The Sessions of the Synod of Dordt – Dordt 400

In case you have been missing the special blog posts on the newly published Synod of Dordt website in connection with the PRC Seminary’s commemoration of Dordt’s 400th anniversary (1618/19-2018-19) next spring, I give you this reminder here.

Prof. Doug Kuiper (newly appointed professor of NT and church history) has begun writing a series of posts on the sessions of the “great synod.” His first one was introductory, but the next one (linked below) begins to treat the business of each of the 180 sessions.

Here is a portion of that post (find the rest at the link below):

Sessions 1-5

Session 1: Tuesday, November 13 AM
The morning began with Balthasar Lydius preaching a sermon in Dutch, and Jeremias de Peurs in French. Probably these sermons were preached in two different churches, to different audiences. Both men were delegates to the Synod. As the minister in Dordrecht, Lydius was able to sleep in his own bed during the months the Synod met. De Peurs was minister of the French refugee (Walloon) church in Middelburg.
After the sermons the delegates went in procession to the building in which the Synod met, the Kloveniersdoelen. The state delegation (representing the national government) welcomed the other delegations and showed them their assigned seats. Then Balthasar Lydius opened with prayer, after which Martin Gregorius made opening remarks. Gregorius was the president of the state delegation that week; this presidency rotated weekly.
The 18 state delegates presented their credentials, which Balthasar Lydius read. Then they elected Daniel Heinsius as their secretary. He was to keep minutes of the meetings of the state delegation, and to create his own set of minutes of the Synod.

These posts should have wide interest in the Reformed church world and therefore deserve wide notice. If you have an interest in Dordt’s work and decisions – especially her Canons written against the errors of the Arminians and her defense of sovereign, particular grace – we encourage you to look these up and spread the word.

And, make plans to attend the PRC seminary’s conference next April! 🙂

Source: The Sessions of the Synod of Dordt (2) Week One: Sessions 1-5 – Dordt 400

PRC History: G. Vos, H. Hoeksema, Wm. B. Eerdmans, Sr., and the original “Triple Knowledge” (1956)

For our PRC history/archives feature today, we turn to the pages of the Standard Bearer, where back in 1956 one finds an interesting exchange between Rev. Gerrit Vos (PRC minister) and Mr. William B. Eerdmans, Sr. (important Reformed book publisher), involving Rev. H. Hoeksema and his important work on the Heidelberg Catechism published under the general title of The Triple Knowledge (the discerning Reformed reader will recognize the reason for this title).

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Without giving too much away, we will say here that Eerdmans was the original publisher of this series of ten individual books covering the entire 52 Lord’s Days and 129 Q&As of the “Heidelberger.”. But the work was interrupted by a significant event in Hoeksema’s life, such that he thought the work on the Catechism might never be completed. But, in God’s good providence and with the support of Mr. Eerdmans, it was.

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As you will see from the picture above (I have an original ten-volume set), the first book in the series, In the Midst of Death, was published in 1943. The final volume, The Perfect Prayer, was published in 1956 (cf. pictures below). Hence, the celebration and congratulations in the SB in 1956.

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The exchange to which I referred above began with Rev. Vos’ article titled “Congratulations, Plus!” in the Nov.1, 1956 issue of the SB. This is how he began his note of congratulations on the completion of The Triple Knowledge:

First, I wish to congratulate the Wm. B. Eerdmans, Publishing Company, and more particularly, Mr. William Eerdmans. This part of my article is sadly overdue. I should have given time and thought to this item years ago.

When the whole world that calls itself Reformed either ignored its most outstanding theologian, the Rev. Herman Hoeksema, or attacked him and his views, God gave us the foremost publisher of Reformed heritage to publish his works. God moved his heart and mind to open the door to the world of publications.

Most of us do not realize the outlay of money and the subsequent risks involved in the publishing of books. I know, for Mr. Eerdmans told me, and showed me the graphs of costs and sales.

And so I wish to publicly thank him at this occasion: a milepost in the publishing of Hoeksema’s books.

You ask: “How come?” Why did this man, versed in profitable printing and publishing matters, risk so much?

