Historical Forward to the Acts of the National Synod of Dordrecht (7)

Voice of Our Fathers, The

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

Click here to start at the beginning of the series.

The following summer, when the annual synod of the South Holland churches met in Delft, Uytenbogaert was admonished to give account to synod of the reasons he had sided with Arminius and had differed with the other ministers in giving advice concerning the manner in which the national synod would be convened. The intention was that synod would consider these reasons and pass judgment on them. Uytenbogaert answered that he was accountable only to the States and not to the synod. Having been requested to state what he had against the doctrine of the Confession and the Catechism, he answered that he was not prepared to do this and it did not appear advisable to do this in that gathering.

At this synod inquiry was also made whether according to the decision of the preceding synod any objections or comments concerning the Confession and the Catechism were handed to the classes. The delegates of each classis answered that almost all of the ministers in the classes had testified that they had no objections against the adopted doctrine and that those who had some objections had not been willing to make them known, either because they said they were not yet ready or they did not deem it advisable. On this account the synod again decided to order anew that without any excuses, refusals, and postponements they immediately reveal all their objections against the adopted doctrine, each in his own classis. It also became clear that among the people, to the great damage and disturbance of the churches, various disputes and arguments concerning the doctrine were heard. Yea, the beginnings of schisms were noticed.

It also became clear that among the people, to the great damage and disturbance of the churches, various disputes and arguments concerning the doctrine were heard. Yea, the beginnings of schisms were noticed.

Further, it became known that the ministers who sided with Arminius often held secret meetings in which they laid plans concerning the advancements of their doctrinal views. And it became plain that the people everywhere were becoming more and more divided. On this account the synod—judging that the remedy for this evil should no longer be postponed and that the hope of gaining a national synod was very uncertain on account of the divergence of advice and judgments—decided upon the advice of the delegates to request of the States of Holland and West Friesland that from the two South and North Holland synods a provincial synod be authorized at the first opportunity for the quieting and removal of these difficulties (as had been done before in similar difficulties). The deputies of both synods showed thoroughly these daily increasing difficulties to the States and requested the immediate convening of a provincial synod for their removal. Although on September 14 they had been given great hope, they were unable to obtain a provincial synod, because the States were busy with very important matters of the Republic, including negotiations for a truce with the enemy, they were unable to consider these ecclesiastical matters

(To be continued…)

Prof. Barry Gritters

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

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

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

Voice of Our Fathers, The

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

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

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

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

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

(To be continued…)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(To be continued…)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Historical Forward to the Acts of the National Synod of Dordrecht (3)

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

At first he [Jacobus Arminius] sought to free himself from all suspicion of strange doctrine by defending the doctrine of the Reformed churches concerning the satisfaction of Christ, justifying faith, justification through faith, the perseverance of true believers, the certainty of salvation, the imperfection of men in this life, and other chief points of doctrine, all of which he later contradicted and which his disciples oppose today in public disputations, contrary to his own views (as Johannes Arnoldi Corvenus openly admitted in a certain German document).

After serving in his office [at the University of Leiden] for a year or two, Arminius openly and secretly slandered many doctrines accepted in the Reformed churches and created suspicion among his pupils. He sought to render impotent the chief proofs by which these doctrines had been established from God’s word, using the same exceptions and subterfuges that the Jesuits, Socinians, and other enemies of the Reformed church had attempted to use, and Arminius exalted the proofs of the opposite doctrines. Moreover, to his students he secretly distributed his handwritten tracts in which he had incorporated his views. Besides, he recommended the writings of Castalio, Cornhert, Suarez, and such like writers to his pupils and spoke deprecatingly of the writings of Calvin, Beza, Martyr, Zanchius, Ursinus, and other outstanding teachers of the Reformed churches. Yea, he also openly testified that he had many insights and suspicions against the adopted doctrine that he would reveal in his own time.

Some preachers who associated with Arminius boasted that he had an entirely new theology. When his students came home from the academy or departed to other academies, they brazenly took doctrinal positions against the Reformed churches and disputed, contradicted, and criticized the Reformed doctrine. Noting these and other things and being rightly concerned that the orthodoxy of the Reformed doctrine was thus weakened, and that the youth, who were being trained in this “greenhouse” for the hope of the churches, were taken in by strange doctrines, and that this matter would ultimately burst forth to the great harm, disturbance, and detriment of the churches, the Holland churches deemed it necessary through their delegates (to whom the common care of the churches was entrusted) to take more careful note of this entire matter, so that at the next synod provisions could be made to prevent damage to the church. For this reason the South and North Holland church deputies went to Arminius and confronted him regarding rumors about him and his doctrine. They told him how much all the churches were concerned and in a friendly manner begged him uprightly to inform the brethren if he had anything to say concerning these adopted doctrines, in order that either he could be satisfied through a friendly conference or the whole matter could be brought to a lawful synod.

