f The Wittenberg Door: Who’s Sovereign in Salvation? – Part 3 – Arminianism: An Introduction

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Saturday, February 03, 2007

Who’s Sovereign in Salvation? – Part 3 – Arminianism: An Introduction

Arminianism might best be called a theology in contrast. Developed by the students of Jacobus Arminius (1560-1609) from Arminius' teachings, the Arminian system stands against Calvinism’s teaching of God’s sovereignty in salvation.

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 [going before] grace, believe, and, through his subsequent grace would persevere … by which foreknowledge, he likewise knew those who would not believe and persevere.

Jacobus Arminius (1560-1609)

In 1610, the Arminians put forth the Five Articles of the Remonstrance, which follow in summary:

  • Free Will with Partial Depravity
    Even though fallen, man can, with God’s help, freely choose Christ

  • Conditional Election
    God “elects” men based upon His forseeing their free-will choices

  • Unlimited Atonement
    Christ died to save all men, but the application of His death is to believers only

  • Resistible Grace
    God extends grace to all men, but that grace does not overcome the free will of man

  • Uncertain Perseverance
    Although God’s grace has been extended to, and accepted by, the believer, he may still “fall from grace” and thus lose his salvation

Synod of Dort

The Five Articles of the Remonstrance were a reaction against the doctrines of sovereign grace put forth in the Belgic Confession (1561). The ensuing controversy was taken up by the national assembly of the Dutch Reformed Church in 1618. The participants represented reformed churches from eight countries.

The synod concluded its work in 1619 with the rejection of Arminianism and the creation of the Canons of Dort, which are an exposition of the points in dispute.


Now that we know what Arminianism is, in my next post in this series we’ll see how it comports with God’s sovereignty and the Fall. We’ll then consider the question as to whether or not the doing and dying of Christ merely made salvation possible; if God elects men to salvation based on foreseen faith; and if man is responsible for his perseverance in the faith.

Stay tuned for Part 4!

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