Laying On of Hands Revisited
A few years ago, I wrote a post about the Belgic Confession article 31 and what it used to say about the laying on of hands. You can find it here. I noted that the Confession, in its earliest editions, said that not only ministers, but also elders and deacons should be ordained with the laying on of hands. However, this was dropped at some point, and today’s Belgic Confession editions don’t include that. At the time, I posited that perhaps the change was made with the revision of the Confession at the Synod of Antwerp in 1566.
I had opportunity to revisit this question today. I was reading Calvin’s Institutes and in 4.3.16 he also says that all office bearers should be ordained with the laying on of hands. That got me to thinking about the Belgic Confession again.
I went over to the Post-Reformation Digital Library to see if they might now have a link to a 1566 edition of the BC and — jackpot! They’ve got it. You can find it here. Here’s what I found when I looked at article 31:
For those who don’t understand French, there’s no mention here of the laying on of hands. This means that, yes, the mention of this was dropped early on — at the Synod of Antwerp in 1566. It’s also another reminder that the Belgic Confession we have today is not entirely the Belgic Confession written by Guido de Brès in 1561.