Dordt’s Theological Significance: “Saving the Reformation” – R. Godfrey

saving-reformation-godfrey-2019Fresh off the press is W. Robert Godfrey’s book commemorating the 4ooth anniversary of the great Synod of Dordt (1618-19) and especially her Canons. I have referenced Saving the Reformation: The Pastoral Theology of the Canons of Dordt previously, but now that I have the book in hand we can begin to examine its contents.

In this post we will listen to what Godfrey says in his Introduction to the book, taking a few quotations from that opening section:

…The Synod of Dort (1618-19), the greatest of the Reformed church assemblies, preserved the great heritage of the Reformation for the Calvinist churches. This synod is both interesting and significant, and its decisions are a theological and spiritual treasure for Christians. On the occasion of the four-hundredth anniversary of the synod, it is good to remember and be renewed in an appreciation of its accomplishments. But studying the canons is much more than a historical exercise. It will be spiritually profitable for Christians and churches today.

…In a profound sense, this synod saved the Reformation for the Reformed churches. While Lutherans would reject several elements of the canons, Calvinists saw clearly that a proper understanding of election was necessary to protect the Reformation’s ‘grace alone.’ The proper understanding of Christ’s atoning work was necessary to protect the Reformation’s ‘Christ alone.’ A proper understanding of the regenerating and preserving work of the Holy Spirit and of the Christian’s comfort in these doctrines was necessary to protect the Reformation’s ‘grace alone’ and ‘faith alone.’ Implicit in the canon’s conclusions is their commitment to the Reformation’s ‘Scripture alone’ as the only source of religious truth.

As the Reformation was a revival of biblical Augustinianism, so the Synod of Dort stands in the great Christian heritage that rejects Pelagianism and semi-Pelagianism. It stands in the tradition of Jesus against the Pharisees, Paul against the Judaizers, Athanasius against Arius, Augustine against Pelagius, and Luther against Erasmus. Dort against the Arminians continues this great commitment. The canons became the official teaching and sincere conviction of many churches and millions of Christians through the last four centuries [1-2].

The book consists of three main parts:

  1. Historical and Theological Background (2 chapters)
  2. The Canons of the Synod of Dort – A Pastoral Translation [a new translation by the author]
  3. An Exposition of the Canons of Dort (7 chapters)

The book closes with five appendices, including”Arminius: A New Look,” “An Outline of the Canons of Dort”, and “A New Translation of the Doctrinal Statement by the Synod of Dort on the Sabbath.”

You will also find the author giving a description of the Synod and his book in the short video below.

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