The Sessions of the Synod of Dordt (7) Week Six: Sessions 34-38

Session 34: Monday, December 17 AM
     The delegates from Nassau-Wetteravia arrived, showed their credentials, and took the synodical oath.
     The Remonstrants delivered in writing their opinions of the second, third, fourth, and fifth articles of “The Remonstrance (1610).”
     Synod had previously told them to express their opinions positively (saying what they did believe) rather than negatively (saying what they did not believe). Because Synod was to judge their opinions and writings, a forthright declaration of what they believed was necessary. At this session, they brought fifteen reasons why they expressed their opinions negatively. Hoping to put Synod on the defensive, they also gave seven reasons why Synod should express its judgment on reprobation, not only on election. One was that the writings of some Reformed men included “terrible and blasphemous claims regarding reprobation” that detracted from God’s glory and from godliness.
     Synod required them to deliver their objections to statements in the Heidelberg Catechism and Belgic Confession by the following day and in writing. When they said that this was expected of them too soon, Synod gave them four days.

Session 35: Tuesday, December 18 AM
     Some members of the church in Kampen came to Synod, seeking permission to address it. They were told that they could on the following day.
     The Synod of the Protestant Reformed Churches in America reads its script minutes at the end of each day. The Synod of Dordt did not do so, partly because the scribes had to write into the record all the supplements (the judgments of the various delegations and the writings which the Remonstrants submitted). This took considerable time. At this session the minutes of some of the preceding sessions were read.

Session 36: Wednesday, December 19 AM
     The men from Kampen alleged that four Remonstrant ministers in Kampen were preaching new doctrines. The delegates from the provincial synod of Overijssel said that the provincial synod was not finished treating the case. However, the Synod of Dordt agreed at least to investigate the matter, and ordered some of the ministers to appear.
     Synod planned to recess from December 22-26 to observe the Christmas holiday. All delegates were exhorted to remain in the city so that the sessions could resume promptly. The elders from Friesland informed the synod that they needed to return home “for important causes.” They were permitted to leave, but urged to hurry back.

Session 37: Thursday, December 20 AM
     The member of the British delegation who represented the church of Scotland, Dr. Blancanqual, arrived, was admitted to the synod, and took the oath.
     The Remonstrants were reminded to bring their objections to statements in the Catechism and Confession. Synod also did its part to clear up a misunderstanding on the part of the Remonstrants. They had been submitting lengthy documents to synod, thinking they were free to give their opinions at length. Synod pointed out that they serve Synod better by being briefer, and that Synod had required them to give only their opinions on the Five Points, not an expansion of them. Even today, one who brings a matter to a broader assembly or is judged by that assembly helps the assembly, and usually his own cause, by being brief and to the point.
     President Bogerman suggested that the Synod draw up a historical account of the rise and progress of the ecclesiastical dissensions. Synod would later agree to this. (See the translation of this document in Homer Hoeksema, Voice of Our Fathers, 45-102, which has been republished on this blog).
     President Bogerman also suggested that each Dutch delegation write out statements from Arminian writings to which the Synod ought respond, so that the synodical scribes could formulate a list of them to distribute to all the delegates.

Session 38: Friday, December 21 AM
     The public galleries were full, and anticipation was high. The news around town was that the Remonstrants would present their reservations about some teachings of the Belgic Confession and Heidelberg Catechism. The Remonstrants said that they were not able to finish preparing their evaluation of the Catechism, but they would read their reservations to doctrines contained in the Confession. Synod instructed them not to read the document, but simply to hand it in.
     After reviewing the document, the States General delegation admonished the Remonstrants for not providing their reservations to the Catechism within the required time, and required them to provide these by Thursday, December 27. They also admonished them for presenting their objections to the Confession as a body, rather than each doing so individually. Because the Remonstrants kept appealing to the wording of the summons letters to justify their actions, the States General delegation told them to stop their “animal-like sophistries.”
     The Remonstrants expressed surprise at being accused of disobedience when they had simply done their duty, and had done it as best they could under the time constraints given them.
     Synod then recessed for the Christmas holiday.

