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Jacobus Arminius

Jacobus Arminius[1] (1560-1609), was a Dutch Reformed theologian and professor of theology at the University of Leiden. He is most noted for his departure from the Reformed theology of the Belgic Confession resulting in what became the Calvinist-Arminian controversy addressed at the Synod of Dort (1618-1619).


Arminius was born Jacob Hermansen at Oudewater, Utrecht, on October 10, 1560. Taking a Latinized form of one's name was a custom of the time for theology students. His father died while Jacob was an infant, leaving his mother a widow with small children. A priest, Theodorus Aemilius, adopted Jacob and sent him to school at Utrecht. His mother was slain during the Spanish massacre of Oudewater in 1575. About that year Arminius was sent to study theology at the University of Leiden by the kindness of friends (Rudophus Snellius).

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 was called to pastor at Amsterdam and was ordained in 1588. He was reputed to be a good preacher and faithful pastor. In 1590 he married Lijsbet Reael.


Arminius is best known as the founder of the anti-Calvinistic school in Protestant theology that bears his name -- Arminianism. In attempting to defend Calvinistic predestination against the onslaughts of Dirck Volckertszoon Coornhert, Arminius began to doubt and changed his own view. He became a professor of theology at Leiden (sometimes Leyden) in 1603 and died there on October 19, 1609. The theology of Arminianism was not fully developed during Arminius' time, but was systematized after his death and formalized in the Five Articles of Remonstrance in 1610. The works of Arminius (in Latin) were published at Leiden in 1629, and at Frankfort in 1631 and 1635. After his death, at the Synod of Dort (1618-1619), his teaching was condemned by the State church. Later, however, Arminianism received official "toleration" by the State and has since continued in various forms within Protestantism.


  • "The providence of God is subordinate to creation; and it is, therefore, necessary that it should not impinge against creation, which it would do, were it to inhibit or hinder the use of free will in man. . ." The Works of James Arminius, Vol. 2, p. 460.
  • "God decreed to save and damn certain particular persons. This decree has its foundation in the foreknowledge of God, by which he knew from all eternity those individuals who would, through his preventing [going before] grace, believe, and, through his subsequent grace would persevere by which foreknowledge, he likewise knew those who would not believe and persevere." - The Works of James Arminius, Vol 1, p 248, italics in original.
  • "Though we always and on all occasions make this grace to precede, to accompany and follow; and without which, we constantly assert, no good action whatever can be produced by man. Nay, we carry this principle so far as not to dare to attribute the power here described [free will] even to the nature of Adam himself, without the help of Divine Grace both infused and assisting." -The Works of Arminius, 2:19, Translated by James Nichols and William Nichols, (reprinted by Baker Book House: Grand Rapids, 1986).


  1. Also known Jacob Arminius, James Arminius, and his Dutch name Jacob Harmenszoon as noted at CCEL

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