Sacraments.
XXII. Baptisma. XXI. Baptism.
XXIII. Eucharistia. XXIII. The Eucharist.
XXIV. Cœtus Sacri. XXIV. The Sacred Congregation.
XXV. De Mediis. XXV. The Middle. (means)
XXVI. De Hæreticis et Schismaticis. XXVI. Of the Heretics and Dissidents.
XXVII. De Magistratu. XXVII. The Magistrate.
XXVIII. De Sancto Conjugio. XXVII. The Holy Marriage.

Second Helvetic Confession

Confessio Helvetica Posterior

The Second Helvetic Confession (Latin: Confessio Helvetica posterior) was written by Bullinger in 1562 and revised in 1564 as a private exercise. It came to the notice of Elector Palatine Frederick III, who had it translated into German and published.[1] It was attractive to some Reformed leaders as a corrective to what they saw as the overly Lutheran statements of the Strasbourg Consensus. An attempt was made in early 1566 to have all the churches of Switzerland sign the Second Helvetic Confession as a common statement of faith.[5] It gained a favorable hold on the Swiss churches, who had found the First Confession too short and too Lutheran.[1] However, "the Basel clergy refused to sign the confession, stating that although they found no fault with it, they preferred to stand by their own Basel Confession of 1534".[5]

Chapters of the Second Helvetic Confession:

Latin[6] English[7]
I. De Scriptura sancta, vero Dei Verbo. I. Of The Holy Scripture Being The True

Word of God.

II.De interpretandis Scripturis sanctis, et de Patribus, Conciliis, et Traditionibus. II.Of Interpreting The Holy Scripture; and of Fathers, Councils, and Traditions.
III. De Deo, Vnitate Ejus ac Trinitate. III. Of God, His Unity and Trinity.
IV. De idolis vel imaginibus Dei, Christi et Divorum. IV. Of Idols or Images of God, Christ and The Saints.
V. De adoratione, cultu et invocatione Dei per unicum mediatorem Jesum Christum. V. Of The Adoration, Worship and Invocation of God Through The Only Mediator Jesus Christ.
VI. De providentia Dei. VI. Of the Providence of God.
VII. De creatione rerum omnium, de Angelis, Diabolo et Homine. VII. Of The Creation of All Things: Of Angels, the Devil, and Man.
VIII. De lapsu hominis et peccato, et causa peccati. VIII. Of Man's Fall, Sin and the Cause of Sin.
IX. De libero arbitrio adeoque viribus hominis. IX. Of Free Will, and Thus of Human Powers.
X. De praedestinatione Dei et Electione Sanctorum. X. Of the Predestination of God and the Election of the Saints.
XI. De Jesu Christo, vero Deo et Homine, unico mundi Salvatore. XI. Of Jesus Christ, True God and Man, the Only Savior of the World.
XII. De Lege Dei. XII. Of the Law of God.
XIII. De Evangelio Jesu Christi, de Promissionibus item, Spiritu et Litera. XIII. Of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, of the Promises, and of the Spirit and Letter.
XIV. De poenitentia et conversione Hominis. XIV. Of Repentance and the Conversion of Man.
XV. De vera fidelium justificatione. XV. Of the True Justification of the Faithful.
XVI. De fide et bonis operibus, eorumque mercede, et merito hominis. XVI. Of Faith and Good Works, and of Their Reward, and of Man's Merit.
XVII. De catholica et sancta Dei Ecclesia et unico capite Ecclesiae. XVII. Of The Catholic and Holy Church of God, and of The One Only Head of The Church.
XVIII. De ministris Ecclesiae ipsorumque institutione et officiis. XVIII. Of The Ministers of The Church, Their Institution and Duties.
XIX. De sacramentis Ecclesiae Christi. XIX. Of the Sacraments of the Church of Christ.
XX. De sancto Baptismo. XX. Of Holy Baptism.
XXI. De sacra Coena Domini. XXI. Of the Holy Supper of the Lord.
XXII. De coetibus sacris et Ecclesiasticis. XXII. Of Religious and Ecclesiastical Meetings.
XXIII. De precibus ecclesiae, cantu et horis canonicis. XXIII. Of the Prayers of the Church, of Singing, and of Canonical Hours.
XXIV. De feriis, jejuniis, ciborumque delectu. XXIV. Of Holy Days, Fasts and the Choice of Foods.
XXV. De Catechesi et aegrotantium consolatione vel visitatione. XXV. Of Catechizing and of Comforting and Visiting the Sick.
XXVI. De sepultura fidelium curaque pro mortuis gerenda, de purgatorio et apparitione spirituum. XXVI. Of the Burial of the Faithful, and of the Care to Be Shown for the Dead; of Purgatory, and the Appearing of Spirits.
XXVII. De ritibus et caeremoniis et mediis. XXVII. Of Rites, Ceremonies and Things Indifferent.
XXVIII. De bonis ecclesiae. XXVIII. Of the possessions of the Church.
XXIX. De coelibatu, conjugio et oeconomia. XXIX. Of Celibacy, Marriage and the Management of Domestic Affairs.
XXX. De Magistratu. XXX. Of the Magistracy.



