Five Articles of Remonstrance

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The Five Articles of Remonstrance were theological propositions advanced in 1610 by followers of Jacobus Arminius who had died in 1609, in disagreement with interpretations of the teaching of John Calvin then current in the Dutch Reformed Church. They proved divisive, and those who supported them chose to call themselves "Remonstrants".

Background[edit]

Forty-six preachers and the two leaders of the Leyden state college for the education of preachers met in The Hague on 14 January 1610, to state in written form their views concerning all disputed doctrines. The document in the form of a remonstrance was drawn up by Jan Uytenbogaert and after a few changes was endorsed and signed by all in July.

The Remonstrants did not reject confession and catechism, but did not acknowledge them as permanent and unchangeable canons of faith. They ascribed authority only to the word of God in Holy Scripture and were averse to all formalism. They also maintained that the secular authorities have the right to interfere in theological disputes to preserve peace and prevent schisms in the Church.

The Five Articles of Remonstrance were subject to review by the Dutch National Synod held in Dordrecht in 1618–19 (see the Synod of Dort). The judgements of the Synod, known as the Canons of Dort (Dordrecht), opposed the Remonstrance with Five Heads of Doctrine. Each in answer to one of the Articles of the Remonstrance. It was this response which gave rise to what has since become known as the Five Points of Calvinism. Modified to form the acrostic TULIP they covered the soteriological topics within Calvinism, summarizing the essence of what constitutes an orthodox view on each of sin: total depravity, the basis of God's choice of the saved: unconditional election, the application of the benefits of the atonement: limited atonement, how the Holy Spirit brings man to repentance and faith: irresistible grace, and the assurance that the saints will bring forth the fruits of the Spirit: perseverance of the saints.

The Five Articles[edit]

The Five Articles of Remonstrance contrast with the Five Points of Calvinism on most points. Article I disagrees that election into Christ is unconditional. Rather, in this article the Remonstrants assert that election is conditional upon faith in Christ, and that God elects to salvation those He knows beforehand will have faith in Him. Article II espouses unlimited atonement, the concept that Christ died for all. This stands in contrast to the limited atonement of Calvinism, which asserts that Christ only died for those God chooses to be saved. Article III affirms the total depravity of man, that man cannot save himself. Article IV repudiates the Calvinistic concept of irresistible grace, contending that mankind has the free will to resist God's grace. Article V, rather than outright rejecting the notion of perseverance of the saints, argues that it may be conditional upon the believer remaining in Christ. The writers explicitly stated that they were not sure on this point, and that further study was needed. The text of the publicly published articles is not copyright and public domain and provided below:

  • Article I — That God, by an eternal, unchangeable purpose in Jesus Christ, his Son, before the foundation of the world, hath determined, out of the 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 John iii. 36: "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.
  • Article II — That, agreeably thereto, Jesus Christ, the Savior 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 the forgiveness of sins; yet that no one actually enjoys this forgiveness of sins, except the believer, according to the word of the Gospel of John iii. 16: "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 John ii. 2: "And he is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world."
  • Article III — That man has not saving grace 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 anything that is truly good (such as having 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, John xv. 5: "Without me ye can do nothing."
  • Article IV — That this grace of God is the beginning, continuance, and accomplishment of a good, even to this extent, that the regenerate man himself, without that prevenient or assisting, awakening, following, and co-operative grace, can neither think, will, nor do 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, in as much as it is written concerning many that they have resisted the Holy Ghost,—Acts vii, and elsewhere in many places.
  • Article V — 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, John x. 28: "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, 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 Scriptures before they can teach it with the full persuasion of their minds.[1]

The Counter-Remonstrance of 1611[edit]

The Remonstrants' Five Articles of Remonstrance was met with a response written primarily by Festus Hommius, called The Counter-Remonstrance of 1611. The Counter-Remonstrance of 1611 defended the Belgic Confession against theological criticisms from the followers of late Jacob Arminius, although Arminius himself claimed adherence to the Belgic Confession and Heidelberg Catechism till his death.[2]

1. As in Adam the whole human race, created in the image of God, has with Adam fallen into sin and thus become so corrupt that all men are conceived and born in sin and thus are by nature children of wrath, lying dead in their trespasses so that there is within them no more power to convert themselves truly unto God and to believe in Christ than a corpse has power to raise itself from the dead; so God draws out of this condemnation and delivers a certain number of men who in his eternal and immutable counsel He has chosen out of mere grace, according to the good pleasure of his will, unto salvation in Christ, passing by the others in his just judgment and leaving them in their sins.

