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Grace Defined and Defended: What a 400-Year-Old Confession Teaches Us about Sin, Salvation, and the Sovereignty of God

By Kevin DeYoung
November 2019 | Review by John Harris
  • Publisher: Crossway Books
  • ISBN: 978-1-433-56439-0
  • Pages: 144
  • Price: £14.99
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This year sees the anniversary of the Synod of Dort which concluded its deliberations in May 1619. Much has been written about this, mainly from a Reformed perspective which rightly views its findings as worthy of being set alongside other Confessional statements.

Kevin DeYoung has produced a very accessible summary of Dort, helped along with some little illustrative parables. He only briefly describes the historical background which is perhaps something of a weakness, as the proceedings are best understood in the context of the political and economic pressures of the day. At times it was a fractious affair with one delegate challenging another to a duel! Nevertheless the book is a helpful addition to the literature and others will have dealt with the backcloth to Dort.

Each of the Remonstrants’ five points is set out and explained. This is necessary as on first reading they don’t seem so far away from orthodoxy. However an Appendix entitled ‘Rejection of Errors’ is reproduced, which serves to demonstrate what the Remonstrants actually meant. The author then gives us the counter arguments in plain terms.

He is particularly helpful in showing how we must rightly understand reprobation in his treatment of election, and is concerned to maintain that Dort does not in any way restrict the preaching of the free offer of the gospel. He also points out some of the pastoral aspects of the assembly’s conclusions. For example one of the Remonstrants’ accusations against Reformed theology was a harsh treatment of the case of godly parents whose children die in infancy. Dort deals with that very sympathetically.

The author’s aim, stated in the subtitle, is to show ‘what a 400-year-old confession teaches us about sin, salvation and the sovereignty of God’. In this it admirably succeeds.

It is to be commended.

John Harris


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