Grace Worthy to Be Defined and Defended

Canons_of_Dort-1619The stereotype of old confessions like the Canons of Dort is that they take the theology of God’s Word and make it shrink-wrapped, freeze-dried, and boxed-up. Or, if we can mix metaphors, theologizing becomes nothing more than dissecting a dead frog.

But what if another analogy is more appropriate? What if the truth we are talking about is not cold and dead, but very much alive? What if, instead of thinking about dissecting a frog, you think about defining or defending your child? If someone mistook your child for someone else, or if someone ran off with your child, you would care very much about definitions. You would want people to know the name of your child. It wouldn’t be enough to just say, ‘I’m looking for a cute kid out there. Just bring me one.’ You would be precise about her name, her height, her hair, her eyes, and her voice. You would provide a careful definition of your child. Likewise, if someone misunderstood your child or attacked your child, wouldn’t you do everything in your power to defend him? Of course you would, because your child is precious.

And so it is with the truth of the God’s Word. Before the Synod of Dort conducted its business, each member took a solemn oath saying that ‘I will only aim at the glory of God, the peace of the Church, and especially the preservation of the purity of doctrine. They ended with a prayer: ‘So help me, my Savior, Jesus Christ! I beseech him to assist me by his Holy Spirit.’ The delegates at Dort were joyfully serious about the doctrine of the church.

Do we care as much about defining and defending grace?

…At their very heart, the Canons of Dort are about the nature of grace – supernatural, uniliateral, sovereign, effecting, redeeming, resurrecting grace, with all of its angularity, all of its offense to human pride, and all of its comfort for the weary soul. That’s what Dort wanted to settle. That’s what they were jealous to protect. Some words are worth the most careful definitions, just as some truths are too precious not to defend.

grace-defined-defended-deyoung-2019Taken from the “Introduction” of the newest book on the Synod and Canons of Dort in connection with her 400th anniversary. This is Kevin DeYoung’s Grace Defined and Defended: What a 400-Year-Old Confession Teaches Us About Sin, Salvation, and the Sovereignty of God (Crossway, 2019), pp.24-25.

I have a review copy from Crossway available for a serious reader who is willing to do a review for the Standard Bearer. I have also purchased a copy for the PRC seminary library.

 

A Week in Photos, Personal and Seminary – April/May 2019

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It has been a cool, rainy week in our parts, but we have now turned the calendar to May, and we hope that we have also turned the corner on our cool, wet weather (including snow! The picture above is my backyard this past Sunday morning – perhaps the last of the season for that white stuff!).

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But, just to show you that we have had Spring in West Michigan and enjoyed some nice warm days, we include these shots – a grandson (Carson T) who plays freshman baseball for the Chargers – and a grandson (Trey D) who turned 6 on the same warm day, a day that beckoned us to enjoy our first ice cream cones!

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There is also much to report on in the PRC seminary sector of life.

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Last weekend, of course, was the seminary’s Dordt400 conference, and while there is much that can be reported on and many photos I could post, I will limit myself to a few here. (Others may be found on the PRC website and on the seminary website blog.)

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Yes, there were books on display – I set up an assortment of books and magazines from the seminary library devoted to the subject of Dordt and her 400th anniversary…

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and, with Trinity PRC’s great help, a fine display of Dordt artifacts – including woodcuts of the synod and its work, and first editions of the Canons of Dordt, the Acts of the Synod of Dordt, and the Statenbijbel. It seems people were truly interested in these 400 year items! Warmed my heart. 🙂

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Of course, the heart of the conference was the people – the speakers and the attendees, including the brothers and sisters from afar – from 8 foreign countries! That included dear pastor-friend V. Ibe from the Philippines, whom I had not seen since he left seminary 6 years ago (to the far right – that’s Dan Pastoor to the far left and Rev. L. Trinidad in the middle, another Filipino pastor).

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And another special pastor-friend – B.J. Kwon from South Korea, whom I got to know when he took classes at our seminary (and SE-GR PRC) while attending Calvin Seminary. It was wonderful to connect with him and his wife again.

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Our two Asian students couldn’t resist celebrating with amazement the “celebrity” status of Rev. Kwon (note the large photo in the back – one of a collection of specially made photos of all the foreign visitors).

