Welcome to the Canon Commotion!
Perhaps you’ve already heard about the Canons of Dort, but did you know they are celebrating their 400th birthday? Formed between 1618 and 1619 in Dordrecht, the Netherlands, at an international synod, they were birthed in a consensus of the Reformed churches of the day. The Canons refute the teachings of Jacob Arminius, which were then troubling the church, by articulating the gospel as it is necessary for salvation, and exposing the errors of Arminianism.
To celebrate this landmark anniversary, HTS will be sharing content over the next year from Reverend Paul Treick’s book, Faith of Our Fathers, Living Still: A Study of the Five Points of Calvinism. We invite you to join us on this journey through matters of great importance to our souls.
“Faith of our fathers, living still
in spite of dungeon, fire and sword;
O how our hearts beat high with joy
whene’er we hear God’s glorious Word;
Faith of our fathers, holy faith!
We will be true to thee till death.”
(Frederick W. Faber, 1849)
The faith of our fathers is a faith which has been seriously eroding in recent years. In the Reformed Church we hold it precious, not for the sake of tradition, but because that faith was one which our Heavenly Father entrusted to us and our children, as the basis of His Covenant of Grace, that we might know His saving grace in Jesus Christ. May we, by God’s help, be faithful and true to the glorious doctrines of His grace as He has revealed them to us in His Holy Word.
How the Psalmist also yearned for this: “I will open my mouth in a parable: I will utter dark sayings of old: Which we have heard and known, and our fathers have told us. We will not hide them from their children, showing to the generation to come the praises of the LORD, and his strength, and his wonderful works that he hath done. That the generation to come might know them, even the children which should be born; who should arise and declare them to their children.” (Ps. 78:2-4,6)
In speaking of our “fathers,” we think historically first of the Patriarchs – Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; then of Moses, David, and the prophets of God; then of the apostles such as Peter, John, and Paul; then of the Reformers of the sixteenth century, especially John Calvin; and finally of our own covenant fathers and grandfathers, many of whom have given of themselves that these precious truths of Scripture should still live in the hearts of their children.
Therefore, this study is directed to covenant parents and to their children, that together they might joyfully confess that this faith is “living still” in their hearts and lives.
God Is Sovereign By Nature
A correct understanding of and a belief in the doctrine of the sovereignty of God is an absolute essential to the Christian faith. This doctrine is not optional for Christians, nor are any of the doctrines that flow from it. God’s absolute right, power, and authority constitute the core of every teaching concerning the Christian’s faith and life.
The doctrine of God’s absolute sovereignty constitutes the nucleus of the Reformed faith. Yet it is not a “Reformed” doctrine which some theologians have simply concocted and preserved through history. It is the teaching of the Holy Scriptures which each and every Christian is called upon to confess. Only with this foundation can “God be God.”
There remains, not only among the critics of the Reformed Faith, but even among some who claim to adhere to the Reformed faith, a serious misunderstanding, misinterpretation, and misapplication of the doctrine of God’s sovereignty, and especially so in the area of “salvation by grace.” This is certainly not due to the lack of perspicuity in the Scripture. It is most likely due to a lack of study of Scripture or, even more alarming, to a deliberate and sinful attempt to resist God’s sovereignty in favor of human autonomy (where man is a law unto himself).
While God is the sovereign ruler over all of our life (in areas of creation, providence, history, science, etc.), this study is confined to the matter of His sovereign grace in the salvation of man. This teaching is the basis for many statements of faith such as the Heidelberg Catechism, The Belgic Confession of Faith, and the Westminster Confession of Faith, and it is difficult to find any better summary of this teaching than in the creed known as the Canons of Dort.
Blog post content is taken from Rev. Paul Treick’s book, Faith of Our Fathers, Living Still: A Study of the Five Points of Calvinism. It is posted with the gracious permission of the author. If you’ve enjoyed reading it, you can purchase a copy for yourself.