The Canons of Dort

The Decision of the Synod of Dort on the Five Main Points of Doctrine in Dispute in the Netherlands is popularly known as the Canons of Dort. It consists of statements of doctrine adopted by the great Synod of Dort which met in the city of Dordrecht in 1618-19. Although this was a national synod of the Reformed churches of the Netherlands, it had an international character, since it was composed not only of Dutch delegates but also of twenty-six delegates from eight foreign countries.
The Synod of Dort was held in order to settle a serious controversy in the Dutch churches initiated by the rise of Arminianism. Jacob Arminius, a theological professor at Leiden University, questioned the teaching of Calvin and his followers on a number of important points. After Arminius's death, his own followers presented their views on five of these points in the Remonstrance of 1610. In this document or in later more explicit writings, the Arminians taught election based on foreseen faith, universal atonement, partial depravity, resistible grace, and the possibility of a lapse from grace. In the Canons the Synod of Dort rejected these views and set forth the Reformed doctrine on these points, namely, unconditional election, limited atonement, total depravity, irresistible grace, and the perseverance of saints.
The Canons have a special character because of their original purpose as a judicial decision on the doctrinal points in dispute during the Arminian controversy. The original preface called them a "judgment, in which both the true view, agreeing with God's Word, concerning the aforesaid five points of doctrine is explained, and the false view, disagreeing with God's Word, is rejected." The Canons also have a limited character in that they do not cover the whole range of doctrine, but focus on the five points of doctrine in dispute.
Each of the main points consists of a positive and a negative part, the former being an exposition of the Reformed doctrine on the subject, the latter a repudiation of the corresponding errors. Each of the errors being rejected is shaded in gray. Although in form there are only four points, we speak properly of five points, because the Canons were structured to correspond to the five articles of the 1610 Remonstrance. Main Points 3 and 4 were combined into one, always designated as Main Point III/IV.
This translation of the Canons, based on the only extant Latin manuscript among those signed at the Synod of Dort, was adopted by the 1986 Synod of the Christian Reformed Church. The biblical quotations are translations from the original Latin and so do not always correspond to current versions. Though not in the original text, subheadings have been added to the positive articles and to the conclusion in order to facilitate study of the Canons.

                              The Canons of Dort

                                Formally Titled
     The Decision of the Synod of Dort on the Five Main Points of Doctrine
                         in Dispute in the Netherlands

                       The First Main Point of Doctrine

                        Divine Election and Reprobation

                 The Judgment Concerning Divine Predestination
       Which the Synod Declares to Be in Agreement with the Word of God
                and Accepted Till Now in the Reformed Churches,
                         Set Forth in Several Articles

Article 1: God's Right to Condemn All People
      Since all people have sinned in Adam and have come under the sentence of
the curse and eternal death, God would have done no one an injustice if it had
been his will to leave the entire human race in sin and under the curse, and
to condemn them on account of their sin. As the apostle says: The whole world
is liable to the condemnation of God (Rom. 3:19), All have sinned and are
deprived of the glory of God (Rom. 3:23), and The wages of sin is death (Rom.
      *All quotations from Scripture are translations of the original Latin

Article 2: The Manifestation of God's Love
      But this is how God showed his love: he sent his only begotten Son into
the world, so that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal

Article 3: The Preaching of the Gospel
      In order that people may be brought to faith, God mercifully sends
proclaimers of this very joyful message to the people he wishes and at the
time he wishes. By this ministry people are called to repentance and faith in
Christ crucified. For how shall they believe in him of whom they have not
heard? And how shall they hear without someone preaching? And how shall they
preach unless they have been sent? (Rom. 10:14-15).

Article 4: A Twofold Response to the Gospel
      God's anger remains on those who do not believe this gospel. But those
who do accept it and embrace Jesus the Savior with a true and living faith are
delivered through him from God's anger and from destruction, and receive the
gift of eternal life.

Article 5: The Sources of Unbelief and of Faith
      The cause or blame for this unbelief, as well as for all other sins, is
not at all in God, but in man. Faith in Jesus Christ, however, and salvation
through him is a free gift of God. As Scripture says, It is by grace you have
been saved, through faith, and this not from yourselves; it is a gift of God
(Eph. 2:8). Likewise: It has been freely given to you to believe in Christ
(Phil. 1:29).

Article 6: God's Eternal Decision
      The fact that some receive from God the gift of faith within time, and
that others do not, stems from his eternal decision. For all his works are
known to God from eternity (Acts 15:18; Eph. 1:11). In accordance with this
decision he graciously softens the hearts, however hard, of his chosen ones
and inclines them to believe, but by his just judgment he leaves in their
wickedness and hardness of heart those who have not been chosen. And in this
especially is disclosed to us his act--unfathomable, and as merciful as it is
just--of distinguishing between people equally lost. This is the well-known
decision of election and reprobation revealed in God's Word. This decision the
wicked, impure, and unstable distort to their own ruin, but it provides holy
and godly souls with comfort beyond words.

Article 7: Election
      Election [or choosing] is God's unchangeable purpose by which he did the

            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 the 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.
            And so he decided to give the chosen ones to Christ to be saved,
      and to call and draw them effectively into Christ's fellowship through
      his Word and Spirit. In other words, he decided to grant them true faith
      in Christ, to justify them, to sanctify them, and finally, after
      powerfully preserving them in the fellowship of his Son, to glorify

      God did all this in order to demonstrate his mercy, to the praise of the
riches of his glorious grace.
      As Scripture says, God chose us in Christ, before the foundation of the
world, so that we should be holy and blameless before him with love; he
predestined us whom he adopted as his children through Jesus Christ, in
himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, to the praise of his
glorious grace, by which he freely made us pleasing to himself in his beloved
(Eph. 1:4-6). And elsewhere, Those whom he predestined, he also called; and
those whom he called, he also justified; and those whom he justified, he also
glorified (Rom. 8:30).

Article 8: A Single Decision of Election
      This election is not of many kinds; it is one and the same election for
all who were to be saved in the Old and the New Testament. For Scripture
declares that there is a single good pleasure, purpose, and plan of God's
will, by which he chose us from eternity both to grace and to glory, both to
salvation and to the way of salvation, which he prepared in advance for us to
walk in.

Article 9: Election Not Based on Foreseen Faith
      This same election took place, not on the basis of foreseen faith, of
the obedience of faith, of holiness, or of any other good quality and
disposition, as though it were based on a prerequisite cause or condition in
the person to be chosen, but rather for the purpose of faith, of the obedience
of faith, of holiness, and so on. Accordingly, election is the source of each
of the benefits of salvation. Faith, holiness, and the other saving gifts, and
at last eternal life itself, flow forth from election as its fruits and
effects. As the apostle says, He chose us (not because we were, but) so that
we should be holy and blameless before him in love (Eph. 1:4).

