Belgic Confession 36: On Civil Government

17 Jun


We believe that, because of the depravity of mankind, our gracious God has ordained kings, princes, and civil officers.1 He wants the world to be governed by laws and policies,2 in order that the licentiousness of men be restrained and that everything be conducted among them in good order.3 For that purpose He has placed the sword in the hand of the government to punish wrongdoers and to protect those who do what is good (Rom 13:4). Their task of restraining and sustaining is not limited to the public order but includes the protection of the church and its ministry in order that *the kingdom of Christ may come, the Word of the gospel may be preached everywhere,4 and God may be honoured and served by everyone, as He requires in His Word.

Moreover, everyone – no matter of what quality, condition, or rank – ought to be subject to the civil officers, pay taxes, hold them in honour and respect, and obey them in all things5 which do not disagree with the Word of God.6 We ought to pray for them, that God may direct them in all their ways and that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life, godly and respectful in every way (1 Tim 2:1-2).

For that reason we condemn the Anabaptists and other rebellious people, and in general all those who reject the authorities and civil officers, subvert justice,7 introduce a communion of goods, and confound the decency that God has established among men.

*The following words were deleted here by the General Synod 1905 of the Reformed Churches in the Netherlands (Gereformeerde Kerken in Nederland): all idolatry and false worship may be removed and prevented, the kingdom of antichrist may be destroyed.

1. Prov 8:15; Dan 2:21; John 19:11; Rom 13:1. 2. Exo 18:20. 3. Deut 1:16; Deut 16:19; Judg 21:25; Psalm 82; Jer 21:12; Jer 22:3; 1 Pet 2:13-14. 4. Psalm 2; Rom 13:4 a; 1 Tim 2:1-4. 5. Mat 17:27; Mat 22:21; Rom 13:7; Titus 3:1; 1 Pet 2:17. 6. Acts 4:19; Acts 5:29. 7. 2 Pet 2:10; Jude 8.

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