The Arminian Controversy and the Synod of Dort - S. Vandergugten

Taken with permission from the Clarion [Sept. 16 - 30, Vol. 37, No 19, 20, 1989]

ArminiusWhy on earth should we get excited about the Synod of Dort - something which happened 370 years ago? What does the Arminian Controversy have to do with us? Do we really have to know anything about these theological and doctrinal contentions that disrupted the Reformed Churches in the Netherlands so long ago? My answer would be an emphatical yes!

We should get excited about church history because we should be vitally interested in Christ's church-gathering work throughout the ages. Understanding church history will enable us to understand the religious issues of today. In particular, understanding the Arminian Controversy of the 1600s will make clear to us that many, if not most, North American churches trace their origins to this time in history. Understanding what the Synod decided will make us realize that in these Canons we have one of the most authoritative and valuable expositions of Calvinistic theology - a confession and valuable tool to refute the errors of Arminianism also today.

In the early years of the 17th century, the Arminian Controversy shook the Reformed Churches of the United Provinces. The nature of the debate was purely theological, but, because in those days the Church and State were so intimately connected, the controversy was soon entangled in the political issues of the day. The conflict shook the whole country.

How did the state become involved in the church's theological debates? What was the controversy all about? What theological issues were at stake? What did the Synod of Dort decide about the teachings of Arminius and his followers?

To our modern minds, it seems incongruous that the state would be involved in the theological matters of the church, but in the 17th century this was commonplace. The organizational development of the Reformed Churches was such that the secular authorities maintained quite some control of church affairs.

The Calvinist Reformed Churches had formed in the United Provinces by about 1544. During these years, the Provinces were fighting to gain independence from Spain. In his writings, Calvin defended the right of people to oppose the tyranny of kings and emperors. His views were eagerly embraced by his followers in the Netherlands; the war against Roman Catholic Spain became an increasingly spiritual issue. The Calvinists were doggedly persistent in their support of William of Orange against Spain. The rapid growth of the Calvinist Church during this time, was identified with the national struggle against Spain.

During the time of Philip II, all the Dutch Protestants were severely persecuted. His aim was to reorganize the Church and exterminate heresy. It was forbidden to own a heretical book, read the Scriptures, or to attend any conventicle where points of doctrine were discussed. Failure to inform against a person suspected of heresy made one guilty of treason. Philip sent the infamous Duke of Alva and his well-trained Spanish army to carry out his wishes. Thousands were put to death, often burned alive at the stake. There is no accurate record of the number of Protestant martyrs in the Netherlands during this time. Numbers range between a documented 2,000 and an estimated 100,000. [1]

William of Orange began to strike back against the Spanish Army. The Inquisition accelerated its work. War engulfed the land. At first, all were united behind William of Orange, but then the unity was broken. The Catholic South formed the League of Arras, promising loyalty to the Catholic religion and the king. The North responded with the Union of Utrecht in 1579. Two years later they declared independence from Spain.

It was during these turbulent years that the Reformed Churches of the Netherlands had their beginnings. In 1568, the Convent of Wesel, the first general assembly, met in secrecy. Ministers, elders, and other church members met in this German town to draw up some provisional regulations for ecclesiastical life and order. Three years later, at the Synod of Emden, elected representatives of the churches adopted the first official Church Order.

Almost since its inception, the churches were constituted on the basis of the Belgic Confession (1561). The church members were convinced that without sound preaching on the basis of a common confession, the churches would not be able to live in unity. Ministers and teachers were to subscribe to this confession and obligated not to teach anything contrary to it. In 1581, the Synod of Middelburg required its members to undersign the Heidelberg Catechism as well.

The churches regarded themselves as sovereign in the management of ecclesiastical matters. They elected their own office-bearers and exercised discipline over their members, as well as ministers, in both doctrine and conduct. However, when succeeding Synods met on Dutch soil, Dordrecht (1574), (1578), Middelburg (1581), the Hague (1586), concessions were made to the magistrates, and so the States-General were allowed quite a large measure of control over the churches.[2]

In 1591, a commission, including Johannes van Oldenbarnevelt and James Arminius as members, drew up a church order which was more to the liking of the States-General. According to this church order, the calling of pastors, elders, and deacons was in the hands of four secular deputies and four church deputies. The secular deputies were responsible to the city government. The church deputies were chosen with the approval of the city government. Meetings of consistories, classes and provincial synods were permitted as long as only church business was transacted. There was no mention of a national synod. No stipulation was made that ministers had to subscribe to the Belgic Confession and the Heidelberg Catechism. The power of censure rested with the provincial synods, to which the States could send as many deputies as they wished. At these synods, majority ruled. According to this church order, then, the secular authorities enjoyed quite some influence in the Reformed Churches.

