2 Themes played a major role in the Synod:
- Relationship between church and state
How to translate into a theatre production
What is the problem? To create a theatre drama around a problem
worded in mere theological terms in an abstract way. The spreading
of knowledge needed to be correctly worded. This was done with all
manner of theological ingenuity. How to create a theatre production
from this theoretical point of view.
What was being discussed?
It was about the relationship between Gods absolute wisdom and the
life of man. There were two schools of thought:
1. A and the Remonstrants said, that God in his absolute wisdom
has a previous insight if someone believed during his lifetime or
not. God has predestined man to salvation or doom, based on this
insight (Gods providence).
2. G and the contra-Remonstrants objected greatly to this opinion.
If God can decide how man will fare, based on his providence, He
will then make himself dependant on the behaviour of man. God therefore
loses his freedom. This is unacceptable. Always independent, God
will decide his sovereignty.
The Remonstrants belong to a more liberally thinking
part of the population and the contra-Remonstrants to the more conservative
A as well Gomarus as Arminius were educated in
Geneva, Arminius with Calvin and Gomarius with Beza; they both had
the same theological education and spoke the same language. (A had
passed away a few years prior to the Synod.)
The Remonstrants stated: if love does not play
a part in ones behaviour, then the hard lesson of the predestination
does not make sense. The contra-Remonstrants always commenced with
the impenetrable of God and the questions of belief which that provoked;
they too thought love important, but secondary to the belief in
God’s impenetrable wisdom. As matter of fact these questions
regarding the relationship between God and man are beyond our realm
of understanding and imagination.
The discussions at the Synod
Discussions took place during the Synod actually only among the
contra-Remonstrants The Remonstrants had indeed departed after the
utterance of Bogerman of “Ite, Ite”. Each participant
read what he had prepared.
Translated back to everyday life
A few suggestions to translate the theological problem at the Synod
back to daily life. Think that both the Remonstrants, as well as
the contra-Remonstrants believed the predestination and the impenetrable
wisdom of God. Also think that one lived full of fear of the afterlife.
To gain reassurance about one’s future salvation
after death one would say for instance:
”Because I believe, God has chosen me, otherwise I would not
believe” Or:“Because I give to the poor, the deduction
is that I am chosen, otherwise I would not give”. One sought
signals and signs to see if one was chosen by God.
Support was sought this way; still the case today
with the extreme right of Calvinism.
Do these kinds of translation to everyday life offer a possibility
for a theatre production?
You can also imagine a scene in which a pastoral or an existential
problem figure around the chosen. For instance a conflict between
a theologist, participating at the Synod and someone with the existential
question if he or she is chosen.
Read the Acta of the Synod and look for sessions at the Synod of
dramatic interrogations. Find out the topic of discussions, find
out the reason for these discussions and try to translate these
to a theatre production.
The principal question was about the independence/freedom/sovereignty
of God and His untraceable way with our existence, and about the
question regarding the freedom of man. (The modern day question
would be: is a free man free without God)
The second theme: the relationship between
church and state
The Calvinists of the contra-Remonstrants started with God: He rules,
he does so through preachers; the state has to listen to them. Besides,
the church is its own master, the state has nothing to say. The
Calvinists of the Remonstrants also said that God rules; He does
not only do so via the church but also via the state. When someone
in church claims that he cannot bear arms or be in a governing function
(as the Baptists claimed), then the state has the right to interfere.
How topical this problem is, is evident from the current discussion
about whether the state should interfere in mosques or not.
Fred van Lieburg: De Dordtse Synode 1618-1619, Publisher De Stroombaan,
W. van ‘t Spijker - C.C.de Bruin - H.Moerkerken - H.Natzijl.
De Synode van Dordrecht in 1618 en 1619. Publisher Den Hertog B.V.-Houten
Jonhatan I.Israel. De Republiek 1477-1806. Publisher Van Wijnen-Franeker.
Staten Generael Vereenichden Nederlandts Acta ofte Handelinghen des
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