Today, October 19, is the “feast day” (the commemoration) of James Arminius . . . at least for those in the Methodist tradition who are following For All the Saints: A Calendar of Commemorations.*Actually, interestingly enough, Arminius was not a part of the original edition of this book. Calvin, on the other hand, was in that book. To be fair, Calvin is a part of the established calendar of Feasts for The Episcopal Church, upon which Methodists would naturally draw. Nevertheless, I found this omission odd given that we Wesleyans are Arminian!
Jacob (or James) Arminius, Dutch pastor and theologian, was born the son of Harmon and Elborch Jacobsz in Oudewater, Holland in 1559. He received his early education at Utrecht. In 1575, Arminius’ mother and siblings were killed during the Spanish massacre of Oudewater. Through the generosity of friends, Arminnius was able to study at the University of Marburg and, from 1576 to 1581, at the University of Leyden. Through the support of the Merchants’ Guild of Amsterdam, Arminius went on to Geneva where he studied under Theodore Beza from 1582 to 1586, including a year at Basel. Returning to the Netherlands in 1587, he began a fifteen-year pastorate in Amsterdam. There he was ordained in 1588. In 1603 he received his doctor’s degree from Leyden and became the university’s professor of theology.
Arminius urged the government officials to call a national synod so that he might openly present his positions. However, in 1609 he became ill and died, nine years before the synod was called. The year following his death, Arminius’ followers presented a Remonstrance over against the five points of Calvinism. They “held that Christ died for all men [sic], that salvation is by faith alone, that those who believe are saved, that those who reject God’s grace are lost, and that God does not elect particular individuals for either outcome.”
God our Teacher, from whom comes all true knowledge: So bind your words to our lives and write them on the tablets of our hearts, that we may not be swayed by false winds; and grant us faithful guides like your servant James Arminius, that our path to you be made straight and sure through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
*This is the second edition, edited by Heather Josselyn-Cranson. Order of Saint Luke P. 2013.
**Cf., the article as found in the book for all citations.