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

The Synod of Dordt (4) The Synod’s Location

     This blog submission is written by Prof. Douglas Kuiper. It is a republication of the article that appeared in The Standard Bearer December 1, 2018 (95.5.109). In the SB article, three sources are cited in full. In this blog, the sources are abbreviated.

     The Synod of Dordt met in the city of Dordrecht, in a building called the Kloveniersdoelen.

The City.
     Two other cities were considered as possible locations for the synod: The Hague (the national capital) and Utrecht. Utrecht was ruled out because it was “a stronghold of Remonstrants.” (van Lieburg) On November 20, 1617, the national government decided that the synod should meet in Dordrecht (Selderhuis). This city had been the site of a significant provincial synod in 1574, and of the first national synod in 1578. More importantly, the city was considered safe. It was an island city with walled gates, so entry could be monitored. Some Arminians lived there, but most ministers and citizens opposed Arminianism. Civil unrest in Dordrecht was unlikely.
     Two consequences of choosing Dordrecht were that the city had a brief economic boom, and that many citizens were asked to open their homes to house delegates.

The Building.
     The city decided to house the synod in the Kloveniersdoelen, located on the Doelstraat. The local militia used this building for meetings, practice, and ammunition storage. The building was named after the kind of gun that the militia used, and was the largest civil building in the city. (nl.wikipedia.org) The building was destroyed in 1857 to make way for a new prison. Currently the site is the location of the hall of justice. A plaque is attached to the outside wall of the modern building identifying it as the site at which the synod met.
     The synod met in the second story of the building. The paintings indicate that this second story had large windows, and was tall enough that the upper clerestory windows could let light in. Within the building were at least two other smaller rooms, one of which was used for committee meetings, and another the place where the Remonstrants could go when they were sent out from the sessions of synod. The tower contained a room in which the delegates could relax when not in session. Some even held evening dinner parties in this room.
     The synod met during the late fall, winter, and early spring. To ward off chill, a fire was always burning on the hearth, and each delegate had his own footwarmer.

The Synod of Dordt (3) The States General

This blog submission is written by Prof. Douglas Kuiper. It is a republication of the article that appeared in The Standard Bearer October 1, 2018 (95.1.13).  In the SB article, three sources are cited in full; in the blog, I cite only the author.

     Of the 104 men delegated to the Synod of Dordt (see “The Synod of Dordt (2)  Delegates”) 18 represented the Dutch national government, known as the States General.

Why were they there?
     The Reformed church in the Netherlands was supervised and supported by the national government. Without the government’s permission, no national synod could meet. Only three national synods had been held previously (at Dordt in 1578; Middelburg, 1581; and ’s Gravenhage, 1586). It would be thirty-two years before the government permitted the fourth national synod. In 1607 the States General had refused an initial request to call a national synod to settle the Arminian controversy. And it would never permit another: the fifth national synod would meet in 1816, after the Dutch Republic ended in 1795. Government approval did not come easily.
     When the States General finally did authorize the convening of the synod, it also promised to finance the synod, budgeting 100,000 guilders. This was an enormous sum in a time when a laborer made 300 guilders a year and a pastor made 500 guilders a year. (Vanosnabrugge) Reading the minutes, and understanding how long the synod lasted, one is not surprised to read that “In practice this amount was exceeded by far.” (van Lieburg)
     Having authorized the synod, and promised to pay for it, the States General desired some involvement in the synod’s work. So it sent eighteen lay deputies as its representatives.

What did they do?
     In a letter dated November 16, 1618, the States General specifically mandated its deputies, among other things, to 1) examine the credentials of the international delegates; 2) ensure that the synod treated only the ecclesiastical matters that it was authorized to treat and did not interfere with any aspect of national or provincial government; 3) ensure that the Synod was conducted in an orderly way; 4) see to it that all decisions and reports of Synod were headed by this phrase, “The National Synod [held] under the authority of their high Mightinesses the States-General at Dort”; 5) write and maintain their own copy of the decisions of Synod; and 6) oversee the synod’s finances and pay its bills.
     The deputies corresponded often with the national government regarding the progress of the synod. Occasionally they received instructions from the States General about what concerns they should address to the synod.
     In giving advice to the synod, these deputies could speak only as a body, not as individuals. Before addressing the synod, they had to consult together and come to a formal agreement regarding their advice. For this reason they had their own president (actually, the presidency rotated among the deputies weekly), secretary, and minutes. (Roelevink)
     This all seems cumbersome and intrusive to us. We can be thankful that our political entities do not insist on being present at and involved in making the decisions of our classes and synods. However, in God’s providence, the presence of the state deputies hurt the cause of the Remonstrants and helped the Reformed cause. Perhaps in another article I can develop this thought further.

