Arminius and Junius on the Relation between Predestination and the Author of Sin in Arminius' Conference with Junius
Grand Rapids, Michigan
May 29, 1995
I. The Significance, the Genre and the Issues
The most serious accusation Arminius makes against the Reformed theologians of his time is that their doctrines of predestination make God the author of sin. Among the three main pieces of works on predestination, namely, "Friendly Conference of James Arminius with Mr. Francis Junius about Predestination," "Examination of Dr. Perkins's Pamphlet on Predestination," and "Examination of the Theses of Dr. Francis Gomarus Respecting Predestination," "Conference with Junius" is the only work which has true interaction. In this work we not only can hear Arminius' criticism and views, we can also hear how a celebrated Reformed theologian responds to Arminius' propositions, explains the Reformed positions, and criticizes Arminius' arguments. On the issue of the author of sin, Arminius, especially in the proposition six, accuses that according to the doctrine of Calvin and Beza "God is necessarily constituted the author of Adam's fall and sin." Junius has a lengthy reply in this proposition and Arminius too after Junius'. This is an important treatise of the Arminian and Calvinist debate on predestination. Nevertheless, there is no major English literature concentrate on this work. Richard Muller's God, Creation and Providence in the Thought of Jacob Arminius and William Gene Witt's dissertation, "Creation, Redemption and Grace in the Theology of Jacob Arminius" are the best works available in understanding Arminius' thought. Their coverage on "Conference with Junius" is relatively brief and they differ on how much Arminius is influenced by Molina. Carl Bangs' famous work Arminius: A Study in the Dutch Reformation is helpful in providing the historical context but not on the analysis of the arguments. Other works are either very brief or outdated. Hence, a paper on the Conference with emphasis on the analysis on the Proposition Six on the issue of the author of sin will contribute to our understanding of Arminius' thoughts and his main differences with the Reformed view.
On the historical context, according to Peter Bertius, the first biographer of Arminius, Arminius began the friendly correspondence with Francis Junius, then the chief Professor of Divinity at Leyden, in 1597. Initially Arminius wrote statement about his criticism of three opinions on predestination with emphasis on the criticism of the opinion similar to Calvin and Beza. After Junius received it, according to Carl Bangs, "Junius divided Arminius' missive into twenty-eight parts, an introduction and twenty-seven propositions. To each of these Junius wrote a long reply to analyze Arminius' argument, criticize his positions, and defend the Reformed doctrine. This correspondence was probably leaked by one student of Junius. Because of this leakage, Arminius wrote a longer reply to Junius. Junius did not reply. According to his children, Arminius "increased and amplified" his reply after the death of Junius. Hence, the first statement by Arminius and the reply by Junius was probably written in 1597. The date of Arminius' reply is difficult to fix. His original reply is probably written by October 19, 1597. Nevertheless, we cannot firm the date for his final piece of his reply as he kept revising afterwards. Commenting on Junius' silence, William Nichols, the translator of Arminius' works, speculates, "The chief reason why Junius did not reply to Arminius's exhaustive treatment of his arguments, was probably that he found it unanswerable." In this paper we will show that this comment is without ground.
In this paper we will analyze Arminius' arguments and Junius' reply on this issue. There are four main questions: (1) Does the Reformed positions present by Arminius accurate? (2) Are the three opinions significantly different as argued by Arminius? (3) Did the position of Calvin and Beza inevitably make God the author of sin? (4) What is the main difference between Arminius and Junius on this issue? The understanding of these questions on this issue will help us to understand the basic differences between Arminius' view and the Reformed view.
We divide the paper into four sections: (1) The main arguments of Arminius' first statement; (2) Junius's reply and criticism; (3) Arminius' clarification and reply; (4) Evaluation on the debate. In analyzing the debate, we will concentrate on four areas: the uses of the terms, the understanding on the divine attributes, and the relation between God's decree and human free will. We will show that the main difference is on their concept of the relationship between God's decree and human free will. Arminius' argument is only based on his assumption of key Molinist concepts about God and His relationship with His creatures. Given the understanding of Junius' concept of God, Junius' defence of the Reformed doctrine on Predestination is sound and convincing.
