Arminianism is a school of soteriological thought within Protestant Christianity based on the theological ideas of the Dutch Reformed theologian Jacobus Arminius (1560-1609) [Magnusson, Magnus (ed). "Chambers Biographical Dictionary" (Chambers: Cambridge University Press, 1995) 62] and his historic followers, the Remonstrants. The doctrines' acceptance stretches through much of mainstream, evangelical Protestantism. Due to the influence of Anglican priest and evangelist John Wesley, Arminianism is perhaps most prominent in the Methodist movement.Fact|date=January 2008

Arminianism holds to the following tenets:
* Humans are naturally unable to make any effort towards salvation (see also prevenient grace).
* Salvation is possible only by God's grace, which cannot be merited.
* No works of human effort can cause or contribute to salvation.
* God's election is conditional on faith in the sacrifice and Lordship of Jesus Christ.
* Christ's atonement was made on behalf of all people.
* God allows his grace to be resisted by those who freely reject Christ.
* Salvation can be lost, as continued salvation is conditional upon continued faith.

Arminianism is most accurately used to define those who affirm the original beliefs of Jacobus Arminius himself, but the term can also be understood as an umbrella for a larger grouping of ideas including those of Hugo Grotius, John and Charles Wesley, and others. There are two primary perspectives on how the system is applied in detail: Classical Arminianism, which sees Arminius as its figurehead, and Wesleyan Arminianism, which sees John Wesley as its figurehead. Wesleyan Arminianism is sometimes synonymous with Methodism. In addition, Arminianism is understood by some of its critics to also include Semipelagianism or even Pelagianism, though proponents of both primary perspectives vehemently deny these claims.

Within the broad scope of Church history, Arminianism is closely related to Calvinism (or Reformed theology), and the two systems share both history and many doctrines in common. Nonetheless, they are often viewed as rivals within Evangelicalism because of their disagreement over the doctrines of predestination and salvation.


Jacobus Arminius was a Dutch pastor and theologian in the late 16th and early 17th centuries. He was taught by Theodore Beza, Calvin's hand-picked successor, but he rejected his teacher's theology that it is God who unconditionally elects some for salvation. Instead Arminius proposed that the election of God was "of believers", thereby making it conditional on faith. Arminius's views were challenged by the Dutch Calvinists, especially Franciscus Gomarus, but Arminius died before a national synod could occur.

Arminius' followers, not wanting to adopt their leader's name, called themselves the Remonstrants. When Arminius died before he could satisfy Holland's State General's request for a 14-page paper outlining his views, the Remonstrants replied in his stead crafting the Five articles of Remonstrance. After some political maneuvering, the Dutch Calvinists were able to convince Prince Maurice of Nassau to deal with the situation. Maurice systematically removed Arminian magistrates from office and called a national synod at Dordrecht. This Synod of Dort was open primarily to Dutch Calvinists (Arminians were excluded) with Calvinist representatives from other countries, and in 1618 published a condemnation of Arminius and his followers as heretics. Part of this publication was the famous Five points of Calvinism in response to the five articles of Remonstrance. The Remonstrants were inconsistent with the soteriological thought of Arminius. Some, like Philip von Limborch, moved in the direction of semi-Pelagianism at best or Socinianism or rationalism at worst. This is demonstrated in John Mark Hicks's dissertation comparing Arminius's soteriology with that of Limborch.Fact|date=May 2008

Arminians across Holland were removed from office, imprisoned, banished, and sworn to silence. Twelve years later Holland officially granted Arminianism protection as a religion, although animosity between Arminians and Calvinists continued.

