Rev. Brian Huizinga

Rev. Brian Huizinga has been the pastor at Hope Protestant Reformed Church in Redlands California since 2011.  He is a graduate of the
Protestant Reformed Theological Seminary.  He and his wife Michelle have 5 children

Rev. Huizinga will be speaking on  The Polemics of the Canons

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

Historical Forward to the Acts of the National Synod of Dordrecht (30)

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

Click here to start at the beginning of the series. 

Meanwhile, the States General on June 25 sent letters to his Royal Majesty James I of Great Britain, to the deputies of the Reformed churches of France, to the illustrious Elector of the Palatinate and Brandenburg, to the most Illustrious Count of Hesse, to the four Reformed Republics of Switzerland (Zurich, Bern, Bazel, and Schaffhuizen), to the Dukes of the Wetterau, to the Republics of Geneva, Bremen, and Emden. In these letters they requested them to send to this synod some of their theologians who were outstanding in learning, godliness, and wisdom, who with their counsel and judgment, along with the delegates of the Netherlands churches, could diligently labor to still the differences that had arisen in these Netherlands churches to bring peace again to those churches. When all of this was thoroughly arranged and accomplished, at the set time the delegates of the Netherlands churches and the foreign theologians, with few exceptions, arrived at Dordrecht and the national synod was begun in the name of the Lord on November 13.

“When all of this was thoroughly arranged and accomplished…the national synod was begun in the name of the Lord on November 13.”

What was treated in this synod the understanding reader will learn in detail from the Acts and Proceedings of Synod that are published for the benefit and advantage of the Reformed churches. Added to these Acts, besides other documents submitted to this synod, are the opinions of all the theologians concerning the five articles of the Remonstrance as they had been presented to the synod in order for the Reformed churches more clearly to understand on which scriptural passages and reasons the Canons are based. There is no doubt that the understanding reader will discover in these opinions an altogether wonderful and complete agreement. In case it might appear to anyone that in certain less important things a degree of diversity arose, this will be a proof that in this gathering there was the proper freedom of prophecy and judgment, and that nevertheless they all together with united voice agreed in the doctrine expressed in the Canons, which were subscribed to by everyone, not one being excepted or objecting, for a testimony of unity.

Finally, all Reformed churches are begged to embrace, preserve, advance, and pass on to their descendants this orthodox doctrine, so solemnly declared and established from God’s word in this synod, to the honor of God and to the comfort and salvation of souls.

“Finally, all Reformed churches are begged to embrace, preserve, advance, and pass on to their descendants this orthodox doctrine, so solemnly declared and established from God’s word in this synod, to the honor of God and to the comfort and salvation of souls.”

At the same time they are asked to hold in esteem the godly and never sufficiently praised zeal and diligence of the States General of the United Netherlands for the preservation of the purity and soundness of the Reformed religion, as well as the labor and blessedness of so many outstanding teachers of the churches who were present at this synod to stand for this doctrine and to be favorable toward it. Above all they are asked earnestly to pray the good and almighty God that he will mercifully preserve the Netherlands churches and all others who with them confess the same sound doctrine in unity of the faith, of peace, and of rest, and that he will impart to the Remonstrants and to all others who are in error, better senses and understanding, and by the grace of his Spirit bring them at last to the knowledge of the truth, to the honor of his divine name, to the edification of the churches, and to the salvation of us all, through our Lord and savior Jesus Christ, to whom with the Father and the Holy Ghost, the one true and immortal God, be praise, honor, and glory forever. Amen.

Historical Forward to the Acts of the National Synod of Dordrecht (29)

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

Click here to start at the beginning of the series. 

Meanwhile the States General, after they had often ordered especially those of Utrecht to dismiss the new soldiers, or city militia, who had been engaged for the purpose of hindering by armed force the execution of the resolutions of the coming national synod, in case the Remonstrants could not approve the resolutions, rejected and dismissed the thousands of militia. After his Excellency the Prince of Orange accomplished this with unbelievable bravery, caution, dexterity, and skill, without any bloodshed, and imprisoned the foremost of them who by force opposed or prevented this dismissal, Johannes Uytenbogaert, Jacobus Taurinus, and Adolphus Venator, being aware of danger and forsaking their churches, fled from the United Netherlands. A short time afterward Nicolaus Grevinchovius, having been cited by the court of Holland to answer for the same thing, also fled.

