The Sessions of the Synod of Dordt, Week Ten: Sessions 57-63

Session 57: Monday, January 14 AM
The States General delegation had met with the Remonstrants the previous Saturday to urge them to cooperate. The Remonstrants responded that they were willing to work with the Synod, provided it understand that they would refute the Contra-Remonstrant position, as they had previously told Synod (December 29, January 11).

Hearing this, the foreign delegations informed Synod that in their judgment the Remonstrants were continuing “in the same stubbornness, willfulness and disobedience” (Acts of the Synod, my translation). Yet, demonstrating patient forbearance, Synod summoned the Remonstrants once again to ask whether they were ready to answer Synod’s questions forthrightly. Their response was written out and lengthy, indicating that it was premeditated. In sum, the answer was, “No.”

When Bogerman heard this, he delivered the fiery speech for which he will always be remembered. In it he reiterated that the Remonstrants had tested the Synod’s patience by their lies and evasive answers. He assured them that the churches would be informed of their obstinacy and that spiritual weapons would be used against them. And he ended: “Exite!” (Be gone!)

Synod was in session two full months before reaching this turning point. It would meet for another four and a half months.

Session 58: Monday, January 14 PM
This session was closed, as were several following sessions. Synod decided to copy the Remonstrants’ explanation of the article on predestination that they had submitted to Synod that morning. Synod also discussed what order to follow in investigating the Remonstrant teachings.

Session 59: Tuesday, January 15 AM
The decisions of some of the past sessions were read and approved. The table, benches, and chairs in the middle of the room, which had been used by the Remonstrants, were removed.

Session 60: Tuesday, January 15 PM
Synod continued to discuss what order to follow in investigating the Remonstrant teachings. The advice of the various delegations was heard, and Synod decided that a consensus would be drawn up and read to the Synod for its approval.

Session 61: Wednesday, January 16 AM
President Bogerman proposed an explanation of the second point of the Remonstrants.

Synod heard the consensus regarding how to proceed. It would treat the Remonstrant views article by article. (The “Five Articles of the Remonstrants, 1610,” treated predestination, the extent of Christ’s atonement, the extent of man’s depravity, the nature and work of God’s grace, and the matter of preservation in salvation. The “Opinions of the Remonstrants,” which they submitted to Synod, followed the same order; see Hoeksema, The Voice of our Fathers, 103-109. In this order the doctrines would be treated in the Canons of Dordt). Each delegation was to write out its opinions regarding each point of the Five Articles.

Session 62: Thursday, January 17 AM
Joseph Hall, a delegate from Great Britain, returned home because of illness. Thomas Goad appeared in his place, and took the synodical oath.

The five Dutch professors of theology began, each taking a turn, to address the synod regarding predestination. Sibrandus Lubbertus (professor at Franeker) explained John 3:36, John 6:40, Hebrews 11:6, and 1 Corinthians 1:12, in the service of defending the orthodox view of predestination over against the Remonstrant view.

On January 12 (session 56), Synod had denied the request of the church at Kampen that Synod rescind its summons of two of its Remonstrant ministers. The church sent a letter pleading its cause: it could not do without four ministers at the same time. President Bogerman and some other members of synod agreed to discuss the matter with the Kampen delegates later.

Session 63: Friday, January 18 PM
Franciscus Gomarus (professor at Gronigen) explained Ephesians 1:4-6 as teaching that those who are elected will persevere in faith, rather than that those who persevere in faith will be elected. Discussion followed.

That evening Johannes Biesterveld died. He had been a professor of theology from the University in Siegen, and was a member of the Nassau-Wetteravian delegation. This means he was from the area of Westphalia, Germany; Siegen is about thirty miles east of Cologne. He would be buried after the session of Synod the following Monday. His replacement, Georg Fabricius, would not arrive until March 11.

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