At the conclusion of our preceding article, we were calling attention to certain forerunners of Arminius and Arminianism, as set forth by Wagenaar in his “Conflict and Victory.” We had mentioned Coolhaas, Herberts and Wiggerts. Wagenaar also mentions Sybrandi and Venator. We need not call attention to these last two men in any detail, except to remark that also the former had been a Romish pastor and that both were enemies of the Calvinistic presentation of the truth as set forth in the Holy Scriptures and in the Reformed Confessions.
We have already called attention to the fact that Arminius died in 1609. In 1610 the followers of Arminius drew up their Five Points of the Remonstrance. After the death of Arminius the learned Simon Episcopius, his successor in the chair of theology at Leyden, afterwards professor in the Arminian College at Amsterdam, and the eloquent Janus Uytenbogaert (1557-1644), preacher at the Hague, and for some time chaplain of Prince Maurice, became the theological leaders of the Arminian party. In his creeds of Christendom, Schaaf continues (Vol. 1, 511):
The great statesman, John van Olden Barneveldt (1549-1619), Advocate-General of Holland and Friesland, and Hugo Grotius (1583-1645), the most comprehensive scholar of his age, equally distinguished as statesman, jurist, theologian, and exegete, sympathized with the Arminians, gave them the weight of their powerful influence, and advocated peace and toleration; but they favored a republican confederacy of States rather than a federal State tending to monarchy, against the ambitious designs of Maurice, the Stadtholder and military leader of the Republic, who wished to consolidate his power, and by concluding a truce with Spain (1609) they incurred the suspicion of the loyalty. The Calvinists were the national and popular party, and embraced the great majority of the clergy. They stood on the solid basis of the recognized standards of doctrine. At the same time they advocated the independent action of the Church against the latitudinarian Erastianism of their opponents.
The Arminians formularized their creed in Five Articles (drawn up by Uytenbogaert), and laid them before the representatives of Holland and West Friesland in 1610 under the name of Remonstrance, signed by forty-six ministers. The Calvinists issued a Counter-Remonstrance. Hence the party names Remonstrants (Protestants against Calvinism), and Counter-Remonstrants (Calvinists, or Gomarists). A Conference was held between the two parties at the Hague in 1611, but without leading to an agreement. A discussion at Delft, 1613, and the edict of the States of Holland in favor of peace, 1614, prepared by Grotius, had no better result.
At this time we wish to quote the Five Points of the Remonstrants. We consider them very important, although we do not intend to call attention to what they teach in detail.
That God by an eternal, unchangeable purpose in Jesus Christ, His Son, before the foundation of the world, hath determined, out of a fallen sinful race of men, to save in Christ, for Christ’s sake, and through Christ, those who, through the grace of the Holy Ghost, shall believe on this His Son Jesus, and shall persevere in this faith and obedience of faith, through this grace, even to the end; and on the other hand, to leave the incorrigible and unbelieving in sin and under wrath, and to condemn them as alienate from Christ, according to the word of the gospel in
“He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abideth on him.” and according to other passages of Scripture also.
That, agreeably thereunto, Jesus Christ, the Saviour of the world, died for all men and for every man, so that He has obtained for them all, by His death on the cross, redemption and forgiveness of sins; yet that no one actually enjoys this forgiveness of sins except the believer, according to the word of the gospel of
“God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” And in the First Epistle of
“And He is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.”
That man has not saving grace (faith) of himself, nor of the energy of his free will, inasmuch as he in the state of apostasy and sin, can of and by himself neither think, will, nor do any thing that is truly good (such as saving faith eminently is); but that it is needful that. he be born again of God in Christ, through His Holy Spirit, and renewed in understanding, inclination, or will, and all his powers, in order that. he may rightly understand, think, will, and effect what is truly good, according to the Word of Christ,
“Without Me ye can do nothing.”
That this grace of God is the beginning, continuance, and accomplishment of all good, even to this extent, that the regenerated man himself, without prevenient or assisting, awakening, following and cooperative grace, can neither think, will, nor do any good, nor withstand any temptations to evil; so that all good deeds or movements, that can be conceived, must be ascribed to the grace of God in Christ. But as respects the mode of the operation of this grace, it is not irresistible, inasmuch as it is written concerning many, that they have resisted the Holy Ghost.
and elsewhere in many places.
