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.

dordt-medallions-2018

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.

dort400-medallions-2018

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.

Dordt400LogoRightMargin2

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.

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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.

New Books on the Synod/ Canons of Dordt

This week we are focusing on the Synod of Dordt and some of the new items that are being produced and published in connection with its 400th anniversary (1618-19/2018-19). We have featured a few new titles already, but let’s review those again.

Grace_and_Assurance_mcgeown-2018

One was published last year by the Reformed Free Publishing Association: Grace and Assurance: The Message of the Canons of Dordt, written by Rev. Martyn McGeown, a graduate of the PRC Theological Seminary and currently serving as missionary-pastor in Limerick Reformed Fellowship on behalf of Covenant PRC in Ballymena, N. Ireland.

The RFPA gives this brief description of this new release:

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.

saving-reformation-godfrey-2019Another we pointed to on Sunday in connection with this month’s issue of Tabletalk is Robert Godfrey’s Saving the Reformation: The Pastoral Theology of the Canons of Dort (Reformation Trust, Jan. 2019), due out in a few days.

Ligonier gives this summary of this book:

There has been renewed interest in the five points of Calvinism among many Christians today. But these doctrines are not a product of the twenty-first century. So where did they come from, and why are they so important? Dr. W. Robert Godfrey takes us back to 1618-19 when the Canons of Dort were written in response to a mounting theological assault on Reformed Christianity. Now, for its four-hundredth anniversary, he offers a new translation and pastoral commentary on the canons, equipping the next generation with these God-glorifying truths.

These two are more popular works, that is, written for the regular churchman and churchwoman. But there are other works being produced of a more academic nature, for the serious teacher, student, and and researcher. We also point to two of these tonight.

early-sessions-dordt-2-2First is the second in a new series on the official “Acts” of the Synod of Dordt (“critical edition”), part of a projected nine-volume set. The first volume was published in 2014, while the second was published in 2017. That one is Acta Et Documenta Synodi Nationalis Dordrechtanae (1618-1619) : Early Sessions of the Synod of Dordt (Acta Et Documenta Synodi Nationalis Dordrechtanae (1618-1619), edited by Donald Sinnema, Christian Moser, Herman J. Selderhuis, Johanna Roelevink (Vandenhoeck and Ruprecht, 2017, 964 pp.). Both of these volumes may be found in our seminary library.

election-reformed-persp-dort-2018The second was published late last Fall and is part of the Refo500 Academic Studies Series (#51): The Doctrine of Election in Reformed Perspective: Historical and Theological Investigations of the Synod of Dordt 1618-1619 (Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2018, 260 pp.). I have ordered this work and am anticipating its arrival any day.

Concerning this work, the publisher has this:

In 11 essays The Doctrine of Election in Reformed Perspective reflect ongoing investigations concerning the doctrine of election, with special focus on the Synod of Dort 1618–19. Important lines of demarcation between different Reformed orthodox groups and denominations find their root divergence, as well as historical concentration point, in relation to this very issue. The ongoing research presented in this collection can open up a fresh field of fertile investigation for theological discussion. Moreover, she may lead to interdisciplinary perspectives and a cooperative approach to research, also beyond the field of theology. For this too is the field of philosophers and historians, those who trace the history of Christianity or are studying early modern Europe.

The volume consists of three sections. In the first Part three essays reflect historical and philosophical issues before the Synod of Dort. Part Two explores aspects of the Synod of Dort itself. The focus in Part Three is on the reception of the Synod of Dort. Finally, the following question is answered: How were the Canons of Dort regarded in the 17th–19th century, and what does the history of their editions tell us?

The editor, Frank van der Pol, was the program leader of the combined research group Early Modern Reformed Theology (EMRT) of the theological universities Apeldoorn and Kampen. In cooperation with the A Lasco Bibliothek Emden the EMRT organized an international conference on Oct. 29 and 30, 2014 about the doctrine of election in reformed perspective. The research group is convinced that the dual line of research on history and theology of the Reformation tradition must continue and be strengthened. On the occasion of the 400th anniversary of the Synod of Dort, the researchers, wanting to do their work in a broader context with a wider dialogue, make their proceedings accessible for more people and institutes by publishing them in this volume.

Next time, we will point to some older but still profitable titles on Dordt and her work and theology.

January 2019 Tabletalk: Commemorating the Synod of Dordt

We are overdue in noting the January 2019 issue of Tabletalk, Ligonier Ministries monthly devotional magazine. This month’s issue is a special one for all Reformed Christians and true Calvinists, for it is a tribute to the 400th anniversary of the great Synod of Dordt (1618-19).

Editor Burk Parsons gives a fine introduction to the theme with his “Five New Points of Old Heresy.” Here are a few of his thoughts:

If indeed we are Christians, we will care what we believe and, therefore, what we confess in our creed, for what we believe is the very basis of whether we are biblically orthodox or whether we’re heretics. The historic Reformed creeds and confessions summarize and systematically articulate what the Word of God teaches us, to the end that we might glorify God and enjoy Him forever. If we care about what we believe, we will care about the historic creeds and confessions of the church, and we will care about what happened in the Netherlands four hundred years ago and how the Reformed church responded.

Tonight we also wish to call attention to the first featured article, which is penned by noted Reformed historian Dr. W. Robert Godfrey. He writes the article linked below, “The Reason for Dort.” He provides a historical overview of the synod and its work, demonstrating why this “great synod” was necessary. That reason was chiefly the false teachings of James Arminius and his followers, known as Arminians, which made a defense of the absolute sovereignty of God and His saving grace so crucial.

We pull a few paragraphs from his article, encouraging you to read the rest at the link below.