The debate between Calvin's followers and Arminius's followers is distinctive of post-Reformation church history. The emerging Baptist movement in seventeenth-century England, for example, was a microcosm of the historic debate between Calvinists and Arminians. The first Baptists--called "General Baptists" because of their confession of a "general" or unlimited atonement, were Arminians.Fact|date=May 2008 The Baptist movement originated with Thomas Helwys, who left his mentor John Smyth, who had moved into semi-Pelgianism and other distinctives of the Dutch Waterlander Mennonites of Amsterdam, and returned to London to start the first English Baptist Church in 1611. Later General Baptists such as John Griffith, Samuel Loveday, and Thomas Grantham defended a Reformed Arminian theology that reflected more the Arminianism of Arminius than that of the later Remonstrants or the English Arminianism of Arminian Puritans like John Goodwin or Anglican Arminians such as Jeremy Taylor and Henry Hammond. The General Baptists encapsulated their Arminian views in numerous confessions, the most influential of which was the Standard Confession of 1660. In the 1640s the Particular Baptists were formed, diverging strongly from Arminian doctrine and embracing the strong Calvinism of the Presbyterians and Independents. Their robust Calvinism was publicized in such confessions as the London Baptist Confession of 1644 and the Second London Confession of 1689. Interestingly, the London Confession of 1689 was later used by Calvinistic Baptists in America (called the Philadelphia Baptist Confession), whereas the Standard Confession of 1660 was used by the American heirs of the English General Baptists, who soon came to be known as Free Will Baptists.

This same dynamic between Arminianism and Calvinism can be seen in the heated discussions between friends and fellow Methodist ministers John Wesley and George Whitfield. Wesley was a champion of Arminian teachings, defending his soteriology in a periodical titled "The Arminian" and writing articles such as "Predestination Calmly Considered". He defended Arminianism against charges of semi-Pelagianism, holding strongly to beliefs in original sin and total depravity. At the same time, Wesley attacked the determinism that he claimed characterized unconditional election and maintained a belief in the ability to lose salvation. Wesley also clarified the doctrine of prevenient grace and preached the ability of Christians to attain to perfection. While Wesley freely made use of the term "Arminian," he did not self-consciously root his soteriology in the theology of Arminius but was highly influenced by seventeenth-century English Arminianism and thinkers such as John Goodwin, Jeremy Taylor and Henry Hammond of the Anglican "Holy Living" school, and the Remonstrant Hugo Grotius.

Current landscape

Advocates of both Arminianism and Calvinism find a home in many Protestant denominations, and sometimes both exist within the same denomination as with the Anglican Communion. Faiths leaning at least in part in the Arminian direction include Methodists, Free Will Baptists, General Baptists, Churches of Christ, Disciples of Christ, Church of the Nazarene, Seventh-day Adventists, Mennonites, Pentecostals, and Charismatics. Denominations leaning in the Calvinist direction are grouped as the Reformed churches and include Particular Baptists, Reformed Baptists, Presbyterians, and Congregationalists. The majority of Southern Baptists, including Billy Graham, accept Arminianism with an exception allowing for a doctrine of eternal security. [ [ "The Baptist Faith and Message, 2000 Revision"] ] [Harmon, Richard W. "Baptists and Other Denominations" (Nashville: Convention Press, 1984) 17–18, 45–46] [Dongell, Joseph and Walls, Jerry "Why I Am Not a Calvinist" (Downer's Grove: Intervarsity Press, 2004) 12–13, 16–17] Many see Calvinism as growing in acceptance, [Dongell 7–20] and some well-known Southern Baptists such as Albert Mohler and Mark Dever have been trying to lead the Southern Baptist Convention to a Reformed view of faith. The majority of Lutherans hold to a third view of salvation and election that was taught by Philip Melanchthon.

The current scholarly support for Arminianism is wide and varied. One particular thrust is a return to the teachings of Arminius. F. Leroy Forlines, Robert Picirilli, Stephen Ashby and Matthew Pinson (see citations) are four of the more prominent supporters. Forlines has referred to this type of Arminianism as "Classical Arminianism," while Picirilli, Pinson, and Ashby have termed it "Reformation Arminianism" or "Reformed Arminianism." Other scholars who show sympathy with this view include the Christian churches scholar Jack Cottrell, the Churches of Christ scholar John Mark Hicks, I. Howard Marshall, and Jonathan R. Wilson. Through Methodism, Wesley's teachings also inspire a large scholarly following, with vocal proponents including J. Kenneth Grider, Stanley Hauerwas, Thomas Oden and William Willimon.

Recent influence of the New Perspective on Paul movement has also reached Arminianism — primarily through a view of corporate election. The New Perspective scholars propose that the 1st century Judean culture understood election primarily as national (Israel) & racial (Jews), not individual; therefore their conclusion is that Paul's writings on election should be interpreted in a similar - corporate - light. Proponents of this movement include James Dunn and N.T. Wright. Other Arminian theologians holding similar perspectives but not directly linked with the New Perspectives movement include Robert Shank, Paul Marston, Roger Forster, Jerry Walls, Roger Olson, and Joseph Dongell (see citations).