Arminius answered these deputies that he had never given just cause for such rumors and he did not deem it advisable to go into conference with them as deputies (if they would make a report of this to the synod). If they would put aside their capacity as deputies, he would not refuse to confer with them as private preachers concerning the doctrine, with the condition that if they did not agree they would not report that to the synod.

Since the deputies judged this to be improper and since such a conference would not free the churches of their concern, they parted ways with the matter unresolved. Nevertheless, the deputies understood from other professors of theology that among the students of theology various disputes and questions concerning predestination, free will, preservation of the saints, and other chief points of doctrine were being conducted with great seriousness, such as had not taken place among them prior to Arminius’s arrival.

On July 26, 1604 Arminius was also admonished by the church of Leiden, where he was a member. Two elders of that church—the honorable Phaedo van Brouckeroven, mayor of Leiden, and Paulus Merula, professor of history—admonished him to come to a friendly conference with his colleagues or fellow professors in the presence of the consistory of the church of Leiden to make known his disagreements with the adopted doctrine. The purpose of the conference was to bring out whether he would agree or not agree with his colleagues and other preachers and to specify the points of doctrine on which there was agreement or disagreement. Arminius answered the elders that he could not do such a thing without the consent of the honorable curators and that he did not see what profit the church would gain from such a conference.

Prof. Ron Cammenga

Prof. Ron Cammenga

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

Prof. Cammenga will be speaking on the Canons on Reprobation

Historical Forward to the Acts of the National Synod of Dordrecht (2)

Voice of Our Fathers, TheThe 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

The great unity during the preceding century among the congregations of the United Netherlands churches in all points of the pure doctrine and the good order and decency that were always maintained in the government of those churches are so well known in Christendom that it is hardly necessary to recount them at length.

Some men sought to disturb this peace and unity, which is lovely in the sight of God and pleasing to all the godly. These men, not fully purged of the leaven of the papacy, forsook the papacy, came to our churches, and were admitted to the ministry during the early period when there was a scarcity of preachers. These men, characterized by unbridled audacity, were Casper Coolhaas of Leiden, Hermannus Herbertz at Dordrecht and at Gouda, and Cornelius Wiggers at Hoorn. However, they did have great success. In the aforementioned places they gained some followers who were not too well versed in the Reformed religion. Nevertheless, the wicked audacity of these men was suppressed in due time by the authority of the government, the carefulness of other ministers, and appropriate censures of the churches. Coolhaas was dealt with in the national Synod of Middelburg; Herbertz in the Synod of South Holland; and Wiggers in the Synod of North Holland.

Thereafter Jacobus Arminius, preacher in the famous church of Amsterdam, boldly attempted the same thing. He had a keen understanding, but he delighted in novelty and seemed to be nauseated by the greater portion of the doctrines accepted in the Reformed churches, for no other reason than the churches’ acceptance of them. Arminius first openly and secretly prepared the way for his cause by belittling and blackening the name, fame, and authority of the most outstanding teachers of the Reformed church—Calvin, Zanchius, Beza, Martyr, and others—aiming to achieve respect for himself at the expense of their good names.

Thereafter he openly proposed and spread abroad various strange views that had great fellowship with the errors of the old Pelagians, especially his explanation of the epistle to the Romans. Through the carefulness and authority of the honorable consistory of the church of Amsterdam, his intention was partially frustrated and he could not bring about such upheavals in the churches as he apparently had intended.

He did not cease promulgating his opinions in every manner possible among the preachers in his own church and various other preachers, namely, Johannes Uytenbogaert, Adrianus van den Borre, and others, whose friendship and favor he had enjoyed as a fellow student. He even called into conference with regard to his views Franciscus Junius, the renowned professor of sacred theology at the college at Leiden.