II. Arminius' Argument in Proposition Six
In order to understand Arminius' argument in his Proposition Six, we need a short summary of his first three propositions. In proposition one Arminius distinguishes three opinions about predestination. He says, "One is that which is Calvin's and Beza's; the second, that of Thomas and his followers; the third, that of Augustine and those who imitate him." Nevertheless, he understands that all three have certain common beliefs: "That God by an eternal and immutable decree determined to give to certain men--others being passed by--life eternal and supernatural, and to afford to the same men those means which are necessary and efficacious for obtaining that life." In proposition two Arminius argues that they have different objects when God elect and reprobate: the first is to be created, the second as created, the third as fallen. It is the first opinion that Arminius has most of his criticism throughout the conference.
In proposition three Arminius accuses that the first opinion argues that God determined to illustrate His glory by mercy and justice by ordaining the fall because these cannot be exercised in act except towards sinners.
Based on these understanding, Arminius presents his proposition six:
The first opinion does not please me: as well because I think that God cannot, for the sake of illustrating His glory by mercy and punitive justice, employ Himself about man not yet created, nay, not even about him when created and considered in his purely natural state. In which judgment of mine I find you, as I fancy, preceding me; for, when treating of predestination, you nowhere make mention of mercy, but everywhere of grace, which surpasses mercy, as having place in creatures that stand firm in their natural origin; whilst it coincides with mercy in being employed about the sinner. But when you treat of the passed by and reprobate, in these cases only do you make mention of justice. Then, again, because according to that doctrine God is necessarily constituted the author of Adam's fall and sin; from which He is not excused by distinctions of the act and viciousness in the act, of necessity and force, of decree and execution, of efficacious and permissive decree, as this is explained by the authors of that opinion in agreement with their own doctrine; nor by the differing aspects of the Divine decree and of human nature; nor by the addition of the end, namely, that all that is done for the illustration of the Divine glory, &c.
Here Arminius basically argues four issues. First, God cannot for the sake of His glory employ about unfallen man (both not yet created and in purely natural state) by mercy and punitive justice. Arminius argues that mercy and punitive justice can only be applied to sinners. Second, Arminius argues that Junius also differentiates grace from mercy. Only grace is applicable for unfallen man. Third, Arminius observes that Junius applies justice only in case of the passed by and reprobate. Arminius implies that Junius also applies justice only for sinners. Lastly, Arminius charges that the first opinion, Calvin's and Beza's doctrine of predestination, logically implies that God is necessarily constituted the author of sin. Arminius argues that all the distinctions used by the theologians of the first opinion are useless to evade the charge. This is an extremely serious charge. This is a charge Junius has to answer.
III. Junius' Reply to Arminius' Charges in Proposition Six
There are four main disagreement and criticism by Junius on Arminius' first five propositions. First, it is biblically more proper to say that we are predestinated to "the adoption of children" than to say that we are predestinated to eternal life. Second, Junius argues that Arminius uses the verb "reprobate" ambiguously. Junius points out that there are three ways to interpret "reprobate" and "reprobation." One of them is the common one used frequently by Calvin and Beza. It includes both non-election and damnation. There are also two particular uses. One of them is to mean non-election. In this sense the Church Fathers used it. The other particular sense is used for damnation. The last sense Junius claims that Arminius uses in his statement. Junius opts for the use of the Fathers.
