The Sessions of the Synod of Dordt, Week Ten: Sessions 57-63

Session 57: Monday, January 14 AM
The States General delegation had met with the Remonstrants the previous Saturday to urge them to cooperate. The Remonstrants responded that they were willing to work with the Synod, provided it understand that they would refute the Contra-Remonstrant position, as they had previously told Synod (December 29, January 11).

Hearing this, the foreign delegations informed Synod that in their judgment the Remonstrants were continuing “in the same stubbornness, willfulness and disobedience” (Acts of the Synod, my translation). Yet, demonstrating patient forbearance, Synod summoned the Remonstrants once again to ask whether they were ready to answer Synod’s questions forthrightly. Their response was written out and lengthy, indicating that it was premeditated. In sum, the answer was, “No.”

When Bogerman heard this, he delivered the fiery speech for which he will always be remembered. In it he reiterated that the Remonstrants had tested the Synod’s patience by their lies and evasive answers. He assured them that the churches would be informed of their obstinacy and that spiritual weapons would be used against them. And he ended: “Exite!” (Be gone!)

Synod was in session two full months before reaching this turning point. It would meet for another four and a half months.

Session 58: Monday, January 14 PM
This session was closed, as were several following sessions. Synod decided to copy the Remonstrants’ explanation of the article on predestination that they had submitted to Synod that morning. Synod also discussed what order to follow in investigating the Remonstrant teachings.

Session 59: Tuesday, January 15 AM
The decisions of some of the past sessions were read and approved. The table, benches, and chairs in the middle of the room, which had been used by the Remonstrants, were removed.

Session 60: Tuesday, January 15 PM
Synod continued to discuss what order to follow in investigating the Remonstrant teachings. The advice of the various delegations was heard, and Synod decided that a consensus would be drawn up and read to the Synod for its approval.

Session 61: Wednesday, January 16 AM
President Bogerman proposed an explanation of the second point of the Remonstrants.

Synod heard the consensus regarding how to proceed. It would treat the Remonstrant views article by article. (The “Five Articles of the Remonstrants, 1610,” treated predestination, the extent of Christ’s atonement, the extent of man’s depravity, the nature and work of God’s grace, and the matter of preservation in salvation. The “Opinions of the Remonstrants,” which they submitted to Synod, followed the same order; see Hoeksema, The Voice of our Fathers, 103-109. In this order the doctrines would be treated in the Canons of Dordt). Each delegation was to write out its opinions regarding each point of the Five Articles.

Session 62: Thursday, January 17 AM
Joseph Hall, a delegate from Great Britain, returned home because of illness. Thomas Goad appeared in his place, and took the synodical oath.

The five Dutch professors of theology began, each taking a turn, to address the synod regarding predestination. Sibrandus Lubbertus (professor at Franeker) explained John 3:36, John 6:40, Hebrews 11:6, and 1 Corinthians 1:12, in the service of defending the orthodox view of predestination over against the Remonstrant view.

On January 12 (session 56), Synod had denied the request of the church at Kampen that Synod rescind its summons of two of its Remonstrant ministers. The church sent a letter pleading its cause: it could not do without four ministers at the same time. President Bogerman and some other members of synod agreed to discuss the matter with the Kampen delegates later.

Session 63: Friday, January 18 PM
Franciscus Gomarus (professor at Gronigen) explained Ephesians 1:4-6 as teaching that those who are elected will persevere in faith, rather than that those who persevere in faith will be elected. Discussion followed.

That evening Johannes Biesterveld died. He had been a professor of theology from the University in Siegen, and was a member of the Nassau-Wetteravian delegation. This means he was from the area of Westphalia, Germany; Siegen is about thirty miles east of Cologne. He would be buried after the session of Synod the following Monday. His replacement, Georg Fabricius, would not arrive until March 11.

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

The Synod of Dordt (5) The Meetings of the Synod

This blog submission is written by Prof. Douglas Kuiper. It is a republication of the article that appeared in The Standard Bearer December 15, 2018 (95.6.132).

