Original Research - Special Collection: Synod of Dordrecht (1618-1619) - Synod's meaning and influence in South Africa

Are the Canons of Dordt a true reflection of Calvin’s view of predestination?

Donald W. Sinnema
In die Skriflig/In Luce Verbi | Vol 52, No 2 | a2347 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ids.v52i2.2347 | © 2018 Donald W. Sinnema | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 09 January 2018 | Published: 29 October 2018

About the author(s)

Donald W. Sinnema, Faculty of Theology, Trinity Christian College, United States


As the delegates to the Synod of Dordt were bound by oath to use only the Word of God and not human writings in deliberations about doctrine, in the documents of Dordt there are no references to Calvin as a source of specific ideas in the Canons. The approach of this article is thus to compare chapter I of the Canons on predestination with Calvin’s views in his various writings on predestination. This comparison focuses on the main themes relating to predestination as taught in chapter I – the starting point of the discussion, double predestination, election, election in Christ, reprobation, the causes of election and reprobation, the infralapsarian emphasis, the purpose of election and reprobation, assurance of election, and election of infants who die. On the basis of this comparison, the conclusion is that the Canons reflect Calvin’s views on some points relating to predestination and not on others. So, on this issue, the Canons are only a partial reflection of Calvin’s views, and he could only have been a modest influence on the Canons.


Canons of Dordt; Synod of Dordt (1618-19); John Calvin; predestination; election; reprobation; infralapsarianism; supralapsarianism; five points of Calvinism


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