The Sessions of the Synod of Dordt, Week Twenty Four: Sessions 134-143

Session 134: Monday, April 22 AM
The previous week Synod had been discussing the proposed Conclusion to the Canons. At this session the States General delegation informed Synod that it approved this conclusion, and urged Synod to finish its work quickly. Synod then adopted the proposed Conclusion. The British delegates reminded Synod that they desired this conclusion to include more, but for the sake of peace and expediency they would not insist on it.

In the afternoon the drafting committee met to rework articles two and six in the Rejection of Errors section of the Second Head.

Session 135: Tuesday, April 23 AM
The First Head was again read, and all the delegations, both foreign and native, signed it. The changes that the drafting committee made to the Second Head were read; this included the removal of the entire sixth article that had been discussed.

Session 136: Tuesday, April 23 PM
The Second Head as revised, the last three Heads, and the section of the Conclusion in which the Synod rejected the blasphemous statements of others, were read and signed.

Session 137: Wednesday, April 24 AM
The drafting committee had asked someone to draft a proposed judgment that the Synod could pronounce on the Remonstrants. This draft was read. It called for the Remonstrants to be removed from their offices in the churches and universities. Most of the foreign delegations would not speak to the matter; they had been called to Synod to discuss doctrines, and thought it proper that only the Dutch should deal with persons. The Dutch delegates discussed whether this was a judgment they could pass, in light of the fact that the States General had authority over the minister’s offices. In the end Synod agreed to pass such a judgment, but decided to revise its wording.

Session 138: Wednesday, April 24 PM
The revision of the proposed judgment regarding the Remonstrants was read, and Synod adopted it. The States General delegation informed the Synod that it would report this adoption to the national government for its approval.

Session 139: Thursday, April 25 AM
Synod received the material relating to the case of John Maccovius. Maccovius, a strong defender of supralapsarianism, had been accused of heresy. The Classis of Franeker declared him guilty. He appealed to the Synod of Friesland, which forwarded the matter to the Synod of Dordt.

The introduction to the Canons was also read aloud. Most considered it too long and asked that it be revised.

Session 140: Thursday, April 25 PM
A revision of the proposed introduction to the Canons was read. [A new translation of this introduction is found in W. Robert Godfrey, Saving the Reformation: The Pastoral Theology of the Canons of Dort (Sanford, FL: Reformation Trust Publishing, 2019), 27-30.] Some delegates desired that the phrase regarding the Antichrist, referring to the Romish papacy, be further revised. Synod adopted the revised introduction.

Synod had finished its treatment of the Remonstrant errors. Some of the States General deputies were sent to The Hague to inform the national government what Synod had done.

Session 141: Friday, April 26 AM
Synod began reading the material pertaining to the case of John Maccovius, including the fifty charges that had been made against him.

Session 142: Friday, April 26 PM
Synod continued reading the material of the Maccovius case, including his response to the charges.

Session 143: Saturday, April 27 AM
Synod appointed a committee of three Dutch delegates and three foreign delegates to bring recommendations regarding the Maccovius case.

The French king had prevented the French delegation from coming to the Synod. Pierre du Moulin, a Reformed minister from Paris who had been one of the French delegates, sent Synod his own judgment regarding the five points. Synod received and read du Moulin’s paper at this session. This paper revealed that he was emphatically opposed to the Remonstrant theology. It was later published under the title The Anatomy of Arminianism.

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

The Sessions of the Synod of Dordt, Week Twenty-Three: Sessions 129-133

Session 129: Tuesday, April 16 AM
Synod had not met as a body since March 25, when it appointed a committee to draft the Canons. At its 129th session the delegates heard the first Head, including its Rejection of Errors, read aloud. Every delegate agreed that the doctrine contained in it conformed to Scripture and the Reformed confessions. Then the second Head was read. It soon became apparent that some delegates desired to discuss this at length.

Session 130: Thursday, April 18 AM
Synod discussed the second Head at length. Some delegates commented on article eight of the positive section, and articles two and six in the Rejection of Errors. Synod approved the substance of the second Head, but agreed to make some further revisions. Because of these further revisions, the entire sixth article of the Rejection of Errors that was in the version that the delegates were discussing is not found in the final version of the Canons (see session 135).