When the United Provinces had declared their independence from Spain, the Reformed religion was officially recognized as the state religion. There was no attempt to suppress the conscience of other Christians, but these were at a definite disadvantage. The Reformed Churches were supplied with ecclesiastical funds from the government, out of confiscated Roman Catholic holdings. Political leaders and teachers were to be members of these churches. Meanwhile, the churches had to allow civil representatives to attend their assemblies. These policies were aimed at unifying the nation against Spain. The Reformed Churches held a privileged position, but this also attracted members to it who otherwise would not have joined these churches.

In this situation, the Arminian Controversy arose. The church was concerned with two issues: one of doctrine and one of church polity. Were the teachings of Arminius and his followers in accord with the Belgic Confession and the Heidelberg Catechism? They, as well as all church office-bearers had pledged their agreement to these confessions, Secondly, did the Reformed Churches, as confessional churches, have the right to depose from office those whose teachings were in conflict with the creeds?

In theory, the government agreed, but in practice they nullified this right by maintaining in office men whom the churches in their classes and provincial synods had judged worthy of deposition. So between 1586 and 1618, a growing number of ministers was upheld contrary to the wishes of the congregations and decisions of ecclesiastical assemblies. The churches called for a National Synod to resolve both the doctrinal and church government issues, but the StatesGeneral feared the growing influence of the Reformed Churches throughout the land. For years, they refused to grant the request.

It was during this time that Arminius gained influence in the Reformed Churches. James Arminius was born in South Holland in 1560. At Geneva, he studied under Beza, the successor to Calvin. In 1588, he became one of the ministers of Amsterdam. It was his preaching, not his writings, that was soon called into question. He was engaged in a systematic exposition of Romans. Some of his explanations of the earlier passages surprised his listeners, but it was his exegesis of Romans 7:14ff. that aroused a storm of protest. Romans 7:14-15 reads: "We know that the law is spiritual; but I am carnal, sold under sin. I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate." He suggested that Paul was speaking about unregenerate man, not regenerate, as most Reformed exegetes understood it -unregenerate man, one who is under the law but knows its weaknesses and inability to save, and therefore seeks a redeemer. In preaching on Romans 8 through 11, he stressed man's free will, and in explaining Romans 13 he ascribed to the civil government the highest authority in ecclesiastical and religious matters.

Arminius' senior colleague, Petrus Plancius, registered a protest against him which was investigated by the consistory. Rumours spread throughout the country. In subsequent discussions it became apparent that Arminius had doubts about Article 16 of the Belgic Confession, the article concerning divine election; however, Arminius pledged to adhere to what was taught in the Confession, something which he claimed to have been doing all along.

GomarusIn 1602, Leiden was devastated by the plague. Franciscus Junius, the erudite professor of theology at the University there, was a victim. Johannes Uitenbogaard, court preacher, recommended Arminius to fill the vacancy. The Church Deputies were uneasy about Arminius' orthodoxy, but acquiesced to his appointment; however, this appointment was conditional upon a favourable outcome of a conference with Dr. Franciscus Gomarus, concerning the chief points of doctrine. Gomarus was also a professor at Leiden and a strict Calvinist. This conference was conducted in the presence of curators of the academy and deputies of Synod. [3] Arminius expressly rejected the doctrines of the Pelagians concerning natural grace, free will, original sin, and predestination. He promised he would teach nothing in conflict with the adopted doctrine of the Churches. Consequently, he was admitted to the office of Professor of Theology.

In his public lectures, he adhered to his pledge; however, in private instruction to certain select students, he voiced his doubts and dissatisfaction. His influence on these students became apparent when they appeared before classis for entrance into the ministry. When his students came home from the Academy or departed to other academies, they took positions against the Reformed Churches, disputing, contradicting, and criticizing the doctrine.

