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Saving the Reformation: The Pastoral Theology of the Canons of Dort

By W. Robert Godfrey
March 2020 | Review by Kevin Bidwell
  • Publisher: Reformation Trust Publishing
  • ISBN: 978-1-64289-030-3
  • Pages: 265
  • Price: £14.92
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Book Review

Bob Godfrey is an outstanding theologian and church historian. This well-presented hardback stands in a line of top-class writings by him, this time on the Canons of Dort.

The first chapter alone is of supreme value. Godfrey summarises the five points (articles) of Arminianism which were presented by the Remonstrants in 1610 in the Netherlands. This led to the historic Synod of Dort which examined these matters carefully in 1618-19. The second chapter is a rich and necessary survey of the Synod.

Chapters 3-7 form the heart of the book, which includes a fresh translation of the Canons of Dort. Their five heads of doctrine are dealt with through four divisions (the third and fourth heads of doctrine are handled jointly): God’s predestination; the death of Christ and the redemption of humans through that death; the corruption of humans and conversion to God with its way of happening; and the perseverance of the saints. This new translation from the book’s author, whose doctoral dissertation was on the Synod, is a welcome addition to serve the church.

The final section of the book is an exposition of the Canons. Here Godfrey explains the implications of the Synod’s doctrinal settlement in an easy-to-read style.

This book is unreservedly commended by this reviewer for all sections of the church to read and study. It is time for the Synod and Canons of Dort to come out from the shadows of history for the English-speaking world. Saving the Reformation effuses pastoral warmth, clarity, excellent scholarship, and historical analysis. ‘Tolle lege’ — take up and read!

Kevin Bidwell

Sheffield

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