The Synod of Dordt (2) Delegates

This blog submission is written by Prof. Douglas Kuiper. It is a republication of the article that appeared in The Standard Bearer  September 1, 2018 (94.20.467).

     Delegates to the Synod of Dordt numbered 104 men. They fall into four groups: 1) minister and elder delegates from the provincial synods, 2) theological professors, 3) international delegates, and 4) delegates from the national government.
     Of the ten Dutch provincial synods that sent delegates, nine were synods of geographical regions–Gelderland-Zutphen, South Holland, North Holland, Zeeland, Utrecht, Friesland, Overijssel, Groningen, and Drenthe. The tenth, the Walloon synod, was made up of French- speaking refugees from southern Belgium who had organized churches in the Netherlands. These ten synods delegated a total of 37 ministers and 19 elders to the Synod of Dordt. Three minister delegates whose names might be familiar to some readers are Gisbertus Voetius (South Holland), Jacobus Trigland (North Holland), and Godefridus Udemans (Zeeland). Three elder delegates died during the time the synod was meeting.
     The national government delegated five professors of theology to attend the synod–one each from the universities of Leiden, Franeker, Groningen, Harderwijk, and Middelburg. The professor from Groningen was none other than Franciscus Gomarus, who had earlier been Arminius’s colleague and opponent at Leiden.
     Most of the 25 international delegates were professors of theology or ministers in their homelands. They came from Great Britain; from the German regions of the Palatinate, Hesse, and Nassau-Wettaravia (one delegate from the latter region died during the time synod met); from the Swiss Cantons and Geneva; and from Bremen and East Frisia (regions immediately east of the Netherlands, in the northwestern part of Germany). France chose delegates, but the French king later refused to let them go. Delegates from Brandenburg (another German region) were prevented from coming by other circumstances.
     Eighteen delegates represented the national government. These were called the States General. In my next article I will explain why they were at the synod, and what role they played.
     Finally, four non-delegated men served the Synod in other capacities. One was secretary to the government’s delegation; another was liason between the city of Dordrecht and the government delegation; a third was the synodical treasurer; and a fourth was theological advisor to the Synod’s president.

The Sessions of the Synod of Dordt (6) Week Five: Sessions 25-33

Session 25: Monday, December 10 AM
     The previous week, Synod had permitted the three Remonstrant delegates from Utrecht to remain as delegates on five conditions. These delegates agreed to three of the five, including taking the synodical oath, but had reservations about the first two, including stating that they were able to judge the fallacy of the Remonstrant position. After further discussion, two of them agreed to join the Remonstrants seated in the middle of the room. The third was ready to take the synodical oath, but Synod asked him not to return as a delegate.
     Do you remember that Episcopius had made a long speech the previous Friday? After he had finished, when President Bogerman asked him for a copy to enter into Synod’s record, he said he did not have a presentable copy. Synod became aware that he had given a copy to some foreign delegates. President Bogerman rebuked Episcopius for his deception.
     Synod then asked the Remonstrants to present their opinions regarding the Five Points of the Remonstrants, and their objections to the Belgic Confession and Heidelberg Catechism. They responded by presenting a paper that set forth twelve conditions that a synod must meet for it to be considered a proper synod.

Session 26: Monday, December 10 PM
     Synod rejected the idea that these twelve conditions defined a proper synod, and exhorted the Remonstrants to submit to the Synod. The Remonstrants retorted by calling the Synod schismatic.

