Arminian Today

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Arminius the Rebel?

When people fail to study Church History, they fail to see their own ignorance and errors.  Arminius is a case in point.  It is amazing to me how many people I see on the Internet or even have spoken with who believe many lies about Arminius.  Some lies about Arminius are just ignorance to his times such as some teaching that Arminius opposed Calvin when in fact Calvin died when Arminius was but a toddler.  Arminius never met Calvin.  Arminius though did study under Calvin’s son-in-law, Beza, and was appointed by Beza to argue against the Anabaptists.

Some assume that Arminius was nothing more than an agitator, a rebel at heart and practice.  Some assume that Arminius was a champion of free will and made mankind his focal point of his studies and thus he turned to humanism and embraced a false theology that robs God of His glory and splendor.  Others falsely assume that Arminius liked being a rebel and wanted the attention.

None of these lies are true.

Arminius began his ministerial life as a Calvinist.  He had studied under Beza in Geneva and was one of their top students.  Arminius was a brilliant man and the Calvinists of his day recognized this.  He returned to his home country in the Netherlands where he took up pastoring.  His church was full as Arminius became one of the most popular preachers of his day.  The controversy that would become “Arminianism” began when Arminius was preaching through the book of Romans.  He came to Romans 7 and he differed with the Calvinistic view of his day that said that the man of Romans 7 was a saved man who struggled with sin.  Arminius disagreed and taught that Paul was describing his own sinful condition before his salvation.  Arminius had come to this viewpoint after his debates with the Anabaptists who also held to this position.  Arminius in turn preached his new convictions about Romans 7 before his church.  The sermons were very popular and became known.  This led to Calvinists contacting him about his views regarding Romans 7.  One simply did not disagree with Geneva in those days.

From Romans 7, Arminius went on to preach against the popular Calvinist view of Romans 9-11, that it teaches unconditional personal election.  Arminius disagreed and he proceeded to preach conditional election.  He also began to preach that Jesus died for all and that all can be saved through faith and repentance.  He called for the church to not believe a doctrine just because the catechisms teach this.  Preach the Word of God and believe the Word of God would be the motto of Arminius.

So was Arminius then a rebel?  Much of what we know of Arminius comes to us by his personal writings.  They are not sermons.  They are not as lengthy as the works of Calvin or Luther so we are limited in how we can understand this man.  But what we do gleam from Arminius is a man who was a deep thinker, a man who preached the Word of God and loved the Word of God, and a man who was not ashamed to state his views nor defend them.  We don’t find a man hungry for controversy.  We find a man hungry to communicate the Word of God.  Arminius praised both Calvin and Beza in his writings.  He commended the works of Calvin and his commentaries even while he disagreed with Calvin over some issues.  In his personal debates (through letters) with other Calvinists, Arminius was gracious and loving toward them.  He did not attack them but did attack their views by appealing to Scripture, reason, and to the Church Fathers.

I have seen some mean things written about Arminius.  One Calvinist blogger (who also holds that only Calvinists are saved) wrote that he believed Arminius is in hell and he was happy to think that.  He wrote, “The thought that Arminius sought to destroy the Church of God must be replaying over and over in his mind while he burns.”  Another Calvinist blogger wrote, “Arminius sought to destroy the work of God that He had begun with Calvin in the restoration of His true church.  Praise God that the Lord killed Arminius and then ended the heresy of Arminianism at the Synod of Dort.”

Now that sort of misled thinking is not rampant among Calvinists so please don’t confuse them for speaking for Calvinism.  Sadly, while Knox, Luther, Calvin, and Tyndale are upheld as “reformers” who are worthy to be praised, Arminius is often not found.  I understand that historically the Synod of Dort was a “victory” for Calvinism but Arminius was not even present at the Synod.  He had died before the Synod convened.  Arminius, if you read his writings, was a man who was passionate for the truth of God and was not bent on rebellion or even to attack Calvin.  His goal was simple: obedience to the Word of God.

I pray that Arminians and Calvinists alike will follow Arminius’ example there and seek to obey the Word of God at all costs even if it runs contrary to what is popularly taught in the Church.

Written by The Seeking Disciple

08/27/2013 at 10:30 AM

2 Responses

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  1. It is true there are misrepresentation everywhere and we should all strive towards a better representation of the other viewpoints.

    That said, it is hard, actually impossible for me not having a militant attitude against Calvinism.

    This an error which is far, far worse than the prosperity gospel.

    It teaches that God is basically a psychopatic monster predetermining people to act badly and punishing them for their sins.
    I know this a hard language, but I believe it is necessary for exposing the soul-damaging consequences of this blasphemy. Wesley would probably agree with most of my thoughts on that.

    Greetings from continental Europe.

    Lothars Sohn – Lothar’s son


    08/27/2013 at 2:03 PM

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