Synod of Dort

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The Synod of Dort (also known as the Synod of Dordt or the Synod of Dordrecht) was a National Synod held in Dordrecht in 1618-1619, by the Dutch Reformed Church, to settle a serious controversy in the Dutch churches initiated by the rise of Arminianism. The first meeting was on November 13, 1618, and the final meeting, the 154th, was on May 9, 1619. Voting representatives from the Reformed churches in eight foreign countries were also invited. Dort was a contemporary colloquial English term for the town of Dordrecht and it still is the local colloquial pronunciation of the name.



The purpose of the Synod held in Dordrecht was to settle a controversy that had arisen in the Dutch churches following the spread of Arminianism. After the death of Jacob Arminius his followers presented objections to the Belgic Confession and the teaching of John Calvin, Theodore Beza, and their followers. These objections were published in a document called The Remonstrance of 1610, and his proponents were therefore also known as Remonstrants. The opposing Calvinists, led by professor Franciscus Gomarus of the University of Leiden, became known as the Contra-Remonstrants.

In The Remonstrance and in some later writings, the Arminians published an alternative to the Calvinist doctrine of the Belgic Confession on several points of difference. They taught election on the basis of foreseen faith, a universal atonement, resistible grace, and the possibility of lapse from grace. Simon Episcopius (1583–1643) was spokesman of the 13 representatives of the Remonstrants who were summoned before the Synod in 1618.

"Episcopius was their chief speaker; and with great art and address did he manage their cause. He insisted on being permitted to begin with a refutation of the Calvinistic doctrines, especially that of reprobation, hoping that, by placing his objections to this doctrine in front of all the rest, he might excite such prejudice against the other articles of the system, as to secure the popular voice in his favor. The Synod, however, very properly, reminded him, that they had not convened for the purpose of trying the Confession of Faith of the Belgic Churches, which had been long established and well known; but that, as the Remonstrants were accused of departing from the Reformed faith, they were bound first to justify themselves, by giving Scriptural proof in support of their opinions. The Arminians would not submit to this plan of procedure because it destroyed their whole scheme of argument. However, the Synod firmly refused to make any concessions on this point of order. Day after day they were reasoned with and urged to come and scripturally defend their published doctrines. . . The Arminians would not submit to this course and were thus compelled to withdraw. Upon their departure, the Synod proceeded without them."[1]

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