When the particular synod gathered in September in Delft, South Holland, many Remonstrants, despising the previous resolution of the States, refused to delegate anyone to the synod. Instead, by petition they besought the States of Holland and West Friesland on September 13 that instead of the national synod that had been authorized, to convene another gathering according to the same twelve conditions that those who had been cited also proposed in the national synod. The States, having heard the advice of the synod of Delft concerning this request (which is also in these Acts), ordered the synod to obey the appointed order and the command of the States and besides, fully to declare in writing their views concerning the articles presented in 1613 at the Delft Conference to the synod of Delft and all their accusations against the Confession and the Catechism. They delivered the declaration of their views concerning the aforementioned articles. This was translated into Latin by the delegates of this synod and shortly afterward was forwarded to the national synod. Instead of accusations against the Confession and the Catechism, the synod sent quotations from writings that conflicted with the Confession and the Catechism.

Johannes Uytenbogaert and Nicolaus Grevinchovius were cited before this synod. When the one, being a fugitive, did not dare to appear and the other stubbornly refused to appear, they were both deposed from ecclesiastical office by the sentence of the synod after it had heard and investigated the accusations brought against them. Because there were some who had been forced upon the churches, contrary to their desires and without lawful calling, during these disunities, some who had scattered abroad Socinian errors in addition to the five articles, some who had grievously offended the churches with evil and disorderly actions, and some who led evil lives, it was judged necessary to purge the churches of these offenses, to reestablish the neglected discipline of the ministry of the churches (cleri), and to summon all those irregular ministers to give accountof their calling, doctrine, and lives. It was further judged that this must be done before the national synod was held, in order that if anyone had felt aggrieved by the sentence of this synod, he could appeal to the judgment of the national synod.

“…it was judged necessary to purge the churches of these offenses, to reestablish the neglected discipline of the ministry of the churches (cleri), and to summon all those irregular ministers to give account of their calling, doctrine, and lives.

Among these were some who appeared and, after proper investigation of their cases, were suspended from office, while others were immediately deposed. But of those who because of the brevity of time could not be cited or heard or who, having been cited, did not appear, five ministers were appointed, to whom the States added their deputies, to hear and judge their cases in the name of the synod. These deputies were expressly mandated to exercise no censure over anyone on account of his views of the five articles, since the judgment of these must be entirely reserved for the national synod. Although they partly suspended and partly immediately deposed many in various places on account of the aforesaid and very weighty reasons, they never exercised censure on anyone on account of his views of the five articles, even during the national synod, as can be clearly proven from the minutes.

In North Holland they acted similarly in the synod of Hoorn, in which the ministers of Hoorn, Johannes Valesius, Johannes Rodingius, and Isaacus Welsingius, being suspended from the office of minister, appealed to the national synod. When the deputies of this synod and the commissioners of the States in the classis of Alkmaar investigated the cases of Johannes Geystranus, minister of Alkmaar, and of his brother Petrus Geystranus, minister at Edmond, they were found to be entirely committed to the blasphemous and accursed errors of Socinus, as appears from their confessions, which to the horror of all were openly read in the national synod and is included in the Acts.

The synod of Overijsel ordered some of the Remonstrants to give account of their doctrine and their actions. Among them were the four ministers of the church of Kampen,Thomas Goswinius, Assueris Matthisius, Johannes Schotlerus, and especially Emerardus Vosculius, who were accused of many errors and of various disorderly actions. After the synod investigated the case it decided to forward it to the national synod. Accordingly it was afterward brought to that synod.

(To be continued…)

Historical Forward to the Acts of the National Synod of Dordrecht (28)

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

Click here to start at the beginning of the series. 

When these letters were received, the States of each province convened the provincial or particular synods of their churches, which received the objections that would be brought to the national synod and delegated by common vote of the churches the persons who would be sent there with their mandates and instructions. These things took place in every province according to the manner that had been followed in these Reformed churches, with the exception of Holland and the Bishopric of Utrecht. Because of the great number of Remonstrants there, the ordinary procedure could not be followed in all things. Because in some classes of Holland there were separations, and the Remonstrants held separate classical meetings, the States of Holland thought that the classes in which there were no separations, according to the manner previously followed, should delegate by majority vote four men to send to the particular synod with regular power. To avoid confusion in the classes with separations both sides would delegate two men to be sent to the particular synod with equal power. In the Bishopric of Utrecht the churches were not divided into various classes. The States of that province thought that all the Remonstrants should gather separately in a synod, that the ministers who did not follow the Remonstrants’ views, of whom there were a goodly number, should gather in another synod, and that from each synod and each party three men with the power to judge should be delegated to the national synod. However, since the church of Utrecht was divided into parties, one of which followed the Remonstrants’ views and the other rejected their views and recently had been delivered from the oppression of the Remonstrants, it was not provided with ordinary ministers but was being served by Johannes Dibetz, minister of Dordrecht. Therefore he was lawfully delegated by the other synod in the name of the Utrecht churches that did not follow the Remonstrants.