Here is his answer, and it is twofold: first, “The Rev. Hoeksema writes for the ages!” And, second, “This is my partial share of working for the coming of the Kingdom!”

And so, congratulations, Mr. Eerdmans, in finishing the publication of the most valuable set of commentaries on the Heidelberger. May God repay you for what you have done for the Reformed Churches in the United States.

But then came a gracious reply from Mr. Eerdmans in the Dec.1, 1956 issue of the SB. Writing “A Few Words,” he told the story of this wonderful commentary and its author:

In his article Rev. Vos quotes a very beautiful passage from Rev. Herman Hoeksema’s Introduction to the first volume of his now completed ten-volume set of expositions on the Heidelberg Catechism, dated June 1, 1943.

These words of Rev. Hoeksema deserve repeating:

“If in God’s inscrutable purpose there are left to me a sufficient number of days to work and labor, I intend to complete the work, the beginning of which I offer to the public in the present volume.”

Then Rev. Vos continues, “Well. dear reader when Hoeksema wrote that sentence God said: Amen! God knew that He would multiply his days in order to give to the Church of Christ this wonderful Commentary on the Heidelberger.”

In 1947 the Rev. Hoeksema had a heart attack. One day I called on him. He laid outstretched in a garden chair on the lawn of his house. After a few words of greeting Herman said: “Well Bill, this looks as though I will never pen another paragraph.”

At that time he had finished about one third of his Commentary. However the good Lord gave him sufficient healing and strength, so that now, nine years after his heart attack, he has finished the work he in 1943 set out to do.

The friendship between Rev. Hoeksema and me dates from the days we were together at Calvin. We differ, but our honest differences have never broken our friendship. In the spirit of mutual esteem and respect we both proceeded . . . . though with many failures and shortcomings . . . . to keep on walking in the light as we were convinced God gave us to see the light.

Yes, Rev. Vos, I told you that to my way of thinking, Rev. Hoeksema writes for the ages. As a publisher I know that many God-chosen and God-gifted minds have written for the ages.

…And I have a feeling that in the distant future (if the Lord tarries His coming) Ministers and students and laymen will still turn to Hoeksema’s Heidelberger because I consider this work one of the most valuable expositions and documents in that field.

What a wonderful part of the history behind Hoeksema’s HC commentary that is! As Paul Harvey used to say on his special radio program, “Now you know the rest of the story.”

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You may also want to know that the new publisher of this work by “HH,” after years of publishing it in three volumes, recently reissued it in its original ten-volume form. Visit the RFPA’s website here for more information.

Published in: on November 8, 2018 at 10:47 PM  Leave a Comment  

Book Alert! New Release from the RFPA – “Grace and Assurance: The Message of the Canons of Dordt”

While the Reformed Free Publishing Association was heralding the news of the arrival of their newest book last week on their blog, I had to wait until yesterday to receive my personal copy and the copies for the PRC Seminary library. And, yes, the book is a “beauty,” inside and out.

Grace_and_Assurance_mcgeown-2018The new release is Grace and Assurance: The Message of the Canons of Dordt, written by Rev. Martyn McGeown, missionary-pastor laboring in Limerick Reformed Fellowship on behalf of Covenant PRC in Ballymena, N. Ireland.

The title is clearly timed to coincide with and celebrate the “great Synod” of Dordt (1618-19), the four-hundredth anniversary of which is being marked by many Reformed churches and Christians this Fall and into next year. (Just a reminder that the PRC Seminary is sponsoring a special conference on Dordt next Spring.)

The publisher gives this brief description of this wonderful volume:

In 1618-19 the great Synod of Dordt met to counter the Arminian error that was threatening the peace and welfare of the Reformed churches in the Netherlands. The fruit of their deliberations was the Canons of Dordt, a creed which has defined the Calvinist, Reformed faith for centuries.

This accessible commentary on the Canons leads readers through the comforting message of the creed: being wholly saved by God’s grace—not one’s own merit—comes with the steadfast assurance of eternal and unchangeable election.

  • 384 pages
  • hardcover
  • ISBN 978-1-944555-39-9

At the beginning the book includes a “historical introduction to the Synod of Dordt” as well as a introductory section on “the importance of creeds.” The end of each main section of commentary (on the five “heads of doctrine”) includes study questions, enhancing the books use and encouraging careful study of the main points of Calvinism treated by the Canons and explained in the commentary.