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And perhaps you saw this picture already, but one of our professors/speakers was still promoting the conference when he left the church parking lot on Saturday afternoon!

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Related to this is a very special gift the seminary received today from the saints in Kolkata, India – thank you cards for having Rev. E. Singh attend the conference. What a beautiful, colorful treasure – and precious words! We too thank God he could be there!

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The seminary also had special guests this week. Yesterday (Thursday) about 25 students (plus the parent chaperones and Mrs. K. Van Baren, their teacher) from Heritage Christian HS in Dyer, IN came up for a morning visit, before embarking on a church history tour in the afternoon. They joined us for devotions…

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and sat in on a couple of classes – Prof. Cammenga’s OT History class and Prof. Dykstra’s medieval church history class.

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And together we enjoyed a Jets pizza lunch!

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We are grateful for their encouraging visit – thanks for coming Heritage CHS!

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We had another special guest this week: Rev. D. Kleyn, PRC missionary-pastor in Manila, the Philippines (who is here on leave while pursuing advanced studies in preparation for setting up and teaching in a new seminary in that part of the world). For his foreign missions/world religions course Prof. Gritters had Rev. Kleyn give two presentations on the life and work of a missionary in that foreign culture.

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And finally, we may add this too – the addition of a new piece of art work to the seminary’s walls. Prof. B. Gritters can relate the full story, but he has often used John Calvin’s words to the saints in Geneva concerning the church’s need for pastors: “Send us wood, and we will send you arrows.”

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Well, now, thanks to the wood-working skills of his brother Mike and the fine lettering and design of a couple of ladies (sorry, I don’t remember who now!), these words have been etched in wood and by symbol on a beautifully framed piece. Yesterday afternoon it was hung at the entrance to the library.

Thanks Prof. for not losing the vision of such a work of art. And, thanks Mike and ladies for the excellent work. It is a Gritters’ masterpiece – with a wonderful message stating and summarizing the labors of the PRC seminary!

All in all, it was a busy and blessed week. Now you see why.

An April 2019 Update in Pics from the PRC Seminary

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Typical for the month of April in West Michigan is up and down weather – from warm sunny days and sure signs of Spring to cold and snowy days with signs that Winter won’t die quickly. Twice this month we had measurable snow, burying green grass, fresh landscape bark, and bright daffodils.

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Last week the Lord gave us a snowy Sunday (April 14) and, while we were quick to complain, the scene Monday morning took our breath away.

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But now we are back to normal and the daffodils seem happier dressed in green rather than white.

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The work on the building addition (new archives and offices) has gone very well, with a mixture of inside work and outdoor work. Soon school will be done and the opening will be made between the library and the new part, with the library renovation set to kick into high gear in mid-May.

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And, yes, we are excited to finally have the Dordt400 Conference this weekend! Need I remind you that it is this Thursday evening (April 25 – 7 pm) through Saturday morning (April 27). Not only will there be great speeches and presentations on the Synod of Dordt and its work, but there will also be displays of fantastic Dordt artifacts – first edition Bibles, a copy of the original Canons, medallions, and pictures. And, of course, blessed fellowship with believers from all over the world! Join us for the whole conference or as much as you can take in. The venue is the beautiful Trinity PRC in the center of Hudsonville, MI.

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We hope to see you there!

A Special Standard Bearer and Two Special Interviews on Dordt 400 *(Updated)

Today we feature two items in this post.

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The first is something archive assistant Bob Drnek found today while sorting through two large boxes containing PRC Foreign Mission Committee material (and that will be your only hint as to the source of what is to come). He pulled out copies of three issues of the Standard Bearer, translated in a foreign tongue and published as complete issues (cf. image above).

And, of course, he wondered what language they were in, so he came up and asked. I guessed one of two, based on a little knowledge of our mission history. But I will let you make a guess before revealing it. It was a nice find, and a good addition to our mission archives.

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*UPDATE: The translation is indeed into Burmese (confirmed by John VB of Hope PRC and Rev. J. Laning of the FMC). And the work, as supposed, was that of Rev. Titus, who continues to do some of this for his weekly “Sunday Digest.” Above is a picture of two other issues that he translated.