Article 10: Election Based on God's Good Pleasure
      But the cause of this undeserved election is exclusively the good
pleasure of God. This does not involve his choosing certain human qualities or
actions from among all those possible as a condition of salvation, but rather
involves his adopting certain particular persons from among the common mass of
sinners as his own possession. As Scripture says, When the children were not
yet born, and had done nothing either good or bad..., she (Rebecca) was told,
"The older will serve the younger." As it is written, "Jacob I loved, but Esau
I hated" (Rom. 9:11-13). Also, All who were appointed for eternal life
believed (Acts 13:48).

Article 11: Election Unchangeable
      Just as God himself is most wise, unchangeable, all-knowing, and
almighty, so the election made by him can neither be suspended nor altered,
revoked, or annulled; neither can his chosen ones be cast off, nor their
number reduced.

Article 12: The Assurance of Election
      Assurance of this their eternal and unchangeable election to salvation
is given to the chosen in due time, though by various stages and in differing
measure. Such assurance comes not by inquisitive searching into the hidden and
deep things of God, but by noticing within themselves, with spiritual joy and
holy delight, the unmistakable fruits of election pointed out in God's Word--
such as a true faith in Christ, a childlike fear of God, a godly sorrow for
their sins, a hunger and thirst for righteousness, and so on.

Article 13: The Fruit of This Assurance
      In their awareness and assurance of this election God's children daily
find greater cause to humble themselves before God, to adore the fathomless
depth of his mercies, to cleanse themselves, and to give fervent love in
return to him who first so greatly loved them. This is far from saying that
this teaching concerning election, and reflection upon it, make God's children
lax in observing his commandments or carnally self-assured. By God's just
judgment this does usually happen to those who casually take for granted the
grace of election or engage in idle and brazen talk about it but are unwilling
to walk in the ways of the chosen.

Article 14: Teaching Election Properly
      Just as, by God's wise plan, this teaching concerning divine election
has been proclaimed through the prophets, Christ himself, and the apostles, in
Old and New Testament times, and has subsequently been committed to writing in
the Holy Scriptures, so also today in God's church, for which it was
specifically intended, this teaching must be set forth--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. This must be
done for the glory of God's most holy name, and for the lively comfort of his

Article 15: Reprobation
      Moreover, Holy Scripture most especially highlights this eternal and
undeserved grace of our election and brings it out more clearly for us, in
that it further bears witness that not all people have been chosen but that
some have not been chosen or have been passed by in God's eternal election--
those, that is, concerning whom God, on the basis of his entirely free, most
just, irreproachable, and unchangeable good pleasure, made the following

            to leave them in the common misery into which, by their own fault,
      they have plunged themselves;
            not to grant them saving faith and the grace of conversion;
            but finally to condemn and eternally punish them (having been left
      in their own ways and under his just judgment), not only for their
      unbelief but also for all their other sins, in order to display his

      And 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.

Article 16: Responses to the Teaching of Reprobation
      Those who do not yet actively experience within themselves a living
faith in Christ or an assured confidence of heart, peace of conscience, a zeal
for childlike obedience, and a glorying in God through Christ, but who
nevertheless use the means by which God has promised to work these things in
us--such people ought not to be alarmed at the mention of reprobation, nor to
count themselves among the reprobate; rather they ought to continue diligently
in the use of the means, to desire fervently a time of more abundant grace,
and to wait for it in reverence and humility. On the other hand, those who
seriously desire to turn to God, to be pleasing to him alone, and to be
delivered from the body of death, but are not yet able to make such progress
along the way of godliness and faith as they would like--such people ought
much less to stand in fear of the teaching concerning reprobation, since our
merciful God has promised that he will not snuff out a smoldering wick and
that he will not break a bruised reed. However, those who have forgotten God
and their Savior Jesus Christ and have abandoned themselves wholly to the
cares of the world and the pleasures of the flesh--such people have every
reason to stand in fear of this teaching, as long as they do not seriously
turn to God.

Article 17: The Salvation of the Infants of Believers
      Since we must make judgments about God's will from his Word, which
testifies that the children of believers are holy, not by nature but by virtue
of the gracious covenant in which they together with their parents are
included, godly parents ought not to doubt the election and salvation of their
children whom God calls out of this life in infancy.

Article 18: The Proper Attitude Toward Election and Reprobation
      To those who complain about this grace of an undeserved election and
about the severity of a just reprobation, we reply 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). We, however, with reverent adoration of these secret things, cry out
with the apostle: Oh, the depths of the riches both of the wisdom and the
knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways beyond
tracing out! For who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his
counselor? Or who has first given to God, that God should repay him? For from
him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory forever!
Amen (Rom. 11:33-36).

      Rejection of the Errors by Which the Dutch Churches Have for Some Time
Been Disturbed

      Having set forth the orthodox teaching concerning election and
reprobation, the Synod rejects the errors of those

      Who teach that the will of God to save those who would believe and
persevere in faith and in the obedience of faith is the whole and entire
decision of election to salvation, and that nothing else concerning this
decision has been revealed in God's Word.
      For they deceive the simple and plainly contradict Holy Scripture in its
testimony that God does not only wish to save those who would believe, but
that he has also from eternity chosen certain particular people to whom,
rather than to others, he would within time grant faith in Christ and
perseverance. As Scripture says, I have revealed your name to those whom you
gave me (John 17:6). Likewise, All who were appointed for eternal life
believed (Acts 13:48), and He chose us before the foundation of the world so
that we should be holy... (Eph. 1:4).

      Who teach that God's election to eternal life is of many kinds: one
general and indefinite, the other particular and definite; and the latter in
turn either incomplete, revocable, nonperemptory (or conditional), or else
complete, irrevocable, and peremptory (or absolute). Likewise, who teach that
there is one election to faith and another to salvation, so that there can be
an election to justifying faith apart from a peremptory election to salvation.
      For this is an invention of the human brain, devised apart from the
Scriptures, which distorts the teaching concerning election and breaks up this
golden chain of salvation: Those whom he predestined, he also called; and
those whom he called, he also justified; and those whom he justified, he also
glorified (Rom. 8:30).

      Who teach that God's good pleasure and purpose, which Scripture mentions
in its teaching of election, does not involve God's choosing certain
particular people rather than others, but involves God's choosing, out of all
possible conditions (including the works of the law) or out of the whole order
of things, the intrinsically unworthy act of faith, as well as the imperfect
obedience of faith, to be a condition of salvation; and it involves his
graciously wishing to count this as perfect obedience and to look upon it as
worthy of the reward of eternal life.
      For by this pernicious error the good pleasure of God and the merit of
Christ are robbed of their effectiveness and people are drawn away, by
unprofitable inquiries, from the truth of undeserved justification and from
the simplicity of the Scriptures. It also gives the lie to these words of the
apostle: God called us with a holy calling, not in virtue of works, but in
virtue of his own purpose and the grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus
before the beginning of time (2 Tim. 1:9).

