The Remonstrants' Arminian DocumentsCreeds and Confessions of the Church
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It is often stated by true Reformed Theologians that Evangelical Christendom is, for the most part, Arminian in its theology and practice. This is not a surprise to many who claim the reformed banner, though it be exceedingly sorrowful to them. Those who see the plight of the evangelical church in such a light do not only march upon the streets of evangelicalism with their reformed banner waving high, but they also weep for those deceived shepherds who lead the professing church astray. They weep for the souls of men, women and children who are being lead astray into false and erroneous doctrines which have arisen alongside of the smoke ascending from the pit of hell itself. The reformed desire to see these people turn and repent. They are not simply worried about another triumphant victory for the “reformed camp”, and an excuse to mark another notch on their reformed belt. Serious reformed men and women are in their prayer closets besieging heaven with a holy fervor that God may vindicate His name from every enemy which rises up against the truth, but also for the sweet grace of true revival to be poured out on the minds of those who have fallen into a grave and damning error. The reformed do not want people to simply be reformed for “reformed” sake. They desire to see people call upon the name of the Sovereign God of the universe and be saved. They desire to see the power of Christ manifested in the lives of those who profess a form of godliness but deny its true power.
In looking upon the face of Evangelicalism, we see Jacob Arminius looking back. But even more so, the Remonstrants have taken Arminius’ doctrine and brought it to further lengths than even Arminius may have gone. Though Arminius may not have gone to the extreme of his own teaching, his doctrines are still heretical. The propagation of the system of doctrine known as Arminianism, in any of its twisted forms (whether the Remonstrant’s version, or Evangelicalism’s version), is a damning heresy. Nevertheless, what exactly does Arminianism teach? In the current state of Christendom, the potpourri of doctrinal mixture and deviation from orthodox Christianity is so prevalent that it is oftentimes very difficult to distinguish how many theological positions have been mixed together in any one church. One church may wrap up in its communion Antinomianism, Arminianism, and New Age teachings while professing the name “Christian”. At least it was commendable in centuries gone by that those who held to these varied doctrines clearly and succinctly defined what they believed and what they rejected, even though it may have been wholly erroneous. Today it is simply combined into a giant stew of unorthodox compromise, without any rhyme or reason for many churches. It may have been they “have always been that way” or may be “trying to reach out in new ways to the culture at large.” In any case, to find a succinct, and definable mark in most “Evangelical” churches is very difficult.
To see the importance of the Canons and Decrees of the Synod of Dordt and to understand their stance for the truth of the Bible and current trend of Arminianism today, it is vital to compare what they believed to what the Arminians presented. The defining apex of Arminianism was in response to Dordt. Being summoned before the churches of the Netherlands, these Arminian preachers were ordered to write out their position, which they did reluctantly, and present it before the Synod. Their positions have come to been known as the Remonstrant Articles and the Remonstrant Opinions. If one was to answer the question “What is an Arminian?” it would be in these documents of church history.
The information in these two documents is heretical. (I cannot stress that enough.) The documents and positions themselves have already been deemed heretical by the history of the orthodox church in varied confessions, and by the Synod of Dordt in particular. They are offensive to the Biblical teaching of saving grace. They are online here not to propagate false doctrine, which I earnestly pray that none who read them would be deceived into believing their false doctrine, but that they may be used to research and compare the confessions of the orthodox church in comparison to one of the enemies of the church, Arminianism. Those Arminians who do read them and agree with them need to also read the Canons to see what the consensus of the church at large was (and is) in the orthodox camp. I would also encourage Arminians to read the Westminster Confession, with the Larger Catechism or the 1689 Baptist Confession of Faith and check the Scriptural references while going through them.
The Articles of the Remonstrants can be found in Phillip Schaff’s work, The Creeds of Christendom, Volume 3, Baker Books, Grand Rapids, MI: 1996. Pages 545ff. The Opinions of the Remonstrants can be found in Peter Y. DeJong’s book, Crisis in the Reformed Churches: Essays in Commemoration of the Great Synod of Dordt, 1618-1619, Reformed Fellowship, Inc., Grand Rapids, MI: 1968. Pages 220ff.