Throughout church history, John Calvin has been considered to be one of the greatest reformed theologians the world has ever seen. He is known for his view on God’s election and salvation. Known as Calvin’s challenger throughout all theological history, Jacob Arminius taught a different view of election, commonly coined as Arminianism.
After Calvinism had taken grab of the reformed circles, Arminianism rose consequently after. Jacob Arminius had a hard time dealing with many issues that Calvin had put forward in his argument for God’s grace ad election. He felt that Calvin’s view, later known was the “Five Points of Calvinism” (TULIP) was insufficient in describing the relationship of man, God, and grace in terms of salvation.
To some, Jacob Arminius is considered a heretic. Stern supporters of Calvin will say that Arminianism completely removes God’s sovereignty from the picture. However, to Jacob Arminius’s defense, Arminianism was intended to protect Calvinistic predestination from heretical teaching. However, instead of reforming Calvinism, he is considered to be the chief antagonist of Calvinism in theological history.
ARMINIUS AND PREDESTINATION
Jacob Arminius (the Latin translation of Jakob Hermanszoon) was born after John Calvin had already published his Institutes of the Christian Religion. Many modern thinkers believe that Arminius and Calvin were contemporaneous with each other. However, it is highly doubtful that the two theologians ever met. Arminius was born in the Netherlands, and at a very young age, both his parents died, leaving him an orphan. He attended the Geneva Academy and studied theology. He later accepted a teaching position at the University of Leiden. However, he was soon accused of doctrinal error (Williams 16).
At this point, Arminius was considered to have been formulating his case for a theology different than Calvinism. He argued that no ecumenical councils or creeds ever affirmed the idea of predestination. He felt that if God was totally sovereignly omnipotent than that caused a problem. In his mind, he felt as though this would cause a serious problem for Calvinism. He felt that in Calvin’s argument, God would be considered the author of sin. With these beliefs, there was a lot of resistance against Arminianism, however, many theologians, most famously John Wesley, would take what Arminius taught and make it their own (Williams 19).
To define Arminianism, some of Jacob Arminius’s followers outlined his beliefs in a Remonstrance. However, in many examples, it can be argued that these beliefs do not completely reflect the views of Arminius, since this document was collaborated on by his followers and student. It consisted of five different articles. First, it said that God choose to save those who would choose Him, by faith in Jesus Christ, and choose to damn those would reject Him. Secondly, it argued that Christ died for everyone, an atonement for all, not just the elect. Thirdly,...