1675 Formula Consensus Helvetica

According to Dennison, this was adopted by the Swiss Evangelical Diet in March 1675 and by the city of Geneva in January 1679. It was repudiated in 1706 by the rising enlightenment.

The official introduction gives its background and purpose:

“Composed in Zürich, AD 1675, by John Henry Heidegger, of Zürich, and assisted by Francis Turretin, of Geneva, and Lucas Gernler, of Basel, and designed to condemn and exclude that modified form of Calvinism, which, in the seventeenth century, emanated from the theological school at Saumur, represented by Amyraut, Placaeus, and Daillé; entitled “Form of Agreement of the Helvetic Reformed Churches Respecting the Doctrine of Universal Grace, the Doctrines Related to It, and Some Other Points.”

The first chapter, including Canons 1-3 which are of interest to us (below), are a response to Louis Cappel’s attack on the preservation of the Old Testament, in particular a denial of the originality of the Hebrew vowel points.

Here the relevant Canons, with the key parts in bold:

Canon I: God, the Supreme Judge, not only took care to have his word, which is the “power of God unto salvation to every one that believes” (Rom 1:16), committed to writing by Moses, the Prophets and the Apostles, but has also watched and cherished it with paternal care from the time it was written up to the present, so that it could not be corrupted by craft of Satan or fraud of man.Therefore the Church justly ascribes to it his singular grace and goodness that she has, and will have to the end of the world (2 Pet 1:19), a “sure word of prophecy” and “Holy Scriptures” (2 Tim 3:15), from which, though heaven and earth pass away, “the smallest letter or the least stroke of a pen will not disappear by any means” (Matt 5:18).”

Canon II: But, in particular, The Hebrew original of the OT which we have received and to this day do retain as handed down by the Hebrew Church, “who had been given the oracles of God” (Rom 3:2), is, not only in its consonants, but in its vowels—either the vowel points themselves, or at least the power of the points—not only in its matter, but in its words, inspired by God. It thus forms, together with the Original of the NT the sole and complete rule of our faith and practice; and to its standard, as to a Lydian stone, all extant versions, eastern or western, ought to be applied, and wherever they differ, be conformed.

Canon III: Therefore, we are not able to approve of the opinion of those who believe that the text which the Hebrew Original exhibits was determined by man’s will alone, and do not hesitate at all to remodel a Hebrew reading which they consider unsuitable, and amend it from the versions of the LXX and other Greek versions, the Samaritan Pentateuch, by the Chaldaic Targums, or even from other sources. They go even to the point of following the corrections that their own rational powers dictate from the various readings of the Hebrew Original itself—which, they maintain, has been corrupted in various ways; and finally, they affirm that besides the Hebrew edition of the present time, there are in the versions of the ancient interpreters which differ from our Hebrew text, other Hebrew Originals. Since these versions are also indicative of ancient Hebrew Originals differing from each other, they thus bring the foundation of our faith and its sacred authority into perilous danger.

Excerpt From: James T. Dennison Jr. “Reformed Confessions of the 16th and 17th Centuries in English Translation.”

Author: Manuel Kuhs

Reformed Christian (undeserving sinner saved by God's grace alone); husband to a wonderful wife, father to 2 covenant children, member of the Limerick Reformed Fellowship, doing a PhD in Chemistry, starting my own business

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