Bill Langerak

Rev. Bill Langerak has been the pastor at Southwest Reformed Church in
Wyoming Michigan since 2003.  He is a graduate of the 
Protestant Reformed Theological Seminary.  He and his wife Karen have 6 children and 6 grand children.

Rev. Langerak will speak on The Synod and the Church Order

Prof. Doug Kuiper

Prof. Kuiper graduated from Calvin College in 1991 and from the Protestant Reformed Theological Seminary in 1995. He pastored Protestant Reformed Churches in Byron Center, MI (1995-2001), Randolph, WI (2001-2012), and Edgerton, MN (2012-2017). Synod 2017 appointed him to replace Prof. Dykstra as professor of church history and New Testament.  Currently Prof. Kuiper is working on getting his ThM degree from Calvin Seminary, with a concentration in church history

Prof. Kuiper  will speak on the Canons and the Covenant

Prof. Barry Gritters

Prof. Barry Gritters graduated from the 
Protestant Reformed Theological Seminary and earned his Th.M degree from Calvin Theological Seminary.   He served two congregations in the PRCA before accepting the appointment to serve as the professor of  Practical Theology and New Testament Studies in the  Protestant Reformed Theological Seminary.  He and his wife Lori have 
6 children and 19 grandchildren.

Prof. Gritters will be speaking on the Canons and Assurance.

MDiv (equivalent) from PRC SeminaryThM  from Calvin SeminaryEditor, The Standard BearerPastorates:   1984-1994  Byron Center;  Hudsonville;  1994-2003Seminary:  Prof of , 2003-present

Historical Forward to the Acts of the National Synod of Dordrecht (6)

Voice of Our Fathers, The

The following is an excerpt from  “The Voices of Our Fathers: An Exposition of the Canons of Dordrecht” and is used by permission from the Reformed Free Publishing Association


On May 23, 1606, the States General called together theologians from every province, namely, Johannes Leo and Johannes Fontanus, from Gelderland; Franciscus Gomarus, Jacobus Arminius, Johannes Uytenbogaert, and Johannes Becius from South Holland; Werner Helmichius and Gerardus Hermannus from North Holland; Hermannus Faukelius and Henricus Brandius from Zeeland; Everardus Botius and Henricus Johannes from the Province of Utrecht; Sybrandus Lubbertus and Johannes Bogerman from Friesland; Thomas Goswynius from Overijsel; Johannes Acronius and Johannes Nicafius from the cities of Groningen and Ommelanden, to obtain their advice concerning the time, place, and convening of the national synod. The States General presented to them various items to be treated at this gathering. It was unanimously declared that it was necessary to convene the synod immediately at the beginning of the coming summer. They declared that the most suitable place to hold the synod would be in the city of Utrecht. They also declared that every provincial synod should bring to the national synod the objections to be treated at the synod; that four ministers and two elders should be delegated from every particular synod, by vote of the same; that in place of the elders they could also delegate men of singular learning, experienced in theological matters, and of pious testimony, even though they were not serving in any ecclesiastical office; that these delegates would be given power not only to deliberate, but also to make decisions and to give decrees in all matters treated at the synod; that the rule according to which judgment would be made in all differences concerning doctrine and morals would be only the word of God, the Holy Scriptures; that not only the churches in the United Netherlands—those of Dutch and of French languages, but also those of the Netherlands scattered outside of the Netherlands, whether under the cross or elsewhere—would be accredited to the national synod; that they should request the States General to send their commissioners, men making confession of the Reformed religion, to the synod; that these commissioners would preside over the order in the name of the States General; and that the professors of sacred theology should be called to the synod.

They agreed on all of these points, but not on certain others. Arminius, Uytenbogaert, and the two delegates from Utrecht, whom Arminius and Uytenbogaert had attracted to their side, pressed for three items in addition to the others. First, whatever was approved by the majority vote of those who were delegated to the synod, not what was decided by the votes of all delegated ministers, would count as a decision and judgment of the synod. The name synod would refer not only to the delegates, but also to all the delegating ones. Second, the delegates would be free as often as they pleased, and if they were aggrieved in any matter, they could freely leave for the purpose of asking advice. Third, the revision of the Confession and the Catechism was completely necessary, and on this account they saw no reason that the clause concerning revision of these documents should not be placed in the letters of authorization.

