Jacobus Arminius (aka Jacob Arminius, James Arminius, and Jacob Harmenszoon) may have been more "Calvinistic" (or at least Reformed) than many modern Calvinists. Nevertheless, his name has become indelibly attached to the anathema of "Calvinistic" Sovereign Grace believers. Arminius this and Arminian that, we say and write. But did Arminius really believe what is often attributed to him? And does it really matter? Well, for the sake of polemics, argument and debate, it probably doesn't matter. After all, folks are debating particular opposing beliefs and not really the man Arminius. But for the sake of history and honesty, I think it does. To permanently represent Arminius with the errors of those that followed him is historically incorrect, and, if we know better, dishonest as well.
"Whenever the Calvinist...fervently sets his pen (or keyboard) against the writings and thoughts of the Arminians, he is usually arguing against secondary ideas based upon his knowledge of the subject. What do I mean by this? I mean to say that instead of hearing the doctrine of repentance from Arminius himself, or from the Remonstrants (his followers), the Calvinist will refute the Arminian doctrine of repentance based on preconceived notions, assumptions, other books written about other authors who say they are Arminian, and the like...Let us all stop arguing about these secondary issues and first have a real handle on what the Arminian actually believes and teaches. But we are only able to do this if we understand the intricate root system of classical 'Arminianism'." - Rev. C. Matthew McMahon, pastor of Christ Covenant Reformed Presbyterian Church
A Puritan's Mind on James Arminius
"It is evident that such accounts of Arminius assume a definition of Arminianism which cannot be derived from Arminius himself." - Carl D. Bangs "Those who see predestination as the essential core of Reformed or Augustinian-Calvinistic theology find it easy to say that, since Arminius did not articulate predestination in the same way Calvin did, he is a semi-Pelagian. Then they transfer this alleged semi-Pelagianism to all of his theology." - J. Matthew Pinson (Integrity: a Journal of Christian Thought, Summer 2003, No. 2)
I'm not a big fan of Arminius, or all that much of Calvin. But what little I have discovered about Arminius in the past few years makes me believe that much of the "Christian" world labors under a false conception of what Arminius really believed. That doesn't mean we would necessarily agree with Arminius, just that we might be surprised just how un-Arminian some of his theology seems when we actually read it. Again, does it really matter? In the grand debate between "Calvinism", "Arminianism" and all points between -- probably not that much. I wouldn't want someone naming a theology after me; but if they did, I would at least want it to represent what I believed!! ;-D
In the spirit of the holiday season, give the ol' boy a break. Why not pick on someone else for awhile?