Session 131: Thursday, April 18 PM
The delegates heard the third and fourth Heads read. All agreed that the doctrine and its articulation were proper; only minor editorial changes were necessary. When Synod heard the fifth Head, all agreed to it.

The delegates from Great Britain thought it good to add a section opposing some slanderous expressions of the Remonstrants and Roman Catholics. President Bogerman suggested that in addition, a preface and conclusion should be written.

Session 132: Friday, April 19 AM
[Note: the Acts of the Synod say that this and the following session were held on Friday. The letters of Walter Balcanquahall, a British delegate, put the date for both sessions as Saturday the 20th. Donald Sinnema, who has done specialized work on the Synod, takes the view that the dates of the Acts are incorrect, and says that the drafting committee met on the 19th to draft the Conclusion to the Canons.]

The proposed Conclusion to the Canons, including statements opposing the slanders of the Remonstrants and Roman Catholics against orthodox Reformed teaching, was read. The delegates from Great Britain, Hesse, and Bremen asked the Synod to expand this section so that it would repudiate even more slanderous statements, as well as some harsh statements made by orthodox men. The drafting committee reworked its draft.

Session 133: Friday, April 19 PM
The second draft of the Conclusion and its rejection of slanderous statements was read. Although the section regarding slanderous statements was enlarged from the first draft, none of the additions included those that the British, Hessian, and Bremen delegates had desired. The reason for not including these was that the expressions and statements that these delegations desired to be expressly rejected had not been used by any Dutch theologians, but by English, French, and German theologians. The British again asked that more expressions be repudiated; however, the majority of the Synod was content with the statements as proposed. The Synod then recessed, allowing the delegation from the States-General to review this part of the Canons over the weekend.

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

The Sessions of the Synod of Dordt: The Drafting Committee

The following information is gleaned from one main source: Donald Sinnema, “The Drafting of the Canons of Dordt: A Preliminary Survey of Early Drafts and Related Documents,” in Revisiting the Synod of Dordt (1618-1619), edited by Aza Goudriaan and Fred van Lieburg (Leiden: Brill, 2011): 291-311.

The committee that drafted the Canons worked from March 26 through April 15. Using President Bogerman’s proposed drafts of Heads 1 and 2 as its starting point (see sessions 125-128), the committee completed its first draft of Head 1 by Thursday, March 28. On that day, while the committee continued working, one of synod’s secretaries dictated the draft to a representative of each delegation. The first draft of Head 2 was similarly copied out on March 29, the draft of Heads 3 and 4 on April 4, and the draft of Head 5 on April 5.

Each delegation considered these drafts and sent their responses to the drafting committee. On the basis of these responses, the committee drew up its second draft, containing almost 200 changes to the first draft. The committee completely redrafted the second Head in light of concerns expressed by the British and Bremen delegations. On April 8-10, these amendments were dictated to a representative of each delegation. On Friday, April 12, the delegations gave their comments in the morning, and the drafting committee responded to them in the afternoon.

On Monday, April 15, the third draft was dictated, containing over 100 changes to the second. That afternoon all the delegates except the British signed this version of the Canons. The British would not sign before seeing a neat, finished copy.

Although this third draft was signed, it was not the final draft. A few editorial changes still needed to be made, and two articles in the Rejection of Errors of Head 2 needed to be changed. The committee would eventually entirely delete of these articles, and would revise the second article in the second Head’s Rejection of Errors.

When the synod reconvened on April 16 it began reading and discussing the Canons. On Friday, April 19, the committee made the final changes to the Canons and drafted the Conclusion to the Canons.

The Canons of Dordt have stood the test of time in Reformed churches: four hundred years later they are still taught and loved. One reason for this is the carefulness with which they were drafted. Another is that the Canons explicitly set forth the teachings of Scripture regarding the doctrines of sovereign grace. These teachings have not changed, and God’s sovereign grace is as wonderful and lovely today as it ever was!

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

The Sessions of the Synod of Dordt, Week Twenty: Session 128

Session 128: Monday, March 25 AM
The previous week President Bogerman had dictated his proposed draft of the first two heads of the Canons to a representative of each delegation. This representative copied Bogerman’s proposal and brought it to his delegation so that the delegations could discuss it.