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The second item we feature today is notice of two special interviews to be held TOMORROW, Wednesday, April 3. Both Prof. Doug Kuiper and Prof. David Engelsma (PRC Seminary) are going to be interviewed on the live Internet program Iron Sharpens Iron.

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Host Chris Arntzen will interview Prof. Kuiper on the subject of his upcoming Dordt400 Conference speech, “The Doctrine of the Covenant in the Canons of Dordt,” while he will interview Prof. Engelsma on the subject of “The Great War: What Led to the Synod of Dordt?” 

These back-to-back interviews will take place Wednesday, April 3, from 4-6 pm (ET). Sounds like something you won’t want to miss!

*UPDATE: The audio file of these interviews are now available at the “Iron Sharpens Iron” website. You can listen to both interviews at this link.

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.

More on Dordt400: The PRC Seminary Conference, Dordt’s March Sessions, and “Grace and Assurance”

As the Reformed church world continues to mark the 400th anniversary of the great international Synod of Dordtrecht in the Netherlands (1618-19), we may note it here once more again. Dordt’s final session was on May 29, 1619, so we have a few months to remember and reflect.  Dordt-conf-flyer-speakers-colorFirst to note is the PRC Seminary’s Dordt400 Conference coming up in only a month – April 25-27. We hope you are planning to attend this significant event in Hudsonville, MI. The latest announcement serves as a powerful incentive:

Dordt400! April 25-27. Trinity PRC. The seminary-sponsored conference celebrating the 400th anniversary of the Great Synod is approaching! Please make plans to come to hear important speeches, see displays of 400-year-old artifacts from Dordt, learn the winners of the writing contest, and meet PRC friends coming from at least 10 different countries! Speakers are our seminary professors; Revs. B. Huizinga and W. Langerak; and Rev. A. Stewart (CPRC NI) and Rev. M. Shand (EPC Australia). Trinity PRC in Hudsonville, MI is our host. The conference will be live-streamed via Trinity’s website for those unable to attend. For more, see Dordt400.org.

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The second thing to note is closely related. Prof. Douglas Kuiper has been writing special posts for the Seminary conference blog. Of special note are the short summaries of Dordt’s sessions he has provided. Much of this detail is new to me, and my own appreciation for Dordt’s careful and diligent work in answering the Arminian errors has grown tremendously.

Here are a few recent samples of his description of the Synod’s work during this month of March, only in 1619:

Session 110: Tuesday, March 12 PM
Synod read the last of the judgments regarding the first article of the Remonstrants–those of the deputies from Drenthe and from the Walloon churches.

Synod then turned to the judgments of the various delegations regarding the second article of the Remonstrants, which pertained to the extent and effectiveness of Christ’s work. Synod read the judgments of the delegations from Great Britain, the Palatinate, Hesse, and Switzerland. The last three delegations stated that when Scripture says Christ died for all, it means He died for the elect, not for every individual. For the elect, they added, His death effectively saved.

The delegates from Great Britain did not touch on this point. These delegates had realized earlier (session 74) that they were not agreed among themselves on the interpretation of their own creed, the Thirty-Nine Articles. This realization led them to ask advice from the Archbishop of Canterbury. He responded that the British delegates should not speak more specifically than did the Thirty-Nine Articles.

Session 118: Monday, March 18 AM
The Synod of Dordt had been in session for four full months. Due to sickness and other circumstances, the delegates from Brandenburg had never arrived (see session 3). At session 118, Synod received a letter from the Marquis of Brandenberg explaining the absence of his delegates. Convinced that Synod’s response to the Remonstrants would conform to the Reformed confessions, the Marquis asked Synod to send him its final judgment so that the clergy in his realm might sign it. The Acts of Synod do not indicate how Synod responded to this letter.

Synod continued to read the judgments of the various delegations regarding the third and fourth articles of the Remonstrants. At this session Synod read the judgments of the delegates from South Holland, North Holland, Zeeland, and Utrecht.

Grace_and_Assurance_mcgeown-2018Third, and finally, we reference again the new RFPA publication, Grace and Assurance: The Message of the Canons of Dordt, written by Rev. Martyn McGeown, missionary-pastor laboring in Limerick Reformed Fellowship.