Arminius is always described, even by his critics, as a faithful pastor, a sober and consistent Christian, a sincere man of rare scholarly abilities and a man of sensitivity and peace, who, against his will, was always at war. Yet, it is hard not to agree with the charge often leveled against him that he was not free from a certain kind of duplicity. If it is true, and it seems to have been, that Arminius pledged to adhere to the confessions of the church in his teachings while at the same time teaching otherwise, he was guilty of a serious fault.

Carl Bangs, who writes a sympathetic biography of Arminius, quotes him in a letter to a friend:

I transmit you my theses on free will, which I have composed in this (guarded) manner, because I thought that they would thus conduce to peace. I have advanced nothing which I consider at all allied to a falsity. But I have been silent upon some truths which I might have published, for I know that it is one thing to be silent respecting a truth and another to utter a falsehood, the latter of which it is never lawful to do, while the former is occasionally, nay very often, expedient (Bangs 269).

Those hostile and those sympathetic to Arminius are divided on the ethical issue. On the one hand he was not forthright about his views; on the other hand his apparent motive was peace in his university and church.

Praamsma cites Roger Nicole's verdict of Arminius:

His attitude toward confessional standards was open to question, for a theologian of his caliber must have realized that there was a substantial rift between his views and the system of teaching as well as the express utterances of the Heidelberg Catechism and the Belgic Confession. Nevertheless, he paraded under the flag of allegiance and under the vows of conformity from the time of his ordination to his death. He repeatedly promised not to teach anything from the pulpit or the university chair which might be out of keeping with the standards. Obviously, if he had done just that, it is unlikely that he would have been the center of such storms and the rallying point of a whole group of uneasy spirits, whose heterodoxy was often more pronounced than his own. (Praamsma 28) [4]

In 1607, the Synod of South Holland dealt with complaints about Arminius' teachings. The political commissioner in attendance conveyed the grievances to Arminius, and he agreed to a "friendly conference" at a council, under the leadership of the government. Later that year, in The Hague, Gomarus and Arminius stated and compared their views. Arminius again maintained that his teachings were doctrinally sound. Gomarus pointed out some of Arminius' divergencies on how Christ's righteousness is imputed to man, but Arminius insisted on his agreement with the confessions. The council was unable to see differences of any great significance and urged mutual tolerance. In 1609, a second conference was held, with no resolution on the issues. Later that year Arminius died, presumably of tuberculosis.

After the death of Arminius, his cause was taken up by Johannes Uitenbogaard, the court preacher, and by Simon Episcopius, a student of Arminius and later professor of theology at Leiden. In 1610, under Uitenbogaard's leadership, the Arminians met in Gouda and prepared a Remonstrance (hence their name, Remonstrants). They first rejected certain Calvinist positions and then stated their own views in the Five Arminian Articles:

1. election conditioned on foreseen faith;

2. universal atonement (that Christ died for all men and for every man, so that He merited reconciliation and forgiveness of sins for all through the death of the cross; yet so that no one actually enjoys this forgiveness of sins except the believer);

3. the need for regeneration if man is to be saved (here they seemed to be orthodox enough, but, as it later appeared, this was understood in such a way as seriously to underestimate the depravity of human nature);

4. the resistibility of grace ('but with respect to the mode of this grace, it is not irresistible'); and

5. the uncertainty of the perseverance of believers (in respect of this article the Arminians shortly came openly to deny such final perseverance) (deWitt 11; P.Y. deJong, Appendix C, 207 ff.).

These articles were signed by forty-six ministers.

In the following year, the Calvinists responded with a Counter-Remonstrance. In seven articles, the Reformed confessions concerning the doctrines of grace were restated. In 1611, a conference was held at The Hague, the "Collatio Hagiensis," but no agreement was reached.

The political leaders of the United Provinces could not remain outside of this controversy. The support of the members of the Reformed Churches was necessary to achieve their political aims. The statesman van Oldenbarnevelt, Advocate-General of Holland and Friesland, and Hugo Grotius, a most learned scholar, statesman, jurist and theologian, sided with the Arminians, advocating peace and tolerance. They favoured a republican confederacy of states rather than a federal state headed by the monarchy. This latter concept was championed by Maurice of Nassau, Stadtholder and military leader of the Republic.

Maurice remained neutral until 1616. Then at the urgings of his cousin William Louis, Stadtholder of Friesland and of Sir Dudley Carleton, the English ambassador, he sided with the Counter-Remonstrants. He worshipped publicly with them in The Hague in 1617.