      Who teach that in election to faith a prerequisite condition is that man
should rightly use the light of nature, be upright, unassuming, humble, and
disposed to eternal life, as though election depended to some extent on these
      For this smacks of Pelagius, and it clearly calls into question the
words of the apostle: We lived at one time in the passions of our flesh,
following the will of our flesh and thoughts, and we were by nature children
of wrath, like everyone else. But God, who is rich in mercy, out of the great
love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in transgressions, made us
alive with Christ, by whose grace you have been saved. And God raised us up
with him and seated us with him in heaven in Christ Jesus, in order that in
the coming ages we might show the surpassing riches of his grace, according to
his kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been
saved, through faith (and this not from yourselves; it is the gift of God) not
by works, so that no one can boast (Eph. 2:3-9).

      Who teach that the incomplete and nonperemptory election of particular
persons to salvation occurred on the basis of a foreseen faith, repentance,
holiness, and godliness, which has just begun or continued for some time; but
that complete and peremptory election occurred on the basis of a foreseen
perseverance to the end in faith, repentance, holiness, and godliness. And
that this is the gracious and evangelical worthiness, on account of which the
one who is chosen is more worthy than the one who is not chosen. And therefore
that faith, the obedience of faith, holiness, godliness, and perseverance are
not fruits or effects of an unchangeable election to glory, but indispensable
conditions and causes, which are prerequisite in those who are to be chosen in
the complete election, and which are foreseen as achieved in them.
      This runs counter to the entire Scripture, which throughout impresses
upon our ears and hearts these sayings among others: Election is not by works,
but by him who calls (Rom. 9:11-12); All who were appointed for eternal life
believed (Acts 13:48); He chose us in himself so that we should be holy (Eph.
1:4); You did not choose me, but I chose you (John 15:16); If by grace, not by
works (Rom. 11:6); In this is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved
us and sent his Son (1 John 4:10).

      Who teach that not every election to salvation is unchangeable, but that
some of the chosen can perish and do in fact perish eternally, with no
decision of God to prevent it.
      By this gross error they make God changeable, destroy the comfort of the
godly concerning the steadfastness of their election, and contradict the Holy
Scriptures, which teach that the elect cannot be led astray (Matt. 24:24),
that Christ does not lose those given to him by the Father (John 6:39), and
that those whom God predestined, called, and justified, he also glorifies
(Rom. 8:30).

      Who teach that in this life there is no fruit, no awareness, and no
assurance of one's unchangeable election to glory, except as conditional upon
something changeable and contingent.
      For not only is it absurd to speak of an uncertain assurance, but these
things also militate against the experience of the saints, who with the
apostle rejoice from an awareness of their election and sing the praises of
this gift of God; who, as Christ urged, rejoice with his disciples that their
names have been written in heaven (Luke 10:20); and finally who hold up
against the flaming arrows of the devil's temptations the awareness of their
election, with the question Who will bring any charge against those whom God
has chosen? (Rom. 8:33).

      Who teach that it was not on the basis of his just will alone that God
decided to leave anyone in the fall of Adam and in the common state of sin and
condemnation or to pass anyone by in the imparting of grace necessary for
faith and conversion.
      For these words stand fast: He has mercy on whom he wishes, and he
hardens whom he wishes (Rom. 9:18). And also: To you it has been given to know
the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given (Matt.
13:11). Likewise: I give glory to you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that
you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding, and have
revealed them to little children; yes, Father, because that was your pleasure
(Matt. 11:25-26).

      Who teach that the cause for God's sending the gospel to one people
rather than to another is not merely and solely God's good pleasure, but
rather that one people is better and worthier than the other to whom the
gospel is not communicated.
      For Moses contradicts this when he addresses the people of Israel as
follows: Behold, to Jehovah your God belong the heavens and the highest
heavens, the earth and whatever is in it. But Jehovah was inclined in his
affection to love your ancestors alone, and chose out their descendants after
them, you above all peoples, as at this day (Deut. 10:14-15). And also Christ:
Woe to you, Korazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! for if those mighty works done in
you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in
sackcloth and ashes (Matt. 11:21).                       The Second Main Point of Doctrine

                Christ's Death and Human Redemption Through It

Article 1: The Punishment Which God's Justice Requires
      God is not only supremely merciful, but also supremely just. His justice
requires (as he has revealed himself in the Word) that the sins we have
committed against his infinite majesty be punished with both temporal and
eternal punishments, of soul as well as body. We cannot escape these
punishments unless satisfaction is given to God's justice.

Article 2: The Satisfaction Made by Christ
      Since, however, we ourselves cannot give this satisfaction or deliver
ourselves from God's anger, God in his boundless mercy has given us as a
guarantee his only begotten Son, who was made to be sin and a curse for us, in
our place, on the cross, in order that he might give satisfaction for us.

Article 3: The Infinite Value of Christ's Death
      This death of God's Son is the only and entirely complete sacrifice and
satisfaction for sins; it is of infinite value and worth, more than sufficient
to atone for the sins of the whole world.

Article 4: Reasons for This Infinite Value
      This death is of such great value and worth for the reason that the
person who suffered it is--as was necessary to be our Savior--not only a true
and perfectly holy man, but also the only begotten Son of God, of the same
eternal and infinite essence with the Father and the Holy Spirit. Another
reason is that this death was accompanied by the experience of God's anger and
curse, which we by our sins had fully deserved.

Article 5: The Mandate to Proclaim the Gospel to All
      Moreover, it is the promise of the gospel that whoever believes in
Christ crucified shall not perish but have eternal life. This promise,
together with the command to repent and believe, ought to be announced and
declared without differentiation or discrimination to all nations and people,
to whom God in his good pleasure sends the gospel.

Article 6: Unbelief Man's Responsibility
      However, that many who have been called through the gospel do not repent
or believe in Christ but perish in unbelief is not because the sacrifice of
Christ offered on the cross is deficient or insufficient, but because they
themselves are at fault.

Article 7: Faith God's Gift
      But all who genuinely believe and are delivered and saved by Christ's
death from their sins and from destruction receive this favor solely from
God's grace--which he owes to no one--given to them in Christ from eternity.

Article 8: The Saving Effectiveness of Christ's Death
      For it was the entirely free plan and very gracious will and intention
of God the Father that the enlivening and saving effectiveness of his Son's
costly death should work itself out in all his chosen ones, in order that he
might grant justifying faith to them only and thereby lead them without fail
to salvation. In other words, it was God's will that Christ through the blood
of the cross (by which he confirmed the new covenant) should effectively
redeem from every people, tribe, nation, and language all those and only those
who were chosen from eternity to salvation and given to him by the Father;
that he should grant them faith (which, like the Holy Spirit's other saving
gifts, he acquired for them by his death); that he should cleanse them by his
blood from all their sins, both original and actual, whether committed before
or after their coming to faith; that he should faithfully preserve them to the
very end; and that he should finally present them to himself, a glorious
people, without spot or wrinkle.

Article 9: The Fulfillment of God's Plan
      This plan, arising out of God's eternal love for his chosen ones, from
the beginning of the world to the present time has been powerfully carried out
and will also be carried out in the future, the gates of hell seeking vainly
to prevail against it. As a result the chosen are gathered into one, all in
their own time, and there is always a church of believers founded on Christ's
blood, a church which steadfastly loves, persistently worships, and--here and
in all eternity--praises him as her Savior who laid down his life for her on
the cross, as a bridegroom for his bride.