Tonight we take a quotation from the author’s treatment of Article 5 of the Second Head of doctrine, where Dordt is linking the preaching of God’s salvation promise to the effectual, atoning death of His Son, Jesus Christ. After showing that God’s promise of salvation is particular (for elect believers only) and unconditional (without dependency on the actions of the sinner), McGeown shows that God wills that this gospel promise be widely preached – in contrast to what the Arminians claimed was possible for the truly Reformed.

This particular, unconditional promise must be preached. The heirs of God’s promise, the elect, must some to hear of it. Notice how the Canons explain this: ‘This promise…ought to be declared and published to all nations, and to all persons promiscuously and without distinction.’ The promise of particular, but the preaching is promiscuous, general or unrestricted. With the promise a second truth must be preached, which is the command or the call: ‘This promise, together with the command to repent and believe, ought to be declared and published’ (emphasis added). The promise is particular, but the preaching with the command or call to repent and believe is promiscuous, general or unrestricted. This is the response of Dordt to hyper-Calvinism, which is the belief and practice that the gospel should not be preached promiscuously, but only to the elect or to supposedly sensible sinners. Those who show signs of regeneration or receptivity to the truth are, in the minds of hyper-Calvinists, sensible sinners. To none other will a hyper-Calvinist issue the command or call to repent and believe. [pp.166-67]

There’s more, of course, to this answer, but you can see what Dordt’s basic reply was. And that answer still needs to be sounded plainly, because there is so much confusion and error concerning the call of the gospel, and not only from the side of the hyper-Calvinists. Those who claim the free or well-meant offer with its two-track theology need also hear Dordt’s clear statements.

We encourage all who love the Reformed faith to read and benefit from McGeown’s Grace and Assurance.

The Canons of Dordt and Missions – Rev. D. Kleyn (Feb.15, 2019 “Standard Bearer”)

sb-logo-rfpaThe latest issue of the Standard Bearer (February 15, 2019) is now out and among its ten (10) articles are two on the Canons of Dordt, marking its 400th anniversary.

The first is Part 7 of Prof. Douglas Kuiper’s series “Dordt 400: Memorial Stones,” a year-long tribute to the “great Synod.” This installment treats Dordt’s consideration of “training students for the ministry.” It is another interesting, edifying, and relevant article on the Synod’s work and decisions.

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The second article is the one we feature in this post. It is PRC Missionary-pastor (Philippines) Daniel Kleyn’s second installment on “The Canons of Dordt and Missions.” We pull a section from this fine article, which shows how the Canons teaches that the gospel is to be preached “far and wide.”

Missions is to Preach Promiscuously

More significantly, the Canons of Dordt give an explicit call to the church to do mission work. Among the Three Forms of Unity, the Canons is the only creed to do this. This more than anything else proves the missionary character and missionary usefulness of this creed.

The Canons order the church to go out into the world with the gospel. That order is found in Head II, Article 5, which reads: “Moreover, the promise of the gospel is that whosoever believeth in Christ crucified shall not perish but have everlasting life. This promise, together with the command to repent and believe, ought to be declared and published to all nations and to all persons promiscuously and without distinction, to whom God out of His good pleasure sends the gospel.”

Who can deny that this call to missions is in full harmony with the biblical commands concerning missions? Even if no other passages in the Canons either taught or implied anything regarding missions, Head II, Article 5 would be enough to prove that the Canons promote mission work.

The word “promiscuously” is key here. This means the preaching must go far and wide, to every land and nation under heaven. This must be done by the church “without distinction.” God is not a respecter of persons (Acts 10:34). The church must not be such in her mission work either.

God’s purpose is that the promiscuous preaching of His Word will be used by Him to bring the elect to a conscious faith in Christ. The church and missionaries do not and cannot know who the elect are. They must, therefore, preach God’s Word to all to whom God gives them opportunity. In this way the elect will hear that Word and will, by the power of the Spirit, be saved.

A Few More Dordt 400 Items

We have a few more remaining Dordt 400 items to bring to your attention in this post.

