Jump to content

The Protestant Community

Welcome to Christforums the Protestant Community. You'll need to register in order to post your comments on your favorite topics and subjects. You'll also enjoy sharing media across multiple platforms. We hope you enjoy your fellowship here! God bless, Christforums' Staff
Register now

Christforums

Christforums is a Protestant Christian forum, open to Bible- believing Christians such as Presbyterians, Lutherans, Reformed, Baptists, Church of Christ members, Pentecostals, Anglicans. Methodists, Charismatics, or any other conservative, Nicene- derived Christian Church. We do not solicit cultists of any kind, including Mormons, Jehovah's Witnesses, Eastern Lightning, Falun Gong, Unification Church, Aum Shinrikyo, Christian Scientists or any other non- Nicene, non- Biblical heresy. God bless, Christforums' Staff
Register now
Sign in to follow this  
William

10 Things You Should Know about James Arminius and Arminianism

Recommended Posts

Today we turn our attention to James Arminius and a few brief observations about the theological system that bears his name.

 

(1) Jacob Harmenszoon, better known to history as James Arminius, was born in Holland in 1559. His father died within a year of his birth and his mother, his brothers and sisters, and virtually all his relatives, were massacred in a raid on his home town of Oudewater in 1575. Arminius enrolled as a student of liberal arts at the University of Leyden in 1576 and concluded his studies in 1581. He went to study in John Calvin’s Geneva and enrolled at the Academy on January 1, 1582 (Theodore Beza, Calvin's successor and Arminius’s primary instructor, was now 62). In 1583 he went to Basel, but returned to Geneva in 1584 and remained there until 1586.

 

(2) Arminius became pastor of a church in Amsterdam in 1587 and remained such until 1603. In 1588 be began preaching through Malachi and Romans. In 1591, when Arminius reached Romans 7, controversy erupted. During this period Arminius defended his view of Romans 7, contending that Paul spoke there as an unregenerate man. He believed that otherwise Christians would be encouraged to sin and would lack an incentive to holiness. When Arminius reached Romans 9 the controversy broke out in full force. He interpreted Jacob and Esau as types of classes of people, the former of those who seek righteousness by faith and the latter of those who seek it by works. Individual salvation through divine election is not in view.

 

(3) During the years 1598-1602 Arminius engaged in controversy with the English Puritan theologian, William Perkins (1558-1602), publishing a response to Perkins' treatise on predestination. He also taught at the University of Leyden for six years (1603-1609), during which he waged theological war with Francis Gomarus (1563-1641).

 

(4) Arminius argued for the notion of preventing, exciting, or prevenient grace, by which is meant a work of the Holy Spirit in all men (and not just the elect) by which faith is made possible (but not necessary). Thus the question becomes, “Is grace irresistible?” Arminius says no.

 

(5) Arminius did not, as some contend, embrace the Pelagian doctrine of perfection from sin in this life. However, he never wholly repudiated the possibility either: “But while I never asserted that a believer could perfectly keep the precepts of Christ in this life, I never denied it, but always left it as a matter which has still to be decided” (I:256).

 

(6) As for the assurance of salvation, he affirmed that one may have present assurance of present salvation (I:255, 384-85). However, he denied that one can have present assurance of final salvation. If there is no present assurance of final salvation, it is because there is the possibility of falling from grace. In his work against Perkins he seems to say a believer could fall, but later spoke with more reserve. He argues that a person remains a living member of Christ unless he grows slothful and gives place to sin and little by little becomes half-dead. This, if not checked, results in spiritual death in which the individual ceases to be a member of Christ (III:282-525).

 

Yet in his Declaration of Sentiments he says that he never taught “that a true believer can either totally or finally fall away from the faith, and perish” (I:254). He tries to evade the issue by distinguishing between the elect and believers. One may be among the latter but not the former, since the elect always persevere.

 

(7) Arminius’s doctrine of divine election is somewhat complex. He divides the elective decree of God into four categories or kinds. There is first the election of Christ, in the sense that he is appointed to be the Savior of sinners. Second, there is the decree to save those who repent and believe and to leave the unrepentant and unbelieving in their sin. The third decree is that by which God determines to provide the sufficient means through which all are enabled to believe, if they will. The fourth decree is the most crucial one:

“To these succeeds the fourth decree, by which God decreed to save and damn certain particular persons. This decree has its foundation in the foreknowledge of God, by which he knew from all eternity those individuals who would, through his preventing [i.e., prevenient] grace, believe, and, through his subsequent grace would persevere, according to the before described administration of those means which are suitable and proper for conversion and faith; and, by which foreknowledge he likewise knew those who would not believe and persevere” (I:248).

