Synod of Dort

The Synod of Dort, held in order to settle a serious controversy in the Dutch churches initiated by the rise of Arminianism, met in the city of Dordrecht in 1618-1619 as a national assembly of the Dutch Reformed Church, to which were also invited voting representatives from the Reformed churches in eight foreign countries.


Foreign Representives


The purpose of the Synod of Dort 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. 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 five points of difference. The Arminians taught election on the basis of foreseen faith, a universal atonement, partial human depravity, 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.

The Synod of Dort concluded with a rejection of these views, and set forth the Reformed doctrine on each point, namely: unconditional election, limited atonement, total depravity, irresistible grace, and the perseverance of the saints. These are sometimes referred to as the Five points of Calvinism.

Canons of Dort

The Decision of the Synod of Dort on the Five Main Points of Doctrine in Dispute in the Netherlands, popularly known as the Canons of Dort, is the explanation of the judicial decision of the Synod. In the original preface, the Decision is called a

"judgment, in which both, the true view agreeing with God's word concerning the aforesaid five points of doctrine is explained and, the false view disagreeing with God's Word is rejected".

The Canons are not intended to be a comprehensive explanation of Reformed doctrine, but only an exposition on the five points of doctrine in dispute.

Political impact

The acts of the Synod were tied to political intrigues that arose during the twelve year truce in the Dutch war with Spain. The decision of the Synod was the doom of the very highly respected and influential statesman Johan van Oldenbarnevelt, who had been the protector of the Arminian Remonstrants. For the crime of general perturbation in the state of the nation, both in Church and State (treason), he was beheaded in May of 1619. He is considered, also by the Calvinists, to be one of the greatest men in the history of the Netherlands. Also lost to the nation as a consequence of the Arminian defeat, was the phenomenal jurist Hugo Grotius (Huig De Groot), who was a supporter of the Remonstrants' rights leading up to the Synod of Dort. Grotius was given a life sentence in prison, but escaped with the help of his wife.

Bible translation

The Synod also decided to have the Bible translated into Dutch, straight from the original Hebrew and Greek texts. Translators were appointed, and the States-General were asked to fund the project. After the translation was first published in 1637, it became known as the Translation of the States or Statenvertaling.

See also


de:Dordrechter Synode


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