Five Articles of Remonstrance
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. Those who supported them were called "Remonstrants".
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 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.
Finally, 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, with each one set as an answer to one of the five 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 they believe constitutes an orthodox view on each of the following points:
- Total depravity : the sin
- Unconditional election : the basis of God's choice of the saved
- Limited atonement : the application of the benefits of the atonement
- Irresistible grace : how the Holy Spirit brings man to repentance and faith
- Perseverance of the saints : the assurance that the saints will bring forth the fruits of the Spirit.
The five articles
Article 1 - Conditional election
This article rejects the concept that election into Christ is unconditional. Rather, this article asserts that election is conditional upon faith in Christ, and that God elects to salvation those He knows beforehand will have faith in Him.
Article 2 - Unlimited atonement
This article rejects the concept of limited atonement, which asserts that Christ only died for those God chooses to be saved. This article asserts that Christ died for all, but that salvation is limited to those who believe in Christ.
Article 3 - Total depravity
Article 4 - Prevenient grace
Article 5 - Conditional preservation of the saints
This article 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. Sometime between 1610, and the official proceeding of the Synod of Dort (1618), the Remonstrants became fully persuaded in their minds that the Scriptures taught that a true believer was capable of falling away from faith and perishing eternally as an unbeliever. They formalized their views in "The Opinion of the Remonstrants" (1618), and later in Remonstrant Confession (1621).
Notes and references
- DeJong 1968, pp. 209–213.
- DeJong 1968, pp. 52–58.
- Wynkoop 1967.
- Schaff 2007, pp. 545-549, Article 1. 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.
- Bray 1994, pp. 453-454. Note there is an error in the preamble which gives the year as 1615.
- Schaff 2007, pp. 545-549, Article 2. 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."
- Schaff 2007, pp. 545-549, Article 3. 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."
- Schaff 2007, pp. 545-549, Article 4. 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.
- Schaff 2007, pp. 545-549, Article 5. 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.
- DeJong 1968, pp. 220-. Points three and four in the fifth article read: True believers can fall from true faith and can fall into such sins as cannot be consistent with true and justifying faith; not only is it possible for this to happen, but it even happens frequently. True believers are able to fall through their own fault into shameful and atrocious deeds, to persevere and to die in them; and therefore finally to fall and to perish.
- Witzki 2010.
- Bray, Gerald (1994). Documents of the English Reformation. Cambridge: James Clark & C°.
- DeJong, Peter (1968). "The Opinions of the Remonstrants (1618)". Crisis in the Reformed Churches: Essays in Commemoration of the Great Synod of Dordt, 1618-1619 (PDF). Grand Rapids: Reformed Fellowship.
- Schaff, Phillip (2007). "The Five Arminian Articles. A.D. 1610". The Creeds of Christendom. 3. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books. pp. 545–549. ISBN 978-0-8010-8232-0.
- Witzki, Steve (2010). "The Arminian Confession of 1621 and Apostasy" (PDF). Society of Evangelical Arminians. Retrieved 2019-05-25.
- Wynkoop, Mildred Bangs (1967). Foundations of Wesleyan-Arminian Theology. Kansas City, MO: Beacon Hill Press.