Third, Junius disagrees strongly with Arminius on proposition three. Junius says, "This, however, cannot be conceded, nor do I suppose that it was said by Calvin or Beza without any qualification, that mercy and justice cannot actually be exercised except upon sinners." Junius argues that in a relative and comparative sense we may say that Adam before the fall was a sinner in capability. Quoting Augustine, Junius argues that man is righteous only by participation with God but is not righteous in comparison with Him. Hence, man is miserable by possibility of falling into wretchedness. In addition, Junius argues that both "mercy" and "justice" can apply to unfallen man. While the word "mercy" is used narrowly only by the Latins, it does not necessarily imply misery in the Hebrew and Greek language. On the term "justice," God can apply justice to Adam before the fall by bestowing reward in His justice if Adam had remained righteous.
Fourth, Junius, in his reply to proposition five, emphasizes that the different order in the decree of the three opinions does not make them different in "the consideration of election and reprobation." It is because "all with one consent allow that the cause of election and reprobation was placed in the predestinator alone." Even though the three opinions have different states of the objects, they all agree that "there will not have been any cause in men" but in the sole will and freedom of God.
On his reply to proposition six, Junius has three main theses. His first thesis is that theologians, like Beza, whom Arminius classified as of the first opinion, embrace all three opinions in their theory. The three opinions do not differ in the substance of the matter. In the eternity of God, God's decree is one united eternal decree. Junius quotes Beza's comment on Eph. 1:4 and 4:24,
Christ is set forth to us as Mediator: therefore corruption must necessarily precede in the order of causes in God's purpose, but creation in righteousness and holiness must precede corruption.
In order that God might open a way as well to save those by mercy whom He had chosen in Christ, as to punish those justly who having been conceived in iniquity should therein remain, . . .
In the first quotation Beza provides two different orders at the same time. In the second one Beza identifies the objects as fallen. Hence, Junius argues that the differentiation of three opinions is not completely applicable to Beza and many others. Moreover, with the understanding of the eternity of the decree and the emphasis that the decree was made by God without taking account of sin, Junius argues that they have the same argument in substance. Junius wants to show that the main concern of all three opinions is the same: the decree is made by God without taking account of sin as taught in Rom. 9.
In his second thesis on proposition six, Junius identifies four aspects of the divine attributes: (1) Of God's essence, (2) Of His knowledge, (3) Of His actions, and (4) Of their causes. By setting up the metaphysical principles, Junius tries to argue that the first opinion does not make God the author of sin. On God's essence, Junius, using Mal. 3:6, James 1:17, Heb. 4:13, Num. 23:19, and Heb. 13:8, argues that God is eternal, invariable, and immutable in His essence, power, intellect, will and counsel, and work. On His knowledge, Junius argues that "God has knowledge of all good also 'practically,' of all evil 'knowingly;' in short, of every order in the universe, (which consists of the highest, middle, lowest, good and evil,) 'operatively,' according to his own Divine method." Junius argues that God knows all other things, except the knowledge of Himself, "in a supereminent manner, and has them fully present to Himself from eternity." In such a way that nothing could be added to eternity and the possessor of knowledge is not superior to God. On God's actions, they are eternal in Himself (ad intra) and temporal in execution outside of Him (ad extra). God does it through the nature or the will. For evil, God does it only through the nature. Hence, Junius upholds a Platonic distinction that the creature is the proximate cause for sins. On the causes, the first and chief cause is so universal must not depend on any other reason. If it does, it is not absolutely the first or chief. Junius emphasizes, "Then, that all other causes exist either as principles or as from the principle: that nature and will exist as principles; middle causes have their being from the principle,--natural causes from nature, and voluntary causes from will." Here Junius deduces that there are principles from the principle. There is proximate cause responsible for individual action other than the first cause. The acts are caused in respect to the middle causes either by nature naturally, or by the will voluntarily. God appointed the twofold mode of these causes, necessary and contingent: "Necessary, indeed, that which cannot otherwise, and hence always good, as necessary: contingent, that which is "as it chances," whether good or evil." Both these middle causes are "from God, but not in God." In God there is only a Divine mode which is superior to all modes. Junius stresses, "To hold that those modes so flow from God in created things that nothing of them is reciprocated and flows back, as it were, to God. For God is the universal principle; to whom if any of these things should flow back, He would by that very fact cease to be the principle." The immutability of God and God as the cause of all causes do not allow that God is caused by His creatures. Moreover, all these are from the rational power of God and to the work of rational power "three things must concur in the agent,--knowledge, ability, will." Concerning the relationship among knowledge, ability, and will, Junius argues that it is by the mode of will which actually shape the works which were formed in knowledge and ability as their root, and therefore by freedom of will, and not by the nature of necessity. The will is the proximate cause. By comparing the eternal generation of the Son and the creatures, Junius points out that the Son is produced naturally, not by will, and His creatures, by will, and not naturally. As the creatures are different from God and are not equal with Him, they cannot be produced naturally, but by His will. The freedom of God's will is strongly stated and maintained. By setting up the definition of God's attributes, Junius provides a firm foundation for his argument.
