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Arminianism: The Five Articles

Arminianism; Reformed Rant  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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Predestination and Election


Introduction and Background


The concerns arose after Calvin with the earliest followers of Calvin: Peter Vermigly, Theodore Beza, and Jerome Zanchi.
Calvin places the doctrine of predestination under the heading of soteriology and retains a robust appreciation for the mystery of God’s will.
Peter Vermigli on the other hand takes a more rigorous approach, moving from the clearer points of theology and methodically deduces other truths from Calvin’s theology deductively moving from the mountain to the bolder to the rock and then the pebble. Later Calvinists have taken us all the way down to the grains of sand…to the point that if you are lacking just one, then your conversion may rightly be questioned.
It was this method of deduction and a strong desire to leave as little as possible to mystery in the divine will that led to the controversy between infralapsarians and supralapsarians. To this day there seems to be a contempt for those who prefer to leave things to mystery. When God said in that the secret things belong to the Lord, he meant it.
When I was a child, my parents would hide gifts until the time came to bring them out and give them to us. If we got caught even looking for the gifts, there would be unpleasant consequences.
We see this kind of practice taking place early on in Calvin’s earliest followers and it tended toward some views that were quite disturbing. For example, the notion that God decreed to damn human beings before he decreed to permit or authorize the fall seems to make the fall a secondary thought and has God damning men without justification.
This is very likely the catalyst that moved Arminius to give this issue as much energy as he did and eventually led to his rejection of the reformed formulation of the doctrine of predestination.
This gives us cause for concern and should result in a greater degree of humility when talking about historic Arminianism, and especially when talking about Arminius himself.
The only quibble I can find regarding Arminius was the manner in which he gained professorship at Leyden. It is puzzling how he could not have seen the gulf between his own views and those expressed in the Belgic Confession and the Heidelberg Catechism, views he had to affirm in order to get the job.
Personally, I think there is a remarkable difference between Arminius’ rejection of Reformed Theology and modern Arminians rejection of it. But that is beyond the scope of this rant.

The Five Articles and the Synod of Dordt

Three men carried the torch that Arminius had fired: Conrad Vorstius, Simon Episcopius, and Hugo Grotius.
The Arminian party drafted a document we call The Five Articles and asked the Dutch Governor to use his power to secure toleration for their beliefs.
Political Issue: The remonstrance believed in a state-run church, thinking that the civil authorities had the right to make appointments in the churches. The Reformed position was that the church was independent of state control.
Most magistrates sided with the Arminians and most clergy with the Reformed. The controversy was as intensely political as it was theological.
The controversy actually led to bloodshed, a far cry from anything remotely resembling NT Christianity. Let that sink in.
In fact, the Arminian party believed that the provincial governments had the right even to outlaw controversial preaching. For leading Arminian, Grotius, the only guarantee of social harmony in the Republic was a broad-based Church, where all viewpoints were tolerated (as long as the Trinity was acknowledged), and the Christian magistrates silenced trouble-making preachers.
By 1617, the internal religious and political conflicts between Prince Maurice of Nassau and the governor, Odenbarnevelt were beginning to tare the Dutch Republic apart.
In fact, many Christians left the churches because the Republic had made it impossible to hear the sort of preaching they wanted. They met in houses and barns and such. But the government confiscated these meeting places as well.
It has ALWAYS been a bad idea for the church to use the civil authority to carry out its program and affairs in any way. Because of this practice, dating all the way back to the 4th century, the church has committed numerous atrocities over the centuries. This has had a devastating impact on the prophetic voice of the church in whatever culture it exists where it adopts this wrong-headed understanding of the her mission.
After the controversy and ensuing bloodshed and a decisive victory for the Reformed party, the new leader, Maurice, moved to resolve the religious issue at hand.
This move is historically known as the Synod of Dordt. (Nov. 13: 1618 to May 29 1619)
56 ministers
5 professors
18 political commissioners
The Five Articles of the Remonstrants were reviewed and soundly rejected by this synod. Arminianism was condemned by the Synod.

Human Freedom

Conditional Election

That God, by an eternal, unchangeable purpose in Jesus Christ his Son, before the foundation of the world, hath determined, out of the fallen, sinful race of men, to save in Christ, for Christ’s sake, and through Christ, those who, through the grace of the Holy Ghost, shall believe on this his Son Jesus, and shall persevere in this faith and obedience of faith, through this grace, even to the end; and, on the other hand, to leave the incorrigible and unbelieving in sin and under wrath, and to condemn them as alienate from Christ, according to the word of the gospel in : ‘He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him,’ and according to other passages of Scripture also.
Philip Schaff, The Creeds of Christendom, with a History and Critical Notes: The Evangelical Protestant Creeds, with Translations, vol. 3 (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1882), 546.
As a reminder, I am not offering up a critique of Arminianism at this time. I am far more interested in observing and understanding the claims made by the Arminian system of theology. What better place to start than with the Five Articles themselves.
God’s decree is eternal and unchangeable.
God decreed to save in Christ, for Christ’s sake, and through Christ.
God decreed to save only those who shall believe on his Son Jesus and who shall persevere in faith and obedience to the end.
God decreed to extend grace through the Holy Spirit.
God decreed to leave the incorrigible and unbelieving in sin and under wrath.
This first article clearly makes God’s election of men to salvation in Christ conditional on the acts of men: they must positively respond to the gospel AND not only that, they must endure to the end. This makes God’s election condition on man’s actions.


1 Peter 1:1–2 NASB95
Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who reside as aliens, scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, who are chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, by the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to obey Jesus Christ and be sprinkled with His blood: May grace and peace be yours in the fullest measure.
Arminianism asserts that this text conditions election on God’s foreknowledge of how human beings would respond to the gospel.
Ephesians 1:4 NASB95
just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love
Supposedly, the Greek prepositional phrase in auto makes God’s choosing us conditional on us being in Christ.
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