The Sessions of the Synod of Dordt, Week Seventeen: Sessions 98-106

Session 98: Monday, March 4 AM
Synod continued its discussion of the doctrine of the preservation of the saints that it had begun the previous week.

The magistrates of Kampen informed Synod by letter that, acquiescing to Synod, they suspended the two ministers whom Synod had summoned but who had not appeared (sessions 83, 85). The ministers had given several reasons for not coming to Synod, one being that the church in Kampen needed them. The magistrates informed Synod that ministers from the church in Zwolle would help the church in Kampen for the time being.

Synod also received a letter from Dr. David Pareus, theologian from Heidelberg, who had been invited to the Synod but who could not come because of old age (he was seventy years old). In this letter he expressed his judgment against the teachings of the Remonstrants in their five articles. Synod read the cover letter at this session.

Session 99: Tuesday, March 5 AM
Synod read the judgment of Dr. Pareus regarding the first two articles of the Remonstrants.

Session 100: Tuesday, March 5 PM
Martinius (professor from Bremen) addressed Synod regarding the person and natures of Jesus Christ, particularly emphasizing that Christ was both the eternal Son of God and truly human. The Remonstrants were in error not only regarding the five points of doctrine, but regarding other doctrines as well. Martinius’ speech was a defense of orthodox Christology over against the Remonstrants. Particularly he opposed Conrad Vorstius, who succeeded Arminius as professor of theology in Leiden in 1610, and whom the Synod would later condemn for teaching false doctrine. Although sound in his theology on this point, Martinius excused the Remonstrants for some of their statements.

Session 101: Wednesday, March 6 AM
Synod read the judgment of Dr. Pareus regarding the last three articles of the Remonstrants, and decided to thank him for sending his judgment to the Synod.

Session 102: Wednesday, March 6 PM
All the delegations had handed in their judgments regarding the five articles. Synod discussed whether to read these on the floor of synod in open or closed session. The English delegation favored open session. Although the English generally opposed the Remonstrants, the English also opposed some expressions by the orthodox regarding reprobation, and they desired this to be publicly heard. However, Synod decided to read all the judgments in closed session.

Synod read the judgments of the English and Heidelberg delegations regarding the Remonstrant teaching of election and reprobation. Both of these delegations agreed that the Remonstrant position was wrong. However, the Heidelberg delegation also expressed its judgment that ministers should treat the doctrine of reprobation “cautiously, seldom, and sparingly in their pulpits.”

Session 103: Thursday, March 7 AM
Synod read the judgments of the delegations from Hesse, Switzerland, and Wetteravia regarding the first point.

Session 104: Thursday, March 7 PM
Synod read the judgments of the delegations from Geneva, Bremen, and Emden regarding the first article. Most delegations either did not touch on the matter of the salvation of infants dying in infancy, or said that parents of such infants have no reason to doubt their salvation (as Synod later expressed it in Canons I.17). The delegates from Bremen put the matter more strongly: every baptized child who died in infancy was, without question, saved.

Session 105: Friday, March 8 AM
Synod finished reading the judgment of the delegation from Emden, then read the judgment of the Dutch professors. The great point of dispute in the judgment of the professors was whether God, when He predestined some to eternal life, viewed the human race as fallen (infralapsarianism) or not yet fallen, using the fall as a means to carry out His decree of election and reprobation (supralapsarianism). Professors Polyander, Thysius, Waleus, and Lubbertus took the infralapsarian viewpoint, while Gomarus took the supralapsarian position.

Session 106: Friday, March 8 PM
Deodatus, professor in Geneva, had twice been scheduled to address the Synod regarding the preservation of the saints, but could not because of illness. He now explained that many who appeared for a time to be believers were in fact reprobate, and manifested this by unbelief and ungodliness later in life. At the same time, though the elect do fall into grievous sins, God grants them repentance and brings them to heaven.

A Google search for average temperatures in Dordrecht in March revealed that the average low temperature is just above freezing, while the high is almost 10̊C, or 50̊F. The winter of 1618-1619 was colder than this, for there was “frost,” and the severest cold was felt in late February and early March 1619. How were the Remonstrants to complete writing their defense when it was so cold? Brandt writes that the Remonstrants informed the States-General delegation “that by reason of the long and sharp frost, they could not get their papers ready against the appointed time; they therefore prayed their Lordships to admit of their excuses, and promised to complete the whole before the end of the next week.”

Another excuse? It would be easy to conclude that it was. However, we who have central heating in our homes cannot appreciate how cold hampers one’s work.

Douglas Kuiper, Professor of Church History and New Testament
Protestant Reformed Theological Seminary