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Conflicten Rond Predikantsbenoemingen in Enkele Hollandse Steden, Ca. 1670-1770

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image of Nederlands Archief voor Kerkgeschiedenis / Dutch Review of Church History
For more content, see Church History and Religious Culture.

Within the rather complex relationship between State and Church the appointment of ministers has always been of the greatest importance. Attempts to make a regulation, which would be valid in all the towns of the province of Holland, were not successful because of the fundamental disagreement between church and civil authorities on the limits of competence on both sides. The "broad" church council, composed of ministers, elders and deacons and sometimes also former elders and representatives of the town government (commissarissen politiek) officially decided on the selection of ministers. In almost every town however, the church council had to ask the burgomasters for permission to set the procedure in motion. In the end the council had to present a select list of three candidates and finally the name of the candidate the majority of its members thought preferable. This procedure offered the town governments ample opportunities to intervene. They could decline to initiate the selection process, impose conditions or veto unsuitable candidates. Many church councils considered these interventions as unacceptable encroachments on their rights and freedom. The appointments of ministers were always potential causes of discord between the civil authorities and the church councils. The article deals with the many conflicts in a number of towns in the province of Holland between 1670 and 1770. The beginning is marked by the political crisis of 1672 which resulted in the restoration of the stadholderly regime under William III. The Voetians, the Reformed orthodoxy, hoped for support of the stadholder in their theological struggle with the adherents of Coccejus. In the second half of the 18th century this conflict had lost its original character and furthermore the dissension within the Reformed Church was no longer mainly based on disagreement between these two groups but the changed situation had produced a tripartition. Somewhat later political elements began influencing the internal relations. Analysis of the conflicts leads to the conclusion, that local circumstances often played a decisive part. It also demonstrates the complex and comprehensive character of these collisions. Yet it is possible to categorize the various conflicts by distinguishing between different, although closely interconnected, dominating factors: 1. religious antagonism within the Reformed Church (the richtingenstrijd); 2. discord between political factions within the town governments; 3. differing opinions on the relation between church and state at the local level and more specifically the part played by the church council in the selection procedure; 4. nepotism and favouritism; and 5. meddling by the Orange stadholders in the appointments of ministers under William III and after the restoration of the Orangist regime in 1747.


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