Arminian theology usually falls into one of two groups — Classical Arminianism, drawn from the teaching of Jacobus Arminius — and Wesleyan Arminian, drawing primarily from Wesley. Both groups overlap substantially.

Classical Arminianism

Classical Arminianism (sometimes titled Reformed Arminianism or Reformation Arminianism) is the theological system that was presented by Jacobus Arminius and maintained by the Remonstrants [Ashby, Stephen "Reformed Arminianism" "Four Views on Eternal Security" (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2002), 137] ; its influence serves as the foundation for all Arminian systems. A list of beliefs is given below:

* Depravity is total: Arminius states "In this [fallen] state, the free will of man towards the true good is not only wounded, infirm, bent, and weakened; but it is also imprisoned, destroyed, and lost. And its powers are not only debilitated and useless unless they be assisted by grace, but it has no powers whatever except such as are excited by Divine grace." [Arminius, James "The Writings of James Arminius" (three vols.), tr. James Nichols and W.R. Bagnall (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1956), I:252]

* Atonement is intended for all: Jesus' death was for all people, Jesus draws all people to himself, and all people have opportunity for salvation through faith. [Arminius I:316]

* Jesus' death satisfies God's justice: The penalty for the sins of the elect is paid in full through Jesus' work on the cross. Thus Christ's atonement is intended for all, but requires faith to be effected. Arminius states "Justification, when used for the act of a Judge, is either purely the imputation of righteoussness through mercy… or that man is justified before God… according to the rigour of justice without any forgiveness." [Arminius III:454] Stephen Ashby clarifies "Arminius allowed for only two possible ways in which the sinner might be justified: (1) by our absolute and perfect adherence to the law, or (2) purely by God's imputation of Christ's righteousness." [Ashby "Four Views", 140]

* Grace is resistible: God takes initiative in the salvation process and His grace comes to all people. This grace (often called "prevenient" or pre-regenerating grace) acts on all people to convict them of the Gospel, draw them strongly towards salvation, and enable the possibility of sincere faith. Picrilli states "indeed this grace is so close to regeneration that it inevitably leads to regeneration unless finally resisted." [Picirilli, Robert "Grace, Faith, Free Will: Contrasting Views of Salvation: Calvinism and Arminianism" (Nashville: Randall House Publications, 2002), 154ff] The offer of salvation through grace does not act irresistibly in a purely cause-effect, deterministic method but rather in an influence-and-response fashion that can be both freely accepted and freely denied. [Forlines, Leroy F., Pinson, Matthew J. and Ashby, Stephen M. "The Quest for Truth: Answering Life's Inescapable Questions" (Nashville: Randall House Publications, 2001), 313–321]

* Man has free will to respond or resist: Free will is limited by God's sovereignty, but God sovereignly allows all men the choice to accept the Gospel of Jesus through faith, simultaneously allowing all men to resist.

* Election is conditional: Arminius defined "election" as "the decree of God by which, of Himself, from eternity, He decreed to justify in Christ, believers, and to accept them unto eternal life."Arminius "Writings", III:311] God alone determines who will be saved and his determination is that all who believe Jesus through faith will be justified. According to Arminius, "God regards no one in Christ unless they are engrafted in him by faith."

* God predestines the elect to a glorious future: Predestination is not the predetermination of who will believe, but rather the predetermination of the believer's future inheritance. The elect are therefore predestined to sonship through adoption, glorification, and eternal life. [Pawson, David "Once Saved, Always Saved? A Study in Perseverance and Inheritance" (London: Hodder & Staughton, 1996), 109ff]

* Eternal security is also conditional: All believers have full assurance of salvation with the condition that they remain in Christ. Salvation is conditioned on faith, therefore perseverance is also conditioned. [Picirilli "Grace, Faith, Free Will" 203] Apostasy (turning from Christ) is only committed through a deliberate, willful rejection of Jesus and renouncement of belief. [Picirilli 204ff]

The Five articles of Remonstrance that Arminius' followers formulated in 1610 state the above beliefs regarding (I) conditional election, (II) unlimited atonement, (III) total depravity, (IV) total depravity and resistible grace, and (V) possibility of apostasy. Note, however, that the fifth article did not completely deny perseverance of the saints; Arminius, himself, said that "I never taught that a true believer can… fall away from the faith… yet I will not conceal, that there are passages of Scripture which seem to me to wear this aspect; and those answers to them which I have been permitted to see, are not of such as kind as to approve themselves on all points to my understanding." [Arminius "Writings", I:254] Further, the text of the Articles of Remonstrance says that no believer can be plucked from Christ's hand, and the matter of falling away, "loss of salvation" required further study before it could be taught with any certainty.