The Dutch Calvinists decided that the synod should be more than simply a national synod. They invited representatives from most of the Reformed churches of Europe to attend and to be full voting members of the synod. The result was the greatest and most ecumenical gathering of Reformed churches ever held. (Lest my Presbyterian friends feel that I am slighting the Westminster Assembly, let me remind them that that assembly was not properly a church gathering but a gathering of theologians to advise the English Parliament.)

The Synod of Dort did its work carefully and thoroughly. It met from mid-November 1618 until late May 1619, first hearing the Arminians and then, when they were uncooperative, reading their writings. The greatest accomplishment of the synod was the preparation of what are known as the Canons of Dort. These canons or rulings of Dort respond to the five points of Arminianism. Strictly speaking, Calvinism does not have only five points; rather, it has the many points that one finds in the Belgic Confession or the Westminster Confession of Faith. Calvinism has five answers to the five errors of Arminianism. The canons respond point by point to the Arminian summary presented in 1610. The synod’s first head (or chapter) is on unconditional election. The second head is on limited atonement. The synod combines the third and fourth heads to show that total depravity is maintained only when the necessity of irresistible grace is taught. The fifth head teaches the perseverance of the saints because of the preserving grace of God.

And then, after pointing out some of the synod’s other work, Godfrey ends with this:

The Synod of Dort did outstanding work that is well worth celebrating four hundred years later. It preserved the true teaching of the Bible on salvation and provided in other ways as well for the well-being of the life of the church. The synod fought the good fight to which Jude calls Christians. The fight did lead to a fracture in the church. A small minority left to form the Remonstrant Brotherhood. But as Jude makes clear, such a division is not the fault of the orthodox but the fault of those who oppose the truth (Jude 19). The great accomplishment of the synod was that it kept, taught, and defended our faith, “our common salvation” (v. 3).

Source: The Reason for Dort

Additionally, and related to this, Ligonier will soon be releasing a new work on Dordt by Godfrey. The title is Saving the Reformation: The Pastoral Theology of the Canons of Dort (Reformation Trust, Jan. 2019). This is the publisher’s description:

There has been renewed interest in the five points of Calvinism among many Christians today. But these doctrines are not a product of the twenty-first century. So where did they come from, and why are they so important? Dr. W. Robert Godfrey takes us back to 1618-19 when the Canons of Dort were written in response to a mounting theological assault on Reformed Christianity. Now, for its four-hundredth anniversary, he offers a new translation and pastoral commentary on the canons, equipping the next generation with these God-glorifying truths.

A Prayer After the Explanation of the [Heidelberg] Catechism

prayer-bible-1The 1934 edition of the Psalter Hymnal published by the Christian Reformed Church contains a section of “Christian Prayers” in the liturgical part in the back. Two of those prayers relate to the preaching of the Heidelberg Catechism. Prof. B. Gritters referenced these in his first Interim course lecture last Friday (Jan.4).

[This course on Heidelberg Catechism Preaching is being live-streamed daily this week and through next Tues, Jan.15 on the PRC Seminary’s YouTube channel. The videos from each day (2 lectures, except for yesterday’s class) may also be found there.]

In our Sunday post (Jan.6) we quoted the first one; in this one we post the other. This one has the heading “Prayer After the Explanation of the Catechism.” I believe you will find it to be thoroughly Reformed and biblical, and therefore, a prayer that is edifying and fit to be used ourselves.

And this is the prayer (slightly edited with paragraphs):

O gracious and merciful God and Father, we thank Thee that Thou hast established Thy covenant with believers and their seed. This Thou hast not only sealed by holy baptism, but Thou daily showest it by perfecting Thy praise out of the moth of babes and sucklings, thus putting to shame the wise and prudent of this world.
We beseech Thee that Thou wilt increase Thy grace in them, in order that they may unceasingly grow in Christ, Thy Son, until they have reached complete maturity in all wisdom and righteousness. Give us grace to instruct them in Thy knowledge and fear, according to Thy commandment.
May by their godliness the kingdom of Satan be destroyed and the kingdom of Jesus Christ in this and other congregations strengthened, unto the glory of Thy holy Name and unto their eternal salvation, through Jesus Christ, Thy Son and our Lord, who taught us to pray, saying,
Our Father who art in heaven, etc. Amen.

Posted yesterday on the PRC Seminary’s new website blog.

A Prayer Before the Explanation of the [Heidelberg] Catechism

prayer-bible-1The 1934 edition of the Psalter Hymnal published by the Christian Reformed Church contains a section of “Christian Prayers” in the liturgical part in the back. Two of those prayers relate to the preaching of the Heidelberg Catechism.

Prof. B. Gritters referenced these in his first Interim course lecture last Friday (Jan.4). In this post we will quote the first one, posting the other at a later date during Interim 2019.

This first one has the heading “Prayer Before the Explanation of the Catechism.” And this is the prayer (slightly edited with paragraphs):

O heavenly Father, Thy Word is perfect, restoring the soul, making wise the simple, and enlightening the eyes of the blind, and a power of God unto salvation for everyone that believes. We, however, are by nature blind and incapable of doing anything good, and Thou wilt succor only those who have a broken and contrite heart and who revere Thy Word.
We beseech Thee, therefore, that Thou wilt illumine our darkened minds with Thy Holy Spirit and give is a humble heart, free from all haughtiness and carnal wisdom, in order that we, hearing Thy Word, may rightly understand it and may regulate our lives accordingly. Wilt Thou also graciously convert those who are straying from that truth, that we all in unity may serve Thee in true holiness and righteousness all the days of our life.
These things we crave of Thee only for the sake of Christ, who promised to hear us and also taught us to pray in His Name, saying:
‘Our Father who art in heaven, etc. AMEN

Posted earlier tonight on the PRC Seminary’s new website blog.

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