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First, we want to point out that a personal friend and friend of the PRC has specially commissioned replicas of the original Synod of Dordt medallions given to the delegates. You may find these for sale at the Dort Store for $179 for the set, and we hope to have some of these sets available at the PRC Seminary’s Dordt 400 Conference coming up in April. We have been given a set as a gift and have it on display currently in our rare book case at the seminary.

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Here is the information on the medallions found on the website:

Presenting the Limited Edition of the prestigious Dort Medallions presented in antique gold to the international delegates and in antique silver to the Dutch domestic delegates of the Great Synod of Dordrecht 1618-1619.

The unknown 17th Century artist depicts with startling detail the iconic Synod itself on the obverse side with Mount Zion on the reverse.

The historic medallions professionally minted according to the exact Dordrecht specifications of the expansive 58.5mm in diameter (4mm/90g).

Includes premium velvet burgundy showcase with a Certificate of Authenticity explaining the unique history and exquisite detail of the medallions awarded the esteemed divines of the august assembly meeting from November 13, 1618 to May 9, 1619.

At that special Dort 400 website you will also find some books related to the “great Synod” and its work.

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Second, we want to point our readers once again to the special PRC Seminary Dordt 400 website. Here you will find information on the upcoming conference (April 25-27), which is introduced in these words:

The Synod of Dordt, held 400 years ago in the Netherlands was monumental in the history of Christianity.  The very truths that God had restored to His church only 100 years earlier in the Reformation—the doctrines of grace—were being threatened again, by another denial of grace. But this time by men from within the Reformed churches themselves. The separate existence of Reformed churches from the Roman Catholic Church was explained by Rome’s denial of grace. The new betrayal of grace came in a form different than Rome’s. It mutated (as the lie always does) to appear more acceptable to undiscerning Christians and their generations. But the mutated form of the lie was the same lie, the lie that man contributes to his salvation. Grace was “no more grace” (Romans 11:6).

The Synod and Canons of Dordt exposed that lie for what it was, and confessed biblical truth about grace—what today are sometimes called the “Five Points of Calvinism.” These Canons are the 400-year-old fruit of God’s work preserving His true church in the world.

jbogerman-dordtAnd at that site you will also find a highly profitable blog, where the story of God’s work through the Synod is being retold in fascinating detail. Sign up to receive the posts and don’t miss out on the story of God’s amazing grace preserving the truth of His amazing sovereign grace.

As a sample, here’s a portion of the latest post – “The Expulsion of the Arminians”:

The Synod was growing frustrated with the Remonstrants. The Acts helps us understand why (see the category “400 Years Ago” in this blogsite): the Remonstrants would not directly answer questions put to them; they tried to divert the discussion to other matters; and they repeatedly referred to the Synod as a conference, viewing themselves as equals with the delegates. They would not submit to the Synod or cooperate with its investigation into their views.

At the momentous 57th session, on January 14, 1619, the matter came to a head: President Johannes Bogerman expelled the Remonstrants from the Synod.

Bogerman’s Speech
His expulsion speech is not recorded in the official Acts, but several eyewitness accounts exist. He told them (I quote from Gerard Brandt, The History of the Reformation and other Ecclesiastical Transactions in and about the Low-Countries [London: T. Wood, 1722], 3:151-152):

“The Synod has treated you with all gentleness, mildness, friendliness, patience, forbearance, and long-suffering, plainly, sincerely, honestly, and kindly; but all the returns made by you have been nothing but base artifices, cheats, and lies. . . . All your actions have ever been full of tricks, deceits, and equivocations. . . . [S]ince your obstinacy has been very great and complicated, and has discovered itself even in opposition to the Resolutions of the Synod, and of the supreme Powers, care will be taken to inform all Christendom of it, and you shall find that the Church wants [lacks] no spiritual weapons for punishing you. . . . I therefore dismiss you in the name of the Lords Commissioners, and of this Synod: Be gone.”

The Opening Prayer at the Synod of Dordt (Plus, a Hymn and a Psalm by a Dutch Men’s Choir)

Opnamedatum: 13-11-2012The Fall issue of the Protestant Reformed Theological Journal contains a new translation (the first known complete one) of the prayer offered at the opening session of the great Synod of Dordt on Nov.13, 1618. The prayer was made by local pastor Balthasar Lydius, and the translation is a combined labor of Prof. D. Kuiper (PRC Seminary) and Dr. H. D. Schuringa (former CRC minister and seminary professor at Calvin and Westminster, CA).