The other ministers and professors judged, first, that whatever was decided either by unanimous or majority vote of the delegates to the synod would be counted as a decided opinion of the synod. Further, that the name synod would refer only to those who were gathered together and lawfully delegated with power to decide. Second, to take time off to consult with one’s own people would be freely permitted, but the proceedings of synod were not to be disrupted; that when, how, and for what reasons one could be excused should not be according to the whim of every individual delegate, but according to the judgment of the whole synod. Third, the Confession and Catechism could be reviewed insofar as synod for proper reasons judged it necessary; that anyone would be free to present to synod whatever objections he had against these documents, so that synod could consider the same and pass judgment on them. Since placing the clause concerning revision in the letters of authorization would give to one an offense and to others too great a freedom to bring up all kinds of innovations, they judged that it was proper for the peace of the churches to request the States General to omit this clause in the letters of authorization. Instead of this clause these or similar words should be proposed, namely, that the synod is convened for the establishment, agreement, and furtherance of the pure and sound doctrine; for the preservation of peace and good order in the church; and for the provision of the true religion among the inhabitants of these lands.

Many among them showed that this was also their mandate from their churches and the States of their provinces. This division of judgment and advice constituted a new obstacle to the national synod. Those who up to this time had been against convening the synod eagerly grasped this opportunity and worked in every way to prevent the convening of the synod. In this gathering the other professors and ministers most earnestly pleaded with Arminius to reveal freely and fraternally to them, his fellow ministers, his objections against the doctrine expressed in the Confession and the Catechism. They promised him full satisfaction and that he could be reconciled with his colleagues under a honorable condition, and they pleaded for living peaceably from now on. They also promised that if reconciliation were achieved they would say nothing outside of this meeting of what he had revealed. He said that this was not advisable for him, and he claimed that he was not bound to do this, since this gathering was not called for that purpose.

(To be continued…)

Historical Forward to the Acts of the National Synod of Dordrecht (5)

Voice of Our Fathers, TheThe following is an excerpt from “The Voices of Our Fathers: An Exposition of the Canons of Dordrecht” and is used by permission from the Reformed Free Publishing Association


The States General declared on November 26 that the States of all the provinces had consented to the convening of a national synod, but that some among them had added to their letters of consent the condition that at the synod the Confession and the Catechism should be revised. On this account the States General declared that the authorization of the national synod could not be made without prejudice to the States of such a province unless this condition was added to the decree.

Since it was well-known who had for some years advised and pressed the States of Holland to add this condition, since it was feared that if this condition were stated in the letters convening the synod those who sought change in the doctrine would misuse it for their own purpose, and since it would cause great offense to the churches (especially in the present situation), as though the States or the churches had doubts concerning the truth of the doctrine contained in the Confession and Catechism, on November 30 the deputies of the churches requested that the convening of the synod be authorized and proclaimed in general terms according to the old custom. Further, the deputies pointed out that this clause did not appear to be necessary, since in all national synods anyone who had an objection against any article of the creeds could present the same freely and according to proper order.

In reply the States General declared that this clause must not be understood as if they wanted to change the doctrine of these churches, since review does not always bring about change, but it can imply establishment of the doctrine. Even so, they declared that the clause could not be left out without the preceding judgment of the province that had expressly added it. Accordingly, on March 15, 1606, they gave to the deputies of the churches letters of consent that included this clause. The deputies sent these letters to the churches of the respective provinces and also informed them how diligently they had attempted to have this additional clause omitted.

Having received these letters, the Netherlands churches were indeed happy that after so many years of waiting consent had finally been won for the convening of a national synod, but they were greatly offended by the added clause. The problem was not a lack of willingness to revise the Confession and the Catechism at the national synod in the ordinary and proper manner, but they feared that those who were attempting to get changes in doctrine would thereby be emboldened, just as by this clause the public authority of the States had allowed them to upset and to change everything as they pleased, and just as the disputes and differences had arisen not out of curiosity, but out of a desire to fulfill the States’ will. The States General also let it be known in these letters that they wanted to call some learned and peaceable theologians from every province to take counsel with them concerning the time, place, and convening of the national synod.

