Ok, what’s the first thing comes into your head when you hear the word ‘Dogma’? It probably isn’t hot dogs, but in Utrecht there is the marvellous Dogma restaurant which serves the most wonderful and creative hot dogs imaginable.

My first visit to Dogma was to meet with Heine Siebrand to pick his brains about a little-known Dutch philosopher and pastor called Willem F Zuurdeeg. Heine, like the late Willem Zuurdeeg, is a Remonstrant pastor and philosopher. He graciously shared his knowledge of Zuurdeeg and was able to provide me with some unique insights and information which greatly aided my understanding of Zuurdeeg and his work. Maybe sometime I’ll share more about Zuurdeeg but in this post I want to introduce and say thanks to Heine.

Heine taught philosophy after completing his PhD on Baruch Spinosa, one of the most influential 17th Century philosophers and, while he had no real intention to ever become a pastor, found himself elected as the pastor of a congregation who decided they knew best and would not take no for an answer! As a consequence of the democratic dictat of these good people, Heine became a pastor in the Remonstrant Brotherhood. The Brotherhood finds it origins in the 17th Century as a consequence of a dispute over the theology of Calvinism within Dutch Protestantism. Given the close marriage of the church and the state in the 17th Century (never a good thing at any time), those who concurred with the views of Dutch theologian Jacobus Arminius found themselves imprisoned or ostracised. As a consequence the Remonstrant Brotherhood emerged as a distinct community of believers.

Remonstrants are known as liberal in a strict sense, generally decrying strict formulations of belief they allow people of personal faith to write their own confession of faith when they become a member. As a consequence, it is often assumed that they have no real beliefs at all and are considered by some as irredeemable heretics – all too often the way to deal with those who won’t follow the conventional way of thinking. However, my encounter with Heine as well as reading and learning from Zuurdeeg has been a thoroughly enriching intellectual and spiritual experience and I’m grateful to both!

Thanks Heine.

PS – if you ever have reason to be in Utrecht, make your way to Dogma and sample the best of hot dogs. All the information you’ll need is here Come to think of it, Dogma’s a good reason to make it your business to visit Utrecht!

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