The end of the book includes a section on the “conclusion to the Canons” and three appendices:

  • The Remonstrance of 1610
  • The Opinions of the Remonstrants 1618
  • The Judgment of the Synod of Dort Concerning the Five Articles of the Arminians

To close tonight’s introduction to the book, we give you this brief quote made about Article 2 of the First Head (on predestination and salvation being rooted in God’s love):

It is striking that the Canons treatment of salvation begins with the love of God. Perhaps if you are new to the Reformed faith or if you have only encountered caricatures of it, you are surprised because you have heard that the Reformed faith makes little of the love of God. But the Reformed faith actually extols and highly celebrates the love of God.

…According to article 2, God’s love was ‘manifested.’ God’s love cannot remain hidden eternally within the mind of God, but it must display itself. The chief display of God’s love, declare the Canons, is in the sending of his Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, into the world to save sinners [pp.30-31].

Look for more on this book in the months to come as we too commemorate Dordt’s 400th.

PRC Seminary Dordt 400 Conference: The Website Is Up!

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Next Spring (April 25-27, 2019) the PRC Seminary with help from Trinity PRC’s Evangelism Committee, will sponsor a major conference marking the 400th anniversary of the “Great Synod” of Dordt (1618-19).

Recently a new website was launched to promote the event and highlight the history and significance of Dordt – dort400.org – and the following announcement was sent out to advertise the event:

Dordt 400: Trinity PRC is hosting a 3-day conference for the 400th anniversary of the Synod of Dordt on April 25-27.   Mark your calendars and visit our website at dordt400.org

The Dordt 400 Conference includes a Writing Contest with great prizes.  If you are looking for a way to use your writing skills, visit our website at dordt400.org and start working on your essay.

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The website also has a blog, where you will find the first post to be a summary of the important dates involving the Synod of Dordt, penned by the seminary’s new professor, Douglas J. Kuiper and published in the August issue of the Standard Bearer. We reproduce that here for your interest.

The Synod of Dordt met from November 1618 to May 1619.

1604: Two professors at Leiden, Jacobus Arminius and Franciscus Gomarus, publicly debate the doctrine of predestination.

1607: Church delegates gather for a national synod to settle the issue. The national government refuses to call a national synod, in part because it is preoccupied with war against Spain. At this time, the national government sympathizes with the Arminians.

1610: Some Arminian sympathizers write five position statements. The statements are called the Remonstrance, and the Arminians became known as the “Remonstrants,” because the word “remonstrate” can mean to present a written demonstration of error or protest. The five heads of the Canons correspond to the Remonstrance.

1611: A conference between Remonstrants and Counter-Remonstrants (representing the truly Reformed position) fails to help settle the issue.

1617, Nov: The national government, now opposed to the Arminians, approves calling a national synod.

1618, Oct. 17: The national government designated this day one of fasting and prayer for God’s blessing on the synod.

1618, Nov. 13: Synod begins. It treats matters of Bible translation, Heidelberg Catechism preaching, baptism of slave children in the Dutch East Indies, and the training of ministers.

1618, Dec. 6: Synod begins treating the Arminian controversy.

1619, Jan. 14: President Bogerman dismisses the Arminians with a memorable speech.

1619, Mar. 25-Apr. 16: Synod recesses while a committee drafts the Canons of Dordt. The word “Canons” refers to a rule or standard; the Synod of Dordt adopted the Canons of Dordt as the standard of orthodoxy regarding the five contested points of doctrine.

1619, May 6: The date on which the Canons were officially adopted in their final form.

1619, May 9: The foreign delegates are dismissed. Synod adopts the Church Order, an official translation of the Belgic Confession, the liturgical forms, and the Formula of Subscription. It also gives its pronouncements regarding Sabbath observance.

1619, May 29: Synod adjourns.

We hope you will plan to attend and participate in every way you can. Subscribe to the blog posts and look for more content to be added in the months leading up to the conference.

