The Sessions of the Synod of Dordt, Week Fifteen: Sessions 82-90

Session 82: Monday, February 18 AM
The Remonstrants had submitted their written explanation regarding the five points of doctrine (sessions 76, 81). Synod read aloud the part from this document that regarded the first two points of doctrine.

Session 83: Monday, February 18 PM
The two ministers from Kampen whom Synod had summoned had sent letters explaining why they had not appeared (session 81). The States-General delegates declared them to be worthy of suspension from office. Most delegates agreed. The delegates from Bremen disagreed, preferring that Synod treat these ministers more gently.

Session 84: Tuesday, February 19 AM
Synod read the portion of the Remonstrant document that regarded the third and fourth points of doctrine.

Session 85: Tuesday, February 19 PM
Synod informed the church of Kampen of its decision that the two ministers should be suspended.

Synod continued its discussion of the third and fourth points of doctrine. The discussion and disagreement regarding the relation of man’s will to God’s grace (session 80) was renewed and was intense. The Bremen delegate Martinius had quoted from a renowned Heidelberg theologian in support of statements he had made, and other foreign delegates attempted to show that Martinius had misunderstood this theologian.

After this, the Dutch professors Gomarus and Thysius spoke regarding the third and fourth articles.

Session 86: Wednesday, February 20 AM
Synod read the part of the Remonstrant document that regarded the fifth point of doctrine.

Session 87: Wednesday, February 20 PM
Wolfgang Mayer, a Swiss theologian, spoke to the fifth point of doctrine. Every time he addressed the synod, he took off his cap and called it the “holy synod.”

Session 88: Thursday, February 21 AM
Synod read the Remonstrants’ defense of their position regarding the first article.

Session 89: Friday, February 22 AM
Synod read the statements from the Remonstrants regarding reprobation.

Session 90: Friday, February 22 PM
The Remonstrants disagreed with the doctrine of the preservation of the saints, and alleged that this doctrine implies that the child of God need not live a godly life. The five Dutch professors responded to this argument, showing that the preservation of saints does not diminish the need to pray or to guard against sin.

Douglas Kuiper, Professor of Church History and New Testament

Protestant Reformed Theological Seminary

The Sessions of the Synod of Dordt, Week Fourteen: Sessions 78-81

Session 78: Monday, February 11 PM
Synod discussed what effect the light of nature and the preaching of the gospel have on the unregenerate, and how God works conversion in humans in such a way that God may justly require us to believe and obey.

Session 79: Tuesday, February 12 AM
Sebastian Beck, professor at Basel University (Switzerland) responded to the Remonstrant position that God’s grace is resistible.

Synod discussed what to do with the 204-page document that the Remonstrants had given the States General delegates. Synod agreed that a committee should carefully examine it and inform Synod if it contained anything new.

Tuesday, February 12 PM
The afternoon was set aside for a committee meeting. The committee, consisting of one person from every delegation, was mandated to discuss how to proceed with the matter of the Remonstrant ministers from Kampen. Synod had earlier required these to appear. When the church in Kampen had asked Synod to change its mind, Synod had maintained its summons (sessions 36, 56, 62). Those summoned had not appeared, but sent others in their place with letters of explanation.

Session 80: Wednesday, February 13 PM
Synod focused on the Remonstrant teaching regarding the freedom of the human will and the grace necessary for conversion. Do humans play a role in our initial conversion? Does our will work with God’s grace?

We know that Synod expressed its final judgment on these matters in the Canons. This might lead us to think that Synod arrived at its conclusion easily. However, such was not the case. Balcanquahall and Brandt relate that some members of Synod, although agreeing that the Arminian teaching was wrong, disagreed on how best to state the truth. Even today at broader assemblies it can take time to express well the consensus of the majority.

Session 81: Friday, February 15 PM
Before the official session, the Remonstrants sent the States-General delegation a sixty-page document containing their explanation of the third, fourth, and fifth articles. Their explanation, however, did not include their defense of these articles, as it ought to have. The States-General delegation ordered them to supply this lack with haste. On the next day, the Remonstrants asked for ten extra days to finish this matter.

Past blog posts have noted that two delegates died while the Synod met (sessions 14, 63). A third–Meinert Idzerda, elder from Friesland–died during the Christmas break. At this session, six weeks later, his replacement, Taecke Aysma, appeared with his credentials. After taking the synodical oath, he was seated.

Johann Alstedius, professor at Herborn, spoke in opposition to the third and fourth articles of the Remonstrants, and in defense of irresistible grace. He called the Remonstrants Pelagians for their view of humans and of grace, and defended his position from Matthew 11:12.

