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Jacobus Arminius (October 10, 1560 - October 19, 1609), the Latinized name of the Dutchmarker theologian Jakob Harmenszoon from the Protestant Reformation period, (also known by the Anglicized names of Jacob Arminius or James Arminius), served from 1603 as professor in theology at the University of Leiden. He wrote many books and treatises on theology, and his views became the basis of the Dutch Remonstrants.

Following his death, his views came to the forefront for being opposed the five points of Calvinism, though in actuality he objected to only three: unconditional election, limited atonement; and irresistible grace, and doubted one: perseverance of the saints. However, his belief in a point in common with Calvinism, total depravity, was a modified version from the one held by Calvinists.


See also: History of Calvinist-Arminian Debate

Arminius, born at Oudewatermarker, Utrechtmarker, became an orphan while still in infancy when his father Herman (the name Arminius/Armin represents a Latinized form of Harmenszoon, "Hermannson", Herman's son) died, leaving his wife a widow with small children.A priest, Theodorus Aemilius, adopted Jacobus and sent him to school at Utrechtmarker. His mother was slain during the Spanish massacre of Oudewater in 1575. About that year the kindness of friends (see Rudolph Snellius) enabled Arminius to go to study theology at the University of Leiden.

Arminius remained at Leiden from 1576 to 1582. His teachers in theology included Lambertus Danaeus, Johannes Drusius, Guillaume Feuguereius, and Johann Kolmann. Kolmann believed and taught that high Calvinism made God both a tyrant and an executioner. Under the influence of these men, Arminius studied with success and had seeds planted that would begin to develop into a theology that would later compete with the dominant Reformed theology of John Calvin. Arminius began studying under Theodore Beza at Geneva in 1582. He answered a call to pastor at Amsterdammarker and became ordained in 1588. He gained a reputation as a good preacher and faithful pastor. In 1590 he married Lijsbet Reael. He died October 19, 1609, and was buried in the Pieterskerk at Leyden, where a memorial stone on his behalf is placed in 1934.


Arminius has arguably become best known as the founder of the anti-Calvinistic school in Protestant theology, and thereby lends his name to a movement — Arminianism — which resisted some of the tenets of Calvinism. The early Dutch followers of Arminius' teaching became known as Remonstrants after they issued a document containing five points of disagreement with classic Calvinism, entitled Remonstrantiœ (1610). In attempting to defend Calvinistic predestination against the onslaughts of Dirck Volckertszoon Coornhert, Arminius allegedly began to doubt and thus modified some parts of his view. He became a professor of theology at Leidenmarker in 1603, and remained there for the rest of his life.

The theology of Arminianism did not become fully developed during Arminius' lifetime, but after his death (1609) the Five articles of the Remonstrants (1610) systematized and formalized the ideas. But the Synod of Dort (1618–1619), convening for the purpose of condemning Arminius' theology, declared it and its adherents anathemas, defined the five points of Calvinism, and expelled Arminian pastors from the Netherlands.

Publishers in Leiden (1629) and at Frankfort (1631 and 1635) issued the works of Arminius in Latin.

John Wesley (1703-1791), the founder of the Methodist movement, embraced Arminian theology and became its most prominent champion. , the majority of Methodists remain committed to Arminian theology, and Arminianism itself has become one of the dominant theological systems in the United Statesmarker, thanks in large part to the influence of John and Charles Wesley .


  1. Bangs (1971), p. 25.

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