Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Arminianism v. Catholicism

Quite often in debates with Calvinists they like to say that Catholics are really Arminians - which, since Arminians are not of the hard-lined predestination view of Calvinists, on the surface seems applicable.  However, on further investigation we would find that Arminianism is rooted in the Dutch "Reformed" (Methodist) movement.  To label a Catholic as "Arminian" is, at the very least, anachronistic.  Jacobus Arminius (born in 1560), for whom the system is named, was left fatherless at a very early age and the local merchant community had compassion on him and saw to it that he was very well educated.  His roots were in Calvinistic thought, and it was the desire of those sending him to school(s) that he would be a good (if not great) Calvinist orator.  In 1582 he was sent to Geneva to take in true Calvinism, with hopes of bringing that back to the Netherlands.

Things seemed to change after Arminius went to Italy in 1586 and spent a prolonged period of time there.  The Calvinists feared he was coming under the influence of the Jesuits and called him back to Amsterdam, where he was declared to be orthodox and appointed to be a preacher in the "Reformed" congregation there.  Well, it seems the fears of the Calvinists were not unwarranted.  After preaching for about 15 years in Amsterdam, and gaining a great reputation for his orations Arminius began to find fault with Calvinism.  His preaching became so prolific and opposed to Calvinism that many, whom they called "Remonstrants," were actually splitting the universities and even the country, threatening the unity of Holland (keep in mind, "Church and State" are not separated as most readers of this blog are likely accustomed to).  

Initially the "Remonstrants" were banned, but eventually tolerated by the State.  This split the Methodist followers into two camps, those who followed John Wesley (Arminian) and those who followed George Whitefield (Calvinist).

So, the next time a Calvinist tries to put the label on a Catholic of being an Arminian this opens the opportunity to point out the anachronism of the Calvinist statement.  If anything, Arminians are more like Catholics than Catholics taking after Arminians.  The tactic, whether intentionally used as such or not, is typically a red herring - attempting to throw the Catholic apologist "off the scent" and chase after a side-topic/distraction.



  1. I'm glad you posted this. I always laugh when the Calvinist divides the world into Calvinist and Arminian (pejoritavely, but ignorantly, to refer to every other Christian denomination and even pagan religions).

    The joke is that Arminaism is Protestant through and through; it's not Catholic. They strongly adhere to Sola Scriptura and Sola Fide.

  2. Arminians do pay lip service in claiming they believe in Sola Fide ( Faith Alone) but its just double talk. They really believe in Faith plus Works as the Roman catholic church believes. Jacobus would not agree with modern Arminians, Arminianism is just a form of heading back to Rome ( Roman catholic) belief system and away from the True Catholic Church. Roman catholic does not equal Catholic.

  3. And your right Arminianism is more like Roman catholic than the other way around. Might I add Arminianism is more like Pelagianism

  4. SAWR, Pelagianism is, essentially, the denial of Original Sin. Pelagian belief that the will of man is able to choose good or evil on its own, and thus able to choose God without divine intervention. Alternatively, the Arminian believes that good can only come from a man in the state of grace - that man is incapable of good outside of God's grace. In this respect the Arminian agrees with the Catholic.

    BTW- Is there a reason you appear to be consistently not capitalizing the "C" in "Roman Catholic?"


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