The Sessions of the Synod of Dordt, Week Twelve: Sessions 68-72

Session 68: Monday, January 28 PM
Abraham Scultetus, professor of theology at Heidelberg University, emphasized the necessity and possibility of the child of God being assured of his election, and distinguished this true certainty from the Remonstrant idea of certainty.

Session 69: Tuesday, January 29 PM
Heinrich Altingius, another Heidelberg professor, turned the discussion from election to reprobation. He emphasized that God not the author of sin, that sin is rooted in and proceeds from the depravity of our nature, and that the hardening and blinding of sinners is an aspect of God’s work of judging sinners.

Session 70: Wednesday, January 30 PM
For the past two weeks Synod had been hearing the judgments of various delegates regarding the first point (election and reprobation). Considering Synod’s pace to be tedious, some delegates wondered aloud if Synod could do its work more quickly. Synod discussed the matter, and decided to proceed as it had originally intended–that is, it would not quicken its pace, but would examine each of the five points carefully before formulating its conclusions.

Session 71: Thursday, January 31 AM
President Bogerman presented the Synod with a proposed response to the second point of the Remonstrants, regarding the extent of Christ’s atoning work.

The Synod made an index of the writings of the Remonstrants regarding universal grace, so that the delegates could more easily find evidence of the Remonstrant position.

Session 72: Friday, February 1 PM
Walter Balcanqual, a member of the British delegation who represented the Scottish churches, explained that God’s intent in sending Christ to the death of the cross was not to save every human. He showed that the Remonstrant distinction “between the Acquisition of Redemption and the Appropriation or Application of it was groundless” (Brandt 3:215). The Remonstrants had argued that God sent Christ to make salvation possible for each and every, but that salvation was applied only to some. Balcanqual demonstrated that salvation was applied to the same group of people for whom Christ obtained it. After he was finished, George Cruciger, professor of theology at Marburg University spoke to the same point. No details of his speech are given; we presume he agreed with the orthodox view.

Several of the more recent sessions were evening sessions at which professors spoke about doctrinal points. These evening sessions began either at 4:00 or 6:00 P.M. At that time of day, at that time of year, in that place (Dordrecht, the Netherlands, latitude 51.8°N), it was dark. Hales said that the observers were not allowed to use candles (90), and Brandt related that Cruciger read his address by candlelight (3:215). Would we stay awake, sitting in church to hear a lecture or sermon, with such dim lighting?

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