Session 27: Tuesday, December 11 AM
     Again Synod asked the Remonstrants to present their opinions and objections. This time the Remonstrants expressed two grievances: the Synod was prejudiced against them, and President Bogerman and the States General were treating them unfairly. They compared themselves to Athanasius who left the council that Constantine called because he knew the council was biased against him. They also pointed out that the Reformed would not attend the Council of Trent for the same reason. The Remonstrants said they would not have come to the Synod at all, were it not for the presence and authority of the national government, which they said they honored.
     The ecclesiastical and state delegates all sided with Bogerman on the charge against Episcopius.

Session 28: Tuesday, December 11 PM
     Synod expressed that if anything, President Bogerman had been too soft in his words to the Remonstrants. Synod declared that the Remonstrants could not say that they honored the national government, while at the same time despising the Synod which the national government had called. Synod assigned each delegation to prepare written advice how further to respond.

Session 29: Wednesday, December 12 AM
     The judgments of the foreign delegates regarding the protest that the Remonstrants had made the previous day were read. Always the judgments of the foreign delegates were presented in the same order: first England, then the Palatinate (Heidelberg), then Hesse, Switzerland, Nassau-Wetterau, Genevan, Bremen, and Emden.
     The States General delegation reprimanded Episcopius for his speech and conduct.

Session 30: Wednesday, December 12 PM
     When Synod asked the Remonstrants if they were ready to proceed to business, Episcopius asked permission to read a prepared writing. He was given permission only after the state delegation reviewed his writing to be sure it did not contain new allegations against the Synod.
     Episcopius recounted the injury done to his reputation, and explained his actions regarding not providing Synod with a copy of his speech. He had written notes, he said, but they were not complete; and he did not provide them because he knew the Synod was against him, and he expected the Synod to use his speech against him. He had given the States General delegation a copy at their request, but without comparing it to the original. Synod responded that it did not need to hear his explanation; it knew the truth of the matter well enough.
     Now would the Remonstrants get down to business? They said they would. The States General delegation reminded them to speak to the point, and not to speak without permission.
     Encouraged that progress could be made, Synod asked if the Remonstrants would provide their written opinions regarding predestination (the first of the Five Articles). They responded that they had prepared to discuss the matter, not to provide a written statement. They had never understood that Synod desired a written statement from them; they had come to attend a “conference.” The States General delegation read aloud the letters requiring them to appear before Synod, showing that the letters had informed them that they were to give their explanation of the Five Articles, after which Synod would judge the matter. The Remonstrants reiterated that a verbal discussion would be the better route. Synod instructed them to provide their written opinions regarding divine predestination at the morning session the following day.
    And, had they written out their objections to some teachings of the Belgic Confession and Heidelberg Catechism? No. They had objections, but the objections were not written out.

Session 31: Thursday, December 13 AM
     Episcopius read aloud the opinion of the Remonstrants concerning the First Article, and predestination. (See Homer Hoeksema, The Voice of our Fathers, 103). Each Remonstrant was asked if he agreed with Episcopius’ comments, and each said he did.

Session 32: Friday, December 14 AM
     Synod required the Remonstrants to provide their written opinions regarding Articles Two through Five by the following Monday. Synod also instructed the Remonstrants to express their opinions positively, because they had previously stated what they did not believe rather than what they did believe.

Session 33: Saturday, December 15 AM
     Abraham Schultetus, professor from Heidelberg, preached a sermon on Psalm 122, in which he exhorted the delegates to peace. Brandt notes that earlier in the Synod, Schultetus had desired a way to reconcile the Remonstrants and orthodox, but that after finding such impossible, he stood firmly with the orthodox.

The Sessions of the Synod of Dordt (5) Week Four: Sessions 19-24

Session 19: Monday, December 3 AM
     Should heathen slave children in the East Indies be baptized? Synod decided that only those children should be baptized who had come to years, had been instructed in the faith and made profession of faith, and who desired baptism. It applied the same decision to heathen adopted children who had not been sufficiently taught to that point.
     Synod then began hearing the judgments of the delegations regarding preparing students for the ministry.

