James Arminius (1560-1609)The life of the arch-heretic of the Christian church responsible for reviving the heresy of Semi-Pelagianism.
Arminius on Predestination
“God can ‘previously love and affectionate regard as His own’ no sinner unless He has foreknown him in Christ, and looked upon him as a believer in Christ.” (Works of James Arminius, Volume 3).
After much thought, I have decided to add a couple of documents to the website specifically for the benefit of the Calvinist. The Calvinist needs to have a thorough understanding of the Arminian tradition and their arguments. Deviant and mixed up forms of Arminianism are seen across the evangelical board of the contemporary church. If the Calvinist desires to deal faithfully with the Bible in opposition to the teachings of Arminianism, he must know what Arminianism teaches, even in it’s watered down and deviant forms today. Arminianism is not something hidden under a stone, but lives in full view, and in direct opposition, to the Gospel. It is a deceiving doctrine of demons wrought up from the pit of hell, where, in the consummation of the age, it will be cast for all eternity with the devil that spawned it and the false teachers who propagated it. My position on this doctrine is clear. I am opposed to the system of doctrine known as Arminianism. It is important to note at the outset that I have a very rigid opinion of Arminius and his writings. It is my opinion that James Arminius (James Harmensen) was an arch-heretic (a heresiarc) of the Christian faith. He was a deceived man who deceived others; those ultimately known as the Remonstrants, and today he still has some followers. Good intentions do not count for truth. He was a false teacher of the faith even if he believed he had the smallest amount of “good intention.” Now, this portion of the website is not to be taken as “Arminian bashing.” That is not my intent at all, and I will not tolerate the accusation that I am bashing Arminians on this portion of my site. Nor am I calling Arminius “names”. My intent, as I said, was for the benefit of the Calvinist, first and foremost. Though I have made myself known as to my opinion of Arminius in this first paragraph, and as to my outlook on the teachings of the system he produced and that the Remonstrants taught, I am still intending this portion of the site to edify the Calvinist by systematically refuting each of the major anti-biblical tenants of the Arminian system of thought and placing the Bible in the forefront. In the end, we should have a clear understanding of what classical Arminianism taught, and what the Bible says.
Whenever the Calvinist sets forth the ideas contained in the doctrines of grace, and fervently sets his pen (or keyboard) against the writings and thoughts of the Arminians, he is usually arguing against secondary ideas based upon his knowledge of the subject. What do I mean by this? I mean to say that instead of hearing the doctrine of repentance from Arminius himself, or from the Remonstrants (his followers), the Calvinist will refute the Arminian doctrine of repentance based on preconceived notions, assumptions, other books written about other authors who say they are Arminian, and the like. They are arguing against secondary ideas – on second hand information. Now it may be that the learned Calvinist “gets lucky” and, at times, hits the proverbial nail on the head. (We will not even mention the ignorant Calvinist who cannot even get the historical facts correct much less Arminius’ doctrines.) He may certainly set forth, say, the doctrines of grace, in a manner which is consistent with orthodoxy, and at the same time he may adequately refute false ideas which rise against those doctrines even unknowingly. By doing all this that does not mean that he has a handle on the manner in which Arminius himself stated the doctrine or perceived the idea. In his ignorance of Arminius’ ideas that does not make the Calvinist wrong in his approach to correctly handling the Word of Truth, but it does make him wrong in the manner of understanding the position of others before he critiques it. Ignorance in this manner is not to be tolerated. I am saddened by the lack of Calvinist prowess here in today’s Reformed Church. Books are being written, arguments stated, money is being made, and the “truth” is being proclaimed. Revision of these abound – do they not? In all honesty, I am not interested in them. Let us all stop arguing about these secondary issues and first have a real handle on what the Arminian actually believes and teaches. But we are only able to do this if we understand the intricate root system of classical “Arminianism.” Those who claim to be Arminian today and write books against their preconceived ideas of Calvinism (Geisler, Hunt, et al.) would be scolded and rebuked by Arminius himself for misunderstanding even what Arminius taught. The Remonstrants would have nothing to do with them. Today’s “Arminians” are as much classical Arminians as a 2003 Lamborghini Diablo is a replica of the first Ford motorcar. We are dealing with apples and oranges. (Note: Do not assume that I accuse James White of being wrong in refuting those men (Geisler, Hunt, et al); but do understand that those men know little, or nothing, about what James Arminius actually taught. Their own mixed up brand of “theology” is aberrant to say the least.)
There are certain kinds of Calvinists I am trying to help. On the one hand, there is the sympathetic Calvinist. He believes Arminians are as much a true Christian as any other Christians. Yes, they may be in serious error, but still, in all they hold to in error, they still preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and so, they are saved. He is wrong. Then there is the other side of the spectrum, the hardened Calvinist, who asserts that all Arminians are doomed and damned, and the only Gospel is to be found in the doctrines of TULIP. Only those who adhere to TULIP are saved. He is wrong as well. In knowing that both extremes exist in today’s culture, the Calvinist needs to develop a pastoral heart, while at the same time he must stand unswervingly to the truth of the Bible in a manner in which does not comprise the faith, once for all delivered unto the saints (Jude 3).
Lastly, on a personal note, I want to position myself fairly here. Though I believe that the system of doctrine known as Arminianism is heretical, that does not mean I am one of the hardened Calvinists who has little or no compassion on the “Arminians” of today. I am not in the first camp, nor am I in the second camp. To say “Arminians” are deceived brethren is an oxy-moron. It’s simply a matter of really understanding the Gospel. Yet, to throw a theological blanket over the entirety of Arminianism today and to say they are all lost is to act irresponsibly. Saying that is unfair, and Calvinists are not showing forth a prudent biblical mind when they say it. I would suggest that the Calvinist first read Dr. Nicole’s very good article “How to deal with those who differ from us.” After that, after meditating on that, then come and read through the posts here as they arrive.
I do hope that this portion of the site becomes a help to those who need it.
The quotations taken from Arminius’ writings will be from the following source:
Arminius, James. The Works of Arminius, Translated by William Nichols, Baker Book House, Grand Rapids, MI: 1991. Volumes 1-3.
This edition is a copy from what was known as the “London Edition” written in Latin.
The format for citations will be as follows (3:125).
This would mean volume 3, page 125 of Arminius’ writings.
C. Matthew McMahon
October 31, 2002