                            Rejection of the Errors

      Having set forth the orthodox teaching, the Synod rejects the errors of

      Who teach that God the Father appointed his Son to death on the cross
without a fixed and definite plan to save anyone by name, so that the
necessity, usefulness, and worth of what Christ's death obtained could have
stood intact and altogether perfect, complete and whole, even if the
redemption that was obtained had never in actual fact been applied to any
      For this assertion is an insult to the wisdom of God the Father and to
the merit of Jesus Christ, and it is contrary to Scripture. For the Savior
speaks as follows: I lay down my life for the sheep, and I know them (John
10:15, 27). And Isaiah the prophet says concerning the Savior: When he shall
make himself an offering for sin, he shall see his offspring, he shall prolong
his days, and the will of Jehovah shall prosper in his hand (Isa. 53:10).
Finally, this undermines the article of the creed in which we confess what we
believe concerning the Church.

      Who teach that the purpose of Christ's death was not to establish in
actual fact a new covenant of grace by his blood, but only to acquire for the
Father the mere right to enter once more into a covenant with men, whether of
grace or of works.
      For this conflicts with Scripture, which teaches that Christ has become
the guarantee and mediator of a better--that is, a new-covenant (Heb. 7:22;
9:15), and that a will is in force only when someone has died (Heb. 9:17).

      Who teach that Christ, by the satisfaction which he gave, did not
certainly merit for anyone salvation itself and the faith by which this
satisfaction of Christ is effectively applied to salvation, but only acquired
for the Father the authority or plenary will to relate in a new way with men
and to impose such new conditions as he chose, and that the satisfying of
these conditions depends on the free choice of man; consequently, that it was
possible that either all or none would fulfill them.
      For they have too low an opinion of the death of Christ, do not at all
acknowledge the foremost fruit or benefit which it brings forth, and summon
back from hell the Pelagian error.

      Who teach that what is involved in the new covenant of grace which God
the Father made with men through the intervening of Christ's death is not that
we are justified before God and saved through faith, insofar as it accepts
Christ's merit, but rather that God, having withdrawn his demand for perfect
obedience to the law, counts faith itself, and the imperfect obedience of
faith, as perfect obedience to the law, and graciously looks upon this as
worthy of the reward of eternal life.
      For they contradict Scripture: They are justified freely by his grace
through the redemption that came by Jesus Christ, whom God presented as a
sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood (Rom. 3:24-25). And along
with the ungodly Socinus, they introduce a new and foreign justification of
man before God, against the consensus of the whole church.

      Who teach that all people have been received into the state of
reconciliation and into the grace of the covenant, so that no one on account
of original sin is liable to condemnation, or is to be condemned, but that all
are free from the guilt of this sin.
      For this opinion conflicts with Scripture which asserts that we are by
nature children of wrath.

      Who make use of the distinction between obtaining and applying in order
to instill in the unwary and inexperienced the opinion that God, as far as he
is concerned, wished to bestow equally upon all people the benefits which are
gained by Christ's death; but that the distinction by which some rather than
others come to share in the forgiveness of sins and eternal life depends on
their own free choice (which applies itself to the grace offered
indiscriminately) but does not depend on the unique gift of mercy which
effectively works in them, so that they, rather than others, apply that grace
to themselves.
      For, while pretending to set forth this distinction in an acceptable
sense, they attempt to give the people the deadly poison of Pelagianism.
      Who teach that Christ neither could die, nor had to die, nor did die for
those whom God so dearly loved and chose to eternal life, since such people do
not need the death of Christ.
      For they contradict the apostle, who says: Christ loved me and gave
himself up for me (Gal. 2:20), and likewise: Who will bring any charge against
those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who is he that condemns?
It is Christ who died, that is, for them (Rom. 8:33-34). They also contradict
the Savior, who asserts: I lay down my life for the sheep (John 10:15), and My
command is this: Love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one
than this, that one lay down his life for his friends (John 15:12-13).                  The Third and Fourth Main Points of Doctrine

                     Human Corruption, Conversion to God,
                             and the Way It Occurs

Article 1: The Effect of the Fall on Human Nature
      Man was originally created in the image of God and was furnished in his
mind with a true and salutary knowledge of his Creator and things spiritual,
in his will and heart with righteousness, and in all his emotions with purity;
indeed, the whole man was holy. However, rebelling against God at the devil's
instigation and by his own free will, he deprived himself of these outstanding
gifts. Rather, in their place he brought upon himself blindness, terrible
darkness, futility, and distortion of judgment in his mind; perversity,
defiance, and hardness in his heart and will; and finally impurity in all his

Article 2: The Spread of Corruption
      Man brought forth children of the same nature as himself after the fall.
That is to say, being corrupt he brought forth corrupt children. The
corruption spread, by God's just judgment, from Adam to all his descendants--
except for Christ alone--not by way of imitation (as in former times the
Pelagians would have it) but by way of the propagation of his perverted

Article 3: Total Inability
      Therefore, all people are conceived in sin and are born children of
wrath, unfit for any saving good, inclined to evil, dead in their sins, and
slaves to sin; without the grace of the regenerating Holy Spirit they are
neither willing nor able to return to God, to reform their distorted nature,
or even to dispose themselves to such reform.

Article 4: The Inadequacy of the Light of Nature
      There is, to be sure, a certain light of nature remaining in man after
the fall, by virtue of which he retains some notions about God, natural
things, and the difference between what is moral and immoral, and demonstrates
a certain eagerness for virtue and for good outward behavior. But this light
of nature is far from enabling man to come to a saving knowledge of God and
conversion to him--so far, in fact, that man does not use it rightly even in
matters of nature and society. Instead, in various ways he completely distorts
this light, whatever its precise character, and suppresses it in
unrighteousness. In doing so he renders himself without excuse before God.

Article 5: The Inadequacy of the Law
      In this respect, what is true of the light of nature is true also of the
Ten Commandments given by God through Moses specifically to the Jews. For man
cannot obtain saving grace through the Decalogue, because, although it does
expose the magnitude of his sin and increasingly convict him of his guilt, yet
it does not offer a remedy or enable him to escape from his misery, and,
indeed, weakened as it is by the flesh, leaves the offender under the curse.

Article 6: The Saving Power of the Gospel
      What, therefore, neither the light of nature nor the law can do, God
accomplishes by the power of the Holy Spirit, through the Word or the ministry
of reconciliation. This is the gospel about the Messiah, through which it has
pleased God to save believers, in both the Old and the New Testament.

Article 7: God's Freedom in Revealing the Gospel
      In the Old Testament, God revealed this secret of his will to a small
number; in the New Testament (now without any distinction between peoples) he
discloses it to a large number. The reason for this difference must not be
ascribed to the greater worth of one nation over another, or to a better use
of the light of nature, but to the free good pleasure and undeserved love of
God. Therefore, those who receive so much grace, beyond and in spite of all
they deserve, ought to acknowledge it with humble and thankful hearts; on the
other hand, with the apostle they ought to adore (but certainly not
inquisitively search into) the severity and justice of God's judgments on the
others, who do not receive this grace.

