Original Research - Special Collection: Synod of Dordrecht (1618-1619) - Important missiological perspectives

Missio Dei perspectives in the Canons of Dort

Phillipus J. Buys
In die Skriflig/In Luce Verbi | Vol 53, No 3 | a2483 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ids.v53i3.2483 | © 2019 P.J. Buys | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 06 May 2019 | Published: 27 August 2019

About the author(s)

Phillipus J. Buys, School for Ecclesiastical Science, North-West University, Potchefstroom Campus, Potchefstroom, South Africa


Reformed churches around the world are commemorating the 400th anniversary of the Synod of Dordtrecht in the Netherlands and its global impact. The Canons of Dort, or Canons of Dordtrecht, formally titled The decision of the Synod of Dort on the five main points of doctrine in dispute in the Netherlands, is the judgement of the National Synod about the five points of the Remonstrants held in the Dutch city of Dordtrecht in 1618–1619. Before and after the Synod of Dort the complaint has often been raised that the Reformed doctrines of predestination and election have produced churches and Christians who have very limited passion or no zeal at all for the church’s call to missions. People who hold negative ideas about reformed spirituality often used the derogative of the ‘frozen chosen’ to express the idea that the Reformed faith inevitably suffocates vital spirituality, evangelistic outreach, church planting, and missions. The claim is made that this alleged neglect is caused by the Reformed doctrine of election. A sentiment exists among some missiologists that confessionally Reformed believers are not enthusiastic about sharing the gospel of Christ with those who are strangers to the gospel of Christ and Christianity. But is this true of the Canons of Dort, that was one of the main outcomes of the Synod of Dort? Some researchers even express the opinion that the Canons being produced by this Synod of Dort have the most outspoken mission statements of the three reformed confessions. This article endeavours to open a window on the synod’s deliberations with the Remonstrants to highlight missional perspectives when the background and main emphases of the canons are examined. Special attention on how biblical piety, missional spirituality and its implications for the missio Dei in practice may be observed in the history before after and during the Synod of Dort and in key sections in the Canons of Dort. The practical implications of these perspectives will also be considered.


Canons of Dort; Missio Dei; Predestination; Election; Hyper-Calvinism; Free offer of the Gospel; Remonstrants; Gisbertus Voetius; ‘Easy-believism’


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