The annual synod of the Holland churches was held at Gorinchem in August 1606. At this synod, after the deputies of the churches had reported what they had done in the matter of the national synod and what the States had decided, the synod instructed the deputies diligently to seek the convening of a national synod. Although the synod judged that the Confession and the Catechism could be reviewed in the national synod according to normal procedure, they wanted those whom the States of Holland would call from South Holland to the meeting—at which they would decide the time, place, and convening of the national synod—to be instructed to seek from the States General, in the name of these churches, the omission of the aforementioned clause from the letters of authorization, for the reasons already cited, and the addition of softer and less offensive words.

Since Arminius and the ministers siding with him frequently boasted that they had many reservations, suspicions and insights regarding the doctrine of the Confession and the Catechism, synod demanded all ministers of the South Holland churches and all professors of sacred theology at the Academy of Leiden immediately to make known these objections, each minister in his own classis and the professors to the deputies of the churches. The purpose was to bring these objections lawfully to the national synod, insofar as they could not be dealt with in the classis.

When this was placed before the ministers who adhered to Arminius, they refused to present their reservations to the classis, claiming they were not ready and promising to do so in the right place and at the proper time. Arminius, whom the deputies of the churches also admonished about this, replied that he was unable at that time to do so in an edifying manner, but that he would reveal his reservations in full at the national synod.

(To be continued…)

Historical Forward to the Acts of the National Synod of Dordrecht (4)

Voice of Our Fathers, TheThe following is an excerpt from “The Voices of Our Fathers: An Exposition of the Canons of Dordrecht” and is used by permission from the Reformed Free Publishing Association


The time had come for the annual synod of the churches of South and North Holland. According to custom the protests of the churches of every classis were forwarded to the synod. Among others, there was this objection from the classis of Dordrecht: “Since the report is abroad that in the academy in the church of Leiden certain differences have arisen concerning the doctrine of the Reformed churches, the classis considered it necessary that the synod deliberate concerning the means by which these differences can be resolved in the best and speediest way, in order that all schisms and offenses that might arise from this can be promptly warded off and the unity of the Reformed churches can be preserved against the slanders of the enemies.”

Arminius took this very ill and did his best to have this objection recalled. When he could not achieve this, he obtained from his fellow professors, with the help of the honorable curators of the academy, a testimony dated August 10 that there were indeed more disputes among the students than pleased them, but that among the professors of theology, as far as was known to them, there was no differences regarding the fundamentals.

On August 30 the synod of the South Holland churches was convened in Rotterdam. The delegates of the classis of Dordrecht informed the synod that there were many and weighty reasons for sending this protest. The synod also heard from the synodical deputies concerning the situation at Leiden and matters under discussion with Arminius and the other professors. After due deliberation, the synod decided promptly to pursue that creeping evil and not to postpone the matter on the basis of the uncertain hope that a national synod would be convened. For this reason they charged the deputies of the synod to find out with all diligence which points of doctrine the students of theology in the Academy of Leiden were especially disputing. Further, the deputies were instructed to request the honorable curators to charge the professors of theology forthrightly and uprightly to declare their views concerning these points of doctrine, in order to reveal their agreement or disagreement and thus to free the churches of concern regarding the seriousness and existence of differences, and in case the differences were found to be serious, to take prompt remedial action. The synod on November 8 also enjoined all the ministers to testify of their agreement in doctrine by subscribing to the Confession and Catechism of these churches, something which had been neglected in many classes and refused by others.

The synodical deputies, after diligent investigation of the case, delivered to the curators nine questions about which there was much dispute, and they begged the curators to demand the theological professors to declare fully their views concerning these questions. The curators answered that there was some hope that within a short time a national synod would be called, and therefore they deemed it more advisable to reserve those questions for the synod, rather than to give more occasion for disunity through further investigation.

There were also ministers who had adopted the view of Arminius and here and there in the classes refused to obey the order of the synod to subscribe to the Confession and the Catechism. The concern of the churches increased when they saw that these ministers, banking upon the favor of some, despised the synod’s authority and boldly proceeded in their purpose.