Johanes UitenbogaardPrince Maurice's support of the Counter-Remonstrants tipped the balance in their favour. However, under the leadership of van Oldenbarnevelt, the States of Holland and West Friesland reacted with "De Scherpe Resolutie" (The Sharp Resolution). It stated the following:

1. No National Synod would be convened.

2. All former resolutions concerning ecclesiastical matters have to be completely maintained and executed.

3. The local magistrates receive the authority to engage special militia (waardgelders).

4. Appeal of objections against actions of the local magistrates is not allowed to any Courts, save the States itself. (Faber, et al. 30)

This resolution, especially the forming of a special militia, was regarded as revolutionary: a threat to the law and order of the land and the start of civil war. Maurice declared that a split in the state was now inevitable.

On November 11, 1617, Maurice and the States-General decided that a National Synod would be convened on November 1, 1618. Letters were dispatched to the provincial deputies. Maurice, with his troops, disbanded and disarmed the special militia in several cities of the recalcitrant provinces. Van Oldenbarnevelt and some of his fellow leaders were imprisoned on the charge of treason against the state. The resistance was broken. Maurice convinced the States of the remaining provinces to allow a National Synod to be held.

The stage was set for the Synod of Dort to convene. It was unique in that it was the only synod of an ecumenical character in the history of the Reformed Churches (Schaff 514). At the urging of James I of England and others, invitations were sent to the foreign Reformed Churches. The States-General sent letters to his Royal Majesty of Great Britain, James I, to the deputies of the Reformed Churches of France, to the Electors of the Palatinate and Brandenburg, to the Count of Hesse, to the four Reformed Republics of Switzerland, to the Dukes of the Wetterau, and to the Republics of Geneva, Bremen, and Emden. In these letters they were asked to send to Synod:

Some of their Theologians who were outstanding in learning, godliness, and wisdom, who with their counsel and judgment might diligently labor to still the differences which had arisen in these Netherlands Churches, along with the Delegates of the Netherlands Churches, and might again bring peace to those Churches (Hoeksema 101).

The foreign delegates were invited to lend credence and more weight to Synod's decisions.

And since the Remonstrants did not appear to think much of the judgment of the Netherlands Churches, and had always attempted to convince the people that they had no other views than did the Reformed Churches, therefore the States-General also saw fit to invite from all Reformed Churches from neighbouring Lands, Principalities, and Republics certain theologians outstanding in godliness, learning, and wisdom, in order that they should support the delegates of the Netherlands Churches by their judgments and counsel, and that thus these differences, having been investigated and judged as by a common judgment of all Reformed Churches, might be laid to rest more certainly, expeditiously, firmly, and with greater joy (Hoeksema 93 ff.).

November 13, 1618, the National Synod of Dort was convened by the StatesGeneral, who underwrote all the costs.[5] The Synod consisted of 84 members and 18 secular commissioners. Of these, 58 were Dutch delegates from the particular (provincial) synods and the rest foreigners, [6] who also had the right to vote.

After a prayer service, the foreign delegates were led by their host delegates to the "Kloveniersdoelen" (the Arquebusiers Armoury), where all the meetings were held. [7] The Moderator (Praeses) was Johannes Bogerman, a Friesian from Leeuwarden. The first official business was the taking of the oath:

I promise before God, in whom I believe, and whom I worship, as being present in this place, and as being the Searcher of all hearts, that during the course of the proceedings of this Synod, which will examine and decide not only the five points and all the differences resulting from them but also any other doctrine, I will use no human writing, but only the word of God, which is an infallible rule of faith. And during all these discussions, I will only aim at the glory of God, the peace of the Church, and especially the preservation of the purity of doctrine. So help me, my Savior, Jesus Christ! I beseech him to assist me by his Holy Spirit! (Klooster 57).

All the members were divided into eighteen separate committees: the representatives from the various provincial synods each formed one, the Walloons another, theology professors another, and each foreign delegation constituted a separate committee. On each question that came before Synod, each committee framed an individual answer, which was reported back to Synod as a whole. The written opinions were handed over to the "moderamen" (officers), who collated them and prepared a final judgment. This judgment was either regarded as resolved at once or an approbatory vote was taken to that effect. It was not a convenient method but undeniably thorough, and was therefore followed to the end.