The core beliefs of Jacobus Arminius and the Remonstrants are summarized as such by theologian Stephen Ashby:

# Prior to being "drawn and enabled", one is "unable to believe… able only to resist."
# Having been "drawn and enabled", but prior to regeneration, one is "able to believe… able also to resist."
# After one "believes", God then regenerates; one is "able to continue believing… able also to resist."
# Upon "resisting" to the point of "unbelief", one is "unable again to believe… able only to resist." [Ashby "Four Views", 159]

Wesleyan Arminianism

John Wesley has historically been the most influential advocate for the teachings of Arminian soteriology. Wesley thoroughly agreed with the vast majority of what Arminius himself taught, maintaining strong doctrines of original sin, total depravity, conditional election, prevenient grace, unlimited atonement, and possibly apostasy.

Wesley departs from Classical Arminianism primarily on three issues:
* Atonement – Wesley's atonement is a hybrid of the penal substitution theory and the governmental theory of Hugo Grotius, a lawyer and one of the Remonstrants. Steven Harper states "Wesley does not place the substitionary element primarily within a legal framework...Rather [his doctrine seeks] to bring into proper relationship the 'justice' between God's love for persons and God's hatred of is not the satisfaction of a legal demand for justice so much as it is an act of mediated reconciliation." [Harper, Steven "Wesleyan Arminianism" "Four Views on Eternal Security" (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2002) 227ff]
* Possibility of apostasy – Wesley fully accepted the Arminian view that genuine Christians could apostasize and lose their salvation, as his famous sermon "A Call to Backsliders" clearly demonstrates. Harper summarizes as follows: "the act of committing sin is not in itself ground for the loss of salvation...the loss of salvation is much more related to experiences that are profound and prolonged. Wesley sees two primary pathways that could result in a permanent fall from grace: unconfessed sin and the actual expression of apostasy." [Harper 239-240] Wesley disagrees with Arminius, however, in maintaining that such apostasy was not final. When talking about those who have made "shipwreck" of their faith (1 Tim 1:19), Wesley claims that "not one, or a hundred only, but I am persuaded, several thousands...innumerable are the instances...of those who had fallen but now stand upright." [Wesley, John "A Call to Backsliders" "The Works of John Wesley", ed. Thomas Jackson, 14 vols. (London: Wesley Methodist Book Room, 1872; repr, Grand Rapids: Baker, 1986) 3:211ff]
* Christian perfection – According to Wesley's teaching, Christians could reach perfection in this life. Christian perfection, according to Wesley, is "purity of intention, dedicating all the life to God" and "the mind which was in Christ, enabling us to walk as Christ walked." It is "loving God with all our heart, and our neighbor as ourselves".Wesley, John "A Plain Account of Christian Perfection", "Works"] It is 'a restoration not only to the favour, but likewise to the image of God," our "being filled with the fullness of God". [Wesley, John "The End of Christ’s Coming", "Works"] Wesley was clear that Christian perfection did not imply perfection of bodily health or an infallibility of judgment. It also does not mean we no longer violate the will of God, for involuntary transgressions remain. Perfected Christians remain subject to temptation, and have continued need to pray for forgiveness and holiness. It is not an absolute perfection but a perfection in love. Furthermore, Wesley did not teach a salvation by perfection, but rather says that, "Even perfect holiness is acceptable to God only through Jesus Christ."

Other variations

Since the time of Arminius, his name has come to represent a very large variety of beliefs. Some of these beliefs, such as Pelagianism (see below) are not considered to be within Arminianism orthodoxy and are dealt with elsewhere. Some doctrines, however, do adhere to the Arminian foundation and, while minority views, are highlighted below.

