The Sessions of the Synod of Dordt, Week Eleven: Sessions 64-67

Session 64: Monday, January 21 AM
The States General delegation had reported to the national government in The Hague regarding Bogerman’s dismissal of the Remonstrants on January 14. On January 18, the national government issued a resolution, which Synod now read. The national government had received clear evidence that the Remonstrants despised its authority and did not intend to obey it. The national government approved Synod’s decision to examine the Remonstrants by subjecting their writings to the light of God’s Word. It also repeated that the Remonstrants were not to leave the city of Dordrecht.

The previous week, two of the five Dutch professors of theology had given their judgments regarding the Remonstrant view of predestination and had explained certain texts. At this and following sessions, the other three Dutch professors would do so.

Antonius Thysius, professor from Harderwijk, gave his judgment regarding whether God’s determination to save believers is the entire decree of predestination, and whether faith is a condition to election or the fruit of election. The official record tells us only who spoke and what topic he addressed; it gives no further details about what he said. However, Brandt says, “These explanations were almost always diametrically opposed to the opinions of the Remonstrants” (3:206). The synod, and particularly the Dutch delegates, were orthodox men.

Synod attended Johannes Biesterveld’s funeral (see comments from the previous Friday, Session 63.)

Session 65: Tuesday, January 22 AM
The delegates all agreed that Christ is the foundation of election (Ephesians 1:4). But how is He this? On this point the delegates had differing views.

Gerard Brandt explains the two positions (3:208-209). Some, including Gomarus, said that God first decreed to choose some to everlasting life, then chose Christ as the way to accomplish this salvation: “God the Father alone was the Cause of Election, and Christ only the Executor of it” (3:204). Others, including Martinius of Bremen, considered that Christ was not only the Executor, but “in some sense the Author and Procuror of it” (3:208).

Synod took time to discuss this question. The record indicates that the discussion was heated.

Wednesday, January 23 (The synod did not meet in session this day. Brandt indicates that the foreign delegates met with Martinius regarding statements he had made the previous day).

Session 66: Thursday, January 24 PM
Professor Polyander (from Leiden) explained Philippians 4:3, Revelation 21:27, Luke 10:20, Romans 8:29, and 2 Timothy 2:19. After he was finished, Professor Walaeus (from Middelburg) explained Acts 13:48, Romans 9:11, and Romans 11:5.

Session 67: Friday, January 25 PM
Having heard from its five Dutch professors, Synod began to hear from the foreign delegates, beginning with the British delegates. John Davenant set forth his understanding of predestination, which accorded with the orthodox view. Then he explained and refuted some of the distinctions which the Remonstrants make regarding predestination, such as these: is it one decree, or more? Limited, or unlimited? Revocable and changeable, or irrevocable and unchangeable?

Next, Samuel Ward, another British delegate, spoke. He responded to the view of the Arminians that God’s only decree of election was to save believers, which view denied that God eternally appointed specific individuals to salvation. After he spoke, Professor Goclenius from Marburg (delegate from Hesse) addressed the synod. Concluding the session, Martinius again brought up his view of Christ as the foundation of election, desiring the Synod to answer the matter definitively. Gomarus, we are told, kept silent.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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