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The Synod of Dort: Historical, Theological, and Experiential Perspectives (Beeke)

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Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht

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The Synod of Dort was an international conference of Reformed leaders held in 1618–1619 in the Netherlands. It is famous for its so-called Five Points of Calvinism which were a refutation of the Five Remonstrances of the followers of Arminius on the nature of divine grace and the perseverance of believers unto eternal salvation. As an international Synod, Dort made a significant impact on the definition and development of Reformed orthodoxy for decades and centuries to come. In countries such as France, the Canons of Dort served as a confessional boundary for Reformed orthodoxy and all pastors had to swear allegiance to them. Despite its tremendous influence, the decisions of the Synod of Dort remain a mystery to many today and are subject to caricatures and stereotypes of an extreme divine determinism and the hijacking of Calvin’s pure theology. This volume seeks to shed light on various aspects of the Synod of Dort in order to inform the contemporary reader of its proper historical and theological context and its experiential emphases. Some leading scholars of post-Reformation Reformed thought and the Synod have contributed essays to this work.

The book is divided into three major sections designed to deliver a better overall perspective on the Synod. The first section focuses on the reception of the Canons of Dort among the Reformed churches in France where they were accepted and enforced. However, there were some internal questions, concerns, and even objections to the canons which are detailed in these chapters. The second section hones in on the theology of the Canons of Dort with particular attention to the doctrines of election and the nature of the atonement. This section also includes an important chapter on the relationship between church and state, always a central concern in the Reformation and post-Reformation eras. Finally, the third major section looks at how believers could apply the theology to their daily lives and devotion to Christ. These chapters indicate that this was not merely a theological conference, but one that had practical and experiential implications as well. The book concludes with a chapter on the application of the Synod for believers today.


Table of Contents: 

Foreword - David W. Hall

1. The Synod of Dort and Strategic Thinking - W. Robert Godfrey 

Historical Perspectives (with a focus on France)

2. Theological Responses to the Synod of Dort in France - Martin I. Klauber

3. A Voice Among the Restricted French Delegates of Dort: Pierre du Moulin on Providence and Predestination - Matthew Scott Harding

4. Pierre du Moulin's Use of Scripture and Tradition in the Arminian Controversy - Dan Borvan

Theological Perspectives 

5. Defending Calvinism in England Before and After Dort - Greg A. Salazer 

6. Seriously and Promiscuously: The Synod of Dort on the Free Offer of the Gospel - R. Scott Clark 

7. Is Particular Redemption 'Good News'? - Michael Horton

8. Church and State Relations at the Synod of Dort (1618-1619) - Donald Sinnema

9. Sacrosancta Synodus! Corenlius Van Til on Dort and Its Detractors - David B. McWilliams

Experiential Perspectives

10. 'The Holy Exercises of Piety' in the Canons of Dort and in Campegius Vitringa (1659-1722) as a Representative of the Nadere Reformatie - Charles Telfer

11. The Cannons of Dort's Promotion of Reformed Pastoral, Experiential Preaching - Joel R. Beeke

12. Effective and Divine: The Role of the Holy Spirit in the Cannons of Dort - R. T. (Dolf) te Velde


13. The Relevance of Dort for Today - Joel E. Kim



Joel R. Beeke is president and professor of systematic theology and homiletics at Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He also serves as a pastor of the Heritage Reformed Congregation in Grand Rapids, and as editorial director of Reformation Heritage Books.

Martin I. Klauber is an affiliate professor of church history at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School.