Therefore, according to Arminius, election is conditional, being based on God's foresight of faith, a faith which all are enabled to exercise through the bestowal of prevenient grace.

 

(8) On January 14, 1610 (Arminius died in 1609), more than forty of Arminius’s followers met in the city of Gouda under the leadership of Uytenbogaert. They subscribed to the Remonstrance, a petition to be sent to the political authorities setting forth their case. Aside from various political issues, the document articulated five points of theological conviction. In response to the declarations of the Arminians a group of Reformed men issued the Counter-Remonstrance in 1611, a point-by-point refutation of the Remonstrance of 1610 (actually there were seven doctrinal points in the Counter-Remonstrance).

 

(9) In the years that followed, there was a great deal of political activity. At one point the Arminians held power, but under the leadership of Maurice (son of William of Orange), the Calvinists gained the upper hand. They finally called a national synod which convened on Nov. 13, 1618, and lasted until May 9, 1619. For each of the five points of the Remonstrance the Calvinists affirmed five counter points. They comprise what we now know as the Canons of Dort which, along with the Heidelberg Catechism and the Belgic Confession, became the basis for Dutch Calvinism.

 

(10) The Arminians were banished and persecuted until about 1625. They continued to have a major influence under the leadership of such men as Episcopius, Limborch, and Hugo Grotius (articulate advocate of the Governmental theory of the atonement). The theological assertions of Arminius and the Remonstrance have been adopted in part or in whole by such as John and Charles Wesley (and Methodism in general), Charles Finney, classical Pentecostal denominations (such as the Assemblies of God), the Nazarenes, and Free-Will Baptists among others.

 

Source: http://www.samstorms.com/enjoying-god-blog/post/10-things-you-should-know-about-james-arminius-and-arminianism

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Its good to know the background of this man, even if he espoused things I disagree with. He clearly was prepared to defend his position, something few Christians can do today. Some say they are Calvinists but really lack full understanding as to what that means.

 

I doubt many can full explain Calvinism, I know I stii have much to grasp.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

One can give a history of Arminius and have most of the facts be correct yet ignore the climate in which he existed. Arminius started out as a Calvinist and was selected to refute the argument against predestination by a man named Coornhert. Now, in this “climate” of what I could only describe as Calvinistic Fascism, Arminius had to be extremely cautious. There is a terrible record of persecution, beheading, imprisonment and burning at the stake of those who would dare to question the absolutes of Calvinism. One could not believe the Bible and not be at risk of being tortured or put to death. In this environment, Arminius lived and worked.

Many of the conclusions of Arminius bear the mark of caution. His writings give all the marks of skirting the edge of subtlety, as somehow always giving himself a way out if the threat became too big. After his death, those that grasped what he said, developed and codified the teachings of Arminius against the rigged Kangaroo Court at Dort. Immediately following the Calvinistic condemnation of the Remonstrant “Arminianism,” persecution intensified.

 

“At length, a synod being assembled, acted in the usual manner; they laid down the principles of faith with confidence, condemned the doctrine of the Remonstrants; deprived their antagonists of all their offices; and concluded by humbly beseeching God and their high mightinesses, to put their decrees into execution, and to ratify the doctrine they had expressed. The states obliged them in this Christian and charitable request, for as soon as the synod was concluded, Barnwelt, a friend of the Remonstrants and their opinions, was beheaded, and Grotius condemned to perpetual imprisonment; and because the dissenting ministers would not promise wholly, and always to abstain from the exercise of their religious functions, the states passed a resolution for banishing them, on pain, if they did not submit to it, of being treated as disturbers of the public peace” (J.J. Stockdale, The History of the Inquisitions, 1810, pp. xxviii, xxix).

 

There are some of the “10 Things you should know about Jacob Arminius and Arminianism” that I question its accuracy and bias.