Session 20: Tuesday, December 4 AM
     President Bogerman broadened the issue regarding preparing students for the ministry by putting these questions before the Synod: May these students preach? May they administer baptism? May they attend consistory and classis meetings? May they read the Holy Scriptures during the church worship services? Synod insisted that only ordained ministers may baptize. Regarding the other activities, Synod said that while students may do them, Synod was not ready to make a rule for all churches. It encouraged each church and classis to face these questions themselves, stressing the urgency of students gaining experience.
     The Utrecht Remonstrants presented written objections to previous decisions (sessions 14, 17) regarding Heidelberg Catechism preaching and teaching, and asked Synod to enter their objections in its minutes. President Bogerman responded that Synod’s decision was made by majority vote (requiring submission to it), and that the States General had instructed that the minutes include only final decisions, not discussions or objections.

Session 21: Wednesday, December 5 AM
     Being ill, one delegate had never arrived. His alternate appeared, presented his credentials, and was seated.
     The Remonstrants whom the Synod had instructed to appear for examination (session 4) were to appear before Synod on this day, but were not present. The Remonstrant delegates from Utrecht assured Synod that these would appear soon. (Remember that the Arminians were called “Remonstrants” because the core teachings of Arminianism had been written in a document called “The Remonstrance,” written in 1610).
     Books had been published, some anonymously, that had caused unrest in the churches (presumably because they promoted Arminian teachings). Some churches asked the Synod to provide a way to regulate book publishing. The foreign delegations informed Synod how their churches had addressed the matter. Synod decided that this was not an ecclesiastical matter, but one that belonged to the civil government.

Session 22: Thursday, December 6 AM
      Having just arrived in Dordrecht, the Remonstrants who were required to appear before Synod asked permission not to appear until Saturday or Monday. This would give them time to find lodging and put their books and writings in order. Synod decided that they should briefly appear at this session, since they had not appeared the previous day as required.
     On this date the States General published a notice that no one was permitted to write, print, distribute, or sell a book which speaks ill of the civil authorities, and that no book may be published without being approved by a government agency.
     The Remonstrants appeared and were shown their table in the middle of the room. Their spokesman (Simon Episcopius) explained their delay and explained why they desired not to appear before the Synod for several more days. But if Synod desired, he said, they were ready to begin their “conference” immediately. Synod agreed to let them come the next day, but reminded them that they were not at a “conference” for mutual discussion, but were at a synod to be examined and judged.

Session 23: Friday, December 7 AM
     Ready to turn its full attention to the Remonstrant controversy, Synod confronted a problem: three delegates from Utrecht were Remonstrant. Could they judge impartially, or should they give up their seat at Synod and join the Remonstrants in the middle of the room? When President Bogerman put this question to the delegates, they asked for time to consider the matter.
     Episcopius then read from prepared notes for an hour and a half. Aftewards, Episcopius was rebuked for speaking at length when the Synod had not yet asked the Remonstrants any questions.
     On this day the delegates took an oath, required of them by the States General, to judge the Arminian issue on the basis of God’s Word alone. Synod would not permit the Utrecht Remonstrant delegates to take it until they decided whether to sit with the Synod or with the Remonstrants.

Session 24: Saturday, December 8 AM
     The Utrecht Remonstrants expressed their desire to remain seated as delegates to the Synod, noting that the instructions on their credentials did not mandate them to take a certain position. After reading their credentials again, the Synod permitted them to remain under five conditions. Synod would hear their response to these conditions the following Monday.

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

The Sessions of the Synod of Dordt (4) Week Three: Sessions 13-18

Session 13: Monday, November 26 AM
     Previously the Synod had decided to appoint three men to translate the Old Testament, and three to translate the New. At this session the Synod named those men. It also appointed men from each province to oversee the translation work.
     Do you remember that the provincial synod of Utrecht sent to Dordt three delegates who favored Arminianism, and three who opposed it? Those who opposed it asked the Synod not to appoint overseers from Utrecht, but to permit the Utrecht provincial synod to appoint them later. Dordt agreed to this. Because the Utrecht churches had many Arminian ministers, the list of men available for the work of overseeing the translation would change significantly if the Synod were later to condemn Arminianism and insist that Arminian ministers be put out of office (which it later did).