By proposing a draft of the Canons, some thought Bogerman was taking too much authority to himself. The States-General delegation advised Synod to appoint a committee of several delegates to work with the president and his two assistants in drafting the Canons. Agreeing with this proposal, Synod formed a committee of nine. It included Bogerman and the two vice-presidents (Rolandus and Faukelius), three foreign delegates (Bishop Carleton from Great Britain, Jean Diodati from Geneva, and Abraham Scultetus from Heidelberg), and three Dutch delegates (Johannes Polyander, Antonius Walaeus, and Jacob Trigland).

This committee worked at least eight hours a day for over three weeks. While the committee met, Synod recessed; its next session would be held on April 16. Because of this, there will be no blog post next week. The following week the blog post will highlight some aspects of the work of the drafting committee.

On March 26 the Remonstrants informed the States-General by letter that they thought the Synod had wronged them, and asked permission to return home. The States-General denied their request. On the same day, the two Remonstrant ministers from Kampen submitted their written answer to the charges that Synod had leveled against them (see session 108).

March 31, 1619 was Easter Sunday . On that day the Remonstrants at Dordt gathered in a private house for a worship service that included the baptism of an infant. Some consider this date to mark the beginning of a Remonstrant church that was separate from the state Reformed church.

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

The Sessions of the Synod of Dordt, Week Nineteen: Sessions 118-127

Session 118: Monday, March 18 AM
The Synod of Dordt had been in session for four full months. Due to sickness and other circumstances, the delegates from Brandenburg had never arrived (see session 3). At session 118, Synod received a letter from the Marquis of Brandenberg explaining the absence of his delegates. Convinced that Synod’s response to the Remonstrants would conform to the Reformed confessions, the Marquis asked Synod to send him its final judgment so that the clergy in his realm might sign it. The Acts of Synod do not indicate how Synod responded to this letter.

Synod continued to read the judgments of the various delegations regarding the third and fourth articles of the Remonstrants. At this session Synod read the judgments of the delegates from South Holland, North Holland, Zeeland, and Utrecht.

Session 119: Monday, March 18 PM
Synod concluded reading the judgments regarding the third and fourth articles. The judgments of the delegations from Friesland, Overijsel, Groningen, Drenthe, and the Walloon churches were read.

Session 120: Tuesday, March 19 AM
Synod read the judgments of the delegations from Great Britain and from the Palatinate regarding the fifth article of the Remonstrant teachings. This article regarded the preservation of the saints.

On this day the Remonstrants presented the States-General delegates with the Remonstrants’ defense of the fourth and fifth articles. In their conclusion they expressed why they rejected the orthodox (Contra-Remonstrant) position: “being instructed by the Holy Scriptures, we firmly believe that they are repugnant to the honour of God, destructive to piety, and a scandal to the Christian religion” (Brandt 3:258).

Session 121: Tuesday, March 19 PM
Synod read the judgments of the delegates from Switzerland, Hesse, Wetteravia, Geneva, and Bremen, regarding the fifth article. All of these opposed the Remonstrant position.

Session 122: Wednesday, March 20 AM
Synod read the judgments of the Emden delegates, the Dutch professors, and the delegations from Gelderland and South Holland.

Session 123: Wednesday, March 20 PM
In a session open to visitors, Professor Crocius from Bremen addressed Synod regarding the question whether God, in justifying humans, accepts our activity of faith as a substitute for the righteousness that God requires of us in His law. The Arminians and Socinians taught that God did indeed do so; the orthodox denied this. Crocius defended the orthodox position.

Session 124: Thursday, March 21 AM
Synod read the judgments from the delegations of North Holland, Zeeland, Utrecht, and Friesland regarding the Remonstrants’ fifth article.

Session 125: Thursday, March 21 PM
Synod read the judgments of the delegations from Overijssel, Groningen, Drenthe, and the Walloon churches. This concluded the reading of the judgments of the various delegations.

The nineteen delegations (eight international, the Dutch professors, and ten Dutch provincial) had each submitted their written judgment regarding the five articles of the Remonstrants. In total, Synod had read seventy-six reports responding to the teachings of the Remonstrants.