Between November 13, 1618 and May 29, 1619, the Synod of Dordt met in 180 sessions. The interested reader can find a weekly summary of the Synod’s work at www.dordt400.org. In this article I will give only a broad overview of the sessions. (My main sources for this material are Herman J. Selderhuis, “Introduction to the Synod of Dordt (1618-1619)” 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), XXV-XXX, and Hendrik Kaajan, De Pro-Acta Der Dordtsche Synode in 1618 (Rotterdam: T. DeVries, 1914), 42-56.

180 sessions
The Synod’s sessions included four phases: before the Arminians appeared (sessions 1-21, Nov. 13 to Dec. 5); the examination of the Arminians (sessions 22-57, Dec. 6 to Jan. 14); the deliberations regarding the Arminians and the drafting of the Canons of Dordt (sessions 58-154, Jan. 14-May 9); and after the foreign delegates left (sessions 155-180, May 13-29).

Synod almost always met from Monday through Friday, and it met many Saturday mornings. Its morning sessions usually began at 9:00, with afternoon sessions beginning at 4:00 or 6:00. Synod did not meet during the days when the committee to draft the Canons was working, or other times when smaller groups of men were working to bring advice. It also recessed from December 22-26 for the Christmas holiday.

The official language (both spoken and written) of the synod was Latin. Though the delegates all had different native tongues, they all understood Latin; at the time, it was the language of the academics and scholars.

Formulating decisions
Our synods generally formulate decisions by assigning a committee of pre-advice to draw up recommendations, which are then presented to the entire synod for discussion and voting. The Synod of Dordt used a different method. Each of the nineteen delegations (all the delegates from a provincial synod, or from a foreign country) met individually to discuss the matters the Synod was facing, and to present written advice. The judgment of each delegation was read aloud on the floor of the Synod, discussion followed, and the Synod’s officers would then formulate the final version of the decision. The final version was adopted either by vote or by common consent; when it was adopted by vote, each delegation (not each delegate) received one vote.

Perhaps the Synod used this method because the States General (the national government) used it. Regardless, many of the delegates found this process cumbersome. At one point the Synod faced whether to change the method, but decided to keep it, after which the president exhorted members not to complain.

Although we might have had the same impatience regarding the speed with which the Synod worked, the Reformed churches reap the benefit centuries later. Careful deliberation, careful expression of the truth, careful rebutting of error, takes time. Had the Synod rushed, it is possible it would not have left us with as valuable a document as it did.

The Sessions of the Synod of Dordt, Week Nine: Sessions 49-56

Session 49: Monday, January 7 AM
Two Remonstrant ministers from Hoorn, in the province of North Holland, had been suspended from office. They appeared at Synod to appeal their suspension. Synod informed them that it would treat their case later.

President Bogerman continued to dictate to the delegates the questions that he desired to ask the Remonstrants regarding their view of predestination.

Session 50: Monday, January 7 PM
The minutes of some of the previous sessions were read so that corrections could be made if necessary.

The delegates from the provincial synods of Gelderland, South Holland, North Holland, Utrecht, and Overijsel were asked to draw up a report of how their provincial synods had dealt with the Remonstrants.

The Remonstrants had already handed in their reservations regarding the Belgic Confession and Heidelberg Catechism. Someone proposed having them also present in writing their reservations to the liturgical forms and the Church Order. This idea was not pursued further.

Session 51: Tuesday, January 8 AM
President Bogerman had collected various statements regarding predestination from Remonstrant writings. He presented these to Synod, asking the delegates to review them, to suggest additions or corrections, and to prepare to discuss them.

The Synod did not meet on January 9, at the request of the professors.

Session 52: Thursday, January 10 AM
The delegates concurred that Bogerman’s summary of the Remonstrant view of predestination faithfully expressed the Remonstrant’s opinions. Synod discussed whether to express the same points differently and more briefly. Synod reached no final decision.

Session 53: Thursday, January 10 PM
Synod decided that before it would respond to the teachings of the Remonstrants regarding predestination, it would write down summaries of their opinions regarding the other four points of doctrine.

