What’s in a Name

In Spring/Summer 2017, With the President by Erik Hoekstra

In November 1618 in the Netherlands, a group of theologians gathered in the small town of Dordrecht for a church meeting. It lasted nine months.

Dordrecht—Dordt for short—is the reason Dordt College received its unusual name.

Since Dordt’s theological roots are linked to that city and that synod, we’ve started conversations with Dordrecht city and church officials to celebrate and commemorate the 400th anniversary of the Synod of Dordt through a special conference. It’s more than a year away, but we’re excited about what’s ahead.

In preparation, we’re digging into various aspects of that synod—Voice readers will hear more about the 400th anniversary celebration over the next two years. Here’s some of what we’ve found so far:

The 1618 gathering was international and drew more than the Dutch. An Englishman named Joseph Hall, Bishop of Norwich in the Church of England, was supposed to attend as a delegate, but he became ill and couldn’t attend. Bishop Hall is the author of a favorite quote of mine, “God loveth adverbs,” which appears here in a longer setting—and captures a sentiment that echoes across this campus in so many ways:

The homeliest service that we do in an honest calling—though it be but to plough or dig—if done in obedience and conscience of God’s commandment is crowned with an ample reward. Whereas the best works of their kind—preaching, praying, offering evangelical sacrifices—if without respect of God’s injunction and glory, are loaded with curses. God loveth adverbs and cares not how good, but how well.

Hall’s thoughts are another way of expressing the heartbeat of this college. Paul, in his conclusion to his letter to the Romans, said it this way:

So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you. (Romans 12: 1—2, The Message)

Both of these quotes describe what we try to do at Dordt. We want to help our students consider how we move Christ into our lives as an adverb, not an adjective—taking our everyday, ordinary, walking-around life and doing it Christianly, as well as we know how, so that God’s glory may be seen and known among the nations. Enjoy this edition of the Voice, and look forward to more Synod of Dordt updates in the next months.