Remonstrants - Encyclopedia

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REMONSTRANTS, the name given to those Dutch Protestants who, after the death of Arminius, maintained the views associated with his name, and in 1610 presented to the states of Holland and Friesland a " remonstrance in five articles formulating their points of departure from stricter Calvinism. These were: (1) that the divine decree of predestination is conditional, not absolute; (2) that the Atonement is in intention 'universal; (3) that man cannot of himself exercise a saving faith; (4) that though the grace of God is a necessary condition of human effort it does not act irresistibly in man; (5) that believers are able to resist sin but are not beyond the possibility of falling from grace. Their adversaries (the Gomarists) met them with a " counter-remonstrance," and so were known as the Counter-Remonstrants. Although the states-general issued an edict tolerating both parties and forbidding further dispute, the conflict continued, and the Remonstrants were assailed both by personal enemies and by the political weapons of Maurice of Orange, who executed and imprisoned their leaders for holding republican views. In 1618-19 the synod of Dort (see Dort, Synod Of), the thirteen Arminian pastors headed by Simon Episcopius being shut out, established the victory of the Calvinist school, drew up ninety-three canonical rules, and confirmed the authority of the Belgic Confession and the Heidelberg Catechism. The judgment of the synod was enforced by the deposition and in some cases the banishment of Remonstrant ministers; but the government soon became convinced that their party was not dangerous to the state, and in 1630 they were formally allowed liberty to reside in all parts of Holland and build churches and schools. In 1621 they had already received liberty to make a settlement in Schleswig, where they built the town of Friedrichstadt. This colony still exists. The doctrine of the Remonstrants was embodied in 1621 in a confessio written by Episcopius, their great theologian, while J. Uytenbogaert gave them a catechism and regulated their churchly order. The Remonstrants adopted a simple synodical constitution; but their importance was henceforth more theological than ecclesiastical. Their seminary in Amsterdam has boasted of many distinguished names - Curcellaeus, Limborch, Wetstein, Le Clerc; and their liberal school of theology, which naturally grew more liberal and even rationalistic, reacted powerfully on the state church and on other Christian denominations. The Remonstrants first received official recognition in 1795. As a church they now number 27 communities with about 12,500 members, in a flourishing condition and respected for their traditions of scholarship and liberal thought. Their chief congregation is in Rotterdam.

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