And, yes, look for some books and other items of interest on this synod and its anniversary here in the months ahead too. Here’s one you may start with, currently offered at a 40% discount from the publisher:

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The Power of Books in China – Even Calvinist Ones

souls-of-china-2017Last week I ordered a new book for the PRC Seminary library, one that has received some attention since its publication last year. It is titled The Souls of China: The Return of Religion After Mao by Ian Johnson (New York: Pantheon Books, 2017).

The author’s website gives this description of the book:

The Souls of China: The Return of Religion After Mao (2017) tells the story of one of the world’s great spiritual revivals. Following a century of violent anti-religious campaigns, China is now filled with new temples, churches and mosques–as well as cults, sects and politicians trying to harness religion for their own ends. Driving this explosion of faith is uncertainty–over what it means to be Chinese, and how to live an ethical life in a country that discarded traditional morality a century ago and is still searching for new guideposts.

This book is the culmination of a six-year project following an underground Protestant church in Chengdu, pilgrims in Beijing, rural Daoist priests in Shanxi, and meditation groups in caves in the country’s south.

Along the way, I learned esoteric meditation techniques, visited a nonagenarian Confucian sage, and befriended government propagandists as they fashioned a remarkable embrace of traditional values. These experiences are distilled into a cycle of festivals, births, deaths, detentions, and struggle–a great awakening of faith that is shaping the soul of the world’s newest superpower.

That may strike you as a rather broad look at the revival of religion in this vast land, maybe even disappointing. But did you know there is also a Calvinist resurgence in China and that the Reformed church is growing? I discovered this to my own surprise as I was cataloging it.  When I catalog a book, I always look at the chapters for subject ideas. When I did so with this book, I was surprised to see a chapter on Calvinism. But there it was – chapter 21 – “Chengdu: The New Calvinists.”

In the chapter Johnson focuses on three different men who are involved in growing Calvinism and the Reformed church in this city of Chengdu. There are some fascinating references to their solid creedal Christianity; one of the churches, for example, has this as one of  their statements:

We are Reformed-denomination Protestants. We accept the Second Helvetic Confession (1566), the Westminster Confession of Faith (1646), as the complete, balanced and authoritative expression of Christian faith.

And another congregation spent a summer reading and studying the Heidelberg Catechism.

But what also caught my attention was the importance of Calvinistic literature in that place. One of the men had a special vision and gifts, and used them to open Trinity Bookstore and begin Enoch Publishing. Johnson tells the amazing story of Peng Qiang:

After graduating in 1994, he returned to Chengdu and fell in with friends who had found an unusual niche publishing books. Most publishing houses were government run, and they were allotted a certain amount of ISBN numbers each year, allowing them to publish books. But these state-run companies had little idea what would attract readers. Most lost money. Some started selling their ISBN numbers to middlemen who used them to publish popular titles on doing business, self-help, and psychology. This was Peng’s role: a broker trying to figure out what excited and moved Chinese people, without running afoul of government censors.

…Peng began to hone his business model. Many books related to Christianity could be sold through the same model he used to sell pop-psychology books. All books still had to pass censorships, but a book on church history would be approved if given a straight historical title. But unlike most history books, these had a broad audience of Christians, making the publication profitable. So, too, books on Christian ethics or historical figures like Calvin and Luther. A book on Chinese theology would be banned, but if presented as part of Western history, ideas like Calvinism could be printed.

Amazing, the power of Reformed books in Communist China! A testimony to the sovereign grace for which Calvinism is known. Not surprisingly, given the greatness of our God, the church of Christ is being gathered and being reformed in that land.

Children in the Worship Service: Parental Chore and Blessed Calling

ordinary-MHorton-2014Once more I am going to pull a quotation from the ninth chapter  of Michael Horton’s Or-di-nar-y: Sustainable Faith in a Radical, Restless World (Zondervan, 2014). That chapter, from which I have quoted twice already, is titled, you may remember, “God’s ecosystem.”

In that chapter Horton is stressing the organic idea of the church – the saints’ spiritual life together in Christ – which is ever being sustained and growing in God’s garden, through the “ordinary” means of grace, especially the preaching of the gospel and the sacraments.

