Overview (Masterplots II: Christian Literature)
In 1608, when theological differences arose over predestination and threatened civil war, the Dutch national legislature called Dutch Reformed minister and professor of theology Jacobus Arminius to explain why he rejected Calvinism. After hearing both sides of this issue, the government decided that since the controversy had no bearing on the main points pertaining to salvation, each side should tolerate the other. Arminius died the following year, but his ideas were developed and championed by the founder of Methodism, John Wesley. Later thinkers who opposed Calvinism called themselves Arminians and advocated Unitarianism (the rationalistic belief that God exists only in one person) and Pelagianism (the denial of Original Sin and the belief that human beings have perfect free will to do either right or wrong), two movements that Arminius himself had repudiated.
In A Declaration of the Sentiments of Arminius (also known as the “Just Man’s Defense”), Arminius explains the doctrine of predestination as taught by his opponents. It has four main points:(1) Before the creation of the world, God chose to make certain individuals in order to give them eternal life in heaven, and others in order to destroy them in hell. He did this to show his mercy and his power, and nothing in the individuals themselves can account for the destiny God chooses for them. (2) In order to carry out his plan, God created human beings and then made them commit sin. (3)...
(The entire section is 1246 words.)
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