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Arminius: A Study in the Dutch Reformation

by Carl Bangs

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A definitive biography of the intriguing and controversial Dutch thinker of the late sixteenth - early seventeenth centuries. Not merely a biography in the traditional sense, the book involves much intellectual history as well as a short history of Amsterdam.

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This is the best biography of Arminius out there, but there aren't that many. At times the language is dense, like it is a converted dissertation, but at other times the story is good enough to move the book along. Arminius was one of the most important personages in Christian theology, but, it is amazing how often he is ignored in theology and history texts. Usually there is a chapter on Calvin, but only a sentence on Arminius that usually appears in the chapter on Wesley. Which is unfortunate, but there are a few reasons why: (1) Arminius died early; (2) the Dutch were, by and large, Calvinists; and (3) Arminius's Latin is dense and logical and terse, though at times it aspires to good literature (oftentimes it is confusing and must be reread several times to ascertain the meaning).

Bangs does a good job of tracking down sources and telling his story, though sometimes the flood of arcane Dutch personages is tediously stupefying. Do we need to know the name of every person on a council or a classis or in a university room? Not all the time. But, I digress. The theology of Arminius is presented fairly well, though his summation at the end specifically on theology and predestination is not as lucid as it could have been. Congrats on the old fashioned footnotes, bibliography, indices, etc.

A good biography of Arminius the person; still, I'll point you to Robert E. Picirilli'S Grace, Faith, Free Will for Arminian theology. ( )
1 vote tuckerresearch | Nov 15, 2010 |
Mr. Bangs presents a very systematic and, sometimes, personally affective account of James Arminius. Not only does he present Arminius objectively as a pastor, theologian,and professor but also a few yet essential insights of a man who has had his share of sorrow.

I was warned many years ago not to read this book. I was told by Calvinist-leaning individuals that it would upset my faith and cause me to fall away. I have read this book 3 times and filled it with highlighting and notations. Apparently, the one who warned me never read the book. And I think that is a big problem with those who adhere to Calvinism when discussing issues regarding election and predestination. I would encourage every Calvinists to read this book not for the purpose of changing their view but to understand what Arminius really taught as, it seems, many books by Calvinist theologians misrepresent terribly the teachings Arminius espoused. To call him a heretic is to be wholy misinformed or uninformed about the man Arminius and his teachings.

Reading 'Arminius' has helped me to understand the significance of Arminianism, it's value and importance in Christian theology, the essential issues that divide two camps of believers (one, Calvinism, and the other, Arminianism), and it has provided me with an alternative (and better, in my estimation) understanding of certain 'problem' texts in the Bible.

Especially of interest were Bang's connection of Arminius' method of logic under the influence of Petrus Ramus (chap. 4) and his discussion of Arminius' thinking on Romans 7 and 9 (chapters 13 and 14 respectively)

Most important of all, to me, it has brought me closer to a man after my own heart; a man who knows the pain of lose, still trusts in God, and seeks to present God in a way that makes Him available for all sinners to embrace in repentance and faith. ( )
  atdCross | Jul 13, 2009 |
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A definitive biography of the intriguing and controversial Dutch thinker of the late sixteenth - early seventeenth centuries. Not merely a biography in the traditional sense, the book involves much intellectual history as well as a short history of Amsterdam.

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