Article 8: The Serious Call of the Gospel
      Nevertheless, all who are called through the gospel are called
seriously. For seriously and most genuinely God makes known in his Word what
is pleasing to him: that those who are called should come to him. Seriously he
also promises rest for their souls and eternal life to all who come to him and

Article 9: Human Responsibility for Rejecting the Gospel
      The fact that many who are called through the ministry of the gospel do
not come and are not brought to conversion must not be blamed on the gospel,
nor on Christ, who is offered through the gospel, nor on God, who calls them
through the gospel and even bestows various gifts on them, but on the people
themselves who are called. Some in self-assurance do not even entertain the
Word of life; others do entertain it but do not take it to heart, and for that
reason, after the fleeting joy of a temporary faith, they relapse; others
choke the seed of the Word with the thorns of life's cares and with the
pleasures of the world and bring forth no fruits. This our Savior teaches in
the parable of the sower (Matt. 13).

Article 10: Conversion as the Work of God
      The fact that others who are called through the ministry of the gospel
do come and are brought to conversion must not be credited to man, as though
one distinguishes himself by free choice from others who are furnished with
equal or sufficient grace for faith and conversion (as the proud heresy of
Pelagius maintains). No, it must be credited to God: just as from eternity he
chose his own in Christ, so within time he effectively calls them, grants them
faith and repentance, and, having rescued them from the dominion of darkness,
brings them into the kingdom of his Son, in order that they may declare the
wonderful deeds of him who called them out of darkness into this marvelous
light, and may boast not in themselves, but in the Lord, as apostolic words
frequently testify in Scripture.

Article 11: The Holy Spirit's Work in Conversion
      Moreover, when God carries out this good pleasure in his chosen ones, or
works true conversion in them, he not only sees to it that the gospel is
proclaimed to them outwardly, and enlightens their minds powerfully by the
Holy Spirit so that they may rightly understand and discern the things of the
Spirit of God, but, by the effective operation of the same regenerating
Spirit, he also penetrates into the inmost being of man, opens the closed
heart, softens the hard heart, and circumcises the heart that is
uncircumcised. He infuses new qualities into the will, making the dead will
alive, the evil one good, the unwilling one willing, and the stubborn one
compliant; he activates and strengthens the will so that, like a good tree, it
may be enabled to produce the fruits of good deeds.

Article 12: Regeneration a Supernatural Work
      And this is the regeneration, the new creation, the raising from the
dead, and the making alive so clearly proclaimed in the Scriptures, which God
works in us without our help. But this certainly does not happen only by
outward teaching, by moral persuasion, or by such a way of working that, after
God has done his work, it remains in man's power whether or not to be reborn
or converted. Rather, it is an entirely supernatural work, one that is at the
same time most powerful and most pleasing, a marvelous, hidden, and
inexpressible work, which is not lesser than or inferior in power to that of
creation or of raising the dead, as Scripture (inspired by the author of this
work) teaches. As a result, all those in whose hearts God works in this
marvelous way are certainly, unfailingly, and effectively reborn and do
actually believe. And then the will, now renewed, is not only activated and
motivated by God but in being activated by God is also itself active. For this
reason, man himself, by that grace which he has received, is also rightly said
to believe and to repent.

Article 13: The Incomprehensible Way of Regeneration
      In this life believers cannot fully understand the way this work occurs;
meanwhile, they rest content with knowing and experiencing that by this grace
of God they do believe with the heart and love their Savior.

Article 14: The Way God Gives Faith
      In this way, therefore, faith is a gift of God, not in the sense that it
is offered by God for man to choose, but that it is in actual fact bestowed on
man, breathed and infused into him. Nor is it a gift in the sense that God
bestows only the potential to believe, but then awaits assent--the act of
believing--from man's choice; rather, it is a gift in the sense that he who
works both willing and acting and, indeed, works all things in all people
produces in man both the will to believe and the belief itself.

Article 15: Responses to God's Grace
      God does not owe this grace to anyone. For what could God owe to one who
has nothing to give that can be paid back? Indeed, what could God owe to one
who has nothing of his own to give but sin and falsehood? Therefore the person
who receives this grace owes and gives eternal thanks to God alone; the person
who does not receive it either does not care at all about these spiritual
things and is satisfied with himself in his condition, or else in
self-assurance foolishly boasts about having something which he lacks.
Furthermore, following the example of the apostles, we are to think and to
speak in the most favorable way about those who outwardly profess their faith
and better their lives, for the inner chambers of the heart are unknown to us.
But for others who have not yet been called, we are to pray to the God who
calls things that do not exist as though they did. In no way, however, are we
to pride ourselves as better than they, as though we had distinguished
ourselves from them.

Article 16: Regeneration's Effect
      However, just as by the fall man did not cease to be man, endowed with
intellect and will, and just as sin, which has spread through the whole human
race, did not abolish the nature of the human race but distorted and
spiritually killed it, so also this divine grace of regeneration does not act
in people as if they were blocks and stones; nor does it abolish the will and
its properties or coerce a reluctant will by force, but spiritually revives,
heals, reforms, and--in a manner at once pleasing and powerful--bends it back.
As a result, a ready and sincere obedience of the Spirit now begins to prevail
where before the rebellion and resistance of the flesh were completely
dominant. It is in this that the true and spiritual restoration and freedom of
our will consists. Thus, if the marvelous Maker of every good thing were not
dealing with us, man would have no hope of getting up from his fall by his
free choice, by which he plunged himself into ruin when still standing

Article 17: God's Use of Means in Regeneration
      Just as the almighty work of God by which he brings forth and sustains
our natural life does not rule out but requires the use of means, by which
God, according to his infinite wisdom and goodness, has wished to exercise his
power, so also the aforementioned supernatural work of God by which he
regenerates us in no way rules out or cancels the use of the gospel, which God
in his great wisdom has appointed to be the seed of regeneration and the food
of the soul. For this reason, the apostles and the teachers who followed them
taught the people in a godly manner about this grace of God, to give him the
glory and to humble all pride, and yet did not neglect meanwhile to keep the
people, by means of the holy admonitions of the gospel, under the
administration of the Word, the sacraments, and discipline. So even today it
is out of the question that the teachers or those taught in the church should
presume to test God by separating what he in his good pleasure has wished to
be closely joined together. For grace is bestowed through admonitions, and the
more readily we perform our duty, the more lustrous the benefit of God working
in us usually is and the better his work advances. To him alone, both for the
means and for their saving fruit and effectiveness, all glory is owed forever.

                            Rejection of the Errors

      Having set forth the orthodox teaching, the Synod rejects the errors of

      Who teach that, properly speaking, it cannot be said that original sin
in itself is enough to condemn the whole human race or to warrant temporal and
eternal punishments.
      For they contradict the apostle when he says: Sin entered the world
through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death passed on to all
men because all sinned (Rom. 5:12); also: The guilt followed one sin and
brought condemnation (Rom. 5:16); likewise: The wages of sin is death (Rom.

