The Sessions of the Synod of Dordt, Week Nineteen: Sessions 118-127

Session 118: Monday, March 18 AM
The Synod of Dordt had been in session for four full months. Due to sickness and other circumstances, the delegates from Brandenburg had never arrived (see session 3). At session 118, Synod received a letter from the Marquis of Brandenberg explaining the absence of his delegates. Convinced that Synod’s response to the Remonstrants would conform to the Reformed confessions, the Marquis asked Synod to send him its final judgment so that the clergy in his realm might sign it. The Acts of Synod do not indicate how Synod responded to this letter.

Synod continued to read the judgments of the various delegations regarding the third and fourth articles of the Remonstrants. At this session Synod read the judgments of the delegates from South Holland, North Holland, Zeeland, and Utrecht.

Session 119: Monday, March 18 PM
Synod concluded reading the judgments regarding the third and fourth articles. The judgments of the delegations from Friesland, Overijsel, Groningen, Drenthe, and the Walloon churches were read.

Session 120: Tuesday, March 19 AM
Synod read the judgments of the delegations from Great Britain and from the Palatinate regarding the fifth article of the Remonstrant teachings. This article regarded the preservation of the saints.

On this day the Remonstrants presented the States-General delegates with the Remonstrants’ defense of the fourth and fifth articles. In their conclusion they expressed why they rejected the orthodox (Contra-Remonstrant) position: “being instructed by the Holy Scriptures, we firmly believe that they are repugnant to the honour of God, destructive to piety, and a scandal to the Christian religion” (Brandt 3:258).

Session 121: Tuesday, March 19 PM
Synod read the judgments of the delegates from Switzerland, Hesse, Wetteravia, Geneva, and Bremen, regarding the fifth article. All of these opposed the Remonstrant position.

Session 122: Wednesday, March 20 AM
Synod read the judgments of the Emden delegates, the Dutch professors, and the delegations from Gelderland and South Holland.

Session 123: Wednesday, March 20 PM
In a session open to visitors, Professor Crocius from Bremen addressed Synod regarding the question whether God, in justifying humans, accepts our activity of faith as a substitute for the righteousness that God requires of us in His law. The Arminians and Socinians taught that God did indeed do so; the orthodox denied this. Crocius defended the orthodox position.

Session 124: Thursday, March 21 AM
Synod read the judgments from the delegations of North Holland, Zeeland, Utrecht, and Friesland regarding the Remonstrants’ fifth article.

Session 125: Thursday, March 21 PM
Synod read the judgments of the delegations from Overijssel, Groningen, Drenthe, and the Walloon churches. This concluded the reading of the judgments of the various delegations.

The nineteen delegations (eight international, the Dutch professors, and ten Dutch provincial) had each submitted their written judgment regarding the five articles of the Remonstrants. In total, Synod had read seventy-six reports responding to the teachings of the Remonstrants.

President Bogerman noted with thanks to God that the delegations were united in their doctrinal convictions. This unanimity would make the next step, formulating a final response to the Remonstrants, easier. The States-General was hoping that Synod would finish this work by the end of the month–that is, within ten more days.

Bogerman informed synod that he had begun to formulate a proposed response. The next day each delegation was to send someone to copy Bogerman’s proposal as he read it. That person would then return to his delegation so that the delegations could discuss the proposal in committee, and could suggest any changes to Bogerman or his assessors (assistants).

Session 126: Friday, March 22 AM
President Bogerman read his proposed response to the first article of the Remonstrants, while representatives of the various delegations wrote it out. He also expressed his desire that the Canons have a preface, a section explaining the true doctrine and rejecting the Remonstrant error, and a conclusion.

Session 127: Friday, March 22 PM
The president read his proposed response to the second article of the Remonstrants.

Four hundred years ago the clerks of the synod and the scribes of the various delegations had no electronic word processors, no manual typewriters, no copy machines, and no carbon paper. They wrote many pages by hand. This in itself must have taken weeks. We can be thankful for the technology available today, and the greater ease with which we can do our work.

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