The Synod of Dort: Historical, Theological, and Experiential Perspectives

This volume seeks to shed light on various aspects of the Synod of Dort in order to inform the contemporary reader of its proper historical and theological context and its experiential emphases. Some leading scholars of post-Reformation Reformed thought and the Synod have contributed essays to this work.

The present work, the contents of which, and the front matter of which are available at the link above, is a collection of papers commemorating the Synod of Dort, most of which were delivered at the ETS meeting in 2018 or at a conference at Westminster Seminary in California in 2019.  In that respect it is somewhat unique, as most volumes of this sort all stem from one event.

After the subject is introduced, the volume unfolds first with a series of essays which focus on both the French take on the problems Dort addressed and the aftermath of Dort in France.  The second section moves more widely to a consideration of the theological perspectives both present at Dort and refined in its wake afterwards.  The third section looks more precisely at specific issues stirred up from the theological seabed by the doings of the Synod.

The final chapter offers a portrayal of the abiding significance of Dort and its relevance for today.

The essays tend to be well written and expressive.   The most helpful were those by Donald Sinnema on Church and State relations at Dort, and Dolf te Velde’s very engaging treatment of the role of the Holy Spirit in the canons of Dort.

To get right to the heart of the matter: should you read this book? Will it be a good use of your time or will it waste several hours of your life?  My answer: yes, it is very much worth reading.

But not for everyone.  Rather, those with a particular interest in a particular block of Christian history will find it important.  That is, those who are interested in early 17th century theological trends and the history of the Church during that era in that place.   Those interested in the Church in Asia or the Roman Catholic Church in the early 17th century will not find it particularly relevant.

Or, in other words, those who have an interest in the topic will like this volume.  Those who don’t will not stick with it very long.

That, alas, is the fate of all books written for specific readerships.