President Bogerman noted with thanks to God that the delegations were united in their doctrinal convictions. This unanimity would make the next step, formulating a final response to the Remonstrants, easier. The States-General was hoping that Synod would finish this work by the end of the month–that is, within ten more days.

Bogerman informed synod that he had begun to formulate a proposed response. The next day each delegation was to send someone to copy Bogerman’s proposal as he read it. That person would then return to his delegation so that the delegations could discuss the proposal in committee, and could suggest any changes to Bogerman or his assessors (assistants).

Session 126: Friday, March 22 AM
President Bogerman read his proposed response to the first article of the Remonstrants, while representatives of the various delegations wrote it out. He also expressed his desire that the Canons have a preface, a section explaining the true doctrine and rejecting the Remonstrant error, and a conclusion.

Session 127: Friday, March 22 PM
The president read his proposed response to the second article of the Remonstrants.

Four hundred years ago the clerks of the synod and the scribes of the various delegations had no electronic word processors, no manual typewriters, no copy machines, and no carbon paper. They wrote many pages by hand. This in itself must have taken weeks. We can be thankful for the technology available today, and the greater ease with which we can do our work.

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

The Sessions of the Synod of Dordt, Week Eighteen: Sessions 107-117

Session 107: Monday, March 11 AM
On January 18 (session 63) Johannes Biesterveld, a member of the Nassau-Wetteravian delegation, died. His replacement, Georg Fabricius, arrived at the present session, presented his credentials, took the synodical oath, and was seated.

The previous Friday Synod had begun reading the judgment of the Dutch professors regarding the first article of the Remonstrants. Synod continued that now. The professors agreed that the Remonstrant position was wrong, but disagreed whether God’s decree of election was supralapsarian or infralapsarian (see session 105 for a fuller explanation).

Session 108: Monday, March 11 PM
At numerous sessions (36, 56, 62, 81, 83, 85, 98) Synod had discussed the matter of the four Remonstrant ministers from Kampen whom it had summoned. Two had never appeared, and had been suspended from the ministry. Synod required the other two to submit a written defense of the charges against them, but they had not met the deadline Synod gave them. Synod decided that if these did not provide their answer within two weeks, it would declare them also to be suspended from the ministry.

Synod continued to read the judgments of the various deputies regarding the first article of the Remonstrants (election and reprobation). At this session, Synod read the judgments of the deputies from Gelderland, South Holland, North Holland, and Zeeland. All stated that they disagreed with Gomarus’ supralapsarian position, but the delegates of South Holland also stated that they did not see the need to resolve the matter.

Session 109: Tuesday, March 12 AM
Synod read the judgments of the deputies from Utrecht, Friesland, Overijssel, and Groningen.

Session 110: Tuesday, March 12 PM
Synod read the last of the judgments regarding the first article of the Remonstrants–those of the deputies from Drenthe and from the Walloon churches.

Synod then turned to the judgments of the various delegations regarding the second article of the Remonstrants, which pertained to the extent and effectiveness of Christ’s work. Synod read the judgments of the delegations from Great Britain, the Palatinate, Hesse, and Switzerland. The last three delegations stated that when Scripture says Christ died for all, it means He died for the elect, not for every individual. For the elect, they added, His death effectively saved.

The delegates from Great Britain did not touch on this point. These delegates had realized earlier (session 74) that they were not agreed among themselves on the interpretation of their own creed, the Thirty-Nine Articles. This realization led them to ask advice from the Archbishop of Canterbury. He responded that the British delegates should not speak more specifically than did the Thirty-Nine Articles.

Session 111: Wednesday, March 13 AM
Synod read the judgments of the delegations from Wetteravia, Geneva, Emden, and Bremen regarding the second article. The first three of these delegations agreed that Christ died only for the elect. The delegates from Bremen disagreed among themselves. Heinrich Isselburg was of the mind that Christ died for the elect throughout the world, and effectually saved them. Matthew Martinius held the opposite view, that Christ died for all and every human. The third took a middle ground, but in the end opposed Martinius.