Session 14: Tuesday, November 27 AM
     The previous national synod (‘s Gravenhage, 1586) had required every minister to explain briefly the Heidelberg Catechism at the Sunday afternoon services. For various reasons, this practice had fallen on hard times: the Remonstrants opposed the practice, some country churches had lively preaching only once a Sunday because they shared ministers, and many Dutch people preferred to spend their Sunday afternoons in work or recreation.
     The Synod of Dordt reiterated this requirement, later embodying it in Article 68 of its Church Order. Synod then asked the magistrates to forbid work and recreation on the Sabbath, and insisted that the church visitors ask whether the churches were complying with the requirement regarding catechism preaching. In the case of the country churches, Synod permitted the Catechism to be taught every other week.
     Hendrik van Hell, elder delegate from Zutphen, died on this day.

Session 15: Wednesday, November 28 AM
     The Synod deemed it necessary to provide more catechism instruction than was given on Sunday. The foreign delegations explained the methods of catechizing that their churches used.

Session 16: Thursday, November 29 AM
     Dr. Joseph Hall, a delegate from Great Britain, preached on Ecclesiastes 7:16. He exhorted the delegates to be righteous in their actions. He encouraged the Synod to maintain the Heidelberg Catechism and Belgic Confession, and advised it to require the Remonstrants to submit an explanation of Romans 9, “short, clear, and explicit, without colouring or artifice” (Milton, 131). He urged all to seek peace as brothers and members of the same body. His concluding wish was that error would be opposed, “that truth alone may see the light, alone may reign, and may bring safety to you, glory to the Church, and peace to the State” (Milton, 132-133).

Session 17: Friday, November 30 AM
     The Synod resumed its discussion regarding catechizing. The Remonstrant delegates from Utrecht continued to object to preaching and teaching the Heidelberg Catechism (see session 9).
     The synod emphasized the need for catechism instruction in three spheres: the homes, the schools, and the churches. In the churches, the Heidelberg Catechism itself would be preached; in the schools, a summary of the Catechism; and in the homes, a short catechism containing an explanation of the Apostle’s Creed, Ten Commandments, Lord’s Prayer, sacrament, and church discipline, to all of which would be added some short prayers and Scripture passages.
     A committee was appointed to draw up the catechisms for school and home.

Session 18: Saturday, December 1 AM
     The Synod met during the Dutch Golden Age. Dutch merchants sent their ships to the Dutch East Indies, stopping at other Dutch colonies along the way. Dutch Reformed Christians inhabited these colonies, and took heathen children into their families, not as adopted children, but as servants. The delegates from North Holland asked whether these children might be baptized. The various delegations gave their advice, but the Synod did not finish treating the matter.
     Some reasons for the lack of Heidelberg Catechism preaching and teaching have already been given. Could another reason be that students for the ministry were not well trained? The delegates from Zeeland were of this opinion, and they presented suggestions how better to prepare students for the ministry. Synod decided that it would take up this matter the following Monday, and each delegation should prepare written advice over the weekend.
     After recessing, the Synod attended the burial of Elder Hendrik van Hell.

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

The Sessions of the Synod of Dordt (3) Week Two: Sessions 6-12

Session 6: Monday, November 19 AM
    In 1618, at least two Dutch Bible translations existed–a translation of the Latin Vulgate, and one of Luther’s German Bible. In response to a question which came from one of the provincial synods, the Synod of Dordt agreed that a new translation would profit the churches. Synod began to discuss how to implement this. (This translation would become the Statenvertaaling, the “States Translation”).

Session 7: Tuesday, November 20 AM
    The delegates from Great Britain explained the method used in translating the King James Version: six different committees were assigned separate portions of Scripture, after which the translation was carefully edited twice. The British delegation also mentioned the rules that governed the translators in their work.

