The Sessions of the Synod of Dordt, Week Eight: Sessions 44-48

Session 44: Monday, December 31 AM
Johannes Polyander, professor of theology from Leiden, preached on Isaiah 52:7. Meanwhile, the committee that was sent to The Hague to report to the national government fulfilled its mandate. The Synod did not meet on New Years Day 1619, but on that day the States General resolved to inform Synod that if the Remonstrants would not cooperate, their views should be judged from their writings.

Session 45: Wednesday, January 2 AM
Synod received a letter from the magistrates of Bommel, in Gelderland, requesting that Synod permit the Remonstrant minister from that city to return to preach and administer the Lord’s Supper. When Synod realized that there were other ministers in Bommel, and that the church there was not deprived of the lively preaching of the Word, Synod declined this request.

President Bogerman reminded the delegations to read the writings of the Remonstrants and prepare their objections to those writings.

In the afternoon, not as part of the official meeting, a committee wrote out the Remonstrant’s objections to some teachings of the Belgic Confession and Heidelberg Catechism, so that the synodical delegates could read them.

Session 46: Thursday, January 3 AM
The Remonstrants were called in to hear the report of the committee that visited the Hague. The States General required the Remonstrants to cooperate with the Synod and threatened them with penalties if they would not.

After the report was read, President Bogerman asked them several questions: Did the Five Articles of 1610 express their doctrinal convictions? Did they believe that the entire decree regarding predestination was that God would save those who persevered in faith-that He decreed nothing more than that? And did they believe that God elected believers as a category, rather than electing specific individuals to whom He would give faith?

Episcopius refused to answer, except to refer to the written statement that the Remonstrants had presented to Synod the previous Saturday. Each Remonstrant individually followed his lead. To give a further response, they said, would be to violate truth and their conscience. Finally Synod read that paper and asked them what they meant by certain words and statements. After giving evasive answers, they were dismissed.

By the way, two of the Remonstrants, Isaac Frederic and Henricus Leo, did not appear at this session. Leo was the minister from Bommel. So . . .

Session 47: Friday, January 4 AM
Synod summoned only Henricus Leo, and asked him the same questions that it asked the others the previous day. He answered more extensively than the others had, but also asserted his conviction that Synod had prejudged him.

That evening, not at an official session, some of the “graver and discreeter” members of Synod (to use the words of John Hales) held a private conference to discuss how best to proceed with questioning the Remonstrants. These agreed that the Remonstrants should be asked questions, but if they refused to answer Synod should take the answer from their writings.

Balthasar Lydius, minister of the church at Dordrecht, informed Synod that the Lord’s Supper would be administered in his church the next Lord’s Day, and that all delegates were welcome to partake. He asked only that they give prior notice to his consistory.

Session 48: Saturday, January 5 AM
President Bogerman informed Synod of some questions that he desired to ask the Remonstrants in order to draw out from them their convictions regarding predestination. The provincial synod of Gelderland had provided some past history of its dealings with the Remonstrants, and the clerks of the foreign delegations were asked to copy these for their delegations.

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