Session 112: Wednesday, March 13 PM
Professor Isselburg addressed Synod regarding Christ’s atoning work. He opposed the error of Socinianism, which Synod understood Conrad Vorstius to be defending (see sessions 100, 152). Isselburg emphasized the necessity of satisfaction, and that Christ fully satisfied for the sins of God’s elect. Brandt relates a quotable: according to Isselburg, “in Christ were one person, two natures, three offices, and four capital benefits, he [Christ] being to us wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and perfect redemption,” and all this can be considered “the four wheels, upon which the chariot of salvation moved” (Brandt, 3:256).

Session 113: Thursday, March 14 AM
Synod read the judgment of the five Dutch professors. These all agreed that Christ died only for all the elect, and that for them His death was both sufficient and effective. Synod then read the judgments of the delegates from the Provincial Synods of Gelderland, South Holland, and North Holland.

Session 114: Thursday, March 14 PM
Synod read the judgments of the delegates from Zeeland, Utrecht, Friesland, Overijsel, and Gronigen, regarding the second article. On the matter of the extent of Christ’s atonement, these all agreed with the majority consensus that would be later expressed in the Canons, Head II, Article 8.

Session 115: Friday, March 15 AM
Synod concluded reading the judgments of the delegations regarding the second article; the last two judgments that it read were those of the delegates of Drenthe and the Walloon churches.

In their third article, the Remonstrants taught that fallen man could do nothing good in himself, and needed to be regenerated. In their fourth article, they taught that humans can resist God’s grace. Synod, recognizing that the real error of the Remonstrants regarding fallen man manifested itself in the fourth article, decided to treat the two articles together. At this session, Synod heard the judgments of the delegations from Great Britain and the Palatinate regarding these two articles.

Session 116: Friday, March 15 PM
Synod read the judgments of the delegates from Hesse, Switzerland, Wetteravia Geneva, and Bremen, and began reading the judgment of the delegates from Emden.

Session 117: Saturday, March 16 AM
Synod concluded reading the judgment of the Emden theologians, which was rather lengthy. It also read the judgments of the Dutch professors and the deputies from Gelderland.

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

The Sessions of the Synod of Dordt, Week Seventeen: Sessions 98-106

Session 98: Monday, March 4 AM
Synod continued its discussion of the doctrine of the preservation of the saints that it had begun the previous week.

The magistrates of Kampen informed Synod by letter that, acquiescing to Synod, they suspended the two ministers whom Synod had summoned but who had not appeared (sessions 83, 85). The ministers had given several reasons for not coming to Synod, one being that the church in Kampen needed them. The magistrates informed Synod that ministers from the church in Zwolle would help the church in Kampen for the time being.

Synod also received a letter from Dr. David Pareus, theologian from Heidelberg, who had been invited to the Synod but who could not come because of old age (he was seventy years old). In this letter he expressed his judgment against the teachings of the Remonstrants in their five articles. Synod read the cover letter at this session.

Session 99: Tuesday, March 5 AM
Synod read the judgment of Dr. Pareus regarding the first two articles of the Remonstrants.

Session 100: Tuesday, March 5 PM
Martinius (professor from Bremen) addressed Synod regarding the person and natures of Jesus Christ, particularly emphasizing that Christ was both the eternal Son of God and truly human. The Remonstrants were in error not only regarding the five points of doctrine, but regarding other doctrines as well. Martinius’ speech was a defense of orthodox Christology over against the Remonstrants. Particularly he opposed Conrad Vorstius, who succeeded Arminius as professor of theology in Leiden in 1610, and whom the Synod would later condemn for teaching false doctrine. Although sound in his theology on this point, Martinius excused the Remonstrants for some of their statements.

Session 101: Wednesday, March 6 AM
Synod read the judgment of Dr. Pareus regarding the last three articles of the Remonstrants, and decided to thank him for sending his judgment to the Synod.

Session 102: Wednesday, March 6 PM
All the delegations had handed in their judgments regarding the five articles. Synod discussed whether to read these on the floor of synod in open or closed session. The English delegation favored open session. Although the English generally opposed the Remonstrants, the English also opposed some expressions by the orthodox regarding reprobation, and they desired this to be publicly heard. However, Synod decided to read all the judgments in closed session.