Session 8: Tuesday, November 20 PM
    Continuing its discussion on Bible translation, the Synod decided that this translation: 1) should not be a revision of the existing translations, but a new translation directly from the Hebrew and Greek; 2) should be a careful translation of the Hebrew and Greek, treating God’s word carefully, and at the same time express the Scriptures in the vernacular Dutch; 3) should include a note on the side of the text, when the Hebrew or Greek was difficult to express in Dutch; and 4) should use a different font for words which were added to fill out the text (similar to the KJV’s use of italics).

Session 9: Wednesday, November 21 AM
    Should the Apocrypha also be translated? Some argued against it, because they were not inspired, they contradict the inspired Scriptures at some points, and neither the Jews nor the ancient Christian church included them. One of the Utrecht Remonstrant delegates retorted that the Heidelberg Catechism should be treated similarly. The Dutch Bibles of that day included the Catechism after the New Testament; this delegate said that the new translation should not include the Catechism, and that the Catechism should not be preached.
    The Synod did not make a final decision at this session.

Session 10: Thursday, November 22 AM
    Four hundred years later, the United States observes this day as Thanksgiving. We give thanks to God not only for His earthly and material gifts, but also for the Synod’s work, and the ways in which we benefit.
    After more discussion, the Synod decided to include the Apocryphal books in the Bible translation, but said that these did not need to be as carefully translated as did the inspired books, that the Apocrypha should be placed after the New Testament, and that it should be introduced by a disclaimer that these are human writings.
    Synod decided it would appoint three men to translate the Old Testament and three to translate the New. It also decided to ask the national government, through its delegation at the Synod, to promote and fund the translating work.

Session 11: Friday, November 23 AM
    The fifth Dutch professor delegated to the Synod (Prof. Lubbertus) arrived. So did John Hales, chaplain to the English delegate Carlton, who would observe the synod and write letters regarding the proceedings of the Synod.
    Synod decided that the work of Bible translation should begin three months after the Synod adjourned, and that the translators should report every three months regarding their progress.

Session 12: Saturday, November 24 AM
    Regarding Bible translation, Synod decided 1) to use the Dutch du when translating the second person singular pronoun referring to God (this meant that the less formal Dutch pronoun would be used); 2) to translate the word “Jehovah” in large letters (as the KJV does with LORD); 3) to use the Hebrew form, rather than the Dutch, in translating Old Testament proper names; 4) to use the current division of chapters and verses, but note in the margin where the chapter divisions are poor; and 5) to add a table of chronologies and genealogies at the end of the translation, but not to include any pictures.
    Not yet finished with the matter of Bible translation, Synod recessed for the Sabbath, as was its practice.

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

The Sessions of the Synod of Dordt (2) Week One: Sessions 1-5

Session 1: Tuesday, November 13 AM
     The morning began with Balthasar Lydius preaching a sermon in Dutch, and Jeremias de Peurs in French. Probably these sermons were preached in two different churches, to different audiences. Both men were delegates to the Synod. As the minister in Dordrecht, Lydius was able to sleep in his own bed during the months the Synod met. De Peurs was minister of the French refugee (Walloon) church in Middelburg.
     After the sermons the delegates went in procession to the building in which the Synod met, the Kloveniersdoelen. The state delegation (representing the national government) welcomed the other delegations and showed them their assigned seats. Then Balthasar Lydius opened with prayer, after which Martin Gregorius made opening remarks. Gregorius was the president of the state delegation that week; this presidency rotated weekly.
     The 18 state delegates presented their credentials, which Balthasar Lydius read. Then they elected Daniel Heinsius as their secretary. He was to keep minutes of the meetings of the state delegation, and to create his own set of minutes of the Synod.

Session 2: Wednesday, November 14 AM
     The Dutch churches had 10 provincial (regional) synods, which delegated 37 ministers and 19 elders to the Synod of Dordt. These 56 Dutch delegates presented their credentials. The provincial synod of Utrecht sent 3 delegates who were Remonstrants (Arminians), and 3 who were Contra-Remonstrants. Stay tuned for more about the 3 Arminian delegates.
     Synod elected John Bogerman as its president, chose Jacob Rolandus and Herman Faukelius as its assessors, or vice presidents; and appointed Sebastian Dammannus and Festus Hommius to be its scribes.
     Four Dutch professors of theology were present, and showed their credentials.

