Book Review of “Grace Worth Fighting For: Recapturing the Vision of God’s Grace in the Canons of Dort.” Authored by Daniel R. Hyde
Could you imagine reading a book that not only exalted the grace of God, but also served as a time machine taking you back as a real-time witness to the endeavors of the Canons of Dort? That’s the feeling I experienced reading through the pages of this accessible and beautifully formatted book.
What makes this volume different from other books on the Canons of Dort is not only it’s clear and succinct history and exposition, but especially its excellent pastoral application. Daniel Hyde’s signature warmth and witty sense of humor also keeps the book from feeling like a dry and academic undertaking.
The book introduction begins with a quote by G.C Ledeboer which encapsulates what the book is all about, “We fight for the doctrine of Dort, because it is from God the Lord!” In every generation, God’s grace is attacked and needs to be defended anew. It needs to be defended against both the legalism of neonomianism and the lawlessness of antinomianism. The book title seeks to capture this fighting spirit.
Grace Worth Fighting For includes sections on the Grace of Predestination, the Grace of Satisfaction, the Grace of Regeneration, and concludes with the Grace of Preservation. In each of the sections, Daniel Hyde includes the text from the Canons and also its rejection of errors. He also includes his commentary and pastoral application in each of the sections.
Several of my favorite moments in the book come when Daniel Hyde answers the perennial question of whether the Synod created the term “TULIP” to describe the so called five points of Calvinism. He explains that not only did the Synod not create this term, but if you asked them how many points to Calvinism there were, you would have received the answer “authentic Calvinism” is “136-point Calvinism!”
Fair enough, but how would they have defined what a Reformed Christian is? A Synod of Dort delegate would have answered it is “To believe the thirty-seven articles of the Belgic Confession and the one hundred twenty-nine questions and answers of the Heidelberg Catechism, of course!”
I really appreciated that Daniel Hyde also addressed two specific practical questions. The first is a question Christians have always had: What happens to the children of believers who die in infancy? The other is of more recent origin: What about final justification? I took a lot of comfort in the author’s answer.
We so often hear the horrible stories about believers having miscarriages and their covenant children enduring cancer and other terminal illnesses and dying. This causes moms and dads to wonder what happens to their children? Will they ever see them again?
The Canons (Article 17) give wonderful comfort by saying “Godly parents have no reason to doubt the election and salvation of their children!” Daniel Hyde adds, “Your child was a covenant child, and therefore you ought not doubt the election and salvation of your child because God is sovereign and able to save them apart from their exercise of true faith” (p. 125).
God is so good, He is so loving, and best of all—He is sovereign and loves the little children! Do not fear—your children are in good hands and you will see them again!
The other practical question Daniel Hyde answers is on the contemporary question on whether there is a two-stage justification: One when we come to faith and a second and final justification at the end of our life when our good works are weighed and we are then declared justified. He points out “The synod connects Paul’s doctrines of justification to perseverance. There is no second stage of forensic justification. There is still future glorification, but justification is past” (p. 366).
Believers can take comfort in knowing they will persevere because God’s regeneration is powerful and effective. We will persevere in faith and in good works because we have been born again by the Spirit (1 John 3:9). What God will declare on Judgement Day will be a pronouncement and a declaration of salvation, not a second justification.
In conclusion, I really could not recommend this book more to you! It is filled with wonderful history and theology. It is filled with engaging pastoral warmth and useful practical application of how the theology of the Canons of Dort applies to your life. We’re always looking for resources that would be good for friends who are new to Reformed theology, and this is a great one!
If you’d like to pick up a copy of Grace Worth Fighting For as a Christmas gift or stocking stuffer, it’s available here.