“God the Father and the Real Gospel of Sovereign Grace for You.”
By Dr. Jason Van Vliet
Election. Limited Atonement. Perseverance of the saints. These can be difficult doctrines, both to understand and to apply. Questions multiply. Is it fair that God only chooses some and limits the atoning work of Christ to them? How can we confess perseverance when we know people—even those close to us—who once worshipped with us but have now turned away from the Lord? And here are some more, but slightly different, questions. What if election is viewed through the lens of adoption? What if the saints only persevere because God is a Father who will not give up on his very own children? In short, what happens when we remember that the real, sovereign grace of God is a thoroughly paternal mercy? May “God’s fatherly face” shine upon us as we explore this truth together (Canons of Dort, V:5).
“A Virtual Tour of the Synod of Dordt"
By Dr. Don Sinnema
This presentation, with plenty of visuals, will put us on the ground in the old city of Dordrecht in 1618–1619, to depict the circumstances of the Synod of Dordt. We will explore the convening of the synod by the Dutch government, and the facility where the synod was held. The composition of the participants demonstrates that this was a national synod with an international character, with theologians from eight foreign territories. After examining the agenda and procedures of the synod, we will survey the course of the synod’s deliberations that lasted 6 ½ months. These fall into four phases: (1) Pro-Acta sessions, before the arrival of the Remonstrants (Arminians); (2) five weeks of procedural wrangling with the fifteen cited Remonstrants; (3) the synod’s response to the Remonstrant case by drafting and approving the Canons; and (4) the Post-Acta sessions dealing with various Dutch ecclesiastical matters. Finally, we will explore the meticulous process by which the Canons of Dordt were drafted, as the Synod’s response to the Remonstrant objections concerning predestination and related points.
“What’s the Problem with Arminianism, and Who Are the Arminians Anyway?”
By Dr. Mark Jones
I will give a brief history of the Remonstrants, but will focus in on a couple of key areas in their theology, such as their controversial doctrine of justification by faith. Most assume the Arminians were basically (in)famous for their free will doctrine, but I want to show how one error leads to several. That said, I will also discuss how Arminians are still Christians and how salvation is found by believing in Jesus Christ alone for salvation. I will also highlight the evolution of Arminianism over the centuries, what it can look like today, and the potential pastoral difficulties one has in dealing with modern-day Arminian thought.
"What Is the Church Order of Dort and how Does It Maintain Real Gospel?"
By Dr. Karlo Janssen
A church’s polity is important. This is where the rubber of faith and confession hit the road of life and practice. In churches with a Dutch Reformed background, the Synod of Dort is not only known for producing the Canons of Dort against Arminianism but also the Church Order of Dort against (Dutch) Erastianism. Dort polity is much appreciated by us Reformed folk as it brings to expression the real gospel of being united to Christ and his body, and being free in Christ and his body. My speech will begin by outlining the development of polity in The Netherlands from the 1560s to 1619. Next I intend to pay attention to some particulars: the role of the offices and congregation, confessional subscription, regulations regarding worship, and the relationship between local churches. This latter point will also be compared to the situation in other Reformed polities, and the presentation will close with a brief overview of the implementation of Dort polity in the centuries after the Synod of Dort.
“The Heidelberg Catechism at the Synod of Dordt”
By Dr. Don Sinnema
Though the Synod of Dordt met primarily to address the Arminian controversy, the Heidelberg Catechism came up six times on the synod’s agenda. This presentation explores the six ways the synod dealt with the catechism: (1) The synod discussed ways to enhance regular catechism preaching in Sunday afternoon services. (2) It discussed ways to improve the manner of catechizing, for both youth and adults, in the home, school and church. (3) The Remonstrants (Arminians) presented their observations and suggestions for revision of the Heidelberg Catechism. (4) The Palatine delegation from Heidelberg gave its response to the Remonstrant observations. (5) The catechism was examined by the synod and approved by all delegations, both Dutch and foreign, as consistent with the Word of God. (6) The synod prepared forms of subscription, by which ministers, theologians, and teachers were required to affirm that the Catechism, along with the Belgic Confession and Canons of Dordt, fully agree with the Word of God.
By these means the Synod of Dordt confirmed and strengthened the authority of the Heidelberg Catechism in the Dutch Reformed churches, both as the primary pedagogical tool for Christian instruction and as a confessional standard to ensure orthodox Reformed teaching in the churches.
“God the Son and the Real Gospel of Sovereign Grace for You”
By Dr. Ted Van Raalte
Which news is better: that the battle has been won completely or that most of the fighting still has to be done? Did Jesus only make possible our salvation, or did he actually and fully complete it? In this presentation I hope to present the Son of God as all-glorious in his cross and resurrection, and help us preach the real good news that Jesus has fully redeemed, saved, reconciled, justified, and adopted those for whom he lovingly laid down his life.
"Freely-Chosen Faith? Real Gospel and Human Bound Choice”
By Dr. Ted Van Raalte
Infants show from a very early age that they have their own will. How can we do justice to the whole of Scripture’s message when we describe the human will? Is it only bound to sin? Partly free? Like a robot that God controls? Objecting to Erasmus, Luther said the will was utterly bound to sin; Calvin said that there is no such thing as God “permitting” sin, for whatever he permits, he wills. Does this mean God has willed us to sin? Are we really responsible for sin? Today the discussion continues between those who describe the Reformed view as “compatibilism” and those who object that this philosophical category doesn’t fit what we confess in the Canons of Dort. I intend to present the options in a simple but clear manner, to help us preach and believe the whole doctrine of God with clarity and conviction.
"God the Holy Spirit and the Real Gospel of Sovereign Grace for You”
By Dr. Mark Jones
God not only ordains the ends, but also the means to accomplish his ends. In this talk I plan to look at matters like the rearing of covenant children in relation to God’s promises versus the commands he makes to parents and children to accomplish those promises. I plan to look at how, in the church, we deal with different types of conversions, as well as the reality that some of our children never undergo a conversion experience, but nevertheless are Spirit-led (Rom 8:14) Christians. The doctrine of grace, and what that means for how we live in the church, will also be discussed, especially as many Christians have to learn not only that they are saved by grace, but that others are as well and so we need patience, love, and gentleness as evidence of our own gracious attitude towards others who are not at the same place we are.