That those who are incorporated into Christ by a true faith, and have thereby become partakers of His life-giving Spirit, have thereby full power to strive against Satan, sin, the world, and their own flesh, and to win the victory; it being well understood that it is ever through the assisting grace of the Holy Ghost; and that Jesus Christ assists them through His Spirit in all temptations, extends to them His hand, and if only they are ready for the conflict, and desire His help, and are not inactive, keeps them from falling so that they, by no craft or power of Satan, can be misled nor plucked out of Christ’s hands, according to the Word of Christ,
“Neither shall any man pluck them out of My hand.” But whether they are capable, through negligence, of forsaking again the first beginnings of their life in Christ (principle of their being in Christ) of again returning to this present evil world, of turning away from the holy doctrine which was delivered them, of losing a good conscience, of becoming devoid of grace, that must be more particularly determined out of the Holy Scripture, before we ourselves can teach it with the full persuasion of our minds.
These are the Five Points of the Arminians, called the Five Points of the Remonstrants, inasmuch as they constitute their grievance against the doctrine of Calvinism. And at the conclusion of these articles, the Arminians add: “These Articles, thus set forth and taught, the Remonstrants deem agreeable to the Word of God, tending to edification, and, as regards this argument, sufficient for salvation, so that it is not necessary or edifying to rise higher or to descend deeper.”
Without calling attention to these articles in detail at this time (after all, we are calling attention to the doctrine of the atonement), we may observe that these articles are, generally speaking, very important for a very special reason. In these the Arminians teach the following heresies: conditional election and reprobation, universal atonement, man’s partial depravity, resistible grace, the denial of the certain perseverance of the saints. These articles are important because they emphasize that the one heresy must lead inexorably into another. The fundamental heresy of Arminianism is the denial of the truth that God is God. The Arminian will not allow God to be God. This explains his denial of the sovereignty of God’s predestination. In Article I he declares himself in favor of conditional predestination, as based upon foreseen faith and unbelief. He teaches a universal love of God, a desire on the part of the Lord to save all men, and therefore an election and reprobation based upon the faith and unbelief or the will of the sinner. Man’s salvation is not determined by God, but by the sinner. This heresy, that God loves all men and would save all men, must lead to universal atonement. If God is to offer salvation to all who hear the gospel, then there must be salvation for all. God would surely not offer something He does not possess. The Christian Reformed Church has also experienced this. In 1924 they declared that the gospel is an offer of salvation to all who hear the gospel. But they also would maintain the Scriptural truth that the cross of Christ is particular and only for the elect. In late years, however, the Dekker controversy arose. Prof. Dekker believes and teaches the Arminian version of the death of Christ, a Christ for all. He has not been condemned, remains in his teaching position, and is permitted to set forth his heresy of a death of Christ for all men, head for head. But, this heresy must also lead to a denial of man’s utter and complete depravity. To maintain a conditional predestination and a Christ for all, offered to all men in the preaching of the gospel, it is necessary to teach that the sinner is able to accept this offer of salvation. Otherwise an offer of salvation simply does not make sense. It is for this reason that the Three Points of 1924 also teach that the natural man is able to do good in the sight of God without the regenerating grace of the Holy Spirit. Fourthly, this heresy must lead to the teaching that the grace of God is resistible. This lies in the nature of the grace. God would have all men be saved, and therefore offers His grace to all men. That some are not saved is not because God would not save them, but because man refused to be saved. He is therefore able to resist this grace of God. And the Arminians taught this in their Five Points of the Remonstrants. And, finally, this must culminate in the denial of the perseverance of the saints. The Arminians declare that they are not ready to say that the sinner cannot return to his former state of sin and corruption. Any conception that bases the salvation of man in the will of the sinner must lead to the denial of the certain perseverance of the saints. Then it is man who determines also his ultimate salvation, and, this being true, no sinner can ever be sure that he will be saved to the uttermost. One heresy must lead inexorably to another. This is clearly demonstrated in the Five Points of the Remonstrants.