The Second Helvetic Confession was adopted by the Reformed Church not only throughout Switzerland but in Scotland (1566), Hungary (1567), France (1571), and Poland (1578). Along with the Thirty-nine Articles, the Westminster Confession of Faith, the Scots Confession and the Heidelberg Catechism is one the most generally recognized confessions of the Reformed Church.[1] The Second Helvetic Confession was also included in the United Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A.'s Book of Confessions, in 1967, and remains in the Book of Confessions adopted by the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).[8]

Marian views


Mary is mentioned several times in the Second Helvetic Confession, which expounds Bullinger's mariology. Chapter Three quotes the angel's message to the Virgin Mary, " – the Holy Spirit will come over you " – as an indication of the existence of the Holy Spirit and the Trinity. The Latin text described Mary as diva, indicating her rank as a person, who dedicated herself to God. In Chapter Nine, the Virgin birth of Jesus is said to be conceived by the Holy Spirit and born without the participation of any man. The Second Helvetic Confession accepted the "Ever Virgin" notion from John Calvin, which spread throughout much of Europe with the approbation of this document in the above-mentioned countries.[9] Bullinger's 1539 polemical treatise against idolatry[10] expressed his belief that Mary's "sacrosanctum corpus" ("sacrosanct body") had been assumed into heaven by angels:

Hac causa credimus et Deiparae virginis Mariae purissimum thalamum et spiritus sancti templum, hoc est, sacrosanctum corpus ejus deportatum esse ab angelis in coelum.[11] For this reason we believe that the Virgin Mary, Begetter of God, the most pure bed and temple of the Holy Spirit, that is, her most holy body, was carried to heaven by angels.[12]

See also



  1. ^ a b c d   One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Helvetic Confessions". Encyclopædia Britannica. Vol. 13 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 253.
  2. ^ Wedgeworth, Steven (2022-07-28). "Adiaphora in The First Helvetic Confession". Ad Fontes. Retrieved 2024-03-25.
  3. ^ "Philip Schaff: Creeds of Christendom, Volume III. The Creeds of the Evangelical Protestant Churches. - Christian Classics Ethereal Library". Retrieved 2024-03-25.
  4. ^ "The First Helvetic Confession (Second Basel Confession) (1536) | We Are Reformed". 2021-12-22. Retrieved 2024-03-25.
  5. ^ a b Burnett, Amy Nelson. 1992. "Simon Sulzer and the Consequences of the 1563 Strasbourg Consensus in Switzerland" in Archive for Reformation History 83: 154–179, p. 178
  6. ^ Bullinger, Heinrich (1866). Confessio Helvetica posterior (in Latin). sn.
  7. ^ "THE SECOND HELVETIC CONFESSION". Retrieved 2024-03-25.
  8. ^ Book of Confessions Study Edition. Louisville, Kentucky: Geneva Press. 1999. ISBN 978-0-664-50012-2.
  9. ^ Chavannes 426
  10. ^ De origine erroris libri duo (On the Origin of Error, Two Books) [1]. "In the De origine erroris in divorum ac simulachrorum cultu he opposed the worship of the saints and iconolatry; in the De origine erroris in negocio Eucharistiae ac Missae he strove to show that the Catholic conceptions of the Eucharist and of celebrating the Mass were wrong. Bullinger published a combined edition of these works in 4 ° (Zürich 1539), which was divided into two books, according to themes of the original work." The Library of the Finnish nobleman, royal secretary and trustee Henrik Matsson (ca. 1540–1617), Terhi Kiiskinen Helsinki: Academia Scientarium Fennica (Finnish Academy of Science), 2003, ISBN 951-41-0944-9 ISBN 9789514109447, p. 175 [2]
  11. ^ "146 [146] – Caput XVI. – Seitenansicht – Astronomie-rara". 2011-08-11. page 70 (thumbnail 146). Archived from the original on 2011-08-11. Retrieved 2023-04-26.
  12. ^ Tavard, George Henry (1996). The Thousand Faces of the Virgin Mary. Liturgical Press. p. 109. ISBN 978-0-8146-5914-4.


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