Open theism

The doctrine of open theism states that God is omnipresent, omnipotent, and omniscient, but differs on the nature of the future. Open theists claim that the future is not completely knowable because people have not made their decisions yet, and therefore God knows the future in possibilities rather than certainties. As such, open theists resolve the issue of human free will and God's sovereignty by claiming that God is sovereign because he does not ordain each human choice, but rather works in cooperation with his creation to bring about his will. This notion of sovereignty and freedom is foundational to their understanding of love since open theists believe that love is not genuine unless it is freely chosen. The power of choice under this definition has the potential for as much harm as it does good, and open theists see free will as the best answer to the problem of evil. Well-known proponents of this theology are Greg Boyd, Clark Pinnock, William Hasker, and John E. Sanders.

Some Arminians, such as professor and theologian Robert Picirilli, reject the doctrine of open theism as a "deformed Arminianism". [Picirilli, "Grace, Faith, Free Will", 40 - Picirilli actually objects so strongly to the link between Arminianism and Open theism that he devotes an entire section to his objections. See 59ff.] Joseph Dongell stated that "open theism actually moves beyond classical Arminianism towards process theology." [Dongell, Joseph and Walls, Jerry "Why I Am Not a Calvinist", 45] The majority Arminian view accepts classical theism - the belief that God's power, knowledge, and presence have no limits outside of His divine character. Most Arminians reconcile human free will with God's sovereignty and foreknowledge by holding three points:
* Human free will is limited by original sin, though God's prevenient grace restores to humanity the ability to accept God's call of salvation. [Picirilli, "Grace, Faith, Free Will", 42-43, 59ff] [Ashby, "Four Views on Eternal Security", 146-147]
* God purposely exercises his sovereignty in ways that do not illustrate its extent - in other words, He has the power and authority to predetermine salvation but he chooses to apply it through different means.
* God's foreknowledge of the future is exhaustive and complete, and therefore the future is certain and not contingent on human action. God does not determine the future, but He does know it. God's certainty and human contingency are compatible. [Picirilli, "Grace, Faith, Free Will", 40]

Corporate view of election

The majority Arminian view is that election is individual and based on God's foreknowledge of faith, but a second perspective deserves mention. These Arminians reject the concept of individual election entirely, preferring to understand the doctrine in corporate terms. According to this corporate election, God never chose individuals to elect to salvation, but rather He chose to elect the believing Church to salvation. Dutch Reformed theologian Herman Ridderbos says " [The certainty of salvation] does not rest on the fact that the church belongs to a certain "number", but that it belongs to Christ, from before the foundation of the world. Fixity does not lie in a hidden decree, therefore, but in corporate unity of the Church with Christ, whom it has come to know in the gospel and has learned to embrace in faith." [Ridderbos, Herman "Paul: An Outline of His Theology" trans. John Richard de Witt (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1975), 350-351]

Corporate election draws support from a similar concept of corporate election found in the Old Testament and Jewish law. Indeed most Biblical scholarship is in agreement that Judeo-Greco-Roman thought in the 1st century was opposite of the Western world's "individual first" mantra - it was very collectivist in nature.Abasciano, Brian "Paul’s Use of the Old Testament in Romans 9:1-9: An Intertextual and Theological Exegesis" (T&T Clark Publishers, 2006), ISBN 0-567-03073-3] Identity stemmed from membership in a group more than individuality. According to Romans 9-11, supporters claim, Jewish election as the chosen people ceased with their national rejection of Jesus as Messiah. As a result of the new covenant, God's chosen people are now the corporate body of Christ, the church (sometimes called "spiritual Israel" - see also Covenant theology). Pastor and theologian Dr. Brian Abasciano claims "What Paul says about Jews, Gentiles, and Christians, whether of their place in God’s plan, or their election, or their salvation, or how they should think or behave, he says from a corporate perspective which views the group as primary and those he speaks about as embedded in the group. These individuals act as members of the group to which they belong, and what happens to them happens by virtue of their membership in the group."

