Arminian theology was officially developed in response to John Calvin, his writings and his followers. Jacob Arminius was the face of Arminianism in the early 17th century. Arminianism has it's roots in semi-pelagianism which I will describe in more depth in a future post. Jacob Arminius picked this up in the 17th century and again John Wesley popularized it in the 18th century, making it the official position of the Methodist church. Arminianism tends to exalt man's free will. While Calvinist don't generally deny that man has a certain kind of free will, Arminianism accentuates this. Most Arminians believe in libertarian free will. Which is to say that we have total free will and no outside source controls our decisions, especially our decision to follow Jesus.
Arminian theology being a reaction to Calvinism and, while having significant depth beyond this, has five points similar to Calvinism. A group known as the Remonstrates presented these five points at the Synod of Dort only to be condemned as heresy. Below are the five articles or points of Arminianism presented to the Synod of Dort. I have made them more compact and concise.
- Conditional Election - God, from the foundation of the world, looked ahead in time to see who would put their faith in Jesus and he chose them to be saved, to be the elect. God had foreknowledge of who would have faith in Christ, those he elected to salvation. (John 3:36,
- Unlimited Atonement - Jesus died for all men's sins. However, his atonement is only made effective by belief in Christ. (John 3:16, 1 John 2:2)
- Total Depravity - Similar to Calvinism, Arminians affirm total depravity. Without God's grace and regeneration they cannot choose Him. (John 15:5b)
- Prevenient, Resistible Grace - This is the belief that all who hear the Gospel are in some way awakened to its message and given an opportunity to respond, either positively to be in Christ or in rejection to condemnation. God's grace can be resisted in which case they remain under wrath. (Acts 7
- Potential to fall from grace - This is the belief that while the Holy Spirit empowers all Christians to follow Jesus and fight against sin and Satan. It is possible that a Christian, by his/her own selfishness, can turn away from God and become unrepentable. They can decide they no longer want to follow Jesus and lose their salvation. Note that this is not to say that if someone sins egregiously they automatically lose their salvation. But if a Christian decides to stop repenting of their sins, they can lose their salvation. (John 10:28, Acts 5:1-11)
Resources: 5 Articles of Remonstrance: https://www.theopedia.com/five-articl...
Mike Winger on Calvinism: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oxakE...
John Piper on Calvinism/Arminianism: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F-C33...
Arminian Theology: Myths and Realities, Roger E. Olson: https://amzn.to/2H3MXtZ
Against Calvinism, by Roger E. Olson: https://amzn.to/2SP0Voa
Desiring God's Lengthy post on Calvinism: https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/...
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