      Who teach that the spiritual gifts or the good dispositions and virtues
such as goodness, holiness, and righteousness could not have resided in man's
will when he was first created, and therefore could not have been separated
from the will at the fall.
      For this conflicts with the apostle's description of the image of God in
Ephesians 4:24, where he portrays the image in terms of righteousness and
holiness, which definitely reside in the will.

      Who teach that in spiritual death the spiritual gifts have not been
separated from man's will, since the will in itself has never been corrupted
but only hindered by the darkness of the mind and the unruliness of the
emotions, and since the will is able to exercise its innate free capacity once
these hindrances are removed, which is to say, it is able of itself to will or
choose whatever good is set before it--or else not to will or choose it.
      This is a novel idea and an error and has the effect of elevating the
power of free choice, contrary to the words of Jeremiah the prophet: The heart
itself is deceitful above all things and wicked (Jer. 17:9); and of the words
of the apostle: All of us also lived among them (the sons of disobedience) at
one time in the passions of our flesh, following the will of our flesh and
thoughts (Eph. 2:3).

      Who teach that unregenerate man is not strictly or totally dead in his
sins or deprived of all capacity for spiritual good but is able to hunger and
thirst for righteousness or life and to offer the sacrifice of a broken and
contrite spirit which is pleasing to God.
      For these views are opposed to the plain testimonies of Scripture: You
were dead in your transgressions and sins (Eph. 2:1, 5); The imagination of
the thoughts of man's heart is only evil all the time (Gen. 6:5; 8:21).
Besides, to hunger and thirst for deliverance from misery and for life, and to
offer God the sacrifice of a broken spirit is characteristic only of the
regenerate and of those called blessed (Ps. 51:17; Matt. 5:6).

      Who teach that corrupt and natural man can make such good use of common
grace(by which they mean the light of nature)or of the gifts remaining after
the fall that he is able thereby gradually to obtain a greater grace--
evangelical or saving grace--as well as salvation itself; and that in this way
God, for his part, shows himself ready to reveal Christ to all people, since
he provides to all, to a sufficient extent and in an effective manner, the
means necessary for the revealing of Christ, for faith, and for repentance.
      For Scripture, not to mention the experience of all ages, testifies that
this is false: He makes known his words to Jacob, his statutes and his laws to
Israel; he has done this for no other nation, and they do not know his laws
(Ps. 147:19-20); In the past God let all nations go their own way (Acts
14:16); They (Paul and his companions) were kept by the Holy Spirit from
speaking God's word in Asia; and When they had come to Mysia, they tried to go
to Bithynia, but the Spirit would not allow them to (Acts 16:6-7).

      Who teach that in the true conversion of man new qualities,
dispositions, or gifts cannot be infused or poured into his will by God, and
indeed that the faith [or believing] by which we first come to conversion and
from which we receive the name "believers" is not a quality or gift infused by
God, but only an act of man, and that it cannot be called a gift except in
respect to the power of attaining faith.
      For these views contradict the Holy Scriptures, which testify that God
does infuse or pour into our hearts the new qualities of faith, obedience, and
the experiencing of his love: I will put my law in their minds, and write it
on their hearts (Jer. 31:33); I will pour water on the thirsty land, and
streams on the dry ground; I will pour out my Spirit on your offspring (Isa.
44:3); The love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit,
who has been given to us (Rom. 5:5). They also conflict with the continuous
practice of the Church, which prays with the prophet: Convert me, Lord, and I
shall be converted (Jer. 31:18).

      Who teach that the grace by which we are converted to God is nothing but
a gentle persuasion, or(as others explain it) that the way of God's acting in
man's conversion that is most noble and suited to human nature is that which
happens by persuasion, and that nothing prevents this grace of moral suasion
even by itself from making natural men spiritual; indeed, that God does not
produce the assent of the will except in this manner of moral suasion, and
that the effectiveness of God's work by which it surpasses the work of Satan
consists in the fact that God promises eternal benefits while Satan promises
temporal ones.
      For this teaching is entirely Pelagian and contrary to the whole of
Scripture, which recognizes besides this persuasion also another, far more
effective and divine way in which the Holy Spirit acts in man's conversion. As
Ezekiel 36:26 puts it: I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in
you; and I will remove your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh....

      Who teach that God in regenerating man does not bring to bear that power
of his omnipotence whereby he may powerfully and unfailingly bend man's will
to faith and conversion, but that even when God has accomplished all the works
of grace which he uses for man's conversion, man nevertheless can, and in
actual fact often does, so resist God and the Spirit in their intent and will
to regenerate him, that man completely thwarts his own rebirth; and, indeed,
that it remains in his own power whether or not to be reborn.
      For this does away with all effective functioning of God's grace in our
conversion and subjects the activity of Almighty God to the will of man; it is
contrary to the apostles, who teach that we believe by virtue of the effective
working of God's mighty strength (Eph. 1:19), and that God fulfills the
undeserved good will of his kindness and the work of faith in us with power (2
Thess. 1:11), and likewise that his divine power has given us everything we
need for life and godliness (2 Pet. 1:3).

      Who teach that grace and free choice are concurrent partial causes which
cooperate to initiate conversion, and that grace does not precede--in the
order of causality--the effective influence of the will;that is to say,that
God does not effectively help man's will to come to conversion before man's
will itself motivates and determines itself.
      For the early church already condemned this doctrine long ago in the
Pelagians, on the basis of the words of the apostle: It does not depend on
man's willing or running but on God's mercy (Rom. 9:16); also: Who makes you
different from anyone else? and What do you have that you did not receive? (1
Cor. 4:7); likewise: It is God who works in you to will and act according to
his good pleasure (Phil. 2:13).
                       The Fifth Main Point of Doctrine

                        The Perseverance of the Saints

Article 1: The Regenerate Not Entirely Free from Sin
      Those people whom God according to his purpose calls into fellowship
with his Son Jesus Christ our Lord and regenerates by the Holy Spirit, he also
sets free from the reign and slavery of sin, though in this life not entirely
from the flesh and from the body of sin.

Article 2: The Believer's Reaction to Sins of Weakness
      Hence daily sins of weakness arise, and blemishes cling to even the best
works of God's people, giving them continual cause to humble themselves before
God, to flee for refuge to Christ crucified, to put the flesh to death more
and more by the Spirit of supplication and by holy exercises of godliness, and
to strain toward the goal of perfection, until they are freed from this body
of death and reign with the Lamb of God in heaven.

Article 3: God's Preservation of the Converted
      Because of these remnants of sin dwelling in them and also because of
the temptations of the world and Satan, those who have been converted could
not remain standing in this grace if left to their own resources. But God is
faithful, mercifully strengthening them in the grace once conferred on them
and powerfully preserving them in it to the end.

Article 4: The Danger of True Believers' Falling into Serious Sins
      Although that power of God strengthening and preserving true believers
in grace is more than a match for the flesh, yet those converted are not
always so activated and motivated by God that in certain specific actions they
cannot by their own fault depart from the leading of grace, be led astray by
the desires of the flesh, and give in to them. For this reason they must
constantly watch and pray that they may not be led into temptations. When they
fail to do this, not onlycan they be carried away by the flesh, the world, and
Satan into sins, even serious and outrageous ones, but also by God's just
permission they sometimesare so carried away--witness the sad cases, described
in Scripture, of David, Peter, and other saints falling into sins.