The principal item on the agenda was the Arminian controversy. The political commissioners, on behalf of Synod, would invite the best-known and most learned Arminians personally to come to Dort. The summonses were sent, twelve in number. Before travelling to Dort, the Arminian leaders conferred in Rotterdam. They chose officers, intending to present themselves as a kind of counter-synod. They would deal with Synod as a party in the controversy, after which the Government, with the advice of the foreign delegates, would give its verdict. Their main line of defense would be to attack the Contra-Remonstrants as blasphemous fanatics, concentrating on the supralapsarian [8] ideas of Gomarus.

Simon Episcopius was their spokesman, seated opposite Bogerman. On the second day, an incident occurred which was typical of the sessions as long as the Arminians were present. Episcopius made a long oration, learned and eloquent, but, as many thought, impertinent. He cast aspersions on Synod, on the States-General, and on Prince Maurice. When asked to supply a copy, he first refused, claiming his copy was illegible. He then complied, but this rendering omitted all the passages dealing with political authorities.

The battle continued. The Remonstrants persisted in denying Synod's authority to judge over them. They wanted to speak to Synod as one party against another. At most, they would look for a settlement by majority agreement, after which the members would be free to submit or not. Bogerman replied that Synod had been legally convened by the States-General, an argument which should have been convincing to the Remonstrants, who held that the government had the highest authority, also in church matters.

It became a long and tiresome struggle. When asked to put their objections to the Confessions into writing, the Remonstrants refused. When Bogerman asked each one of them if they acknowledged the Remonstrance of 1610 as truth, they all remained silent. They demanded that the doctrine of reprobation be handled first, rather than election, so as to make as odious as possible the teachings of the Counter-Remonstrants. Stalemate.

One can appreciate the plight of the Arminians. As Dewar claims, they were "predestined" to defeat (Dewar 108). They were not about to yield. Their only alternative was to obstruct procedure as much as they could, cast their opponents in a bad light whenever possible, and attempt to put as good a face as possible on their own position.

During the month of fruitless effort to deal with the matters at hand, Bogerman conducted himself with patience and calm restraint, which many found remarkable. Everyone realized this could not continue. In closed session, Synod deliberated what action to take: concede to the Arminians' demands or send them away and determine their opinions from their writings? The political commissioners attempted to persuade the Remonstrants to comply. At last it was decided to order them, in the name of the Government, to comply or negotiations would cease.

Johannes BogermanOn January 14, 1619, Bogerman asked Episcopius and his followers for their answer. They replied that they would not submit to Synod. Historians have often faulted the "Praeses" for his conduct on that dramatic day. In exasperation, he declared,

The foreign delegates are now of the opinion that you are unworthy to appear before Synod. You have refused to acknowledge it as your lawful judge and regarded it as an opposing party: you have tried in everything to have your own way; you have despised the decision of Synod and of the political commissioners; you refused to answer questions; you declared the credentials to be invalid. Synod has treated you with gentleness, but you have been lying from beginning to end, as one of the foreign theologians remarked. With this eulogy we will let you go. God will keep his word and he will bless the Synod. In order that we will not be delayed any longer, you will be sent out. Depart: Go! (Faber et al. 35),

The Arminians arose and left, but not before Episcopius answerd, "We will with Christ be silent about this. God will judge between us and this Synod" (Faber et al. 35).

The members of Synod, especially the English delegates, wondered whether it would not have been wiser if Synod itself had made a form of dismissal, rather than leave it to the indignant improvisation of Bogerman. The English, in particular, wanted to abide by their royal mandate, received at New-Market in October of the previous year. King James had urged them to show unity among themselves, to keep Scripture and Anglican Doctrine, to avoid controversial doctrine and urge the Dutch Divines to do the same, to act as mediators between the disputants, and to use moderation in everything.

The chairs and tables of the Arminians were put away. Synod now began to examine their opinions from available writings, concentrating on the Five Articles of the Remonstrance of 1610. The reading of the various judgments of the eighteen committees concerning these Five Articles took place from March 7 to 21 and from March 25 to April 16. The Canons were formulated in ninety-three separate articles. These were signed by all the delegates on April 23, 1619, and solemnly promulgated in the Great Church on May 6 before a large congregation. Three days later, after six months of deliberation, the foreign divines departed, leaving the Dutch members to convene for another twenty-six sessions to deal with further national matters.