In his third thesis, Junius argues that Arminius' main objection is not valid. Junius rebuts Arminius' supposition that "God cannot be employed about man when not yet created, from the desire to illustrate His glory by mercy and punitive justice." Using his principles developed by his understanding of divine attributes, Junius argues that there could not be any object which is outside God's power, knowledge, will, etc. Hence, we cannot say that man not yet created, created, fallen or man in general is not the object of God's power, knowledge, will, mercy, and justice. If it is the case, there is something which may be added to God. This is not included in the eternity of God. Then, it means that the eternity of God ceases to be eternity and it loses the nature of eternity. God will then also lose His infinity. This cannot be the case. And Arminius' supposition is faulty. On Arminius' another presupposition that mercy and punishment cannot be treated except from antecedent misery and sin, Junius emphasizes that in the Divine mode both the former and the latter are perfectly present to God. We may apply the above statement to temporal being but not to our eternal God. Junius condemns Arminius' idea: "They who think otherwise are certainly in danger of tearing asunder the most simple and eternal essence of God itself." In God nothing is temporary. The decree as the internal act of God is eternal while its execution is the external act of God and is temporary because it is outside of God. The external and internal acts are conjoined as one in number. Junius argues that if we understand properly, we cannot find faults in the first opinion. We may think about man as not yet created, when created, fallen, etc. The key is that we have to see the eternal decree to man as one. On mercy and grace we may say,
in this election there may be the concurrence of grace towards man simply and absolutely, and of mercy, which is from grace, towards him fallen and a sinner; but in reprobation the concurrence of no grace of adoption and no mercy.
Quoting Matt. 25:34 and Eph. 1:3-6, Junius affirms the Reformed principle that concerning the election and reprobation "there is no special reference to men as regards the cause, but all our separation from the reprobate is from the mere and pure will of God." Moreover, in God we may not differentiate mercy from grace. On the other hand, the proximate cause of the fall and the damnation is the will of man. Arminius does not distinguish them properly. Junius points out,
The good God does not hate that which is good: all things from the creation have been good: therefore from the creation God altogether hates nothing whatever: He hates another's, but not His own; He is wrath with our fall and sin, not with His own creation. By creation they are vessels: by corruption they are vessels of wrath, and framed for destruction, as the most just consequence of their corruption and sinfulness: for "evil does not dwell with God." (Psalm v.4.)
Hence, God knew and foreknew from eternity and we may say, "He hates, therefore, and condemns eternally, and has also condemned beforehand." On the three opinions of Arminius, Junius argues that they are basically the same:
Nor can it be proved that in thus saying they are at variance with one another, unless the denial of other conditions be shown in expression of their views; in which if any one affirm that the assertion of one point implies the removal of another, he will have impinged on the truth of natural logic and on common use.
As all three proposed opinions see the decree as the internal act of God from eternity. They differs not in substance if we understand the doctrine of simplicity. On the relation between reprobation and justice, Junius says,
For although they are the same in the subject, and all the passed by are damned, and the damned are passed by, yet they stand in one relation as passed by or reprobate, and in another as damned. Preterition or reprobation is not done without justice, but it does not proceed from justice as its cause: damnation is with justice and from justice.
