Don Sinnema: "A Virtual Tour of the Synod of Dordt (1618-1619)"

This presentation, with plenty of visuals (about 100 PowerPoint slides), will put us on the ground in the old city of Dordrecht in 1618–1619, to depict the circumstances of the Synod of Dordt. It will provide a general introduction to the synod and an overview of the various aspects of the synod. I will explore the convening of the synod by the Dutch government, and the facility where the synod was held. The composition of the participants (Dutch delegates, theologians from eight foreign territories, state delegates, and the cited Arminians or Remonstrants) demonstrates that this was a national synod with an international character. After examining the agenda and procedures of the synod, I will survey the course of the synod’s deliberations that lasted 6 ½ months from mid-November to the end of May. These fall into four phases: (1) the Pro-Acta sessions, before the arrival of the Remonstrants, dealing with a new Dutch Bible translation, catechism services and catechism instruction, theological training, baptism of slave children, and printing abuses; (2) five weeks of procedural wrangling with the fifteen cited Remonstrants, until they were expelled in mid-January; (3) the synod’s response to the Remonstrant objections concerning predestination and related points by drafting and approving the Canons of Dordt—here I will explore the meticulous process by which the Canons were drafted; and (4) the Post-Acta sessions, after the foreign theologians went home, dealing with various Dutch ecclesiastical matters, such as Sunday observance, forms of subscription, liturgical forms, and a church order revision that produced the Church Order of Dordt.

Paul Fields: "The Statenbijel and its history"

Keith Stanglin: "The Remonstrant perspective"

This presentation will begin by summarizing the Remonstrant perspective on the controversial doctrines, based especially on the Remonstrance of 1610, the Remonstrant “Opinions” at the Synod of Dordt, and the Remonstrant Confession of 1621. It will then examine Remonstrant reactions to, and assessments of, the Synod itself—before, during, and after the Synod. This will include a look at the expectations of the Remonstrants vis-à-vis their actual treatment at the Synod, as well as the famous speech of Simon Episcopius.

Randall Engle: "Song of the Synod"

Much is known about the theological agenda, debates, and conclusions of the international Synod of Dordrecht. However, recent scholarship reveals curious details about the worship of the synod; for example, organ music was offered in the Great Church at the festival opening service even though the provincial synod of Dordrecht had proscribed church organ music about 30 years earlier. This lecture first explains the nascent worship and music principles set by the early Dutch Reformed before introducing the International Synod’s musician, Henderick Joostenszoon Speuij, Dordrecht’s municipal organist and harpsichordist. Speuij’s settings of some Genevan Psalms introduced the international delegates to the genre, and they were later the first published organ music in the Reformed Church. Speuij’s music may even help explain article 69 of the Synod, and its post acta session 162, that affirmed the use of Genevan psalmody in the churches. The lecture concludes with a performance of some of Speuij’s “grave and serious” pieces that premiered at the Synod.

Fred van Lieburg: "The public gallery of the Dordt Synod"

The well-known painting of the Synod of Dordrecht reflects the common view of its historiography: a closed room, crowded with theological scholars, representing political and ecclesiastical bodies, gathered to denounce a deviant group pictured in the middle of the scene. The people behind the fence at the forefront, both men and women, seem to be the only link with the outside world. However, above this hall, under the gaze of the synod’s president, there were two more public galleries. A variety of visitors could follow the sessions and report the events and discussions to others, including non-Reformed persons, correspondents, publishers and booksellers. Not surprisingly, as the synod's work moved in difficult directions, the synod decided to manage the public access to the galleries, depending on what was happening in the meeting hall. This lecture deals with the challenges faced by the Synod of Dordt due to new ideas as well as new media, and analyzes the ramifications of a public (religious) sphere that could no longer be ruled by formal meetings, juridical procedures and authoritative documents.

Suzanne McDonald: "The Canons of Dort for the Church Today: Polemics, Pastoring, and Pulling up TULIPs"

Many of us avoid the Canons of Dort. We are afraid of the main doctrinal focus - election - and we are put off by the polemical tone. At the other extreme, many make the Canons (or rather, the misleading acronym, TULIP) into the be all and end all of Reformed theology. Given all of this, can the Canons of Dort still be helpful for the church today? We will see that once we have recognized the limits of what the Canons set out to do, and why they take their particular form, the theology of the Canons still matters deeply. More surprisingly, perhaps, we will also see that there is a strong pastoral thread running through the polemic that can continue to help us and those to whom we minister in the ups and downs of life and faith.