The oldest of our doctrinal standards is the Confession of Faith. Guido de Bres originally composed the Belgic Confession in 1561 for the churches in Flanders and the Netherlands. During the sixteenth century the churches in this country were persecuted by the Roman Catholic government. To protest this oppression and prove to the persecutors that Reformed Christians were not rebels, de Bres prepared this Confession. King Philip II, was sent a copy that declared in the preface that we would “offer their backs to stripes, their tongues to knives, their mouths to gags, and their whole bodies to the fire,” rather that deny the truth expressed in this Confession.
Guido de Bres was a pastor who traveled and preached in the Lowlands, France, and even in England. He wrote polemical works against Rome and the Anabaptists and some of his letters were published posthumously. He was well regarded by the Reformed pastors and churches and he served as a pastor, evangelist, and chaplain during his ministry. For much of his ministry he was hounded by the Spanish authorities who sought to arrest him for his propagation of the Reformed faith. They succeeded in capturing and martyring him in 1567.
The Confession was adopted by a Reformed Synod at Emden, in 1571. During the Synod of Dordt in 1618–1619, several editions of the Confession in differing languages (French, Dutch, and Latin) were carefully examined and an official, revised edition was produced.