Synod read the judgments of the English and Heidelberg delegations regarding the Remonstrant teaching of election and reprobation. Both of these delegations agreed that the Remonstrant position was wrong. However, the Heidelberg delegation also expressed its judgment that ministers should treat the doctrine of reprobation “cautiously, seldom, and sparingly in their pulpits.”

Session 103: Thursday, March 7 AM
Synod read the judgments of the delegations from Hesse, Switzerland, and Wetteravia regarding the first point.

Session 104: Thursday, March 7 PM
Synod read the judgments of the delegations from Geneva, Bremen, and Emden regarding the first article. Most delegations either did not touch on the matter of the salvation of infants dying in infancy, or said that parents of such infants have no reason to doubt their salvation (as Synod later expressed it in Canons I.17). The delegates from Bremen put the matter more strongly: every baptized child who died in infancy was, without question, saved.

Session 105: Friday, March 8 AM
Synod finished reading the judgment of the delegation from Emden, then read the judgment of the Dutch professors. The great point of dispute in the judgment of the professors was whether God, when He predestined some to eternal life, viewed the human race as fallen (infralapsarianism) or not yet fallen, using the fall as a means to carry out His decree of election and reprobation (supralapsarianism). Professors Polyander, Thysius, Waleus, and Lubbertus took the infralapsarian viewpoint, while Gomarus took the supralapsarian position.

Session 106: Friday, March 8 PM
Deodatus, professor in Geneva, had twice been scheduled to address the Synod regarding the preservation of the saints, but could not because of illness. He now explained that many who appeared for a time to be believers were in fact reprobate, and manifested this by unbelief and ungodliness later in life. At the same time, though the elect do fall into grievous sins, God grants them repentance and brings them to heaven.

A Google search for average temperatures in Dordrecht in March revealed that the average low temperature is just above freezing, while the high is almost 10̊C, or 50̊F. The winter of 1618-1619 was colder than this, for there was “frost,” and the severest cold was felt in late February and early March 1619. How were the Remonstrants to complete writing their defense when it was so cold? Brandt writes that the Remonstrants informed the States-General delegation “that by reason of the long and sharp frost, they could not get their papers ready against the appointed time; they therefore prayed their Lordships to admit of their excuses, and promised to complete the whole before the end of the next week.”

Another excuse? It would be easy to conclude that it was. However, we who have central heating in our homes cannot appreciate how cold hampers one’s work.

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

The Sessions of the Synod of Dordt, Week Sixteen: Sessions 91-97

Session 91: Monday, February 25 AM
Synod continued to discuss the third and fourth articles of the Remonstrants. It faced the questions whether unregenerate man can understand the scriptures by himself, and whether unregenerate man has the power to do good and avoid evil.

President Bogerman gave Synod a catalogue of Remonstrant writings regarding the fifth point of doctrine.

On this day the Remonstrants presented the States-General delegates with an eighty-page defense of their second article. The States-General delegation again rebuked them for supplying a partial response, not completing it. Episcopius said that the length and incompleteness of their documents to Synod was “not of choice, but of necessity” (Brandt 3:234), and that they needed three or four more weeks to finish the task.

The States-General delegation was informed that two Remonstrant ministers from Utrecht, who were present at synod, had been deposed from the ministry, and that the family of one of them had been ordered to move out of the house by Easter (mid-April). This minister asked permission to leave the Synod in order to attend to his family’s needs. The States-General delegation told the men that it would consider the matter.

Session 92: Tuesday, February 26 AM
Synod read the Remonstrant explanation of the extent of Christ’s death. The Remonstrants were explicit that Christ died for all men in particular, not only for the elect.

Session 93: Wednesday, February 27 AM
Synod continued reading the document of the Remonstrants.

Session 94: Wednesday, February 27 PM
Theodore Tronchinus, professor at the Genevan Academy, explained and defended the doctrine of the perseverance of true believers. Since January 17, the Dutch and foreign professors had taken turns orally explaining and defending the orthodox view over against the five points. With Tronchinus’s speech, this aspect of Synod’s work was now finished, with one exception (session 106).

Session 95: Thursday, February 28 AM
Synod read more of the Remonstrants’ defense of the second article.

Session 96: Thursday, February 28 PM
Synod discussed the doctrine of perseverance.

Session 97: Friday, March 1 AM
Synod continued the discussion of the previous session.

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

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