These scholars also maintain that Jesus was the only human ever elected and that individuals must be "in Christ" (Eph 1:3-4) through faith to be part of the elect. Joseph Dongell, professor at Asbury Theological Seminary, states "the most conscipuous feature of Ephesians 1:3-2:10 is the phrase 'in Christ', which occurs twelve times in Ephesians 1:3-4 alone...this means that Jesus Christ himself is the chosen one, the predestined one. Whenever one is incorporated into him by grace through faith, one comes to share in Jesus' special status as chosen of God." [Dongell, Joseph and Walls, Jerry "Why I am Not a Calvinist", 76] Markus Barth illustrates the inter-connectedness: "Election in Christ must be understood as the election of God's people. Only as members of that community do individuals share in the benefits of God's gracious choice." [Barth, Markus "Ephesians" (Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1974), 108]

Comparison to other views

Understanding Arminianism is aided by understanding the theological alternatives - Pelagianism and Calvinism. Arminianism, like any major belief system, is frequently misunderstood both by critics and would-be supporters. Listed below are a few common misconceptions.

Common misconceptions

* Arminianism supports works-based salvation - No well-known system of Arminianism denies salvation "by faith alone" and "by faith first to last". This misconception is often directed at the Arminian possibility of apostasy, which critics maintain requires continual good works to achieve final salvation. To Arminians, however, both initial salvation "and" eternal security are "by faith alone"; hence "by faith first "to last". Belief through faith is the condition for entrance into the Kingdom of God; unbelief is the condition for exit from the Kingdom of God - not a lack of good works. [Pawson "Once Saved, Always Saved?" 121-124] [Picirilli "Grace, Faith, Free Will" 160ff] [Ashby "Four Views on Eternal Security" 142ff] Calvinists, however, tend to view Arminianism as attributing salvation to human choice rather than divine grace, and also tend to view human free will as ultimately impossible until after salvation, due to the total depravity of human nature, meaning that faith itself can become present in the human heart solely through the grace of God.
* Arminianism is Pelagian, denying original sin and total depravity - No system of Arminianism founded on Arminius or Wesley denies original sin or total depravity; [Ashby 138-139] both Arminius and Wesley "strongly" affirmed that man's basic condition is one in which he cannot be righteous, understand God, or seek God. [Arminius, "Writings" 2:192] See the comparison to Calvinism below for where the two systems diverge.
* Arminianism denies Jesus' substitutionary payment for sins - Both Arminius and Wesley believed in the necessity and sufficiency of Christ's atonement through substitution. [Picirilli "Grace, Faith, Free Will" 104-105, 132ff] Arminius held that God's justice was satisfied individually [Ashby "Four Views on Eternal Security" 140ff] while Hugo Grotius and many of Wesley's followers taught that it was satisfied governmentally. [Picirilli "Grace, Faith, Free Will" 132]

Comparison with Calvinism

Ever since Arminius and his followers revolted against Calvinism in the early 17th century, Protestant soteriology has been largely divided between Calvinism and Arminianism. The extreme of Calvinism is Hyper-Calvinism and on the extreme of Arminianism is Pelagianism, but the overwhelming majority of Protestant, evangelical pastors and theologians hold to one of these two systems or somewhere in between.


*Total depravity – Arminians agree with Calvinists over the doctrine of total depravity. The differences come in the understanding of how God remedies this human depravity.
*Substitutionary effect of atonement – Arminians also affirm with Calvinists the substitutionary effect of Christ's atonement and that this effect is limited only to the elect. Classical Arminians would agree with Calvinists that this substitution was penal satisfaction for all of the elect, while most Wesleyan Arminians would maintain that the substitution was governmental in nature.


* Nature of election – Arminians hold that election to eternal salvation has the condition of faith attached. The Calvinist doctrine of unconditional election states that salvation cannot be earned or achieved and is therefore not conditional upon any human effort, so faith is not a condition of salvation but the divinely apportioned means to it.
* Nature of grace – Arminians believe that through God's grace, he restores free will concerning salvation to all humanity, and each individual, therefore, is able either to accept the Gospel call through faith or resist it through unbelief. Calvinists hold that God's grace to enable salvation is given only to the elect and irresistibly leads to salvation.
* Extent of the atonement – Arminians hold to a universal drawing and universal extent of atonement instead of the Calvinist doctrine that the drawing and atonement is limited in extent to the elect only. Both sides (with a few exceptions among Calvinists) believe the invitation of the gospel is universal and "must be presented to everyone [they] can reach without any distinction." [Nicole, Roger, [ "Covenant, Universal Call And Definite Atonement"] "Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society" 38:3 (September 1995)]
* Perseverance in faith – Arminians believe that future salvation and eternal life is secured in Christ and protected from all external forces but is conditional on remaining in Christ and can be lost through apostasy. Traditional Calvinists believe in the doctrine of the perseverance of the saints, which says that because God chose some unto salvation and actually paid for their particular sins, he keeps them from apostasy and that those who do apostasize were never truly regenerated (that is, born again). Non-traditional Calvinists and other evangelicals advocate the similar but different doctrine of eternal security that teaches if a person was once saved, his or her salvation can never be in jeopardy, even if the person completely apostasizes.