 

(4) Arminius argued for the notion of preventing, exciting, or prevenient grace, by which is meant a work of the Holy Spirit in all men (and not just the elect) by which faith is made possible (but not necessary). Thus the question becomes, “Is grace irresistible?” Arminius says no.

 

Unless one can produce the comment from Arminius, I charge the writer with poor investigation. I find it disturbingly predictable that instead of proving their point, Calvinists refute Arminianism by what some Calvinist says Arminius taught. Why not go to the source?

 

Arminius wrote about the fall of man, he says, "By this foul deed, he precipitated himself from that noble and elevated condition into a state of the deepest infelicity, which is under the dominion of sin. For "to whom any one yields himself a servant to obey," (Rom. 6:16,) and "of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought in bondage," and is his regularly assigned slave. (2 Pet. 2:19.) In this state, the Free Will of man towards the True Good is not only wounded, maimed, infirm, bent, and weakened; but it is also imprisoned, destroyed, and lost: And its powers are not only debilitated and useless unless they are assisted by grace, but it has no powers whatever except such as are excited by Divine grace: For Christ has said, "Without me ye can do nothing." [The Works of Arminius, 2:637, Translated by James Nichols and William Nichols, reprinted by Baker Book House, Grand Rapids, MI. 1986]

 

"Though we always and on all occasions make this grace to precede, to accompany and follow; and without which, we constantly assert, no good action whatever can be produced by man. Nay, we carry this principle so far as not to dare to attribute the power here described even to the nature of Adam himself, without the help of Divine Grace both infused and assisting. It has become evident, that the fabricated opinion (that they taught Pelagian free-will,) is imposed on us through calumny. [The Works of Arminius, 2:192, Translated by James Nichols and William Nichols, reprinted by Baker Book House, Grand Rapids, MI. 1986]

 

"Concerning Grace and Free Will, this is what I teach according to the Scriptures and orthodox consent: Free Will is unable to begin or to perfect any true spiritual good, without Grace." [The Works of Arminius, 2:701, Translated by James Nichols and William Nichols, reprinted by Baker Book House, Grand Rapids, MI. 1986]

 

Arminius did not teach the Grace of God could be resisted in its reception. The possibility of rejecting the grace of salvation is one point in the writings of Arminius where he seems to be at odds with himself. His writings are not always dated and in order, and it cannot be known what his final conclusion was. This I see as his caution in the hostile environment against those that would question Calvinism. The Remonstrants on the other hand, carried the teaching of Arminius to its logical end and affirmed that grace could be rejected once received. One can receive tickets to the Super Bowl, but even though they have the tickets in hand, they can be thrown away. It opposes the words of Arminius to say that he taught that grace can be resisted; it is just not so. To say that the grace can be rejected after it is placed in the person's hand, is an entirely different issue.  

 

(5) Arminius did not, as some contend, embrace the Pelagian doctrine of perfection from sin in this life. However, he never wholly repudiated the possibility either: “But while I never asserted that a believer could perfectly keep the precepts of Christ in this life, I never denied it, but always left it as a matter which has still to be decided” (I:256).

 

This is the sad trait of those that oppose Arminianism; it is the tactic of poisoning the well by asserting an unproven connection to Pelagianism. I could equally do the same with Fatalism and its direct connection to Gnosticism and Manicheanism, and that would not be an imaginary connection. Arminianism is divided on the issue of Christian Perfection; not all Arminians teach or accept the doctrine. The Wesleyan camp accepts it, and oddly never seeks the endorsement of Pelagius. Calvinists seem to imply that such a doctrine never existed until Pelagius. It exists in Scripture, and the Early Church prior to Pelagius, and it is dishonest to force or imply such a connection.   

 

“Yet in his Declaration of Sentiments he says that he never taught “that a true believer can either totally or finally fall away from the faith, and perish” (I:254). He tries to evade the issue by distinguishing between the elect and believers. One may be among the latter but not the former, since the elect always persevere.”

This is nonsense to disagree with Arminius on the basis if Calvinistic philosophy and not Scripture. The question is, in his day, what would the Calvinists do to him is he did teach it?

 

Under Calvinistic rule, Arminianism was punishable. Not that they ever proved Arminianism to be wrong at Dort, but that the Calvinistic judges would not give an inch (because they would be condemned too!). The Synod of Dort was as honest as the Diet at Worms was to the condemnation of Luther.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×