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What is Arminianism?

It is a system of theological beliefs first advocated by a break-away group of Dutch Calvinists, under Jacob Hermann Arminius. 1 Calvinists, who follow John Calvin's theology, and Arminians, who follow Arminius, believe that the Bible supports their belief systems, and can quote biblical passages in support of their stands.

Wesleyan Methodism adopted most of the beliefs of Arminianism, calling them Evangelical Arminianism. They modified Arminius' beliefs about the transmittal of the consequence of Adam and Eve's sin to successive generations, and the degree of a person's depravity.

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Comparison of Arminianism with Calvinism:

Arminius taught beliefs that deviate significantly from each of The Five Points of Calvinism:

bullet That each person is not totally depraved. They are not spiritually helpless. They are capable of choosing to accept God and goodness. Everyone has free will and can choose to be saved.
bullet God is aware of people's future acts. He selects the Elect (those who will have the opportunity to be saved) and withholds grace from the remaining humans, on the basis of his foreknowledge of who would respond and be saved.
bullet Jesus died so that everyone had a chance to be saved. But Jesus' atonement did not immediately guarantee people's salvation. First, the person must repent of their sin and choose to accept salvation. Their personal regeneration then follows.
bullet Man has free will and thus can accept or resist the call of God.
bullet Arminius taught that a person can fall from grace during their life, and thus lose their salvation. There has been disagreement over this belief among modern Arminians. 3

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Additional beliefs of Arminianism:

bullet When God created Adam and Eve, they were in a state of balance between good and evil.
bullet The guilt of Adam and Eve when they ate the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil did not pass on to their descendents. However, the pollution of that act did affect subsequent generations.
bullet Faith is an act of good will.
bullet Christ's righteousness is not transferred to the saved believer. 5

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  1. Arminians have no connection to "Armenians" who are a Christian group. Armenians are probably best known for the genocide perpetrated by the Ottoman Empire during World War I. About 1.5 million Armenians were murdered -- an event that the Government of Turkey still does not acknowledge. See:
  2. Frederick Norwood, "Arminianism," at:
  3. "Comparison of Calvinism and Arminianism," Topics in Theology, at:
  4. "Arminianism," at:
  5. Alan Cairns, "Dictionary of Theological Terms: Arminianism," Ambassador Productions, (1998), Page 39 & 40.

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Books on Arminianism.

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Site navigation:

Home page > Christianity > Christian faith groups > Christian theo. beliefs > here

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Copyright 2001 to 2016 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2002-JUL-21
Latest update: 2016-SEP-24
Author: B.A. Robinson

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