Once again William Boekestein has given us a fantastic book for children. The Glory of Grace: the Story of the Canons of Dort is his third book in a series from Reformation Heritage Books. Each book is illustrated by Evan Hughes and looks at the historical background to one of the confessional statements that make up the “Three Forms of Unity” treasured for centuries by the Reformed Church. I reviewed his book on the Heidelberg Catechism previously and was pleased to find this title lived up to my expectations.
The book is bright and colorful and provides a thorough backdrop to the Synod of Dort. The battle for Dutch independence and the Catholic inquisition are touched on, as well as the Protestant Reformation. The story of Jacobus Arminius and his followers, the Remonstrants, is then told in some detail. Boekestein describes the controversy that birthed the Synod and includes summaries of the five counterpoints (known as the “Canons of Dort”) it published in response to the five points of the Remonstrants. Boekestein then reflects on the lasting legacy of Dort and the current rise in Calvinism in light of the prevailing Arminian character of American Christianity.
This sure is a lot to cover in one small kids book, but the author manages to be just detailed enough to be accurate and simple enough to be understood by a variety of ages. He is thorough where he needs to be and also treats the topic with a largely irenic and charitable spirit. Still, at times the brevity and format of the book force the inclusion of some statements which seem to over-exaggerate the ill motives of Arminius and the Remonstrants. What more than redeems the book is its success in bringing the world of 17th century Holland to life and inviting today’s young people to consider the importance of theology and doctrine. His book brings the Reformation to life and will earn an important place on the bookshelves and home-school desks of Reformed Christians everywhere.
I hope that some who appreciate the history of the Reformation but eschew the Reformed label, will not hesitate to also pick up this title and use it as a historical resource. Those in Reformed-leaning churches and others who respect Luther and Calvin but have never heard of the Three Forms of Unity will find this book intriguing and perhaps venture on to read through, and learn to appreciate, the historic creeds and confessions of our Protestant heritage.
One more wish. I hope that Boekestein and Hughes don’t stop here. I’d love to see the Westminster Confession of Faith, and even the London Baptist Confession detailed in a similar story format to the titles in this series. For now, I’m going to have to purchase the first book in the series to complete my set – and I’d encourage my readers to pick up all three titles. You won’t be disappointed.
Disclaimer: This book was provided by Reformation Heritage Books. I was under no obligation to offer a favorable review.
About Book Briefs: Book Briefs are book notes, or short-form book reviews. They are my informed evaluation of a book, but stop short of being a full-length book review.