By 1617-18, the theological and political situation in the Netherlands had become tense. The truce would end in only three more years. What would happen when the war with Spain resumed, and the Netherlands was divided between Remonstrants and Gomarists? At the moment, the Netherlands was on the brink of a civil war between Prince Maurice, with the Gomarists, and Johan van Oldenbarnevelt and the Remonstrants.
The Remonstrants were seen as being soft toward Spain, and Prince Maurice feared they would give in to Spain once the truce ended in 1621. Prince Maurice, and his late father Prince William of Orange had fought for complete freedom from Spain. That freedom couldn’t be risked now.
In August 1618, Prince Maurice took action. He sent in the army to disband van Oldenbarnevelt’s militias and had van Oldenbarnevelt and other leaders arrested for treason. Johan van Oldenbarnevelt would be executed for treason in 1619. Prince Maurice replaced Remonstrant leaders with Gomarist leaders. And Prince Maurice called for a national synod to settle the theological questions once and for all.
We can’t know Prince Maurice’s heart if he did all of this only for political reasons or also for spiritual reasons. But we can be thankful God used him to bring about the Synod of Dordt. If van Oldenbarnevelt had succeeded in overthrowing Prince Maurice, Arminism would’ve been the national view of the Netherlands and very likely the Synod of Dordt would not have happened.
Johan van Oldenbarnevelt