When the synod of the churches of Gelderlandand of Zutphen gathered in Arnhem on June 25, the Remonstrants who were delegated from the classis of Bommel did not want to sit with the others unless certain conditions were promised to them beforehand, conditions that the synod judged to be in conflict with the resolution of the States. Because before this time the Remonstrants of the classes of Nijmegen, Bommel, and Tiel had delivered to the States of Gelderland and to the honorable court their ten articles that they said the other ministers taught, they were mandated to name openly those preachers who taught these things, in order to hail them before the synod and lawfully to determine whether this was true. For it was known that the Remonstrants had slanderously fabricated these articles against the Reformed ministers in order to make the government hate these articles. However, they could mention no one in the entire province besides the minister of Hattem, who had abundantly cleared himself in the classis. When the synod nevertheless wanted to hail him and to hear him, the Remonstrants no longer persisted. Henricus Arnoldi, minister at Delft,who was present there in the name of the South Holland churches, also declared that there was no one in South Holland who taught or agreed with the aforesaid articles.On this account the synod earnestly rebuked the Remonstrants for these grievous slanders and at once declared that the churches of Gelderland did not accept or support the doctrine comprehended in those articles as they had proposed them, although there were certain clauses in them that in themselves and taken in a proper sense could not be rejected.

The Remonstrants at last acknowledged their guilt concerning these unjust slanders and begged forgiveness. Then in the same synod the differences between the Remonstrants and the other ministers were described, and this was later passed on to the national synod. Since in that province many ministers were suspected of many other errors besides the five articles of the Remonstrance, such as being unlawfully inducted into the ministry and leading a scandalous life, some of these ministers were hailed before the synod. For these reasons (but in no wise on account of their views of the five articles, which were reserved for the national synod) they were suspended from the ministry. The cases of others were committed to certain delegates in the name of the synod, to whom the States also added their commissioners. After they fully investigated the cases of those men in the classes, they suspended some and at once deposed others from the ministry.

(To be continued…)

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

Historical Forward to the Acts of the National Synod of Dordrecht (27)

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

Click here to start at the beginning of the series. 

By subterfuge and quibbling [the Remonstrants] delayed for some time the sending of the letters and the postponing of the appointed day for the convening of the synod.

Meanwhile, Lord Dudley Carleton complained in the assembly of the States General that the honor of the king of Great Britain, his master, had been scandalously and shamelessly ridiculed in the dishonorable pamphlet Weegschaal that the Remonstrants, even after the edict of the States General, had translated and printed in French. After a brief and pertinent refutation of many Remonstrant objections, he made known to the States what method and manner his Royal Majesty of Great Britain was accustomed to use in the resolving of differences concerning religion or doctrine. Since this agreed with the resolution of the States General, the States were more and more confirmed in this holy purpose. Also the magistrates of the city of Amsterdam, having previously consulted with the ministers of that church and with others called together for this purpose, presented in writing in the gathering of the States of Holland and West Friesland on March 23, many and very weighty reasons by which it was plainly proved that these differences could at this time be resolved and laid to rest in no other way than by a national synod. At the same time they furnished a very basic answer to all the objections of the Remonstrants and all their proposals concerning a general synod. Shortly thereafter the magistrates of the city of Enkhuizen confirmed this with many reasons that were put in writing and delivered in the Apology of the Cities of Dordrecht, Amsterdam, Enkhuizen, etc. (104, 113). These reasons were later printed on March 27 so everyone would know how improperly the Remonstrants and their supporters had acted when they opposed so perversely with their new proposals the convening of the national synod and when they had sought to escape the judgment of such a national synod.

The States General, judging that this highly necessary matter, already decided for very proper and weighty reasons, ought to be postponed no longer by such proposals and subterfuges. The States decided anew that the convening of the national synod should take place immediately, without any postponement and delay. And they ordered that the meeting place would be the city of Dordrecht and the day, the first of November next.

“The States decided anew that the convening of the national synod should take place immediately, without any postponement and delay.”

When men loyal to the Remonstrants’ cause among the States of Holland and West Friesland opposed this resolution in the gathering of the States General and complained that thereby the dignity, right, and freedom of their provinces were being abridged, the States General declared in a public act that by this authorizing of the national synod they did not desire to abridge or belittle in any way the dignity, right, and freedom of any province. On the contrary, it was their upright intention, without any prejudgment of any province, and that of the union, or confederation itself, through the ordinary judgment of the national synod lawfully to resolve only the ecclesiastical differences that had arisen concerning the doctrine, to God’s honor and the peace of the Republic, since these differences concerned all the Netherlands Reformed churches.

