Wednesday, 11 September 2013


Reviewed for the British Church Newspaper. 

 Title of the Book: The Glory of Grace – The Story of the Canons of Dort
Author: William Boekstein
Publisher: Reformation Heritage Books
Publisher's address or where the book may be obtained: 2965 Leonard Street, NE Grand Rapids, MI 49525
Year of publication: 2012 

Number of pages: 32 
Hardback or paperback: Hard 
Price: $7.50  
ISBN: 978-1-60178-191-8


This is published as a children’s book. One imagines that the author had young teenagers in mind as it is at once both a historical book and (as suggested by the title) a doctrinal one. It deals with the great controversy at the Synod of Dort in Holland in 1619 when the followers of Jacob Arminius officially challenged the hitherto accepted Calvinist interpretation of the Bible. In their five points of protest, the Arminians effectively sought to water down some important NT doctrines which affected the sovereignty of God. It gives the “warts and all” approach to the Synod which became quite an angry affair with raised voices etc. Part of the problem lay in the fact that the Arminian Remonstrants went against their oath (binding on all) to use “no human writing, but only the word of God, which is an infallible word of faith.” They tried to challenge the Reformed Confessions and refused to answer questions concerning their own views. Eventually, they were dismissed, and any voting was unanimous in favour of the canons. The articulating of the famous “Five Points of Calvinism” flow from this Synod. Afterwards, Arminian gatherings in Holland were banished by law and many Arminians were dismissed from their teaching posts, although some restated later on.

The book itself is well produced with plenty of nice illustrations and yet sufficient text. It gives a very succinct statement on each of the Five points and preserves, under its “Unconditional Election” heading, the wonderful truth that the gospel is to preached to every person without exception, referring to John 3:16. One criticism must be that Mr Boekstein omits to mention the teaching that man is responsible for his own sin and therefore unbelief and impenitence is the sole cause of his damnation.  It would have been good to have clearly stated this and so silenced the mouth of any gainsayers. The book notes the recovery of the Doctrines of Grace as more and more people “are coming to agree that this faith most greatly glorifies God and most greatly comforts believers.” It certainly encourages the reader of whatever age to be more acquainted with the Canons of Dort which are a magnificent statement of warm, Evangelistic Calvinism. Perhaps it was because of this that the godly Bishop Hall, notwithstanding the rancour, described the Synod as “no place on the earth so like the Synod of Dort.”


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