Arminius is wrong in confusing the cause of reprobation from the cause of damnation. The order in the decree of the first opinion does not confuse the cause as Arminius does.
Lastly, Junius discharges Arminius' most serious charge that God then is the author of Adam's fall and sin. Junius first clarifies Arminius' use of the word "to ordain." In Arminius' proposition three, Arminius claims that the first opinion argues that God ordained the fall in order to show His mercy and justice. Arminius' argument is based on the assumption that whoever ordains the fall is the author of the fall and of sin. According to Arminius, if God ordains the fall, God is the author of the fall and of sin. Arminius' problem is his catachrestical use of the word "to ordain." Junius points out, "It is one thing to decree deeds simply, another to decree the order of facts in everything according to its own mode." When the theologians say that God ordains the fall. They do not say that God decrees deeds simply. Arminius is wrong to deduce that God is the author of sin. Junius argues, "The doer is one thing, the deed another, he who ordains both another." The author of sin is the doer of the sin, not the one who arranges the order in the doer and in the evil done. Here Junius brings in the proximate cause and the remote cause. When the will wills something according to its own mode, it cannot be attributed to nature itself as a cause. Certainly, it cannot impute the blame to God for its evil deed. Using Augustine's words, Junius quotes, "[God] does not predestinate all that His foreknows: for, bad things He only foreknows, and does not predestinate; but good things He both foreknows and predestinates." Junius emphasizes, "God wills not evil, but wills the arrangement and maintains it even in evil. Evils proceeded from man's will."
Junius then entertains two more additional possible questions: (1) In what way should we say that the will of man is from God? (2) Why should God give man freewill? Junius points out that there is a principle from a principle. The principles of nature and our will are from the universal principle, God. Nevertheless, Junius emphasizes that "yet each of these is a principle, having his own proper motions." Junius quotes Jesus' comment about the devil in John 8:44 as a support. Junius argues, "The origin is from himself: for he is the father and generator of sin." Agreeing with Augustine, Junius quotes that "the shortcomings of species and the defects of the natures He does not make, but only ordains." To ordain does not mean to cause it. The agent is the proximate cause, the responsible cause. On the gift of freewill, Junius emphasizes that it is an excellent gift according to the image of God. Nevertheless, as the creatures do not have immutability, they could fall. And as they fell, whether angel or man, they forsake the image by their own will. The blame, as Tertullian reminds us, is "on him by whom it was not administrated as it ought to have been." In short, Junius argues that those things, such as the fall, which are contingent to us are ordained by God. Nevertheless, we cannot say that God is the author of sin.
Starting the argument from metaphysical principles of God, Junius' argument is strong and valid. In Junius' eyes the eternity and the immutability of God exclude arguments such as the Molinist scientia media. Moreover, with the emphasis on the will as a principle, God's ordination does not take away the power and the freedom of our will. An event which is contingent to us is certain to God by his ordination.
IV. Arminius' Reply to Junius and A Comparison with Junius' Reply
In this section we will analyze Arminius' reply to Junius' criticism, and compare his view with Junius'. We will show that the main problem for Arminius is that he divides the eternal decree into several separate acts and his rejection of the Reformed view of the relation between God's decree and human freedom.
There are two main replies concerning the proposition six in proposition one to five. While Arminius accepts Junius' argument on the use of mercy, he argues that Calvin and Beza use it in the way he accuses them. Arminius says,
But, although mercy freeing from possible misery, and justice rewarding virtue, do not require the pre-existence of misery and actual sin, yet it is certain that mercy liberating from actual mercy, and justice punishing, cannot be exercised except upon those who are actually wretched and sinners. Calvin and Beza, however, everywhere understand mercy and justice in the last mode, when they treat of the decree of predestination and reprobation.
