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Arminianism

Protestant Christian theology founded by the Dutch theologian Jacob Arminius[?].

The original Arminian party arose within the Reformed churches in the Netherlands, to advocate a revision of the Reformed doctrine of predestination, in favor of an idea of predestination that was more agreeable to reason and Catholic tradition. They charged that the Calvinist party, especially the followers of Theodore Beza and the University of Leiden professor, Franciscus Gomarus[?], had developed a system of doctrine that made God the author of evil as well as of good. The Arminians attempted to formulate a consistent system, and proposed five corrections of the Reformed doctrine which would better express the important proposition that all good originates with God, but sin in no sense originates with Him. These became known as the Arminian Articles of Remonstrance (1610), and their proponents became known as Remonstrants (correcters or reformers). These five proposed, anti-Calvinist corrections are summarized below:

  • God has decreed to save through Jesus Christ, out of the fallen and sinful human race, those foreknown by him who through the grace of the Holy Spirit believe in Christ; but God leaves in sin those foreseen, who are incorrigible and unbelieving (Election conditioned upon foreknowledge).

  • Christ's death was suffered on behalf of all men, but God elects for salvation only those who believe in Christ (Atonement is a universal moral influence).

  • Freedom of will is man's natural state, not a spiritual gift - and thus free will was not lost in the Fall. The grace of Christ works upon all men to influence them for good, but only those who freely choose to agree with grace by faith and repentance are given new spiritual power to make effectual the good they otherwise impotently intend (Free will and partial depravity).

  • The grace of God works for good in all men, and brings about newness of life through faith. But grace can be resisted even by the regenerate (Resistible grace).

  • Those who are incorporated into Christ by a true faith have power given them through the assisting grace of the Holy Spirit, sufficient to enable them to persevere in the faith. But it is possible for a believer to fall from grace.

The Calvinists responded to the Arminian position at the Synod of Dordt, with a rebuttal against the charge that Reformed churches relieve people of responsibility for their own sin, or teach that God is the author of evil. The Synod also rejected the Arminian proposals as a republication of the semi-Pelagian error, and reaffirmed the Calvinist position on the five points of Arminianism, without requiring the doctrine of predestination as advocated by Gomarus. The Synod's point-by-point rebuttal of the five articles came to form the five points of Calvinism, commonly abbreviated TULIP[?].

The Wesleyan revival in England, which was part of the first Great Awakening in America, recovered the Arminian emphasis on personal responsibility; but it did not widely result in the adoption of Arminianism by the traditionally Calvinist denominations. However, the Second Great Awakening, beginning approximately sixty years later, brought a widespread overthrow of Calvinism in favor of Arminianism, especially through the influence of Methodism and the Presbyterian Charles Grandison Finney, who aggressively advanced the Arminian system as an antidote to hypocrisy and religious apathy. Revivalists Alexander Campbell and Barton Stone[?] popularized an anti-Calvinist, democratic concept of salvation early in the Second Great Awakening, but this can be contrasted with Arminianism on a number of points. Also, their followers typically reject all, Arminianism vs. Calvinism, Augustinianism vs. Pelagianism, and other typical distinctions, as "ecclesiastical idols".

Protestant denominations that traditionally adhere to Arminianism include most Methodist and related denominations.

In popular usage, Arminianism is the belief that once a person has been "saved" (accepted the gift of salvation by trusting in Jesus Christ as Savior), it is possible for the person to lose his or her salvation by leading an unfaithful life and/or turning away from Christ. When Arminianism is referred to in this sense, it is in contrast to the popular simplification of the Calvinist doctrine of Perseverance of the saints, commonly expressed as "once saved always saved."


Not to be confused with Armenians (people from Armenia) or the Armenian language.



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