Home > Brian's Blogs, Theology > The Canons of Dort, Part 3: Unconditional Election

The Canons of Dort, Part 3: Unconditional Election

Today we begin venturing into the text of the Canons of Dort. In this post I will summarize the content of the first main point of doctrine: Divine Election and Reprobation.

The first point of doctrine in the Canons of Dort is about God’s unconditional election. That is, “before the foundation of the world, by sheer grace, according to the free good pleasure of his will, he chose in Christ to salvation a definite number of particular people out of the entire human race, which had fallen by its own fault from its original innocence into sin and ruin. Those chosen were neither better nor more deserving than the others, but lay with them in common misery. He did this in Christ, whom he also appointed from eternity to be the mediator, the head of all those chosen, and the foundation of their salvation.”

The first point of doctrine is explained positively in 18 points and negatively in 9 “rejection of errors.” My goal here is to briefly summarize the the Canon’s positive teaching on election (I will not discuss the rejection of errors). I will provide my own headings and summaries. Quotations are from the Canons. Hopefully this will help everyone understand the content of the Canons and then I’ll make a few observations in my next post.

The Reason Election is Necessary

  1. All people have sinned and deserve God’s wrath (Rom. 3:19; Rom. 3:23; Rom 6:23).
  2. Despite our sin, God shows his love by sending his Son, Jesus Christ (John 3:16).
  3. Sinful people come to know Christ through “proclaimers of this very joyful message”(Rom. 10:14-15)
  4. Those who believe the gospel through faith are saved from God’s wrath, those who reject the gospel remain under God’s wrath.
  5. Faith in Jesus Christ is a gift from God, rejection of Jesus Christ is a result of man’s sins (Eph. 2:8; Phil. 1:29).
  6. The reason some people believe in Jesus Christ is that God elected/chose them before time (Acts 15:18; Eph. 1:11). The reason some people reject Jesus Christ is that God chose to leave them in their sins.

The Nature of Election

  1. God’ election (choosing of some people to believe in Jesus Christ) is to demonstrate his mercy to his own glory (Eph. 1:4-6; Rom. 8:30).
  2. This election is the same in the OT and NT.
  3. This election is not on the basis of foreseen faith, but for the purpose of faith (Eph. 1:4).
  4. This election is based exclusively on “the good pleasure of God” (Rom. 9:11-13; Acts 13:48)
  5. This election is unchangeable.

The Assurance of Election

  1. God will give the elect assurance of their election “in due time.”
  2. Assurance of election causes people to be humble, repentant, and obedient.

On Teaching about Election and Reprobation

  1. The Bible teaches election so it should be taught today “with a spirit of discretion, in a godly and holy manner, at the appropriate time and place, without inquisitive searching into the ways of the Most High.”
  2. The Bible teaches that God has not elected everyone “but that some have not been chosen or have been passed by in God’s eternal election…this is the decision of reprobation, which does not at all make God the author of sin (a blasphemous thought!) but rather its fearful, irreproachable, just judge and avenger.”
  3. Only those who have intentionally abandoned God should fear reprobation. Those who don’t have assurance of election yet or who desire God but are not yet following him should not fear.
  4. Infants of believers should be considered elect.
  5. “To those who complain about this grace of an undeserved election and about the severity of reprobation, we replay with the words of the apostle, ‘who are you, O man, to talk back to God?’ (Rom. 9:20), and with the words of our Savior, ‘have I no right to do what I want with my own?’ (Matt. 20:15).
  1. Janelle Collins
    April 16, 2008 at 3:12 pm

    I’m looking forward to your next post on this. 🙂 And you’re right – this whole argument is the fault of the Dutch (which, of course, includes me and all of my ancestors…)

  1. April 18, 2008 at 12:55 pm
  2. May 20, 2008 at 9:19 am

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