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Synod of Dordt Part 1: The Netherlands in the 1500’s

This year, the Protestant Reformed Churches will celebrate the 400th anniversary of the Synod of Dort. This was a synod in the Netherlands from 1618 to 1619 that defended the five points of Calvinism and wrote the Canons of Dort.

At the time that the Canons of Dort were written, the Netherlands was going through both a reformation and revolution. In studying the history around it, we can see how God guided history to preserve the truths of Scripture in not one but two of the Three Forms of Unity that our churches hold to today.

In the early 1500s, the Netherlands was a loose union of seventeen different provinces of what is today the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxemburg, and parts of France and Germany. Each of these seventeen provinces was ruled by a governor called a stadtholder. These stadtholders would meet together in the States-General.

But the Netherlands wasn’t free. The Netherlands was under the rule of the Holy Roman Empire, which controlled a lot of countries in Europe. But the Netherlands was mostly ignored by the Holy Roman Emperor. He gave the Netherlands a lot of freedom, more freedom than almost any other country in Europe at that time.

When the printing press was invented, lots of presses across the Netherlands were allowed to print nearly whatever they wanted. While most of the early part of the Reformation started by Martin Luther in Germany didn’t have much effect on the Netherlands, it was an area ready for later waves of the Reformation.

Something to think about:

With your parents, discuss why the Three Forms of Unity are important for our churches. Why do we hold to them even four hundred years after they were written?