2. that not only adults who believe in Christ and accordingly walk worthy of the gospel are to be reckoned as God’s elect children, but also the children of the covenant so long as they do not in their conduct manifest the contrary; and that therefore believing parents, when their children die in infancy, have no reason to doubt the salvation of these their children.

3. that God in his election has not looked to the faith or conversion of his elect, nor to the right use of his gifts, as the grounds of election; but that on the contrary He in his eternal and immutable counsel has purposed and decreed to bestow faith and perseverance in godliness and thus to save those whom He according to his good pleasure has chosen to salvation.

4. that to this end He has first of all presented and given to them his only-begotten Son Jesus Christ, whom He delivered up to the death of the cross in order to save his elect, so that, although the suffering of Christ as that of the only-begotten and unique Son of God is sufficient unto the atonement of the sins of all men, nevertheless the same, according to the counsel and decree of God, has its efficacy unto reconciliation and forgiveness of sins only in the elect and true believer.

5. that furthermore to the same end God the Lord has his holy gospel preached, and that the Holy Spirit externally through the preaching of that same gospel and internally through a special grace works so powerfully in the hearts of God’s elect, that He illumines their minds, transforms and renews their wills, removing the heart of stone and giving them a heart of flesh, in such a manner that by these means they not only receive power to convert themselves and believe but also actually and willingly do repent and believe.

6. that those whom God has decreed to save are not only once so enlightened, regenerated and renewed in order to believe in Christ and convert themselves to God, but that they by the same power of the Holy Spirit by which they were converted to God without any contribution of themselves are in like manner continually supported and preserved; so that, although many weaknesses of the flesh cleave to them as long as they are in this life and are engaged in a continual struggle between flesh and Spirit and also sometimes fall into grievous sins, nevertheless this same Spirit prevails in this struggle, not permitting that God’s elect by the corruption of the flesh should so resist the Spirit of sanctification that this would at any time be extinguished in them, and that in consequence they could completely or finally lose the true faith which was once bestowed on them and the Spirit of adoption as God’s children which they had once received.

7. that nevertheless the true believers find no excuse in this teaching to pursue carelessly the lusts of the flesh, since it is impossible that those who by a true faith are ingrafted into Christ should not produce the fruits of thankfulness; but on the contrary the more they assure themselves and feel that God works in them both to will and to do according to this good pleasure, the more they persist in working their own salvation with fear and trembling, since they know that this is the only means by which it pleases God to keep them standing and to bring them to salvation. For this reason He also employs in his Word all manner of warnings and threatenings, not in order to cause them to despair or doubt their salvation but rather to awaken in them a childlike fear by observing the weakness of their flesh in which they would surely perish, unless the Lord keep them standing in his underserved grace, which is the sole cause and ground of their perseverance; so that, although He warns them in his Word to watch and pray, they nevertheless do not have this of themselves that they desire God’s help and lack nothing, but only from the same Spirit who by a special grace prepares them for this and thus also powerfully keeps them standing.[3]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Text available in Bray, Gerald (1994). Documents of the English Reformation. Cambridge: James Clark & C°. p. 453,4.  note there is an error in the preamble which gives the year as 1612.
  2. ^ Document translated in DeJong, Peter Y. (1968). Crisis In The Reformed Churches: Essays in Commemoration of the Synod of Dort (1618-1619). Grand Rapids, Michigan: Reformed Fellowship, Inc. pp. 52–58. .
  3. ^ Document translated in DeJong, Peter Y. (1968). Crisis In The Reformed Churches: Essays in Commemoration of the Synod of Dort (1618-1619). Grand Rapids, Michigan: Reformed Fellowship, Inc. pp. 209–213. .

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