Church History: Studies in Christianity and Culture

Research Article

Arminius and the Reformation

Carl Bangsa1

a1 Olivet Nazarene College

James Arminius (1560-1609) is not nearly as well-known as the various movements which bear his name. “Arminianism” is a familiar word in Protestant history and theology and a pervasive movement particularly in English-speaking Protestantism. The Arminian movements, however, because of their diversity do not point clearly to Arminius himself. The label of Arminianism has been applied to and often accepted by such diverse entities as the politics of William Laud, seventeenth century Anglican theology from high churchmanship to moderate Puritanism, the communal experiment at Little Gidding, the empiricism of John Locke, Latitudinarianism, the rational supernaturalism of Hugo Grotius and the early Remonstrants, early Unitarianism in England, Wales, and New England, the evangelicalism of the Wesleys, and the revivalism of the American frontier. In our time the term means for some the crowning of Reformation theology; for others it points merely to an anachronistic sub-species of fundamentalism; and for still others it means an easy-going American culture-Protestantism.