The Sessions of the Synod of Dordt, Week Twenty Four: Sessions 134-143

Session 134: Monday, April 22 AM
The previous week Synod had been discussing the proposed Conclusion to the Canons. At this session the States General delegation informed Synod that it approved this conclusion, and urged Synod to finish its work quickly. Synod then adopted the proposed Conclusion. The British delegates reminded Synod that they desired this conclusion to include more, but for the sake of peace and expediency they would not insist on it.

In the afternoon the drafting committee met to rework articles two and six in the Rejection of Errors section of the Second Head.

Session 135: Tuesday, April 23 AM
The First Head was again read, and all the delegations, both foreign and native, signed it. The changes that the drafting committee made to the Second Head were read; this included the removal of the entire sixth article that had been discussed.

Session 136: Tuesday, April 23 PM
The Second Head as revised, the last three Heads, and the section of the Conclusion in which the Synod rejected the blasphemous statements of others, were read and signed.

Session 137: Wednesday, April 24 AM
The drafting committee had asked someone to draft a proposed judgment that the Synod could pronounce on the Remonstrants. This draft was read. It called for the Remonstrants to be removed from their offices in the churches and universities. Most of the foreign delegations would not speak to the matter; they had been called to Synod to discuss doctrines, and thought it proper that only the Dutch should deal with persons. The Dutch delegates discussed whether this was a judgment they could pass, in light of the fact that the States General had authority over the minister’s offices. In the end Synod agreed to pass such a judgment, but decided to revise its wording.

Session 138: Wednesday, April 24 PM
The revision of the proposed judgment regarding the Remonstrants was read, and Synod adopted it. The States General delegation informed the Synod that it would report this adoption to the national government for its approval.

Session 139: Thursday, April 25 AM
Synod received the material relating to the case of John Maccovius. Maccovius, a strong defender of supralapsarianism, had been accused of heresy. The Classis of Franeker declared him guilty. He appealed to the Synod of Friesland, which forwarded the matter to the Synod of Dordt.

The introduction to the Canons was also read aloud. Most considered it too long and asked that it be revised.

Session 140: Thursday, April 25 PM
A revision of the proposed introduction to the Canons was read. [A new translation of this introduction is found in W. Robert Godfrey, Saving the Reformation: The Pastoral Theology of the Canons of Dort (Sanford, FL: Reformation Trust Publishing, 2019), 27-30.] Some delegates desired that the phrase regarding the Antichrist, referring to the Romish papacy, be further revised. Synod adopted the revised introduction.

Synod had finished its treatment of the Remonstrant errors. Some of the States General deputies were sent to The Hague to inform the national government what Synod had done.

Session 141: Friday, April 26 AM
Synod began reading the material pertaining to the case of John Maccovius, including the fifty charges that had been made against him.

Session 142: Friday, April 26 PM
Synod continued reading the material of the Maccovius case, including his response to the charges.

Session 143: Saturday, April 27 AM
Synod appointed a committee of three Dutch delegates and three foreign delegates to bring recommendations regarding the Maccovius case.

The French king had prevented the French delegation from coming to the Synod. Pierre du Moulin, a Reformed minister from Paris who had been one of the French delegates, sent Synod his own judgment regarding the five points. Synod received and read du Moulin’s paper at this session. This paper revealed that he was emphatically opposed to the Remonstrant theology. It was later published under the title The Anatomy of Arminianism.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Live Stream

All sessions of the Dordt400 conference will be live streamed on the sermon audio website for Trinity Protestant Reformed Church. That website is


There will be several artifacts on display at the Dordt400 conference. The seminary will have two old Bibles on display. Chuck Terpstra has some information on one of the Bibles on his blog. We anticipate having an early Latin edition of the Canons on display. There will also be some pictures and a wood carving on display.

In addition, conference-goers will be able to buy replicas of the medallions that were given to the delegates.

The Dort-400 Anniversary Limited Edition Medallion Set

A portion of the certificate of authenticity is quoted below.

As the deliberations were drawing to a close, the momentous significance of this Synod was beginning to dawn upon observers as well as the appointees.

So in commemoration of the event, two medallions were minted for the occasion. A gold penning was presented to the international delegates and silver to the domestic participants. The 17th Century artist is unknown.

The obverse side of the medal pictures what has become the iconic depiction of the great Synod itself meeting in the Great Hall of the Kleveneiersdoelen building. Circling the scene are the words, “Religione Asserta”—Defending Religion.

The reverse represents secure-eternal Mount Zion, with threatening winds of false doctrine beating down upon the church from all sides. Undeterred, pilgrims are faithfully making their journey up to the heavenly Jerusalem under the shining light of the Name of the Lord, etched in Hebrew. The circumference is imprinted with, “Erunt ut
mons Sion CIC IC CXIX” [ORN 1000+500+119]—They shall be as Mount Zion 1619, echoing Psalm 125:1.

Certificate of Authenticity The Dort-400 Anniversary Limited Edition Medallion Set

The Sessions of the Synod of Dordt: The Drafting Committee

The following information is gleaned from one main source: Donald Sinnema, “The Drafting of the Canons of Dordt: A Preliminary Survey of Early Drafts and Related Documents,” in Revisiting the Synod of Dordt (1618-1619), edited by Aza Goudriaan and Fred van Lieburg (Leiden: Brill, 2011): 291-311.

The committee that drafted the Canons worked from March 26 through April 15. Using President Bogerman’s proposed drafts of Heads 1 and 2 as its starting point (see sessions 125-128), the committee completed its first draft of Head 1 by Thursday, March 28. On that day, while the committee continued working, one of synod’s secretaries dictated the draft to a representative of each delegation. The first draft of Head 2 was similarly copied out on March 29, the draft of Heads 3 and 4 on April 4, and the draft of Head 5 on April 5.