Comparison to Pelagianism

Pelagius was a British monk and opponent of Augustine of Hippo and Jerome in the early 5th Century AD. When he arrived in Christian Rome from Britain, Pelagius was appalled at the lack of holiness he found. Pelagius preached justification through faith alone, but also believed salvation was finished through good works and moral uprightness. Furthermore, Pelagius completely denied the double predestination and irresistible grace affirmed by Augustine Fact|date=February 2007. Several of his students - notably Caelestius - went further than their teacher and rejected justification by faith.

The teachings of Pelagius were condemned as heretical in 416 and 418 at the Councils of Carthage. These condemnations were summarily ratified at the Council of Ephesus in 432. Historically Pelagianism has come to represent any system that denies original sin, holds that by nature humans are capable of good, and maintains morality and works are part of the equation that yields salvation. Semi-Pelagianism is a variation on the original more akin to Pelagius' own thought - that justification is through faith, but that Adam's original sin was merely a bad example, humans can naturally seek God, and salvation is completed through works. Both systems reject a Calvinist understanding of predestination.

Many critics of Arminianism, both historically and currently, claim that Arminianism condones, accepts, or even explicitly supports Pelagianism of either variety. Arminius referred to Pelagianism as "the grand falsehood" and stated that he "must confess that I detest, from my heart, the consequences [of that theology] ." [Arminius "Writings", II:219ff (the entire treatise occupies pages 196-452)] David Pawson, a British pastor, decries this association as "libelous" when attributed to Arminius' or Wesley's doctrine. [Pawson "Once Saved, Always Saved?", 106] Indeed most Arminians reject all accusations of Pelagianism; nonetheless, primarily due to Calvinist opponents, [Pawson 97-98, 106] [Picirilli "Grace, Faith, Free Will", 6ff] the two terms remain intertwined in popular usage. Listed below are similarities and contrasts between Arminianism and Pelagianism.

:Similarities: Both systems reject doctrines of Calvinistic predestination and irresistible grace. Both systems (along with traditional Calvinism) accept the importance of good works, moral decision-making, and striving to become more like Christ.

:Differences: Arminianism maintains original sin, total depravity, substitutionary atonement, and salvation by grace through faith alone, all of which Pelagianism denies. Pelagianism holds that a person's works are the determining factor for whether God grants eternal life to that person.

