From the Archives: Subjects Discussed at the Meeting at Angrogna

THERE IS DEBATE today among historians of Waldensianism as to whether one epoch-making meeting really took place in the little hamlet of Chanforan, located in the vicinity of Angrogna in the Piedmont Alps. Traditionally it has been held—as is the position expressed in this issue by Dr. Bouchard—that a crucial meeting took place at Chanforan at which the Waldensians more or less decided to accept William Farel’s position concerning their joining the reform movement, and that they produced the Confession printed below; also that a translation of the Bible into French was commissioned at that time. A recent scholarly study by Oxford-trained historian Euon Cameron has argued that, according to the best information we have today, the best we can say is that several meetings took place at different places around the time, and that the document below was produced at one of these meetings held near Angrogna. Cameron suggests that the traditional view was a later imposition on the facts, and that it makes the Waldensians and the early reformers out to be far more organized and unified than is historically justifiable. Whether such a meeting took place or not, the Waldensians did become a part of the Calvinistic Reformed tradition, and have since been regarded as Protestants.

Made with general consent by the ministers and heads of Families of the Churches of the Valleys of the Piedmont, assembled in Angrogna the 12th of September of the Year 1532.

The following articles having been framed, read, aproved, and signed by all that were present, they with one accord did swear to believe, hold and observe them inviolably, as agreeing with the holy Scriptures, and containing the sum of the Doctrine which was taught them from father to son according to the Word of God. . . .

Article 1. That divine service cannot be performed but in spirit and in truth: because God is a Spirit, and whosoever will speak to him must do it in spirit.

2. All those that have been, and shall be saved, have been elected of God, before the foundation of the world.

3. It is impossible that those who have been appointed to salvation, should not be saved.

4. Whosoever upholds free-Will denieth absolutely Predestination, and the Grace of God.

5. No work is called good, but that which God hath commanded, and no work is bad but that which he forbiddeth.

6. A Christian may swear by the Name of God without contravention of what is written, Matt. 5, provided that he that sweareth doth not take the Name of God in vain. Now it is not in vain, when the oath tendeth to God’s glory, and to the good of a man’s Neighbor: moreover, one may swear before Magistrates, because he that exerciseth the office of Magistrate, whether a believer or unbeliever, holdeth his power from God.

7. Auricular confession is not commanded of God, and it hath been determined according to holy Scripture, that the true Confession of a Christian is, to confess to God alone, to whom belongeth honor and glory; there is another kind of Confession, which is when one reconcileth himself to his Neighbor . . . . The third manner of Confession is, when one having offended publicly, and to every man’s knowledge, doth also publicly confess and acknowledge offense.

8. We ought to cease on the Lord’s Day from our Works, as men zealous of the honor and glory of God, also out of Charity towards our Servants, and to apply ourselves to the hearing of the Word of God.

9. It is not lawful for a Christian to take Revenge upon his Enemy in any manner whatsoever.

10. A Christian may exercise the office of Magistrate over other Christians.

11. There is no certain determination of time for any Christian Fast, and it cannot be found in the Scripture, that God hath commanded and appointed any special Days.

12. Marriage is not forbidden to any, of what quality and condition soever he be.

13. Whosoever forbiddeth Marriage teacheth a Diabolical Doctrine.

14. Whosoever hath not the gift of chastity is bound to marry.

15. The Ministers of the Word of God ought not to remove from place to place, except it be for some great good to the Church.

16. It is not a thing repugnant to the Apostolic Communion, that Ministers should possess some Estate proper to themselves, for the subsistence of their families.

17. Concerning the matter of the Sacraments, it hath been determined by the holy Scripture, that we have but two Sacramental Signs left us by Jesus Christ; the one is Baptism, the other is the Eucharist, which we receive, to show that our perseverance in the Faith is such as we promised when we were baptized being little children, and moreover, in remembrance of that great benefit given to us by Jesus Christ, when he died for our Redemption, and washed us with his precious Blood.

By Waldensians

[Christian History originally published this article in Christian History Issue #22 in 1989]

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