The Synod of Dordt (11): The Post-Acta sessions

“…These stones shall be a memorial unto the children of Israel forever.”—Joshua 4:7c

Sessions 155-180 of the Synod of Dordt, held from May 13 to 29, 1619, constituted the Synod’s fourth and final phase. These are called the Post-Acta sessions because they were held after the Synod had finished its primary business (judging the Remonstrants and drafting the Canons) and after the foreign delegates had left. In Dutch versions of the Acts of Synod, the minutes of these sessions are found in the very back of the book, following all of the judgments relating to the Remonstrant matter that the various delegations had submitted. Because the foreign delegates had left, the Post-Acta sessions were conducted in Dutch rather than Latin.

During these sessions the delegates treated mat­ters that pertained to the Dutch churches in common. The provincial synods had forwarded more than nineteen overtures (“gravamen”) to the Synod of Dordt, most dealing with church political issues. Synod drew up responses to these overtures, and incorporated them into the existing church order of that day, resulting in the Church Order of Dordt. During these sessions Synod also:

  • drew up the Formula of Subscription.
  • asked the provincial governments to adopt certain regulations regarding the theological educa­tion provided by the universities.
  • asked the provincial governments to adopt other regulations regarding the education of children.
  • approved regulations regarding the proper view of and keeping of the Sabbath.
  • approved the Dutch translation of the Canons.
  • approved a standard edition of the French (Gallic) Confession and the Belgic Confession in the Dutch, French, and Latin languages.
  • approved the form to use when administering adult baptism.
  • treated the appeal of Isaac Welsing regarding a decision of the provincial Synod of North Holland by which he was deprived of his office.
  • made provision for the calling of the next na­tional synod, which was to be held in 1621 (but never was).
  • made provision for the revision and examina­tion of the official Acts of Synod.

On Wednesday, May 29, the Synod concluded its work by gathering in Dordrecht’s Great Church to hear a sermon on Isaiah 121:1-3. Returning to its usu­al meeting place (the Kloveniersdoelen), the president of the delegation from the States General led in closing ceremony.

At long last the delegates could return home to their churches and families from whom they had been separated for over six months. The “great synod” was over.