Friday, May 09, 2008

Arminius and the Will of Man

On October 30th 1608, the esteemed James Arminius of the University of Leyden appeared before the gathered representatives of the states of Holland at the Hague to deliver an address concerning his sentiments regarding several issues of contention among certain Calvinist sectarians. Much accusation had been made against Arminius by Franciscus Gomarus who had attributed several false beliefs to Arminius and many like-minded followers. Standing an examination by ministers called to consider these charges, Arminius successfully defended his beliefs and teachings and it was following this defense that he offered these sentiments to make clear his positions. One of these positions is a response to a charge still improperly leveled at much of the body of Christ today, the free will of man, or a semi-Pelagian viewpoint not born out by the actual teachings targeted by strict Calvinists such as Gomarus. Arminius made clear his sentiments regarding free will in the following statement that should leave no doubt in the minds of sensible men that Arminians, each reformation minded, do not subscribe to Pelagian ideals nor trust in the good inclinations of natural man. Strict Calvinists continue to broadcast such charges today but as the direct statements of Arminius attest, there is no ground for such accusations.

From A Declaration of the Sentiments of Arminius

This is my opinion concerning the free-will of man: In his primitive condition as he came out of the hands of his creator, man was endowed with such a portion of knowledge, holiness and power, as enabled him to understand, esteem, consider, will, and to perform the true good, according to the commandment delivered to him. Yet none of these acts could he do, except through the assistance of Divine Grace. But in his lapsed and sinful state, man is not capable, of and by himself, either to think, to will, or to do that which is really good; but it is necessary for him to be regenerated and renewed in his intellect, affections or will, and in all his powers, by God in Christ through the Holy Spirit, that he may be qualified rightly to understand, esteem, consider, will, and perform whatever is truly good. When he is made a partaker of this regeneration or renovation, I consider that, since he is delivered from sin, he is capable of thinking, willing and doing that which is good, but yet not without the continued aids of Divine Grace.

Arminius on the Free Will of Man