The Synod of Dort has been labelled the "persecuting Synod." It is quite true that two hundred Remonstrant ministers were deposed from their office. Of these, a total of eighty were banished, nearly seventy agreed to be silenced and refrain from their ministry, and forty, upon conforming to the decisions of Synod, were restored to their office. It is also true that the political leaders of the Remonstrants were arrested. Van Oldenbarnevelt, declared guilty of treason, was beheaded on May 14, 1619. This prompted the grim joke from Diodati, the delegate from Geneva, that "the Canons of Dort had shot off the Advocate's head" (Dewar 115). But, the error of those who advocated and practised what would now be considered persecution was a general error of the age.

One must not forget that these Dutch churches were bound by two confessional statements, the Belgic Confession and the Heidelberg Catechism. The Arminians, while having pledged to abide by these statements of the Reformed faith, at the same time advocated deviation from them. It was they who, in the years previous to Synod, had been intolerant towards those wishing to maintain the doctrine of the church. Ministers, deposed for deviating from the standards, were maintained in office by the magistrates, while those who adhered to them were ejected by these same magistrates. The Counter-Remonstrants were deprived of the use of their buildings for worship. Dort did not suppress all other religions other than Reformed. Holland tolerated the Pilgrims, the Lutherans, the Anabaptists, and even the Roman Catholics, although they were not to erect public places of worship.

The Arminian ministers were deposed, and one could argue that they were not treated as equals at Synod, but this does not necessarily mean that Synod was intolerant. The question is rather whether the Reformed Churches, as confessional churches, had the right to enforce these confessions, and whether they had the right to deprive of office those who deviated from these confessions in their teachings. The actions of Synod were directed against church members, even officebearers, who were doing just that while still under oath to uphold the confessions. It is true that a person's duty to scriptural truth transcends his duty to the teaching of the church. If such an occasion should arise, one should act openly, even to the point of renouncing one's obligations and vows.

DeWitt is adamant in his judgment of Arminius and his successors:

Arminius and his successors were oath breakers; and to avoid the consequences of this offence, they in effect withdrew themselves from the jurisdiction of the ecclesiastical courts, while claiming to continue as faithful members of the Church, and placed themselves under the protection of the secular power, (p 10)

He goes on to say that a man is rarely honest enough to withdraw himself, if his views become incompatible with the confessions of the church, but instead attempts, "by means of a strange line of casuistical reasoning," to convert the church to his own understanding of the truth (deWitt 10).

Yes, we should get excited about the Synod of Dort! Because of this Synod, the Reformed Churches received a valuable confession, an authoritative exposition of scriptural Calvinistic theology. In essence, the Arminian Controversy represented an attack upon the sovereignty of God in the matter of man's salvation, and exalted instead the role of man in his own salvation. The Canons of Dort acknowledged, reaffirmed, and glorified God's sovereign grace. If we truly understand what happened so long ago in that old Dutch city of Dort, we will do the same, thankfully acknowledging that it is our faithful Saviour who gathers and defends His church, in spite of all heresies. Then in thankfulness we will also live and abide by those confessions, to the praise of His glory.


[1] P.Y. DeJong (Note 22, page 20) cites Hugo Grotius, who estimates that there were 100,000 Protestant martyrs. P.A. de Rover (Note 5, p. 310) asserts that the number 2,000 cannot be correct, because this number includes only those cases which were documented. ("Dat getal van 2,000 . . . kan onmogelijk juist zijn, want dat berust alleen op een lijst van bekende namen") Dejong and de Rover cite other sources whose estimate range between these two extremes.

[2] J. Reitsma, P. 153-160, relates the decision of the various synods about the Church Order. The secular authorities examined the synods' decisions and judged whether these were acceptable to them.

[3] Pelagius was a British monk and a contemporary of Augustine. Pelagius denied that the human race had fallen in Adam. He denied original sin, the total depravity of man and predestination. The teachings of Pelagius were condemned as heresy by the General Council of Ephesus in 431. In 529 the Synod of Orange condemned the teachings of the SemiPelagians - that it is up to the individual to accept or refuse God's offer of grace (B.K. Kuiper 39).

[4] This quote is from the article "Arminianism" by Roger Nicole, Encyclopedia of Christiani ty, (1964) vol. 1, p. 411.

[5] The total cost exceeded 100,000 guilders. Each delegate received a daily allowance (Schaff 513).

[6] DeJong in Appendix E and F, p. 213 ff., lists all the members of Synod. The Bremen delegates were excused due to their advanced age. The French delegation was prevented from attending by order of the King.