President Bogerman informed the Synod that the Remonstrants had handed in their opinions regarding the last three articles, and that their documents would be read the following Monday.

Synod read the letters from the ministers of Kampen who did not appear at Synod, in which letters they gave their reasons. Many agreed that these man had flaunted Synod’s authority and deserved to be suspended from their office. However, Synod would give them one more chance to appear within fourteen days.

Many people were coming to Dordrecht to observe the Synod. They were disappointed that so many of the recent sessions had been private. Synod agreed that from this point forward, when it held private sessions, visitors could come into the public galleries, observe the Synod’s delegates take their seats, and stay through devotions. After that the visitors would have to leave while the Synod did its work.

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

The Sessions of the Synod of Dordt, Week Thirteen: Sessions 73-77

Session 73: Monday, February 4 AM
The delegates discussed writing three documents, but the Acts of the Synod tell us nothing more about their nature. Other sources (Hale, Brandt, and Sinnema) tell us that one was to be a brief explanation of the orthodox position regarding the five disputed points, and another was to be a brief refutation of the Remonstrant errors. Both were intended to inform the lay people. Not every delegate agreed that these writings should be composed; some thought the Synod should finish treating the Remonstrant error and render its official judgment before writing such documents. But Synod decided to proceed with composing them. Despite this decision, these two writings were never composed [Donald Sinnema, “The Canons of Dordt: From Judgment on Arminianism to Confessional Standard,” in Revisiting the Synod of Dordt (1618-1619), ed. Aza Goudriaan and Fred van Lieburg (Leiden: Brill, 2011), 319].

Synod also agreed to produce a summary of the Synod’s dealings with the Remonstrants, which document would be known as the “Acta Contracta.” Synod hoped this document could be finished quickly, but it was not completed until 1620.

And Synod appointed a committee to draft an answer to the objections of the Remonstrants to teachings of the Belgic Confession and Heidelberg Catechism.

Session 74: Tuesday, February 5 PM
The delegates discussed the Remonstrant view on the second point, regarding the nature, effectiveness, and extent of Christ’s atonement. The Remonstrant view was that Christ died to make salvation possible for every human. Three international delegates–John Davenant and Samuel Ward from Great Britian, and Matthias Martinius from Bremen–publicly expressed their judgment that the Remonstrants were correct regarding the extent of the atonement. The other British delegates disagreed with these three. As the British discussed the matter, they realized that they were interpreting differently the phrase in Article 31 of their confession, “The Thirty-Nine Articles of the Church of England,” which says that Christ died “for all the sins of the whole world.” This led them to ask President Bogerman to ignore their internal disagreement, and to seek advice from their ecclesiastical superior, the Archbishop of Canterbury. What advice he gave, I do not presently know.

Session 75: Wednesday, February 6 PM
Paul Steinius, delegate from Hesse, spoke regarding the irresistible character of God’s grace. This suggests that the Synod was beginning to consider the third and fourth points of the Remonstrants.

After Steinius was finished, the delegates continued to discuss the second point.

Session 76: Thursday, February 7 AM
Outside of the official session of Synod, the Remonstrants on this day delivered a book of over two hundred pages to the delegates from the national government. In it they defended their position regarding conditional election and reprobation, they explained Romans 9 in defense of their view, they opposed the orthodox teaching regarding election, and they presented their view regarding the second point of doctrine (the nature and extent of Christ’s atonement). In the preface, they 1) thanked the Synod for permitting them to defend their opinions according to their conscience; 2) noted that had Synod allowed them to do this earlier, Synod might have already finished its discussions; 3) asked for copies of any speeches given in opposition to their writing; 4) noted that they had obeyed the command to remain in Dordrecht, but now asked permission to leave; and 5) noted that they did not present their opinions regarding points three through five, but would do so within several more weeks.

The delegates from the States General reprimanded the Remonstrants for 1) passing censure on the Synod; 2) not bringing the entire document within the appointed time; 3) opposing the doctrines of the orthodox; and 4) being long-winded in their response.

In its official meeting, Synod continued and concluded its discussion on the second point, regarding the extent of Christ’s atonement. It also was informed that the Remonstrants had brought their opinions regarding the first two points of doctrine. Synod decided to treat this matter the following Monday.

Session 77: Friday, February 8 PM
Bogerman proposed a summary of the opinion of the Remonstants regarding the third and fourth points of doctrine.

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

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

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