Prof. Kuiper gives this historical introduction to the prayer and the nature of the translation:

Balthasar Lydius was a Reformed minister in Dordrecht from 1602-1629, and was delegated by the particular Synod of South Holland to attend the national Synod of Dordt. As the local pastor, two honors fell to him on November 13, 1618: that of preaching a Dutch sermon in the morning before the synod opened, and that of opening the first session of the synod with prayer. He prayed in Latin, in which language all of the business of the Synod was conducted until the foreign delegates were dismissed. Two partial English translations of the prayer have been available for centuries, one of which is based on the memory of some in the audience.  What follows is a new and complete translation, based on the Dutch translation of the prayer in the Acts of the Synod of Dordt. After the translation the reader will find the Dutch original.

The prayer is ornate. It breathes the language of Scripture. Its long sentences include many subordinate phrases and clauses. As is the Dutch custom, in these long sentences the subject is near the beginning and the verb at the end. This translation divides the long sentences into shorter ones so that the English reader today can better understand the prayer, Biblical citations and allusions are footnoted.

For our purposes tonight, we quote the first part of the prayer, encouraging you to read the rest at the link provided above to the PRT Journal. The prayer will give you a new appreciation for the times in which Dordt met, the seriousness of the issues it faced, and the humble dependency on their sovereign Lord the godly men at the synod showed . In addition, the prayer will feed your soul and teach us how to pray – for the present church and for the state under which we now live.

*(Note: In this post I have removed the footnotes, including those added by Dr. Schuringa showing the thoroughly biblical language of Lydius’ prayer. By all means pay attention to these in the original article as published in the Journal.)

Almighty, eternal God, Fountain of all wisdom, goodness and mercy, compassionate Father in Christ! We pray that Thou wilt open our lips so that our mouth may declare Thy praise.

We are unworthy of all Thy mercies which Thou hast bountifully bestowed upon the work and workmanship of Thy hands. Not only hast Thou created us according to Thy image, but also, when we through sin had become by nature the children of wrath, Thou didst recreate us according to Thy image. Since we already are indebted
to Thee because Thou hast created us, how much more do we owe because Thou hast also freely redeemed us?

It is great and marvelous that man was made in Thy image. How much greater it is that He who thought it not robbery to be equal with God made Himself of no reputation, took upon Him the form of a servant, and was made in our likeness, who of God was made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption!

Also with these benefits Thou wast not satisfied. We were a people dwelling in the darkness and shadow of death, without hope of salvation, cast off in the unworthiness of our souls, for whom an unknown treasure would be of no use. But Thou hast enlightened us by the revelation of the Sun of righteousness and truth! Without this, we would have perished everlastingly in these errors, not knowing what way we must walk.

The enemy of mankind sowed tares among the wheat while men slept. This darkness gradually gained the upper hand. Yet through the light of the Reformation Thou hast delivered us from a greater darkness than that of Egypt. In these places Thou hast planted Thy vine, whose shadow has covered the mountains and whose branches are the cedars of God.

This prayer was also published in the Nov.1, 2018 issue of the Standard Bearer, the first of two special issues planned for the 400th anniversary of the Synod of Dordt (the second one will appear May 1, 2019, D.V.). These issues will be available online approximately six months after publication.

To this prayer we also add this beautiful and appropriate arrangement of the hymn “Thanks Be to God” sung in Dutch by “Urker Mannenkoor,” a men’s choir from the Netherlands.

And if you enjoyed that one, you will also love this version of Psalm 42 (by combined men’s and women’s choirs):

Older Useful Works on the Synod/Canons of Dordt

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This week we are focusing on the Synod of Dordt and her work in connection with her 400th anniversary (1618-19/2018-19). Two days ago we looked at some of the new items being produced and published in connection with that historic event. Tonight we will look at a few of the older but still valuable books from the past.

The PRC Seminary library has several older works in Dutch, of course, and one could wish that some of these were translated or could be translated. One such work marks the 350th anniversary of Dordt and is a colorful illustrated history of Dordt.