Since the evil could not be remedied in this manner, the synodical deputies showed the States General in detail the great danger the churches were in. To ward off this evil, they petitioned the States General to decree at the earliest opportunity the convening of a national synod, which had for so many years been postponed.

Prof. Ron Cammenga

Prof. Ron Cammenga


Prof. Ron Cammenga graduated from the Protestant Reformed Theological Seminary in 1979.  In 2013 he earned his Th.M. degree from Calvin Theological Seminary.  He served four congregations in the PRCA before accepting the appointment to serve as the professor of Reformed Dogmatics and Old Testament Studies in the Protestant Reformed Theological Seminary.  He and his wife Rhonda are approaching their 45th wedding anniversary.  They have 11 children and 38 grandchildren.

Prof. Cammenga will be speaking on the Canons on Reprobation

Key Dates

The Synod of Dordt met from November 1618 to May 1619.  Below is an article discussing key dates written by Prof. D. Kuiper and published in the August 2018 Standard Bearer.

1604: Two professors at Leiden, Jacobus Arminius and Franciscus Gomarus, publicly debate the doctrine of predestination.

1607: Church delegates gather for a national synod to settle the issue. The national government refuses to call a national synod, in part because it is preoccupied with war against Spain. At this time, the national government sympathizes with the Arminians.

1610: Some Arminian sympathizers write five position statements. The statements are called the Remonstrance, and the Arminians became known as the “Remonstrants,” because the word “remonstrate” can mean to present a written demonstration of error or protest. The five heads of the Canons correspond to the Remonstrance.

1611: A conference between Remonstrants and Counter-Remonstrants (representing the truly Reformed position) fails to help settle the issue.

1617, Nov: The national government, now opposed to the Arminians, approves calling a national synod.

1618, Oct. 17: The national government designated this day one of fasting and prayer for God’s blessing on the synod.

1618, Nov. 13: Synod begins. It treats matters of Bible translation, Heidelberg Catechism preaching, baptism of slave children in the Dutch East Indies, and the training of ministers.

1618, Dec. 6: Synod begins treating the Arminian controversy.

1619, Jan. 14: President Bogerman dismisses the Arminians with a memorable speech.

1619, Mar. 25-Apr. 16: Synod recesses while a committee drafts the Canons of Dordt. The word “Canons” refers to a rule or standard; the Synod of Dordt adopted the Canons of Dordt as the standard of orthodoxy regarding the five contested points of doctrine.

1619, May 6: The date on which the Canons were officially adopted in their final form.

1619, May 9: The foreign delegates are dismissed. Synod adopts the Church Order, an official translation of the Belgic Confession, the liturgical forms, and the Formula of Subscription. It also gives its pronouncements regarding Sabbath observance.

1619, May 29: Synod adjourns.

Rev. Angus Stewart

Rev. Angus Stewart

Rev. Angus Stewart is the pastor of the Covenant Protestant Reformed Church (CPRC) in N. Ireland and chairman of the British Reformed Fellowship. He has spoken at conferences in the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia and Portugal, and participated in television debates on Calvinism, Charismaticism and the cross. The dozens of articles he has written in various American and British journals, magazines and newspapers can be found on the extensive CPRC website (www.cprc.co.uk), which also contains the largest on-line collection of translations of the Canons of Dordt.

Rev. Stewart will be speaking on the Canons as the Original ‘Five Points’


Introduction

Welcome to the Dordt400 conference blog.  We are excited about the upcoming conference and hope to use this blog to share our excitement as well as some information about the upcoming conference.

To help our readers gain more of an understand of the context of the Synod of Dordt we are going to be republishing excerpts of the “Historical Foreword to the Acts of the Synod of Dordrecht.”  These excerpts come from Voice of Our Fathers and we are thankful that the RFPA is allowing us to use them.

Lord willing, we will also be publishing excerpts from the Acts of the Synod of Dordt starting in November.  Our intent is to give insight into the week-by-week activities of the Synod.  We are thankful to Prof. Kuiper for his work on this project.

Once the speakers and the topics of the conference are finalized we will be publishing those here are well.

We hope that you share our excitement and  that you would share these posts with others to help build interest for this very important event.