The Sessions of the Synod of Dordt, Week Twenty-Three: Sessions 129-133

Session 129: Tuesday, April 16 AM
Synod had not met as a body since March 25, when it appointed a committee to draft the Canons. At its 129th session the delegates heard the first Head, including its Rejection of Errors, read aloud. Every delegate agreed that the doctrine contained in it conformed to Scripture and the Reformed confessions. Then the second Head was read. It soon became apparent that some delegates desired to discuss this at length.

Session 130: Thursday, April 18 AM
Synod discussed the second Head at length. Some delegates commented on article eight of the positive section, and articles two and six in the Rejection of Errors. Synod approved the substance of the second Head, but agreed to make some further revisions. Because of these further revisions, the entire sixth article of the Rejection of Errors that was in the version that the delegates were discussing is not found in the final version of the Canons (see session 135).

Session 131: Thursday, April 18 PM
The delegates heard the third and fourth Heads read. All agreed that the doctrine and its articulation were proper; only minor editorial changes were necessary. When Synod heard the fifth Head, all agreed to it.

The delegates from Great Britain thought it good to add a section opposing some slanderous expressions of the Remonstrants and Roman Catholics. President Bogerman suggested that in addition, a preface and conclusion should be written.

Session 132: Friday, April 19 AM
[Note: the Acts of the Synod say that this and the following session were held on Friday. The letters of Walter Balcanquahall, a British delegate, put the date for both sessions as Saturday the 20th. Donald Sinnema, who has done specialized work on the Synod, takes the view that the dates of the Acts are incorrect, and says that the drafting committee met on the 19th to draft the Conclusion to the Canons.]

The proposed Conclusion to the Canons, including statements opposing the slanders of the Remonstrants and Roman Catholics against orthodox Reformed teaching, was read. The delegates from Great Britain, Hesse, and Bremen asked the Synod to expand this section so that it would repudiate even more slanderous statements, as well as some harsh statements made by orthodox men. The drafting committee reworked its draft.

Session 133: Friday, April 19 PM
The second draft of the Conclusion and its rejection of slanderous statements was read. Although the section regarding slanderous statements was enlarged from the first draft, none of the additions included those that the British, Hessian, and Bremen delegates had desired. The reason for not including these was that the expressions and statements that these delegations desired to be expressly rejected had not been used by any Dutch theologians, but by English, French, and German theologians. The British again asked that more expressions be repudiated; however, the majority of the Synod was content with the statements as proposed. The Synod then recessed, allowing the delegation from the States-General to review this part of the Canons over the weekend.

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