[7] The desks and benches had been covered over in green cloth; ink wells, sand-pots, paper, and pens were provided for each member. Numerous candlesticks and three great chandeliers provided illumination - it is said that twenty-four pounds of tallow were consumed every evening for the lighting. There were also two large galleries for spectators, capable of accommodating four or five hundred. Throughout the long winter a fire burned continually on the hearth, and in addition each member was furnished with a "stoofje" or footwarmer, filled not with coals but with glowing lumps of clay so as to avoid the gaseous fumes which would otherwise cause headaches (DeWitt p. 13).

[8] There was a difference of opinion between the infra-lapsarian and the supra-lapsarian members of Synod. The point at issue was the question: "Who is the object of election?" The Arminians taught the believer was, making faith the ground for election. All members of Synod rejected this. Infralapsarians, many of them foreign theologians, regarded fallen man as the object of God's election or reprobation. The supra-lapsarians taught that God's decree of election came in logical order before His decree to create man, so that uncreated man was the object of God's predestination. Synod upheld the infra-lapsarian view, not saying "anything more of God's decrees than can be plainly read in Holy Scripture" (Faber et al. 36).


Bangs, Carl, Arminius (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1971).

Cunningham, William, Historical Theology, II (Edinburgh, Scotland: Banner of Truth Trust, 1979).

DeJong, Peter Y., "The Rise of the Reformed Churches in the Netherlands," Crisis in the Reformed Churches, ed. Peter Y. DeJong (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Reformed Fellowship, Inc., 1968).

de Rover, P.A., De Strijdende Kerk, IV (Groningen: Jan Haan N.V., 1960).

de Witt, Johns R., "The Arminian Conflict and the Synod of Dort," The Manifold Grace of God (probably from Puritan Reformed Studies, Westminster Conference, after 1968). (From the files of Rev. James Visscher, Surrey, B.C.).

Dewar, M.W., "The British Delegation at the Synod of Dort - 1618-1619," The Evangelical Quarterly, 46: 103-16 (Ap - Je, 1974).

Faber, J. et al., The Bride's Treasure (Launceston, Tasmania: Publication Organization of the Free Reformed Churches of Australia, 1979).

Gonzalez, Justo L., A History of Christian Thought, III (Nashville and New York: Abingdon Press, 1975). Hoeksema, Homer C., "Historical Foreword to the Acts of the Synod of Dordrecht," The Voice of Our Fathers (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Free Reformed Publishing Association, 1980).

Klooster, Fred H., "The Doctrinal Deliverances of Dort," Crisis in the Reformed Churches, ed, Peter Y. DeJong (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Reformed

Fellowship, Inc., 1968). Kuiper, B.K., The Church in History (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1984). Nobbs, Douglas, Theocracy and Toleration, A Study of the Disputes in Dutch Calvinism from 1600-1650 (London, Bentley House: Cambridge University Press, 1938).

Praamsma, Louis, "The Background of the Arminian Controversy (1586 - 1618)," Crisis in the Reformed Churches, ed. Peter Y. DeJong (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Reformed Fellowship, Inc., 1968).

Reitsma, J., Geschiedenis van de Hervorming en de Hervormde Kerk den Nederlanden ('s-Gravenhage: Martinus Nijhoff, 1949).

Schaff, Philip, The Creeds of Christendom, 3 Vols. (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Book House, 1983).

Other sources for further reading

Faber, J. et al., De Schat Van Christus' Bruid (Goes: Oosterbaan & Le Cointre N.V., 1958).

Geyl, Pieter, The Netherlands in the Seventeenth Century (New York: Barnes & Noble Inc., 1961).

Kajaan, Hendrik, De Pro-Acta Der Dordtsche Synode in 1618 (Rotterdam: T. De Vries, 1914).

Knappert, L., Geschiedenis den Nederlandsche Hervormde Kerk gedurende de 16e en 17e Eeuw (Amsterdam: Meulenhoff & Co., 1912).

Kuyper, H.H., De Post Acta of Nahandelingen van de Nationale Synode van Dordrecht (Amsterdam: Höveker & Wormser, 1899).

Wagenaar, L.H., Van Strijd en Overwinning (De groote Synode van 1618 op '19 en wat aan haar voorafging) (Rotterdam: Drukkerij "Libertas;" 1909).