Article 5: The Effects of Such Serious Sins
      By such monstrous sins, however, they greatly offend God, deserve the
sentence of death, grieve the Holy Spirit, suspend the exercise of faith,
severely wound the conscience, and sometimes lose the awareness of grace for a
time--until, after they have returned to the way by genuine repentance, God's
fatherly face again shines upon them.

Article 6: God's Saving Intervention
      For God, who is rich in mercy, according to his unchangeable purpose of
election does not take his Holy Spirit from his own completely, even when they
fall grievously. Neither does he let them fall down so far that they forfeit
the grace of adoption and the state of justification, or commit the sin which
leads to death (the sin against the Holy Spirit), and plunge themselves,
entirely forsaken by him, into eternal ruin.

Article 7: Renewal to Repentance
      For, in the first place, God preserves in those saints when they fall
his imperishable seed from which they have been born again, lest it perish or
be dislodged. Secondly, by his Word and Spirit he certainly and effectively
renews them to repentance so that they have a heartfelt and godly sorrow for
the sins they have committed; seek and obtain, through faith and with a
contrite heart, forgiveness in the blood of the Mediator; experience again the
grace of a reconciled God; through faith adore his mercies; and from then on
more eagerly work out their own salvation with fear and trembling.

Article 8: The Certainty of This Preservation
      So it is not by their own merits or strength but by God's undeserved
mercy that they neither forfeit faith and grace totally nor remain in their
downfalls to the end and are lost. With respect to themselves this not only
easily could happen, but also undoubtedly would happen; but with respect to
God it cannot possibly happen, since his plan cannot be changed, his promise
cannot fail, the calling according to his purpose cannot be revoked, the merit
of Christ as well as his interceding and preserving cannot be nullified, and
the sealing of the Holy Spirit can neither be invalidated nor wiped out.

Article 9: The Assurance of This Preservation
      Concerning this preservation of those chosen to salvation and concerning
the perseverance of true believers in faith, believers themselves can and do
become assured in accordance with the measure of their faith, by which they
firmly believe that they are and always will remain true and living members of
the church, and that they have the forgiveness of sins and eternal life.

Article 10: The Ground of This Assurance
      Accordingly, this assurance does not derive from some private revelation
beyond or outside the Word, but from faith in the promises of God which he has
very plentifully revealed in his Word for our comfort, from the testimony of
the Holy Spirit testifying with our spirit that we are God's children and
heirs (Rom. 8:16-17), and finally from a serious and holy pursuit of a clear
conscience and of good works. And if God's chosen ones in this world did not
have this well-founded comfort that the victory will be theirs and this
reliable guarantee of eternal glory, they would be of all people most

Article 11: Doubts Concerning This Assurance
      Meanwhile, Scripture testifies that believers have to contend in this
life with various doubts of the flesh and that under severe temptation they do
not always experience this full assurance of faith and certainty of
perseverance. But God, the Father of all comfort, does not let them be tempted
beyond what they can bear, but with the temptation he also provides a way out
(1 Cor. 10:13), and by the Holy Spirit revives in them the assurance of their

Article 12: This Assurance as an Incentive to Godliness
      This assurance of perseverance, however, so far from making true
believers proud and carnally self-assured, is rather the true root of
humility, of childlike respect, of genuine godliness, of endurance in every
conflict, of fervent prayers, of steadfastness in crossbearing and in
confessing the truth, and of well-founded joy in God. Reflecting on this
benefit provides an incentive to a serious and continual practice of
thanksgiving and good works, as is evident from the testimonies of Scripture
and the examples of the saints.

Article 13: Assurance No Inducement to Carelessness
      Neither does the renewed confidence of perseverance produce immorality
or lack of concern for godliness in those put back on their feet after a fall,
but it produces a much greater concern to observe carefully the ways of the
Lord which he prepared in advance. They observe these ways in order that by
walking in them they may maintain the assurance of their perseverance, lest,
by their abuse of his fatherly goodness, the face of the gracious God (for the
godly, looking upon his face is sweeter than life, but its withdrawal is more
bitter than death) turn away from them again, with the result that they fall
into greater anguish of spirit.

Article 14: God's Use of Means in Perseverance
      And, just as it has pleased God to begin this work of grace in us by the
proclamation of the gospel, so he preserves, continues, and completes his work
by the hearing and reading of the gospel, by meditation on it, by its
exhortations, threats, and promises, and also by the use of the sacraments.

Article 15: Contrasting Reactions to the Teaching of Perseverance
      This teaching about the perseverance of true believers and saints, and
about their assurance of it--a teaching which God has very richly revealed in
his Word for the glory of his name and for the comfort of the godly and which
he impresses on the hearts of believers--is something which the flesh does not
understand, Satan hates, the world ridicules, the ignorant and the hypocrites
abuse, and the spirits of error attack. The bride of Christ, on the other
hand, has always loved this teaching very tenderly and defended it steadfastly
as a priceless treasure; and God, against whom no plan can avail and no
strength can prevail, will ensure that she will continue to do this. To this
God alone, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, be honor and glory forever. Amen.

                            Rejection of the Errors
                          Concerning the Teaching of
                        the Perseverance of the Saints

      Having set forth the orthodox teaching, the Synod rejects the errors of

      Who teach that the perseverance of true believers is not an effect of
election or a gift of God produced by Christ's death, but a condition of the
new covenant which man, beforewhat they callhis "peremptory" election and
justification, must fulfill by his free will.
      For Holy Scripture testifies that perseverance follows from election and
is granted to the chosen by virtue of Christ's death, resurrection, and
intercession: The chosen obtained it; the others were hardened (Rom. 11:7);
likewise, He who did not spare his own son, but gave him up for us all--how
will he not, along with him, grant us all things? Who will bring any charge
against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who is he that
condemns? It is Christ Jesus who died--more than that, who was raised--who
also sits at the right hand of God, and is also interceding for us. Who shall
separate us from the love of Christ? (Rom. 8:32-35).

      Who teach that God does provide the believer with sufficient strength to
persevere and is ready to preserve this strength in him if he performs his
duty, but that even with all those things in place which are necessary to
persevere in faith and which God is pleased to use to preserve faith, it still
always depends on the choice of man's will whether or not he perseveres.
      For this view is obviously Pelagian; and though it intends to make men
free it makes them sacrilegious. It is against the enduring consensus of
evangelical teaching which takes from man all cause for boasting and ascribes
the praise for this benefit only to God's grace. It is also against the
testimony of the apostle: It is God who keeps us strong to the end, so that we
will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Cor. 1:8).