Toward the end of this chapter, the author focuses on the important calling the church has to make sure her children are growing up in Christ too. Critical of what the modern church through her “youth ministries” has done, Horton calls for a return to the “ordinary” in this area too – instructing the youth through catechism and bringing them into the regular worship of the church.

Tonight I give you some of his thoughts on this, and I truly hope it is an encouragement to our younger couples with little children whom they may dread to take into the worship service or despair of taking to church. Listen carefully to these words:

Having four of my own, I understand the difficulty of having children in church. Our church has a cry room, where parents can still participate in the service to some extent, but it is a chore. Yet isn’t it a chore of parenthood? Eventually the parents decide when they will move out of the cry room. It is remarkable how early children learn habits of sitting and listening. Even if they doodle and daydream for a couple of years, these habits of participation in the communion of saints are like a trellis. These habits do not guarantee that everyone will eventually respond in faith, but they do make for better hearing of that gospel through which faith takes root and grows in our hearts.

Besides the concern for parents, many Christians wonder if it is good for children to have them in the regular service. After all, they cannot understand what is going on. But imagine saying that you’re not going to have toddlers at the table for meals with the family because they do not understand the rituals or manners. Or keeping infants isolated in a nursery with nothing but mobiles and squeaky toys because they cannot understand the dialogue of the rest of the family around them. We know, instinctively, that it’s important for our children to acquire language and the ordinary rituals of their family environment in order to become mature. Or imagine keeping our teens from their grandparents’ funerals because they don’t understand it. We take them precisely so they will, knowing that our patience (and theirs) will be rewarded in later years and that the event will itself be an opportunity for maturity. Jesus grew in wisdom and knowledge. He learned the Psalter and the rhythms of the synagogue liturgy. When, as a young adult, he took up the Isaiah scroll to read about himself, he knew exactly where to roll it.

At the grammar stage, children are simply absorbing the language of Zion: the terms and ‘the pattern of the sound words’ (2 Tim 1:13) that we share with the wider body of Christ through the ages. I think that we are sometimes too worried about ‘imposing’ our faith on our children. After all, it’s a personal relationship with Jesus, and we do not want to interfere with their free will. [I hope you sense the author’s rightful use of sarcasm here.] We don’t think this way about the other things that they are learning by rote at this stage. We do not upbraid teachers for ‘imposing’ the alphabet or multiplication table. Our moral sentiments are not offended when parents correct poor grammar.

So, do not hesitate to take your young children to church tomorrow. And if necessary, to take them out when they are noisy or misbehave. Just remember to take them back in. They are learning to live in the presence of God and worship Him just as you did when you were taken by your parents. They are soaking up the words of the church and of Jesus their Savior. They are growing roots and growing up as tender shoots in God’s garden. What better place could they possibly be? Never minimize what God is at working doing in them through His “ordinary” means of grace.

Besides, those cries of distress (or for mercy!) as you take them out are music to the hearts of their fellow, older saints. We support you, parents, in this “chore” that is also a marvelous duty.

Book Alert! “The Belgic Confession: A Commentary” by David J. Engelsma

belgconf-comm-DJE-2018This week I received the latest offering from the Reformed Free Publishing Association – my personal copy along with that of the seminary library. The new book may have an unassuming title – The Belgic Confession: A Commentary – but it represents a new subject matter for the RFPA and helps fills a major void in  English for those who embrace this Reformed Confession (also known as the Netherlands Confession).

The author of the commentary is well known – emeritus PRC Seminary professor David J. Engelsma – and his commentary is the fruit of a ministry spent preaching, teaching, and writing about the Reformed doctrines summarized in this Calvinistic creed.

The publisher gives this description of the new book:

An orthodox commentary on the confession, that is, one that is in wholehearted accord with the teachings of the confession, and resolutely faithful to them, will be profitable to Reformed Christians and churches in the twenty-first century, not only for invaluable instruction in the Reformed faith, but also for the maintenance and defense of Reformed orthodoxy.

Founded on holy scripture, the Belgic Confession determines sound doctrine for Reformed churches and believers. This doctrine is rich, lovely, and powerful. The confession also authoritatively exposes contemporary heresies. As they read this commentary which proclaims the doctrine and authority of the confession, all believers who love the Reformed faith will be faithfully guided in the truth of the “old paths.”