But there are also plenty available in English, some major works and other minor. Here are a few.

The Deeper Faith: An Exposition of the Canons of Dort by Gordon Girod (former pastor of Seventh Reformed Church in Grand Rapids, MI), Baker Book House.

crisis in reformed chruches-py-dejongCrisis in the Reformed Churches: Essays in Commemoration of the Great Synod of Dort, ed. by Peter Y. DeJong. One finds this description online:

Forty years ago the Board of Reformed Fellowship commissioned nine men, who today would be considered a ‘Who’s Who’ in Reformed theology, to commemorate the 350th anniversary of the Synod of Dort. Under the leadership of the editor, Dr. Peter Y. De Jong, these giants in the faith wrote on a variety of topics regarding this great event in Reformed history. Their contributions brought to the Christian community a greater understanding of the history and necessity of the Synod of Dort, the key figures involved in the Synod, and the application of the decisions made at the Synod to the tumultuous times within the church during the sixties. Each article reflected not only the expertise of the writer, but also his love for the Reformed faith…” With these words Wybren Oord, editor of The Outlook, begins the introduction to this new printing of Crisis in the Reformed Churches. Contributing authors: Peter Y. DeJong– pastor for several churches in the CRC; Professor of Practical Theology at Calvin Theological Seminary; one of the founders of Mid-America Reformed Seminary. Simon Kistemaker– Professor of New Testament Emeritus, RTS; past president and secretary-treasurer, Evangelical Theological Society. Fred H. Klooster– professor of Systematic Theology at Calvin Theological Seminary. John Murray–professor of Systematic Theology and co-founder, Westminster Seminary, Philadelphia. Edwin H. Palmer– minister in the CRC; professor at Westminster Theological Seminary; executive secretary, Committee on Bible Translation (NIV). Louis Praamsma– minister in the CRC; professor of Church History, Calvin Theological Seminary. Klaas Runia– professor of Systematic Theology, Reformed Theological College, Geelong, Australia; professor of Practical Theology, Theological Seminary, Kampen, Netherlands. Cornelius Van Til– professor of Apologetics, Westminster Theological Seminary. Marten H. Woudstra– professor of Old Testament, Calvin Theological Seminary; translator, NIV.

but-for-the-grace-of-god_venemaBut For the Grace of God: An Exposition of the Canons of Dort by Cornel Venema, about which we find this information on the Reformed Fellowship website:

Dr. Cornel Venema, President and Professor of Doctrinal Studies at Mid-America Reformed Seminary, clearly and engagingly leads the reader not only to understand the background and the doctrine of the Canons of Dort but also to see how its faithful exposition of biblical truth gives us great comfort and confidence in God’s promises.

• Nine chapters, with study questions after each chapter
• Excellent resource for study groups
• Includes the full text of the Canons of Dort.

revisiting-dordt-lieburgA larger work is Revisiting the Synod of Dordt (1618-1619), ed. by A. Goudriaan and F. Lieburg (Brill, 2010), part of Brill’s Series in Church History (V. 49). The publisher has this information on this title:

The Synod of Dordt (1618-1619), the international assembly which ended the yearslong dispute between Arminians and Calvinists, was a defining event in the history of the Dutch Republic. This collected volume presents new facts and analyses concerning the Synod, its context, and its legacy. It includes contributions on the Synod’s international character (Genevan delegation, James Ussher), biased historiography ( John Hales and Walter alquanquall), scholasticism ( Johannes Maccovius), philosophical ramifications, and Arminian theology. New, manuscript-based details about the formation of the Canons of Dordt are presented. Other papers examine the Canons’ ascendency to confessional status, intentional pastoral style, and view on the salvation of infants. Finally, its reception in the Dutch context as reflected in prints and printed works is mapped out.

voice-of-father-hch

Last, but not least, we also want to call attention to another RFPA publication on Dordt and her Canons – Voice of Our Fathers: An Exposition of the Canons of Dordrecht by Homer C, Hoeksema (2nd revised ed.).

We hope these books lists will encourage you to do some serious reading on Dordt and her work, as we remember God’s preserving work through His church in the 17th century.