The Sessions of the Synod of Dordt (2) Week One: Sessions 1-5

Session 1: Tuesday, November 13 AM
     The morning began with Balthasar Lydius preaching a sermon in Dutch, and Jeremias de Peurs in French. Probably these sermons were preached in two different churches, to different audiences. Both men were delegates to the Synod. As the minister in Dordrecht, Lydius was able to sleep in his own bed during the months the Synod met. De Peurs was minister of the French refugee (Walloon) church in Middelburg.
     After the sermons the delegates went in procession to the building in which the Synod met, the Kloveniersdoelen. The state delegation (representing the national government) welcomed the other delegations and showed them their assigned seats. Then Balthasar Lydius opened with prayer, after which Martin Gregorius made opening remarks. Gregorius was the president of the state delegation that week; this presidency rotated weekly.
     The 18 state delegates presented their credentials, which Balthasar Lydius read. Then they elected Daniel Heinsius as their secretary. He was to keep minutes of the meetings of the state delegation, and to create his own set of minutes of the Synod.

Session 2: Wednesday, November 14 AM
     The Dutch churches had 10 provincial (regional) synods, which delegated 37 ministers and 19 elders to the Synod of Dordt. These 56 Dutch delegates presented their credentials. The provincial synod of Utrecht sent 3 delegates who were Remonstrants (Arminians), and 3 who were Contra-Remonstrants. Stay tuned for more about the 3 Arminian delegates.
     Synod elected John Bogerman as its president, chose Jacob Rolandus and Herman Faukelius as its assessors, or vice presidents; and appointed Sebastian Dammannus and Festus Hommius to be its scribes.
     Four Dutch professors of theology were present, and showed their credentials.

Session 3: Wednesday, November 14 PM
     Synod read the letters that were attached to some of the credentials of the Dutch delegations. The synod of Overijsel expressed its insistence that the Arminian matter should be judged on the basis only of Scripture, the Belgic Confession, and the Heidelberg Catechism. With this Synod agreed.
     The credentials of the 3 Remonstrant delegates from Utrecht indicated that these were authorized to address only the Arminian issue, and could make no final decision without consulting their provincial synod. Synod questioned these delegates regarding their credentials, and they responding in writing the next day (session 4), to the Synod’s satisfaction. Again, stay tuned.
     Synod asked the 7 foreign delegations (23 men) who were already present to present their credentials. Their response was that they had already presented their credentials to the state delegation.
     Delegations from France and Brandenburg had been appointed, but were unable to come. The delegation from Nassau-Wetteravia would arrive later, as would one member of the British delegation who represented the churches of Scotland, and one other Dutch professor (see session 5).

Session 4: Thursday, November 15 AM
     On November 11, 1617 (almost a whole year earlier!) the national government had adopted rules of order for the Synod. Synod read those rules.
     Synod then decided to order 13 Remonstrants to appear before it within 14 days. All delegates were exhorted to prepare for the appearance of the Remonstrants by reading their writings.

Session 5: Friday, November 16 AM
     Synod read and approved the letter which would be sent to the Remonstrants, summoning them. The state delegates also prepared a letter to send them.
     Noting that one professor of theology (Sybrand Lubbertus) had not yet arrived, Synod instructed him to come. He appeared on November 23.
While waiting for the Remonstrants to appear, Synod decided to treat other matters which the provincial synods placed on its agenda.

Douglas Kuiper, Professor of Church History and New Testament
Theological School of the Protestant Reformed Churches