The president wondered whether to call in the Remonstrants to hear their response to his formulation of their view. Not all were eager to proceed this way, because the Remonstrants had not cooperated earlier when asked to present their opinions. However, the body agreed to call them in the next day and to require them frankly to answer the Synod’s questions.

Session 54: Friday, January 11 AM
One of the Remonstrants, Isaac Fredericus, had not been at the Synod since the turn of the year. Especially for his sake, but also for that of all the Remonstrants, the States General delegation reminded them of the decision of the national government on January 1. They also reminded the Remonstrants how they were to conduct themselves while they were being examined. When President Bogerman began putting the Synod’s questions to them, they responded evasively and said that their intention was merely to refute error by Scripture and reason. When President Bogerman and the president of the States General delegation required them to come to the point, they retorted that the Synod was their enemy.

Session 55: Friday, January 11 PM
Synod discussed the (non)-answer that the Remonstrants had given it at the morning session. It decided no longer to ask the Remonstrants questions, but to judge their opinions from their writings, and it informed the Remonstrants of this. The Remonstrants were instructed to hand in their explanations regarding predestination by the following Monday.

Session 56: Saturday, January 12 AM
On December 19 (session 36) the Synod had ordered two Remonstrant ministers from Kampen to appear to answer allegations that they were preaching new doctrines. Two other Remonstrant ministers from Kampen were already at Synod, because they were among the thirteen men that Synod had summoned on November 15.

At session 56 the Synod read two letters from the magistrates in Kampen. In the first, the magistrates assured the Synod that they had been promoting the Contra-Remonstrant position. In the second they asked that Synod either permit the two ministers still in Kampen to remain in Kampen, or permit the two already at Synod to return. Synod did neither, but maintained its summons of the two ministers still in Kampen.

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

The Sessions of the Synod of Dordt, Week Eight: Sessions 44-48

Session 44: Monday, December 31 AM
Johannes Polyander, professor of theology from Leiden, preached on Isaiah 52:7. Meanwhile, the committee that was sent to The Hague to report to the national government fulfilled its mandate. The Synod did not meet on New Years Day 1619, but on that day the States General resolved to inform Synod that if the Remonstrants would not cooperate, their views should be judged from their writings.

Session 45: Wednesday, January 2 AM
Synod received a letter from the magistrates of Bommel, in Gelderland, requesting that Synod permit the Remonstrant minister from that city to return to preach and administer the Lord’s Supper. When Synod realized that there were other ministers in Bommel, and that the church there was not deprived of the lively preaching of the Word, Synod declined this request.

President Bogerman reminded the delegations to read the writings of the Remonstrants and prepare their objections to those writings.

In the afternoon, not as part of the official meeting, a committee wrote out the Remonstrant’s objections to some teachings of the Belgic Confession and Heidelberg Catechism, so that the synodical delegates could read them.

Session 46: Thursday, January 3 AM
The Remonstrants were called in to hear the report of the committee that visited the Hague. The States General required the Remonstrants to cooperate with the Synod and threatened them with penalties if they would not.

After the report was read, President Bogerman asked them several questions: Did the Five Articles of 1610 express their doctrinal convictions? Did they believe that the entire decree regarding predestination was that God would save those who persevered in faith-that He decreed nothing more than that? And did they believe that God elected believers as a category, rather than electing specific individuals to whom He would give faith?

Episcopius refused to answer, except to refer to the written statement that the Remonstrants had presented to Synod the previous Saturday. Each Remonstrant individually followed his lead. To give a further response, they said, would be to violate truth and their conscience. Finally Synod read that paper and asked them what they meant by certain words and statements. After giving evasive answers, they were dismissed.

By the way, two of the Remonstrants, Isaac Frederic and Henricus Leo, did not appear at this session. Leo was the minister from Bommel. So . . .

Session 47: Friday, January 4 AM
Synod summoned only Henricus Leo, and asked him the same questions that it asked the others the previous day. He answered more extensively than the others had, but also asserted his conviction that Synod had prejudged him.