      Who teach that those who truly believe and have been born again not only
can forfeit justifying faith as well as grace and salvation totally and to the
end, but also in actual fact do often forfeit them and are lost forever.
      For this opinion nullifies the very grace of justification and
regeneration as well as the continual preservation by Christ, contrary to the
plain words of the apostle Paul: If Christ died for us while we were still
sinners, we will therefore much more be saved from God's wrath through him,
since we have now been justified by his blood (Rom. 5:8-9); and contrary to
the apostle John: No one who is born of God is intent on sin, because God's
seed remains in him, nor can he sin, because he has been born of God (1 John
3:9); also contrary to the words of Jesus Christ: I give eternal life to my
sheep, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. My
Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them
out of my Father's hand (John 10: 28-29).

      Who teach that those who truly believe and have been born again can
commit the sin that leads to death (the sin against the Holy Spirit).
      For the same apostle John, after making mention of those who commit the
sin that leads to death and forbidding prayer for them (1 John 5: 16-17),
immediately adds: We know that anyone born of God does not commit sin (that
is, that kind of sin), but the one who was born of God keeps himself safe, and
the evil one does not touch him (v. 18).

      Who teach that apart from a special revelation no one can have the
assurance of future perseverance in this life.
      For by this teaching the well-founded consolation of true believers in
this life is taken away and the doubting of the Romanists is reintroduced into
the church. Holy Scripture, however, in many places derives the assurance not
from a special and extraordinary revelation but from the marks peculiar to
God's children and from God's completely reliable promises. So especially the
apostle Paul: Nothing in all creation can separate us from the love of God
that is in Christ Jesus our Lord (Rom. 8:39); and John: They who obey his
commands remain in him and he in them. And this is how we know that he remains
in us: by the Spirit he gave us (1 John 3:24).

      Who teach that the teaching of the assurance of perseverance and of
salvation is by its very nature and character an opiate of the flesh and is
harmful to godliness, good morals, prayer, and other holy exercises, but that,
on the contrary, to have doubt about this is praiseworthy.
      For these people show that they do not know the effective operation of
God's grace and the work of the indwelling Holy Spirit, and they contradict
the apostle John, who asserts the opposite in plain words: Dear friends, now
we are children of God, but what we will be has not yet been made known. But
we know that when he is made known, we shall be like him, for we shall see him
as he is. Everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself, just as he is
pure (1 John 3:2-3). Moreover, they are refuted by the examples of the saints
in both the Old and the New Testament, who though assured of their
perseverance and salvation yet were constant in prayer and other exercises of

      Who teach that the faith of those who believe only temporarily does not
differ from justifying and saving faith except in duration alone.
      For Christ himself in Matthew 13:20ff. and Luke 8:13ff. clearly defines
these further differences between temporary and true believers: he says that
the former receive the seed on rocky ground, and the latter receive it in good
ground, or a good heart; the former have no root, and the latter are firmly
rooted; the former have no fruit, and the latter produce fruit in varying
measure, with steadfastness, or perseverance.

      Who teach that it is not absurd that a person, after losing his former
regeneration, should once again, indeed quite often, be reborn.
      For by this teaching they deny the imperishable nature of God's seed by
which we are born again, contrary to the testimony of the apostle Peter: Born
again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable (1 Pet. 1:23).

      Who teach that Christ nowhere prayed for an unfailing perseverance of
believers in faith.
      For they contradict Christ himself when he says: I have prayed for you,
Peter, that your faith may not fail (Luke 22:32); and John the gospel writer
when he testifies in John 17 that it was not only for the apostles, but also
for all those who were to believe by their message that Christ prayed: Holy
Father, preserve them in your name (v. 11); and My prayer is not that you take
them out of the world, but that you preserve them from the evil one (v. 15).


                        Rejection of False Accusations

      And so this is the clear, simple, and straightforward explanation of the
orthodox teaching on the five articles in dispute in the Netherlands, as well
as the rejection of the errors by which the Dutch churches have for some time
been disturbed. This explanation and rejection the Synod declares to be
derived from God's Word and in agreement with the confessions of the Reformed
churches. Hence it clearly appears that those of whom one could hardly expect
it have shown no truth, equity, and charity at all in wishing to make the
public believe:
      --that the teaching of the Reformed churches on predestination and on
      the points associated with it by its very nature and tendency draws the
      minds of people away from all godliness and religion, is an opiate of
      the flesh and the devil, and is a stronghold of Satan where he lies in
      wait for all people, wounds most of them, and fatally pierces many of
      them with the arrows of both despair and self-assurance;
      --that this teaching makes God the author of sin, unjust, a tyrant, and
      a hypocrite; and is nothing but a refurbished Stoicism, Manicheism,
      Libertinism, and Mohammedanism;
      --that this teaching makes people carnally self-assured, since it
      persuades them that nothing endangers the salvation of the chosen, no
      matter how they live, so that they may commit the most outrageous crimes
      with self-assurance; and that on the other hand nothing is of use to the
      reprobate for salvation even if they have truly performed all the works
      of the saints;
      --that this teaching means that God predestined and created, by the bare
      and unqualified choice of his will, without the least regard or
      consideration of any sin, the greatest part of the world to eternal
      condemnation; that in the same manner in which election is the source
      and cause of faith and good works, reprobation is the cause of unbelief
      and ungodliness; that many infant children of believers are snatched in
      their innocence from their mothers' breasts and cruelly cast into hell
      so that neither the blood of Christ nor their baptism nor the prayers of
      the church at their baptism can be of any use to them; and very many
      other slanderous accusations of this kind which the Reformed churches
      not only disavow but even denounce with their whole heart.
      Therefore this Synod of Dort in the name of the Lord pleads with all who
devoutly call on the name of our Savior Jesus Christ to form their judgment
about the faith of the Reformed churches, not on the basis of false
accusations gathered from here or there, or even on the basis of the personal
statements of a number of ancient and modern authorities--statements which are
also often either quoted out of context or misquoted and twisted to convey a
different meaning--but on the basis of the churches' own official confessions
and of the present explanation of the orthodox teaching which has been
endorsed by the unanimous consent of the members of the whole Synod, one and
      Moreover, the Synod earnestly warns the false accusers themselves to
consider how heavy a judgment of God awaits those who give false testimony
against so many churches and their confessions, trouble the consciences of the
weak, and seek to prejudice the minds of many against the fellowship of true
      Finally, this Synod urges all fellow ministers in the gospel of Christ
to deal with this teaching in a godly and reverent manner, in the academic
institutions as well as in the churches; to do so, both in their speaking and
writing, with a view to the glory of God's name, holiness of life, and the
comfort of anxious souls; to think and also speak with Scripture according to
the analogy of faith; and, finally, to refrain from all those ways of speaking
which go beyond the bounds set for us by the genuine sense of the Holy
Scriptures and which could give impertinent sophists a just occasion to scoff
at the teaching of the Reformed churches or even to bring false accusations
against it.
      May God's Son Jesus Christ, who sits at the right hand of God and gives
gifts to men, sanctify us in the truth, lead to the truth those who err,
silence the mouths of those who lay false accusations against sound teaching,
and equip faithful ministers of his Word with a spirit of wisdom and
discretion, that all they say may be to the glory of God and the building up
of their hearers. Amen.

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