Jacobus Arminius: Dutch Reformed Theologian & Minister

Biographical Sketch

by Brad Watts, Biola University

james_arminius_3

Life Events

  • Born as Jacob Harmensen on October 10, 1560 in Oudewater, Netherlands
  • His father died when he was still an infant
  • He was adopted by the clergyman Theodore Aemilius who educated him
  • During this time his mother, brother, and sister were killed in the Spanish massacre in 1575
  • During that year, Arminius attended the University of Leiden
  • He was very successful in his studies there, his expenses were paid for by the school authorities in exchange for Arminius pledging his life to the church of Amsterdam
  • He also studied in Geneva under Theodore Beza
  • His expenses were paid for by the school authorities in exchange for Arminius pledging his life to the church of Amsterdam
  • During his studies he was taught by professors who had diverse views, in particular, Johann Kolmann was very vocal about his disagreement with the calvinist view of predestination. This may have been the starting point of Arminius moving away from calvinist ideas.
  • He became ordained in Amsterdam in 1588
  • He married Lijsbet Reael in 1590
  • He began preaching on the epistle to the Romans and focused more on “Justification by faith” instead of sovereign decrees.
  • In 1603 he became a professor of theology at the University of Leiden
  • Arminius was asked by the ecclesiastical senate of Amsterdam to respond to the anti-calvinist teachings of Dirck Coornhert
  • He found himself agreeing with Coornhert and began to change his views on predestination
  • Arminius and another faculty member, Gomarus, had different views on supralapsarianism which sparked a great debate between the two which divided the school. (This debate would eventually lead to the Calvinist-Arminian debate)
  • Arminius died in October 19, 1609.

Influence

  • John Calvin and Theodore Beza
    • Arminius was taught in the reformed tradition and took on Calvinist ideas such as an eternal decree, and double predestination early in his studies
  • Petrus Ramus and Rudolph Snellius
    • Arminius was influenced by Ramean philosophy which he was taught by Rudolph Snellius.
  • Johann Kolmann
    • Kolmann was against the high degree of election that was taught in Calvinism. He planted a seed in Arminius to think harder about the issue of double predestination.

Influenced

  • Arminians
    • Arminianism is now the largest theological system in the U.S.
  • John Wesley
    • Wesley was greatly influenced by Arminius’s departure from Calvinism and followed in his footsteps.
  • Five-points of Calvinism
    • The 5 points of Calvinism were developed as a response to Arminian theology.

Theology

  • Prevenient grace
    • Divine grace for all that allows all to respond to gift of salvation with human choice
  • Synergistic Free will
    • Man must respond to God’s grace for there to be salvation. Grace is resistible.
  • The Five articles of Remonstrance
    • The divine decree of predestination is conditional, not absolute
    • The atonement is in intention universal
    • Man cannot of himself exercise a saving faith
    • The grace of God is a necessary condition of human effort, it does not act irresistibly in man
    • Believers are able to resist sin but are not beyond the possibility of falling from grace

Works

Types of works: Arminius wrote theological writings reflecting his thoughts on topics such as predestination, free will, and grace

List of works

Arminius, Jacobus, James Nichols, William Nichols, and C.O Bangs. The Works of James Arminius: The London Edition. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1986.

Secondary Works

Arminius, Jacobus, and John D. Wagner. Arminius Speaks: Essential Writings on Predestination, Free Will, and the Nature of God. Eugene, Or.: Wipf & Stock, 2011.

Brian, Rustin E. Jacob Arminius: The Man from Oudewater. Eugene, OR: Cascade Books, 2015.

Bibliography

“Jacobus Arminius.” Encyclopedia Britannica Online. Accessed November 01, 2016. https://www.britannica.com/biography/Jacobus-Arminius.

Arminius, Jacobus, James Nichols, William Nichols, and C.O Bangs. The Works of James Arminius: The London Edition. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1986.

Olson, Roger E. Arminian Theology: Myths and Realities. Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2006.

Brian, Rustin E. Jacob Arminius: The Man from Oudewater. Eugene, OR: Cascade Books, 2015.

Arminius, Jacobus, and W. Stephen Gunter. Arminius and His Declaration of Sentiments: An Annotated Translation with Introduction and Theological Commentary. Waco, TX: Baylor University Press, 2012.

Arminius, Jacobus, and John D. Wagner. Arminius Speaks: Essential Writings on Predestination, Free Will, and the Nature of God. Eugene, Or.: Wipf & Stock, 2011.

 

 

 

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