“II. Some ceremonies are devised and established by men are properly called adiaphora, that is, a thing neither evil nor good, or an act which is left free, or an ecclesiastical rule. … They do not take the place of the indispensable worship service, such as the use of the holy sacraments and the hearing of God’s Word. Rather, they are external ordinances of men and thus they serve only for a convenient performance of the worship service. Beyond this, no necessity should be placed in them for conscience sake, nor any confidence or special reverence or sanctity, for as soon as that occurs such ceremonies will be much too highly elevated above their ordinary allowed use and are made into an evident superstition….

5. Fifth and similarly, should the ceremonies ordained by men come to be regarded no longer as something left free, and if one makes them to be a service especially pleasing to God or wants to insist upon them as if they were necessary for conscience sake, or if one wants to persuade the people that it would be meritorious or an action by which one could obtain grace with God, reconciliation, the forgiveness of sins, or satisfaction from some transgression, then on that account and in such circumstances they should be entirely abolished. This should be done regardless of the preceding custom and regardless of its past beneficial use because by this time they have been so greatly altered that they henceforth are a thing repugnant to the truth and liberty of the gospel and rob Christ of His glory.

6. Sixth, if the ordinances of men in the church assume a form that, for the sake of similarity, is closer in these matters to the enemies of the truth than to the orthodox so that the weak are offended by this and kept in error and the enemies would become more stiff-necked, then it is best to remove them, in part to obviate offence and in part to avoid dangers either present or apprehended as future. When there is a form with fasts, days of the deceased saints, vestments, wafers, elevation, images and the like, these are nothing other than papal ensigns and the colors of his court. They should no more be retained than a respectable woman should be accustomed to going thoughtlessly clothed among immodest people or than soldiers should undertake to carry the ensigns of the enemy.”​

“The Bremen Consensus (1595),” translated by R. Sherman Isbell, in Reformed Confessions of the 16th and 17th Centuries in English Translation, edited by James T. Dennison, Jr. (RHB, 2012) 3.700–701.

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Join our mailing list to receive the latest news and updates from our ring of reformed sites.

You have Successfully Subscribed!