ee also

Further reading


*Ashby, Stephen M (contributor) and Harper, Steven (contributor) "Four Views on Eternal Security", J. Matthew Pinson, ed. (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2002) ISBN 0-310-23439-5 — Stephen Ashby and Steven Harper present and defend their cases for Reformed Arminianism (classical) and Wesleyan Arminianism respectively against Michael Horton (Classical Calvinism), Norman Geisler (Moderate Calvinism) and each other.
*Forlines, Leroy F."The Quest for Truth: Answering Life's Inescapable Questions" (Nashville: Randall House Publications, 2001) ISBN 0-89265-864-9 — Forlines presents a comprehensive systematic theology of salvation from an Arminian perspective.
*Forster, Roger and Marston, Paul "God's Strategy in Human History" 2nd ed. (Wipf and Stock Publishers, 2000) ISBN 1-57910-273-5 — The authors take a deep look at the grammatical and historical contexts of New Testament passages dealing with predestination and election, along with historical sources from the first 300 years A.D., and come to Arminian conclusions.
*McGonigle, Herbert. "Sufficient Saving Grace" (Paternoster, 2001) ISBN 1-84227-045-1 — Presents the development of Arminianism beginning in Holland and moving into the theology of John Wesley.
*Olson, Roger E., "Arminian Theology: Myths and Realities" (Downers Grove: Intervarsity Press, 2006) ISBN 0-8308-2841-9 — American theologian and minister takes a historical look at Arminianism as part of the Reformed movement and clarifies teachings of historical Arminianism in light of misunderstandings and miscommunications concerning Arminianism.
*Pawson, David "Once Saved, Always Saved? A Study in Perseverance and Inheritance" (London: Hodder & Staughton, 1996) ISBN 0-340-61066-2 — British pastor and theologian takes a deeper look at the Scriptural, historical, and theological arguments against the doctrine of "once saved, always saved".
*Picirilli, Robert "Grace, Faith, Free Will: Contrasting Views of Salvation: Calvinism and Arminianism" (Nashville: Randall House Publications, 2002) ISBN 0-89265-648-4 — Picirilli takes a closer look at the life and views of Jacobus Arminius and presents his historical and theological argument for Reformation Arminianism (classical).
*Pinson, J. Matthew, "Will The Real Arminius Please Stand Up? A Study of the Theology of Jacobus Arminius in Light of His Interpreters," "Integrity: A Journal of Christian Thought" 2 (2003), 121-39.
*Shank, Dr. Robert "Elect in the Son" (Bethany House Publishers, 1989) ISBN 1-55661-092-0 — The classic defense of Arminianism. First published in the mid-20th century, it remains one of the primary defenses of Arminian thought.
*Walls, Jerry L., and Joseph R. Dongell, "Why I Am Not a Calvinist" (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2004) ISBN 0-8308-3249-1 — Walls and Dongell present their Scriptural and philosophical arguments against Calvinism, focusing primarily on the nature of human freedom, divine sovereignty, self-consistency, and the Christian life.
*Wesley, John. [ "The Question, 'What Is an Arminian?' Answered by a Lover of Free Grace] - a very basic overview of Wesleyan Arminianism
*Witski, Steve. [ "Free Grace or Forced Grace?"] from "The Arminian Magazine", Spring 2001


*Boettner, Loraine, "The Reformed Doctrine Of Predestination" (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1932) — A book presenting and defending the Calvinist doctrines of salvation ( [ available online] ).
*Clark, Gordon H. "Predestination" (Unicoi: The Trinity Foundation, 2006) ISBN 978-1-891777-14-1 — A book by Presbyterian Theologian Gordon H. Clark defending the Calvinistic view of predestination and salvation.
*Gill, John "The Cause of God and Truth" — An exploration and defense of the Calvinist doctrines of grace by the Baptist divine ( [ available online] ).
*Edwards, Jonathan (1754). "The Freedom of the Will". ISBN 978-1-573580-33-3 — An argument against the Arminian view of human freedom. ( [ Available online] .)
*Packer, J. I. "Introduction to "Death of Death in the Death of Christ" — The characteristically ecumenical Packer sharply questions the Arminian version of gospel in his preface to John Owen's defense of a limited atonement ( [ available online] )
*Peterson, Robert A., and Michael D. Williams, "Why I Am Not an Arminian" (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2004) ISBN 0-8308-3248-3 — The counterpoint to "Why I Am Not a Calvinist" presents a Scriptural and philosophical case against Arminianism.
*Spurgeon, Charles "A Defense of Calvinism" — A sermon by the Baptist "Prince of Preachers" ( [ available online] ).
*White, James R. "The Potter's Freedom" (Calvary Press, 2000) ISBN 1-879737-43-4 — A Calvinist response to Norman Geisler's "Chosen but Free" (in which Geisler presents a "moderate Calvinism" that only holds to perseverance of the Saints), it is widely considered by both supporters and opponents to be a strong, consistent portrayal of Calvinism.


External links

* [ The Works of Jacob Arminius]
* [ The Society of Evangelical Arminians]
* [ What is an Arminian?] by John Wesley
* [ Sermon #58: "On Predestination"] by John Wesley
* [ "Corporate Election in Romans 9", Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society, June 2006] by Brian Abasciano (Arminian perspective)
* [ The Nature of Wesleyan Theology] by J. Kenneth Grider (Arminian perspective)
* [ Characteristics of Wesley's Arminianism] by Luke L. Keefer, Jr. (Arminian perspective)
* [ Wesleyan Theology: Arminianism] by Gregory S. Neal (from a Methodist perspective)
* [ Arminianism] from the Catholic Encyclopedia
* [ A Comparison of Arminian Theology with the Calvinist Tradition] (from a Calvinist perspective)
* [ Christian Cyclopedia article on Arminianism] (Lutheran perspective)

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