The system takes its name from Jacob Arminius (1560-1609) of Germany as a revolt against the doctrines of Calvinism (Reformed theology), especially its teaching that God preordains the few to salvation apart from any choice by man in the matter. The chief defect of this system, among several, is that it denies that a true believer, not someone with a false profession, is eternally saved as seen in such verses as John 10:27-29. This also called eternal security. Calvinists teach that this is a works-based salvation because unless a man “hangs on to salvation” and does good deeds he would lose it or never be able to have true assurance of salvation. Any deviation from a Calvinist definition of predestination and election is labeled Arminianism and its therefore heretical. Arminians, and others also, believe that God’s foreknowledge takes into account man’s choosing in His elective decree (I Peter 2:2, Romans 8:29). Strict Calvinists do not believe this is so.
Arminius at first supported Calvin but was gradually drawn to the opposite persuasion. He came to believe that God offered grace to all men and his election of believers came in the foreknowledge of man’s choosing to believe and accept the gospel offer made to “whosoever will”. Gradually the sys tem became more comprehensive after the death of its namesake. The succeeding Arminians, particularly in Holland, became known as Remonstrants. In l6l0 they encoded five articles in opposition to Calvinism. Briefly stated, they were:
1. By God’s decree He ordained His Son to die for all the human race and to save those who persevere to the end in obedience to the Lord
2. Christ died for the entire human race, not just the elect few. See I John 2:2.
3. Man can of himself in free will do or think anything good, He needs the grace of God.
4. The grace of God is resistible but man can change in the course of life.
5. Those “grafted into Christ” and partaking of the Holy Spirit (perhaps using Heb. 6:4-5), can fight against Satan, sin, the world and his own
flesh to obtain victory by the grace of God.
The synod of Dort, being Calvinistic, condemned these articles and the supporting Remonstrants were deposed from the ministry. Yet the system survived. Unfortunately the heretical Socinians and Semi-Pelagians sometimes joined with them.
The Wesleyan Arminians, taking its name from John Wesley, became the chief exponents of Arminian ideas in both the British Empire and USA. It developed into the Methodist denomination, which was then quite evangelical but it now almost entirely liberal in its doctrines. There is a minority, especially the Good News movement which remains orthodox in its beliefs. The control of liberal bishops over Methodist churches suppresses any challenge to their authority.