Each delegation considered these drafts and sent their responses to the drafting committee. On the basis of these responses, the committee drew up its second draft, containing almost 200 changes to the first draft. The committee completely redrafted the second Head in light of concerns expressed by the British and Bremen delegations. On April 8-10, these amendments were dictated to a representative of each delegation. On Friday, April 12, the delegations gave their comments in the morning, and the drafting committee responded to them in the afternoon.

On Monday, April 15, the third draft was dictated, containing over 100 changes to the second. That afternoon all the delegates except the British signed this version of the Canons. The British would not sign before seeing a neat, finished copy.

Although this third draft was signed, it was not the final draft. A few editorial changes still needed to be made, and two articles in the Rejection of Errors of Head 2 needed to be changed. The committee would eventually entirely delete of these articles, and would revise the second article in the second Head’s Rejection of Errors.

When the synod reconvened on April 16 it began reading and discussing the Canons. On Friday, April 19, the committee made the final changes to the Canons and drafted the Conclusion to the Canons.

The Canons of Dordt have stood the test of time in Reformed churches: four hundred years later they are still taught and loved. One reason for this is the carefulness with which they were drafted. Another is that the Canons explicitly set forth the teachings of Scripture regarding the doctrines of sovereign grace. These teachings have not changed, and God’s sovereign grace is as wonderful and lovely today as it ever was!

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

Interviews on Iron Sharpens Iron Radio

Tomorrow, April 5 between 4 and 6 ET Rev. Stewart will be on Iron Sharpens Iron radio to talk with Chris Arnzen about the Canons as the original five points of Calvinism and about the doctrines of grace in Northern Ireland. Listen at

Yesterday, April 3, Prof. Kuiper and Prof. Engelsma were interviewed by Chris Arnzen. Prof. Kuiper discussed “The Doctrine of the Covenant in the Canons of Dordt,” and Prof. Engelsma spoke about “The Great War: What Led to the Synod of Dordt.” You can listen to that broadcast by clicking the link below.

The Sessions of the Synod of Dordt, Week Twenty: Session 128

Session 128: Monday, March 25 AM
The previous week President Bogerman had dictated his proposed draft of the first two heads of the Canons to a representative of each delegation. This representative copied Bogerman’s proposal and brought it to his delegation so that the delegations could discuss it.

By proposing a draft of the Canons, some thought Bogerman was taking too much authority to himself. The States-General delegation advised Synod to appoint a committee of several delegates to work with the president and his two assistants in drafting the Canons. Agreeing with this proposal, Synod formed a committee of nine. It included Bogerman and the two vice-presidents (Rolandus and Faukelius), three foreign delegates (Bishop Carleton from Great Britain, Jean Diodati from Geneva, and Abraham Scultetus from Heidelberg), and three Dutch delegates (Johannes Polyander, Antonius Walaeus, and Jacob Trigland).

This committee worked at least eight hours a day for over three weeks. While the committee met, Synod recessed; its next session would be held on April 16. Because of this, there will be no blog post next week. The following week the blog post will highlight some aspects of the work of the drafting committee.

On March 26 the Remonstrants informed the States-General by letter that they thought the Synod had wronged them, and asked permission to return home. The States-General denied their request. On the same day, the two Remonstrant ministers from Kampen submitted their written answer to the charges that Synod had leveled against them (see session 108).

March 31, 1619 was Easter Sunday . On that day the Remonstrants at Dordt gathered in a private house for a worship service that included the baptism of an infant. Some consider this date to mark the beginning of a Remonstrant church that was separate from the state Reformed church.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Synod of Dordt (8) Baptism

This blog submission is written by Prof. Douglas Kuiper. It is a republication of the article that appeared in Standard Bearer, March 15, 2019 (95.12.284).

During its sessions the Synod treated four distinct matters relating to the administration of the sacrament of baptism.

Baptism in the Dutch East Indies
Synod met during the Dutch Golden Age. The Dutch had established a merchant colony in the East Indies. Dutch families who moved there had adopted or enslaved some of the native children. At session 18 (December 1, 1618), the delegates from North Holland (the province from which ships were ready to sail) asked whether these children could be baptized if the ones bringing them for baptism promised to raise them according to the Christian faith.

On December 3 (session 19), Synod answered that baptism should be administered only to those children who have been instructed in the faith and have made profession of faith. Often the Dutch had not instructed these children: many of these children did not understand the Dutch language, and some Dutchmen may have been concerned more with their own earthly interests than with teaching the gospel to such children.

Baptism Form
An overture to Synod requested that it require consistency in the churches regarding how baptism is administered. The Dutch already had the Form for Infant Baptism that we use. Synod required the churches to use this Form (session 162, May 16, 1619). At the same session it also decided to draw up the Form to be used for adult baptism. This Form was adopted on May 25 (session 175). Synod expressed this same requirement that all Reformed churches use the same Form when it adopted its Church Order (Art. 58).

Baptism by non-Reformed ministers
What if one had been baptized by a Romish priest or an Anabaptist, and then came to the Reformed faith? Should such be baptized again?

At session 162 (May 16, 1619), Synod said that such baptisms must not be repeated if the baptism had the form and essence of Christian baptism. (Although the Acts does not spell this out, the point is that one was baptized with water, in the name of the Triune God.)

Baptism outside the public worship service
Synod also faced the question whether sick people may be baptized outside the public worship service, if they cannot come to the worship service. At session 163 (May 17), Synod answered in three points: 1) only in instances of “great need” could such baptisms be administered; 2) such administrations must be with the knowledge of and in presence of the consistory; and 3) only with advice of classis could such baptism be administered to a condemned criminal.