That evening, not at an official session, some of the “graver and discreeter” members of Synod (to use the words of John Hales) held a private conference to discuss how best to proceed with questioning the Remonstrants. These agreed that the Remonstrants should be asked questions, but if they refused to answer Synod should take the answer from their writings.

Balthasar Lydius, minister of the church at Dordrecht, informed Synod that the Lord’s Supper would be administered in his church the next Lord’s Day, and that all delegates were welcome to partake. He asked only that they give prior notice to his consistory.

Session 48: Saturday, January 5 AM
President Bogerman informed Synod of some questions that he desired to ask the Remonstrants in order to draw out from them their convictions regarding predestination. The provincial synod of Gelderland had provided some past history of its dealings with the Remonstrants, and the clerks of the foreign delegations were asked to copy these for their delegations.

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

The Sessions of the Synod of Dordt (8) Week Seven: Sessions 39-43

Having recessed for the Christmas holiday, Synod resumed it sessions on Thursday.

Session 39: Thursday, December 27 AM
The Remonstrants provided in writing their reservations to some teachings of the Heidelberg Catechism. The delegates from the Palatinate (the region in which the Heidelberg Catechism was written) asked if they could be the first to see these objections of the Remonstrants, and present their response to Synod. This they were permitted to do.

President Bogerman then reminded the Remonstrants that they were only asked to defend their view, not to propose their opinions. Also, Synod was waiting for them to provide their positive views on the doctrine of election (see Session 34). The Remonstrants continued to insist that their doctrine of election was orthodox and that the primary issue the Synod had to treat was the statements of other men regarding reprobation. Synod was of a different mind: it intended to treat the matter of election before that of reprobation, convinced that the Remonstrants were not orthodox on that doctrine. So Synod was waiting for them to present their view of the Five Articles of the Remonstrants, and particularly of the First Article.

The Remonstrants hinted that they might leave the Synod and the city of Dordrecht if they could not express themselves as freely as they desired. The States General delegation admonished the Remonstrants and threatened them with civil penalties if they did not submit to the Synod, and several times in the ensuing days forbad them to leave the city without permission.

Session 40: Friday, December 28 AM
The Remonstrants sent a letter explaining why they could not comply with Synod’s order to treat the doctrine of election first. The States General delegation ordered the Remonstrants to appear and, when they did, again admonished them to obey. Bogerman also admonished them again for continuing to view themselves as part of a conference of equals rather than as those summoned to a synod that would judge them. When each Remonstrant was asked if a certain writing expressed his own sentiments, each refused to answer.

Session 41: Friday, December 28 PM
In a session closed to observers, Synod read the letter from the Remonstrants and discussed how to proceed. The Synod was of a mind that it had treated them no differently than it had told them it would. Yet it decided to bear with them longer and even to give them a little more freedom than it had. Each delegation was to prepare advice regarding how to proceed in dealing with the Remonstrants.

Session 42: Saturday, December 29 AM
Synod informed the Remonstrants of its response to their recent letter: it maintained its judgment that they must present in positive statements their views on election, before presenting their views on reprobation. The Remonstrants asked for time to consider the matter, and were given until that evening. Synod underscored that the Remonstrants had not been cooperating with it, and it read the judgments of the various foreign delegates regarding how to proceed with the Remonstrants.

Session 43: Saturday, December 29 PM
The Remonstrants presented their written response to the Synod’s decision. Their response was evasive; they did not answer Synod’s questions forthrightly. The Remonstrants said they were ready to give their opinions regarding election, and that in stating their opinions they would refute the position of the orthodox (the Contra-Remonstrants).

Synod responded that the Remonstrants had not answered their questions, and were continuing to be unsubmissive. At this session a consensus began to form that the Remonstrants would have to be dismissed so that Synod could judge the matter entirely from their writings.

The States General delegation prepared to send a committee to The Hague that weekend, so that on Monday it could update the government regarding what the Synod had accomplished so far and regarding the conduct of the Remonstrants. Informing the Remonstrants of this, the States General delegation forbad the Remonstrants to leave Dordrecht.

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

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-Wetteravia, 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.