Arminius argues that the object of punitive justice is essentially and materially different from the object of mercy and of justice rewarding a good work. While Junius emphasizes that in our eternal God they are basically the same object, Arminius tries to distinguish one object from another object. On the divine freedom, Arminius argues that God is bound by His nature. "His will is circumscribed within the bounds of justice." Based on this, Arminius argues, "This [Divine] potter therefore cannot create man out of a shapeless mass to dishonour and condemnation, unless man has previously made himself deserving of punishment and disgrace by his own transgression." Arminius either does not observe, or cannot comprehend, that there are two modes of causes in the case of damnation and the decree is eternal in nature. He believes that God can only ordain sinners as the vessels of wrath. As Junius points out, in the eternity of God, it is not necessary to differentiate in what state man is in God.
In his reply to Junius' criticism in proposition six, Arminius has four main theses. First, he argues that according to the authors of the first opinion all others acts of God depend on one primary act of God, namely, "that in which God determined to display the glory of His mercy in one part of that shapeless mass from which mankind was about to be created; but, in the other, to declare the beauty of His justice." While Junius frequently emphasizes that the opinions only differentiate the various aspects of the one eternal decree, Arminius frequently divides the decree into several acts in order to point out the impropriety of the first opinion.
Arminius admits that the decree is eternal but he argues that there should be right order:
And all the inward acts of God without exception must necessarily be eternal, unless we wish to set forth God as changeable; yet so that some precede others in order and nature.
Arguing against Junius, Arminius maintains that he is right to differentiate the three opinions according to their objects. Arminius has not responded to Junius' criticism that the authors of the so-called first opinion include the other two opinions in their views.
On the God's essence, Arminius argues that God becomes another to a creature when that creature is changed. God also cannot decree the motion of a free will. Arminius argues,
Next, if God is unchangeable, then He has not circumscribed or determined to one part gave to man to enjoy and use according to his mind, so as that it shall necessarily incline to that, but cannot, while that decree is in force, actually incline to the other part.
Once again, we find Arminius divides the eternal decree into several parts. Now the decree to give the free will is prior. Hence, Arminius argues that God cannot decree the motion of the free will. With the assumption that these two are opposite, Arminius circumscribe God's power. The most troublesome idea is the next one. Arminius argues,
Thirdly, God possesses the eternal and unchangeable form and conception of all other things which are done by men in a changeable way, but in the order of nature follow many other conceptions, which God has respecting those things which He has both willed to do Himself and to permit to men.
In short, Arminius argues that the will of God follows the foreknowledge of God. This is the key for Arminius to defend his notion of God from being the author of sin and uphold the freedom of will. Here is the most obvious Molinist element in Arminius. The determination of election and reprobation is not primarily by God's will but by God's foreknowledge. This is totally different view from Junius and the Reformed. Junius, as shown in his reply, see this as a violation of the immutability of God. One may also wonder how God has the full foreknowledge of his creation before determining His way to create. On God's essence, one may wonder whether Arminius has a strong sense of immutability, eternity, and simplicity of God.
On God's knowledge, Arminius argues that he does not comprehend how God knows certainly future contingencies while God has decreed so. Commenting On Junius' theory of eternal Now of God's knowledge, Arminius uses the example of Keilah in 1 Sam. 23 to argue that there are contingent events which "are not co-existent with God in the Now of eternity." Arminius defines his notion of eternity: "God's knowledge is called eternal, but not of all known things equally." He emphasizes that God's knowledge of future things is eternal in point of time, "but in nature it is posterior to any act of God's will concerning those things, even, in some things, posterior to any foreseen act of the human will." He argues that "the eternity of the knowledge of God is not denied by those who lay down anything dependent on human will as foreseen by Him." Once again, the Molinist idea is the key of Arminius' presupposition and defence.