Session 3: Wednesday, November 14 PM
     Synod read the letters that were attached to some of the credentials of the Dutch delegations. The synod of Overijsel expressed its insistence that the Arminian matter should be judged on the basis only of Scripture, the Belgic Confession, and the Heidelberg Catechism. With this Synod agreed.
     The credentials of the 3 Remonstrant delegates from Utrecht indicated that these were authorized to address only the Arminian issue, and could make no final decision without consulting their provincial synod. Synod questioned these delegates regarding their credentials, and they responding in writing the next day (session 4), to the Synod’s satisfaction. Again, stay tuned.
     Synod asked the 7 foreign delegations (23 men) who were already present to present their credentials. Their response was that they had already presented their credentials to the state delegation.
     Delegations from France and Brandenburg had been appointed, but were unable to come. The delegation from Nassau-Wetteravia would arrive later, as would one member of the British delegation who represented the churches of Scotland, and one other Dutch professor (see session 5).

Session 4: Thursday, November 15 AM
     On November 11, 1617 (almost a whole year earlier!) the national government had adopted rules of order for the Synod. Synod read those rules.
     Synod then decided to order 13 Remonstrants to appear before it within 14 days. All delegates were exhorted to prepare for the appearance of the Remonstrants by reading their writings.

Session 5: Friday, November 16 AM
     Synod read and approved the letter which would be sent to the Remonstrants, summoning them. The state delegates also prepared a letter to send them.
     Noting that one professor of theology (Sybrand Lubbertus) had not yet arrived, Synod instructed him to come. He appeared on November 23.
While waiting for the Remonstrants to appear, Synod decided to treat other matters which the provincial synods placed on its agenda.

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

The Sessions of the Synod of Dordt (1) Introduction

The Synod of Dordt met in 180 sessions from Tuesday, November 13, 1618 to Wednesday May 29, 1619. Four hundred years later, the dates and days correspond: November 13, 2018 falls on a Tuesday.

To commemorate the Synod’s 400th anniversary, I plan to write a weekly blog summarizing what the synod did at each session. In this blog I am not concerned with why the Synod decided what it did, or with a record of the discussion leading to the decision. I aim simply to state what the Synod accomplished at each session.

I will refer to sources only rarely, and then with abbreviated references. For full disclosure, here are the sources I am using.

Several sources are primary, that is, they contain the Synod’s original documents. My chief source is the Dutch translation of the Acts of the Synod as found in Acta of Handelingen der Nationale Synod te Dordrecht, (Kampen: J. H. Bos, n.d.). Another is the Latin edition of the Acts as published in Donald Sinnema, Christian Moser and Herman J. Selderhuis, eds., Acta et Documenta Synodi Nationalis Dordrechtanae (1618-1619), vol. I: Acta of the Synod of Dordt (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2015). I will refer to this source only when I find the Dutch problematic.

The Acts of the Synod from May 13-29, 1619 (sessions 155-180) have already been translated by Richard DeRidder, published in syllabus Translation of Ecclesiastical Manual Including the Decisions of the Netherlands Synods . . . (Grand Rapids: Calvin Theological Seminary, 1982), 176-203.

Secondary sources are books and writings about the Synod. One such source is Gerard Brandt, The History of the Reformation and Other Ecclesiastical Transactions In And About the Low Countries, (London: T. Wood, 1722), 3:1-331. Brandt’s analysis of the Synod’s decisions reflect his sympathy to the Arminian cause. However, his record of Synod’s actions is reliable. Another secondary source is Anthony Milton, ed, The British Delegation and the Synod of Dort (1618-1619) (Suffolk, England: The Boydell Press), 2005. Most of the documents in this book are not helpful for my purpose; only a few are.

One book that I probably will not use as a source for this blog, but which is an interesting reference work, is the collection of essays edited by Aza Goudriaan and Fred van Lieburg, entitled Revisiting the Synod of Dordt (1618-1619), (Leiden: Brill), 2011. I recommend it–or anything written by Donald Sinnema or Fred van Lieburg–to anyone who wishes to study the Synod of Dordt in more detail.

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