Thereafter the States General wrote to the States of every province and declared their purpose in the name of the Lord to authorize from all the churches of these provinces a national synod on the first of November next, in order lawfully to investigate the differences that had arisen in those churches and to resolve them in a proper manner (always maintaining the truth). And they exhorted the States of every province immediately to convene in their province, according to custom, a provincial synod from which six godly and learned men or three capable men who confessed the Reformed religion could be delegated. These men would receive a copy of the conditions, would investigate these differences at the national synod, and would remove these differences to preserve the truth. The States General also sent letters of similar content to the French churches in the Netherlands, which had been accustomed to have holding their own particular synod because the churches were spread throughout all the provinces.

(To be continued…)

Historical Forward to the Acts of the National Synod of Dordrecht (26)

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

Click here to start at the beginning of the series. 

Thus the disunities of the Remonstrants would have brought these most flourishing provinces into danger of an internal and civil war unless the States General, through their singular carefulness, and his Excellency the Prince of Orange, through his never sufficiently praised watchfulness and bravery, had in a timely manner stamped out and suppressed this delirious madness. The States General saw how the provinces and churches were in the great danger, and they decided not to postpone the convening of the national synod any longer, but to promote it at the earliest moment—the more so since the illustrious Lord Dudley Carleton, ambassador of the royal court of Great Britain, on October 6 had alerted the States by an excellent and careful address, which the Remonstrants did not respect but publicly and shamelessly slandered with a pamphlet titled Weegschaal. No one, regardless of his position—even the States General, the Prince of Orange, and the Royal Majesty of Great Britain—was excluded from the insults and ridicule of their slanderous tongues. This pamphlet the States General condemned in a public edict as dishonorable and seditious, and they posted a liberal reward for anyone who would identify the author.

Later Johannes Casimirus Junius, son of the renowned Franciscus Junius, thoroughly refuted this pamphlet.

“The States General saw how the provinces and churches were in the great danger, and they decided not to postpone the convening of the national synod any longer…”

On December 11 the States General ordered the convening of the national synod to be held in the name of the Lord on May 1 of the following year. At the same time they proposed some rules according to which the national synod would be authorized and held. Since the Remonstrants did not think much of the judgment of the Netherlands churches, and constantly attempted to convince the people that their views were no different from the Reformed churches, the States General invited theologians—outstanding in godliness, learning, and wisdom—from all Reformed churches in neighboring lands, principalities, and republics to support the delegates of the Netherlands churches with their judgments and counsel. Thus these differences could be investigated and judged by a common judgment of all Reformed churches and laid to rest more certainly, expeditiously, firmly, and with great joy.

This resolution was adopted in 1618, and the Remonstrants raged marvelously. Through various other measures, schemes, and workingthrough those who were loyal to their cause, the Remonstrants tried to upset itand to make it useless. In Holland, through those favorable to them, theyrequested a provincial synod, which a little while before they had greatlyabhorred. Because the calling of foreign theologians to the national synod hadbeen proposed, the Remonstrants thought the foreign theologians should also becalled to the provincial synod, if men would approve this. But the answer wasgiven that formerly the Holland churches had requested a provincial synod whenthere appeared to be no hope of gaining a national synod and when thedifferences were confined to the Holland churches. Since the convening of anational synod had been decided and the evil had spread throughout all theprovinces and could not be removed by the synod of one province, it was unreasonableto consider a provincial synod at this time for the resolving of thesedifferences. Further, it was pointed out that as in every separate provinceparticular synods must precede the national synod, so also in South and NorthHolland, particular synods would precede.

“…the Remonstrants raged marvelously.”

The Remonstrants through their leaders nevertheless bravely persisted in this and pressed for such a synod. They did this either because they thought their cause would be less of a hindrance in the eyes of the provincial synod, since many of the regents and ministers in Holland were loyal to them, or because they wanted to prevent through such subterfuges the convening of the national synod altogether.

When they saw that their request was so improper that they would not easily convince anyone of it, they took refuge in a new measure. They desired that this case be brought to an ecumenical synod, that is, to a general synod of all churches. The answer was given to them that it was very uncertain whether and when an ecumenical synod would be able to be called. Besides, the current ills required an immediate remedy, and the authorized national synod would be like a general synod, since delegates from most of the Reformed churches would be present. If the Remonstrants thought they had been aggrieved by the judgment of such a synod, it would be permissible and justified for them to appeal from the national synod to an ecumenical synod, provided they were meanwhile willing to submit to the judgment of the national synod

(To be continued…)