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The Five Articles of the Remonstrants

Dennis Bratcher, ed.

In the latter 16th century James (Jacobus) Arminius, a Dutch Reformed theologian, challenged John Calvin and Theodore Beza’s formulation of the classic Reformed doctrine of predestination. While Arminius did not depart far from the Reformed position, he gave a larger place to the faith of the believer and came to a position of conditional predestination rather than the absolute predestination of Calvin and the double predestination of Beza.

After Arminius’ death (1609), his supporters under the leadership of Simon Episcopius came to be called the Remonstrants ("remonstrant"- to oppose) after issuing the Remonstrantiœ in 1610, a document containing five points summarizing their divergence from certain aspects of accepted Dutch Reformed theology. In these five articles they advocated conditional rather than absolute predestination, universal rather than limited atonement, the necessity of regeneration and transformation through the Holy Spirit, and the possibility of both resistance to and rejection of God’s grace.

The five articles of the Remonstrants became the focus of the Synod of Dordtrecht in the Netherlands, and occasioned The Canons of Dordt, a document of the Dutch Reformed Church that rejected the teachings of Arminius and the Remonstrants and essentially declared their position to be heretical.

Even though Arminius and the Remonstrants were condemned, the controversy did not end and had a liberalizing effect on theology in Europe and England, as well as the American colonies. By the mid 1700s the basic positions of Arminius were refined and expanded in England under the movement begun by John and Charles Wesley. In both England and the newly formed United States, Methodism and an array of churches followed what became known as Arminian-Wesleyan theology. Today, the five points of the Remonstrants still articulate the essential differences between Calvinistic/Reformed traditions and Arminian Wesleyan traditions (See "TULIP" Calvinism Compared to Wesleyan Perspectives; see also The Triumph of Arminianism (and its dangers)).

The Five Articles of the Remonstrants, 1610

Article 1.

[Conditional Election - corresponds to the second of TULIP’s five points, Unconditional Election]

That God, by an eternal and unchangeable purpose in Jesus Christ his Son before the foundation of the world, has determined that 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 Spirit 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 alienated from Christ, according to the word of the Gospel in John 3:36: “He that believes on the Son has everlasting life: and he that does not believe the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abides on him,” and according to other passages of Scripture also.

Article 2.

[Unlimited Atonement - corresponds to the third of TULIP’s five points, Limited Atonement]

That, accordingly, 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 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”  And in the First Epistle of John 2:2: “And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.”

Article 3.

[Deprivation - corresponds to the first of TULIP’s five points, Total Depravity]

That man does not posses saving grace of himself, nor of the energy of his free will, inasmuch as in his state of apostasy and sin he 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 necessary that he be born again of God in Christ, through his Holy Spirit, and renewed in understanding, inclination, and will, and all his faculties, in order that he may rightly understand, think, will, and effect what is truly good, according to the Word of Christ, John 15:5, “Without me you can do nothing.”

Article 4.

[Resistible Grace - corresponds to the fourth of TULIP’s five points, Irresistible Grace]

That this grace of God is the beginning, continuance, and accomplishment of all good, even to the extent that the regenerate man himself, without prevenient or assisting, awakening, following and cooperative 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 with respect to the mode of the operation of this grace, it is not irresistible, since it is written concerning many, that they have resisted the Holy Spirit (Acts 7, and elsewhere in many places).

Article 5.

[Assurance and Security - corresponds to the fifth of TULIP’s five points, Perseverance of the Saints]

That those who are incorporated into Christ by true faith, and have thereby become partakers of his life-giving Spirit, as a result have 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 Spirit; 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, desire his help, and are not inactive, keeps them from falling, so that they, by no deceit or power of Satan, can be misled nor plucked out of Christ’s hands, according to the Word of Christ, John 10:28: “Neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.” But whether they are capable, through negligence, of forsaking again the first beginning 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 neglecting grace, that must be more particularly determined out of the Holy Scripture, before we ourselves can teach it with the full confidence of our mind.

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.

"The Articles of the Remonstrants" are adapted from Phillip Schaff, The Creeds of Christendom, Volume 3, Baker Books, Grand Rapids, 1996, pp 545ff.

-Dennis Bratcher, ed. Copyright © 2018, Dennis Bratcher, All Rights Reserved
(No copyright claims are made for the text of the original document.)
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