Canons of Dort – What is it?

Canons of DortReady for a little church history lesson? I’d like to recommend an important document that I believe every Christian should be familiar with known as the Canons of Dort (full text available here).

The Canons of Dort is a collection of doctrinal statements that were documented by a committee that assembled in the Netherlands in 1618. When the teachings of Jacob Arminius (1506-1609), a theology professor at Leiden University, were systematized into a document called “The Five Articles of Remonstrance“, controversies arose to such a serious level that they could not be ignored. In Creeds Of Christendom, Philip Schaff wrote,

The controversy was purely theological in its nature, but owing to the intimate connection of Church and State it became inevitably entangled in political issues, and shook the whole country. The Reformed Churches in France, Switzerland, Germany, England, and Scotland took a deep interest in it, and sided, upon the whole, with the Calvinistic party; while the Lutheran Church sympathized to some extent with the Arminian (Vol. I).

Continue reading “Canons of Dort – What is it?”

Resistance is Futile: Chosen by God

chosen-by-godChosen by God by R. C. Sproul

“I have grown to love [the doctrine of predestination]. It is most comforting. It underlines the extent to which God has gone on our behalf. It is a theology that begins and ends with grace. It begins and ends with doxology. We praise a God who lifted us from spiritual deadness and makes us walk in high places.”

Predestination. Foreknowledge. Election. Free Will. Reprobation. These are among some of the most controversial and misunderstood terms that come up in theological discussions amongst evangelical Christians, and they are the concepts that Dr. Sproul addresses in his most influential little book, Chosen by God. All of these concepts are linked very tightly to one truth that most if not all orthodox Christians claim to accept: the Sovereignty of God. This topic, though, can lead to another whole discussion, as the question is raised: Just how sovereign is God? This, in my opinion, is rather a pointless question, because if God is not completely sovereign in every area of life, both material and spiritual, then He’s not sovereign, period. And if He’s not sovereign, then He’s not God. But the next question becomes: Can or does God choose at times or in certain situations not to exercise His sovereign control? Continue reading “Resistance is Futile: Chosen by God”

Christ’s Death: For All, Some or None?

Introductory Essay to John Owen’s The Death of Death in the Death of Christ by J. I. Packer

…we speak of God’s love as if it were no more than a general willingness to receive any who will turn and trust; and we depict the Father and the Son, not as sovereignly active in drawing sinners to themselves, but as waiting in quiet impotence “at the door of our hearts” for us to let them in…this set of twisted half-truths is something other than the biblical gospel.” – Packer

English: John Owen (1616-1683)I’ve heard it said that the works of Puritan pastor and theologian John Owen need to be read aloud or standing up in order to avoid falling asleep! It’s not so much that the material is boring per se, but that Owen’s writing style is difficult to wade through and the effort, while worth it, can be mentally taxing. Owen’s classic work, The Death of Death in the Death of Christ, published in 1648, biblically explores the subject of the atonement — that is, the purpose and effect of Christ’s death in carrying out God’s plan of redemption. Owen’s purpose was to show “that the doctrine of universal redemption is unscriptural and destructive to the gospel.” He discusses in depth the question, “For whom did Christ suffer and die?” with three possible answers: 1) All of the sins of all men; 2) Some of the sins of all men; or 3) All of the sin of some men. Of course, only one of these can be the true answer, and the answer must come from Scripture, not from one’s preconceived notions, opinions, or feelings. Continue reading “Christ’s Death: For All, Some or None?”

An Unorthodox Review of Chesterton’s Orthodoxy

Chesterton-ReligionQuoteOrthodoxy by G. K. Chesterton

“People have fallen into a foolish habit of speaking of orthodoxy as something heavy, humdrum, and safe. There never was anything so perilous or so exciting as orthodoxy.”

In my search for titles I felt worthy to be included on my list of “Books Every Christian Should Read,” one that came to my attention several times was Orthodoxy by G. K. Chesterton. As an English major, I had, of course, heard of Chesterton and knew that he was a literary pal of C. S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien and Dorothy Sayers, but I had never read any of his writings. He was a Roman Catholic, so his brand of religious orthodoxy is Catholic, which Protestant readers need to keep in mind.

I decided to give Orthodoxy a try, found a free audio version of it to load onto my iPod, and proceeded through it. I have to admit it wasn’t the easiest text to listen to – harder than an audio novel – and I probably would get more out of it if I were to get a hard copy and read it again someday. Some parts I found to be interesting, insightful, and even humorous, while other parts sort of “went in one ear and out the other,” literally. I didn’t appreciate Chesterton’s derogatory remarks aimed at Calvinism, of which I am an avowed adherent. What to do – shall I include Orthodoxy on my list of recommended reading or leave it off? And how do I write a decent, honest review of the book, when I didn’t highlight or take notes while reading it, and I don’t have a hard copy handy to go back through (nor, I confess, a great eagerness to do so)?

Then I came upon an article by theologian and author John Piper, a Calvinist, which reminded me of the positives that can be taken away from Orthodoxy and put my mind a little bit at ease regarding Chesterton’s negative comments about Calvinists. So, I decided to take the easy way out here. Instead of writing my own review, I submit to you Piper’s article, “The Sovereign God of ‘Elfland’ (Why Chesterton’s Anti-Calvinism Doesn’t Put Me Off).” After reading this article, you should have a little taste of what to expect, and it might be enough to help you decide if Orthodoxy is a book you want to explore for yourself. However, while there is some value to be found in it, I decided that Chesterton is not for everyone and am leaving it off my personal list.

By the way, my sister-in-law has recommended to me Chesterton’s Father Brown Detective Stories, which I have yet to try.


If you’ve read Orthodoxy, what did you think of it? What did you like/agree or dislike/disagree with Chesterton about?