Although the term refers primarily to the admission of sin, it acquired a rather different technical sense in the sixteenth century - that of a document which embodies the principles of faith of a Protestant church. Thus the Augsburg Confession (1530) embodies the ideas of early Lutheranism, and the First Helvetic Confession (1536) those of the early Reformed church. The term "Confessionalism" is often used to refer to the hardening of religious attitudes in the later sixteenth century, as the Lutheran and Reformed churches became involved in a struggle for power, especially in Germany. The term "Confessional" is often used to refer to a church which defines itself with reference to such a document. Confessions (which define denominations) should be distinguished from creeds (which transcend denominational boundaries).
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