When Doctor Junius was taken away from the Academy of Leiden by death on August 22, 1602, to the great sorrow of the Netherlands churches, Uytenbogaert, who already then supported the views of Arminius, diligently and earnestly recommended him to the honorable curators of the Academy of Leiden to replace Junius in the office of sacred theology. When the deputies of the churches understood this, they feared that calling a person so strongly suspected of strange doctrines would readily become the cause of confusion and schism in the churches, and they pleaded with the honorable curators not thoughtlessly to subject the churches to this danger. They would much prefer that the curators accept another capable person who was free from suspicion. They also admonished Uytenbogaert to withdraw his recommendation. Despising these admonitions, Uytenbogaert continued to promote this call until he gained his purpose.

When the call was issued, the consistory of Amsterdam did not approve the dismissal of Arminius chiefly because the most prudent among them considered that such a skittish and inquisitive mind would function with great danger in the academy that instructed the youth who had been accepted for the service of the churches. For in the academy there is more freedom of teaching than in the local churches, where that freedom is suppressed and held in check through the diligent oversight and authority of the consistory. Through repeated and numerous requests of the curators, Uytenbogaert, and Arminius himself, his dismissal was finally gained, with the condition that he would have a conference with Franciscus Gomarus concerning the chief points of doctrine. He was also required to clear himself of all suspicion of strange views by a forthright declaration of his views and firmly to promise that if he had a peculiar view not to spread it abroad.

This conference was conducted in the presence of the honorable curators and the deputies of the synod on May 6 and 7, 1603. In that conference Arminius testified that he expressly rejected the Pelagians’ chief points of doctrine concerning natural grace, the powers of the free will, original sin, the perfection of man in this life, predestination, and others. He testified also that he agreed with all that Augustine and other fathers had written against the Pelagians, yea, that he judged the Pelagian errors to have been rightly refuted and rejected by the fathers. Moreover, he promised to teach nothing that conflicted with the adopted doctrine of the churches. Thereafter he was admitted to the office of theology.

Historical Forward to the Acts of the National Synod of Dordrecht (1)

Voice of Our Fathers, TheThe 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

This historical foreword furnishes a firsthand and detailed account of the involved events of the years preceding the Synod of Dordrecht. It also furnishes an insight into the ecclesiastical and political maneuverings of the Remonstrants prior to the synod. The foreword was prefixed to the published Acts of the National Synod of Dordrecht. It is to be distinguished from the much briefer foreword adopted by the synod and prefixed to the Canons, which is not included in the common English versions of the Canons. For those interested in the church history leading up to the great synod, this foreword can be classified as a primary source.[1]

The author of the foreword is unknown, but it is evident that he had firsthand knowledge of the history, was probably a participant in many of the events, and had access to the records and documents. An educated guess would be that the author was Festus Hommius, one of the clerks of the synod.

Historical foreword addressed to the Reformed churches of Christ (in which the origin and progress of the differences in the Netherlands, for the removal of which this synod was chiefly convened, are briefly and faithfully recounted).

Two summers ago there was published in canons, or articles, the opinion of the honorable Synod of Dordrecht concerning some main points of doctrine about which, until the synod, there was disagreement that greatly disturbed the Netherlands churches. When the States General, the supreme authority of the United Provinces, convened the most illustrious synod, mainly for the purpose of removing these religious differences, the States at first thought it sufficient to publish only the judgment of the synod concerning the doctrinal differences. However, later when it was discovered that many had failed to learn from the synodical proceedings themselves what had taken place, besides the adoption of the canons, especially how the synod had dealt with the ministers called Remonstrants. Since the Remonstrants, to hide their stiff-neckedness, would surely not publish anything trustworthy concerning these matters, the States General for the benefit of the churches printed the acts and proceedings of the synod, faithfully reproduced from the public documents.

Among these acts and proceedings are many items belonging to the history of the Netherlands churches that cannot be understood by those who are unacquainted with that history. For this reason the national synod (as is evident in various sessions) appointed the delegates of the South Holland churches to write a brief account of what was done with the Remonstrants. Hence at the beginning of this foreword is an account of certain public events in order for the churches, especially the foreign churches, to understand the origin and the progress of these differences and the occasion and the reasons that at such great expense the States General convened this very excellent synod. This is especially necessary because the Remonstrants claimed in their writings many things that did not harmonize with the truth of the events.

[1] Donner and Van den Hoorn, Acta of Handelingen der Nationale Synode, v–xxxviii.

Key Dates

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1619, May 29: Synod adjourns.