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Remonstrants

Remonstrants (rĕmŏn´strənts), Dutch Protestants, adherents to the ideas of Jacobus Arminius, whose doctrines after his death (1609) were called Arminianism. They were Calvinists but were more liberal and less dogmatic than orthodox Calvinists and diverged from the teachings of the Dutch Reformed Church. After the death of Arminius and under the leadership of Simon Episcopius, they set forth their articles of faith for Holland and West Friesland in a petition that became known as the Remonstrance. Their main variations from orthodox views, as set forth, were conditional, rather than absolute, predestination; universal atonement; the necessity of regeneration through the Holy Ghost; the possibility of resistance to divine grace; and the possibility of relapse from grace. A movement to suppress the Remonstrants was led by Franciscus Gomarus and Prince Maurice of Nassau, and finally, after a hearing at the Synod of Dort (1618–19), the orthodox position prevailed. Remonstrants were denied church services, and their leaders were persecuted and exiled. With the death of Prince Maurice in 1625 the ban was lifted and the religion was tolerated until 1795, when it was recognized as an independent church. The Remonstrants survive as a small group in the Netherlands. They have had a liberalizing influence on Calvinist doctrine as well as on other evangelical churches.

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remonstrance

re·mon·strance / riˈmänstrəns/ • n. a forcefully reproachful protest: angry remonstrances in the Senate | he shut his ears to any remonstrance. ∎  (the Remonstrance) a document drawn up in 1610 by the Arminians of the Dutch Reformed Church, presenting the differences between their doctrines and those of the strict Calvinists.

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Remonstrants

Remonstrants. See resolutions.

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Remonstrants

REMONSTRANTS

The name given to the followers of Jacobus armini us, who continued to propound the less rigid views of Calvinism that Arminius had upheld in his theological writings and disputes. After his death, these disciples met in convention at Gouda (1610) and succeeded in producing in written form the substance of Arminius's teaching. The five articles in this petition became known as the Remonstrantie, and those who adhered to these articles became known as Remonstrants.

They stressed that the atonement was intended for all men, that man needs grace, yet is able to resist it and can even lose it. Those who opposed such views, known as Gomarists after their leader, Franciscus Gomarus, met the Remonstrantie with a Contra-Remonstrantie, in which they renewed their staunch adherence to the strict doctrines of Calvinism and likewise condemned their adversaries for heretical tendencies.

The Remonstrant group was under the leadership of Simon Episcopius (Biscop), a former pupil of Arminius and later a professor of theology at the University of Leyden (161218). Both sides took part in conferences held at The Hague and at Delft, but they found no solution. In fact, the dissensions led to further disturbances forcing the States-General to prohibit continents or sermons on such doctrines. Yet despite efforts of the government to maintain mutual tolerance, matters grew worse. Riots ensued.

Eventually, Maurice of Orange openly championed the cause of the Contra-Remonstrants and arrested and even executed some of the Remonstrant leaders. Finally, in 161819 a national synod met at Dort (Dordrecht) with representatives of the Dutch Reformed Churches and those of the reformed churches from other parts of Europe present. Instead of being allowed to sit as equals, the Remonstrants were practically placed on trial for their advocacy of doctrines unfavorable to the majority of the ministers and people of Holland. The members of the synod drew up 93 canonical rules and confirmed the authority of the Belgic Confession and the Heidelberg Catechism. In accordance with the judgment of the synod, 200 Remonstrant ministers were deprived of office and 80 were exiled by the States-General.

About 1622 Simon Episcopius had written a confessio, which embodied the doctrine of the Remonstrants. By 1630 the Arminians were allowed to live in any part of Holland and to build churches and schools, having already founded the town of Friedrichstadt in Schleswig. It was not until 1795 that they first received official recognition. Although numerically small today, the Arminians have been influential insofar as their teaching is especially evident in the doctrines of groups of Baptists, Methodists, and Calvinists, as well as other evangelical bodies.

Bibliography: d. nobbs, Theocracy and Toleration: A Study of the Disputes in Dutch Calvinism from 16001650 (New York 1938). j. regenboog, Geschichte der Remonstranten, 2 v. (Lemgo, Germ. 178184). p. schaff, Bibliotheca symbolica ecclesiae universalis: Creeds of Christendom, 3 v. (New York 1877). p. geyl, The Netherlands Divided 16091648, tr. s. t. bindoff (London 1936).

[l. f. ruskowski]

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