Volume one covers Articles 1-21 of the Belgic Confession.

The first volume is a hardover of 368 pages, retailing for $31.95. But join the RFPA Book Club and the title is yours for only $20.77! The author promises in the introduction that the second volume is not far behind (that will cover Articles 22-37 of the Belgic Confession).

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In his introduction, Engelsma sets forth the importance of the Belgic Confession for the modern reader and church member:

As the official authoritative creed of Reformed churches worldwide, how great is the importance of the Belgic Confession! It authoritatively defines the truth of scripture. Explicitly and by implication, it also authoritatively defines heresies. It identifies true churches of Christ in the world. It constitutes the authoritative witness of these churches to other churches and to the world outside the church. On the title (front) page of the original publication of the Confession was a quotation of 1 Peter 3:15: ‘Be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you.’ It is a document to instruct the members of reformed churches in the biblical truth that they profess, especially the children of Reformed believers. It is the guide of reformed preachers concerning the doctrines they must teach and defend. It is the defense of the Reformed faith against errors by which the faith is threatened, whether by heretics within the churches (always a danger, to all churches) or by the winds of false doctrine blowing upon the true church from without [pp.12-13].

All Reformed Christians interested in bolstering their faith with solid teaching and practical counsel will want to add this volume to their personal and family libraries. And don’t forget those church libraries also. 🙂

Contact the publisher at the information found at the links above to obtain your copy and to join the book club.

A Rare Book on the Synod of Dordt, 1621

Last month we began to highlight the 400th anniversary of the “great” Synod of Dordt (1618-1619), which begins this year and will extend into next year. In our initial post we simply called attention to some general things.

In this post I want to begin to call attention to some of the special books we have in the PRC Seminary library on the Synod and its work, including, of course, books on the Canons of Dordt, which set forth the distinctive doctrines of the Reformed faith over against the Arminianism that the Synod was called to contend against (This latter type books we will feature at a later time.).

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One of those special books is found in our rare book case and is a 1621 edition of the Acts of the Synod of Dordt (cf. outside binding above and title page with familiar drawing of the delegates below).

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Yes, you read that correctly – a 1621 edition – printed only two years after the Synod had ended. As you may guess, this work is in Dutch and in old script, which can make it difficult to read.

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But, you can certainly make out some of the words, especially on those pages where the various delegates are mentioned from the states and provinces in the Netherlands (cf. pages above and below). Those of us in West Michigan will recognize these provinces because they also are towns found nearby – Drenthe, Overisel, Zeeland, Holland (north and south), Graafschap, Zutphen.

You may notice that the names and the descriptions of the men are Latinized (that is, stated in Latin), which was the language of the church at that time yet.

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The page below shows some familiar names at the end of a section of addressing the articles of the Remonstrants (Arminians).

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That’s it for now – although I might add that a “new” article on the Synod of Dordt has been added to the PRC website“Our Debt to Dordt” – by one of our current professors, Ronald L. Cammenga. Be sure to read that for more information and inspiration on how Dordt impacts us today.

Another Look at the Special Reformation Issue of the “Standard Bearer” – October 15, 2017

The October 15, 2017 issue of the Standard Bearer is now in print and has been mailed out, and it is the first installment of our annual special Reformation issue, marking the 500th anniversary of the great Protestant Reformation (1517-2017).

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The articles in this special Reformation issue reflect “the heritage of the Reformation,” that is, the special truths of the gospel that were restored to the church of Jesus Christ through the various brave and bold Reformers God raised up in the sixteenth century.

Last week we looked at one of the articles; today let’s do that with another today. Part of the wonderful heritage of the Reformation is the body of confessions, creeds, and catechisms that were composed during this period of church history. In his article “In Praise of a Well-Built Confessional House,” Rev. Brian Huizinga treats the beauty and benefits of this confessional heritage.

Here are a few paragraphs from his contribution:

A Well-Built House

The Reformation gave us an incredibly well-built house. The Reformation did not merely give us an attractive front façade (justification by faith alone or creation), a load-bearing interior wall (original sin or the necessity of divine satisfaction), roof trusses and a roof over us (Scripture or double predestination), a cozy fire place (providence or prayer), a spacious utilitarian kitchen (the means of grace or good works), or a private bedroom (assurance of our election or hope for the second coming). The Reformation era gave us a complete house of all the essential doctrines of Scripture.

