Archive for the ‘Arminianism’ Category

Historic Proof of the Doctrinal Calvinism of the Church of England

March 24, 2011
Augustus Toplady

Augustus Montague Toplady (1740–1778)

Published in 1774, The Historic Proof of the Doctrinal Calvinism of the Church of England is Augustus Toplady’s magnus opus, a massive study that has never been refuted. Read online»

For anyone interested in learning more about the doctrine or history of Calvinism, The Works of Augustus M. Toplady (6 vols.) from Logos Bible Software is highly recommended and now available for pre-order. For more info click here»

For a brief biographical summary of Augustus Toplady’s life and works click here»

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The Canons of Dort

March 21, 2011

Council of the National Synod of the Reformed Church. Remontrants sit at the table.

The Decision of the Synod of Dort on the Five Main Points of Doctrine in Dispute in the Netherlands is popularly known as the Canons of Dort. It consists of statements of doctrine adopted by the great Synod of Dort which met in the city of Dordrecht in 1618-19. Although this was a national synod of the Reformed churches of the Netherlands, it had an international character, since it was composed not only of Dutch delegates but also of twenty-six delegates from eight foreign countries.

The Synod of Dort was held in order to settle a serious controversy in the Dutch churches initiated by the rise of Arminianism. Jacob Arminius, a theological professor at Leiden University, questioned the teaching of Calvin and his followers on a number of important points. After Arminius’s death, his own followers presented their views on five of these points in the Remonstrance of 1610. In this document or in later more explicit writings, the Arminians taught election based on foreseen faith, universal atonement, partial depravity, resistible grace, and the possibility of a lapse from grace. In the Canons the Synod of Dort rejected these views and set forth the Reformed doctrine on these points, namely, unconditional election, limited atonement, total depravity, irresistible grace, and the perseverance of saints.

The Canons have a special character because of their original purpose as a judicial decision on the doctrinal points in dispute during the Arminian controversy. The original preface called them a “judgment, in which both the true view, agreeing with God’s Word, concerning the aforesaid five points of doctrine is explained, and the false view, disagreeing with God’s Word, is rejected.” The Canons also have a limited character in that they do not cover the whole range of doctrine, but focus on the five points of doctrine in dispute.

Each of the main points consists of a positive and a negative part, the former being an exposition of the Reformed doctrine on the subject, the latter a repudiation of the corresponding errors. Each of the errors being rejected is shaded in gray. Although in form there are only four points, we speak properly of five points, because the Canons were structured to correspond to the five articles of the 1610 Remonstrance. Main Points 3 and 4 were combined into one, always designated as Main Point III/IV.

This translation of the Canons, based on the only extant Latin manuscript among those signed at the Synod of Dort, was adopted by the 1986 Synod of the Christian Reformed Church. The biblical quotations are translations from the original Latin and so do not always correspond to current versions. Though not in the original text, subheadings have been added to the positive articles and to the conclusion in order to facilitate study of the Canons.

© 1987, CRC Publications, Grand Rapids MI. http://www.crcna.org. Reprinted with permission.

The Arminian Controversy and the Synod of Dort

March 20, 2011

By S. Vandergugten

Why on earth should we get excited about the Synod of Dort – something which happened 370 years ago? What does the Arminian Controversy have to do with us? Do we really have to know anything about these theological and doctrinal contentions that disrupted the Reformed Churches in the Netherlands so long ago? My answer would be an emphatical yes!

We should get excited about church history because we should be vitally interested in Christ’s church-gathering work throughout the ages. Understanding church history will enable us to understand the religious issues of today. In particular, understanding the Arminian Controversy of the 1600s will make clear to us that many, if not most, North American churches trace their origins to this time in history. Understanding what the Synod decided will make us realize that in these Canons we have one of the most authoritative and valuable expositions of Calvinistic theology – a confession and valuable tool to refute the errors of Arminianism also today.

In the early years of the 17th century, the Arminian Controversy shook the Reformed Churches of the United Provinces. The nature of the debate was purely theological, but, because in those days the Church and State were so intimately connected, the controversy was soon entangled in the political issues of the day. The conflict shook the whole country.

How did the state become involved in the church’s theological debates? What was the controversy all about? What theological issues were at stake? What did the Synod of Dort decide about the teachings of Arminius and his followers? Read more»