Evidence of the indispensable work of the Spirit of truth is the fact that our house sits perfectly on the basement foundation that had been laid a millennium prior. The house of the Three Forms of Unity not only sits squarely on the foundation of the Ecumenical creeds, but, to employ another figure, it is the massive oak arising out of the acorn “Jesus Christ is Lord” and the little sapling of the Ecumenical creeds. Jesus Christ is the revelation of God. Therefore, if we take the confession “Jesus Christ is Lord” and open up each one of those words and the whole statement in the light of Scripture, we not only arrive at the narrower theology of the Ecumenical creeds, but the broader and more comprehensive theology of our Reformed creeds.

For example, “Jesus” means “Jehovah salvation” or “He shall save His people from their sins,” (Matt. 1:21). To understand that one word “Jesus” we must ask the Bible: What is sin? What is the origin of sin? Who is a sinner? What is salvation? Who is Jesus? How does Jesus save? Whom does Jesus save? Why does Jesus save? Unto what does Jesus save? Work it all out according to Scripture and you end up with something like the Canons of Dordt with its five heads of doctrine. The same can be said of “Christ,” that is, “God’s anointed Prophet, Priest and King” and “Lord.” Some professing Christians denounce creeds in opposition to the confession “Jesus Christ is Lord,” but creeds only take that simple confession and reveal the comprehensive theology contained in it. What a massive, structurally sound, tidy, spacious, comfortable and even luxurious house is our confessional house, covering all the doctrines from theology to eschatology

The November 1, 2017 issue will be “The Heritage of the Reformation” part 2. That too will have a variety of articles on the important truths and practices restored to the church according to the Word of God. Look for that issue in a few weeks!

Worship of God Alone through Christ Alone

The August 2017 issue of the Standard Bearer is now available, and in it Prof. R. Cammenga (PRC Seminary) continues his exposition of the Second Helvetic Confession (written by Reformer Heinrich Bullinger) with treatment of chapter 5a, where the creed sets forth the Protestant Christian truth concerning worship through Christ alone as the saints’ only Mediator.

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On this August 13 Lord’s Day we quote a portion of this confession and Prof. Cammenga’s exposition, as relevant for us today as when it was composed (1562/64).

Christ Alone

God alone is to be invoked through the mediation of Christ alone. In all crises and trials of our life we call upon him alone, and that by the mediation of our only mediator and intercessor, Jesus Christ. For we have been explicitly commanded, “Call upon me in the day of trouble: I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify me” (Ps. 50:15). Moreover, we have a most generous promise from the Lord Who said, “Whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he will give it you” (John 16:23), and, “Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matt. 11:28). And since it is written, “How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed?” (Rom. 10:4), and since we do believe in God alone, we assuredly call upon him alone, and we do so through Christ. For as the apostle says, “For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (I Tim. 2:5), “And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous” (I John 2:1).

God alone is to be worshipped. But God is to be worshipped through the only Mediator, the Lord Jesus Christ. Christ alone is the Mediator: solus Christus. Only in the name of and through the Lord Jesus Christ may men approach God in worship. All worship of God apart from Jesus Christ, all worship of God while invoking other mediators, be they saints, angels, or the virgin Mary, is damnable worship.

God alone through Christ alone—that was the gospel of the Reformation. And that is the gospel for all time and in every age and among all peoples. This is the distinctiveness of the Christian faith. This is the reason on account of which Christianity that is true to Christ cannot accommodate the false religions. The gospel is never Christ and, but is always Christ alone. Christ is the Way to the Father, and there is no other way to the Father. Christ is the way to the Father because He alone is the Truth and the Life (John 14:6). Jesus Christ is “our only mediator and intercessor” with the triune God. He alone is our “advocate with the Father.”

May our worship of the heavenly Father this day reflect this part of confession as Protestant Christians. May we seek the one true God through His only Mediator, our Lord Jesus Christ.

You may find the Second Helvetic Confession in ebook form on Monergism’s website here.