On God's actions, Arminius argues, "God's actions are indeed eternal in Himself, but, order being observed, some are prior to others by nature, preceding moreover necessarily. . . So the decree about sending the Son for the redemption of mankind is posterior to the prevision of man's fall." Arminius repeats his emphasis that to save is necessarily after the fall of man. Moreover, Arminius disapproves the use of proximate and remote cause by Junius. He claims that the existence of proximate does not take away God's blame. The actions of God in God are once again multiple actions in Arminius' view.
On the causes, Arminius argues that "it may be that the opportunity of producing some certain effect may be afforded to the universal first and highest cause by another cause." Arminius emphasizes, "Such is the decree about damning some, and the damnation according to that." In short, Arminius means that God cannot damn man unless it is caused by the sin of man. Here again, Arminius regards the decree of God as a reaction of future human acts. By dividing the decree into several acts and introducing sequences in God, Arminius argues that God should react to sin, posterior to the fall.
After this, Arminius explicitly tells us another key difference from Junius and those of the first opinion. He says,
I am indeed aware that with those who defend this opinion there is so much difference between action internal and external, that is, as they say, between the decree and its execution, that it is allowable for God to decree salvation out of mercy, and death out of justice, to the non-sinner, but that He cannot actually save out of mercy any except a sinner, nor actually damn out of justice any except a sinner. But I deny that distinction: nay, I affirm that God cannot will or decree by internal act what He cannot do by external act, and that so there is one object both of internal and external action, and clothed with the same circumstances;
Arminius dislikes the traditional differentiation of ad extra and ad intra on this issue. Moreover, he requests us to see things similarly in eternity and in temporal order. Commenting on Eph. 1, he argues that the election is in Christ and through Christ. Hence, it must be prepared for sinners, not men generally. On grace and mercy, Arminius disagrees with Junius that "grace cannot be laid down as the genus." Grace cannot be the cause of the act of predestination.
On his charge of the first opinion as making God as the author of sin, Arminius replies to Junius' criticism: "For he who ordains that man shall fall and sin, he is the author of sin. This argument of mine is firm, and unshaken by your reply." Arminius argues that Junius may have a correct sense of the word "to ordain," but Beza and Calvin do not and they have the problem which Arminius assigns to them. Arminius tries to separate Junius from Beza and Calvin, as he uses to do in this conference. The main problem for him is: "how the necessity of sin being done can depend on the ordination and decree of God otherwise than by the mode of cause whether efficient or deficient." He comments,
Moreover, Calvin himself and Beza openly deny that God is the author of sin, although they give such a definition of ordination of sin as we have seen: but they do not show at the same time how these two statements can agree together.
For Arminius, any decree of God must work out through the agents. Hence, by definition, God cannot decree the action of the free will. In his words, he says, "How can these motions of the will be called its own and free, when the act of the will has been so determined to one thing by God's decree?" This is the fundamental scandal for Arminius for his whole project of rejecting the Reformed doctrine of predestination. He rejects the idea that "in respect of the first cause ordaining, necessarily; but in respect of the second cause, freely and contingently." Arminius argues, "Let him know that contingency and necessity differ, not in respects, but in their entire essences, and divide the whole amplitude of being, and therefore they cannot coincide." He argues that it cannot be attributed to the same act and under the decree, the will "can no longer be said to tend freely towards its object; for now the principle of its act is not possessed of lordship and power." Arminius assumes that this is logically impossible and contradictory. In his examination of Perkins' Pamphlet, Arminius calls it "the greatest absurdity" of all absurdities. He proudly claims:
And I am bold to say, without blasphemy, that not even God with all His omnipotence can effect that what is necessary shall be contingent or free, and that what is done necessarily shall be done freely. For this implies a contradiction, . . . and a contradiction opposed to the first and most general notion divinely implanted in our minds, . . . "A thing cannot at on once be and not be,--cannot at the same time be this and not be this.
Reviewing his reply as a whole, there are four significant arguments in his reply. First, he views the eternal decree as several separate acts. Second, the object of the predestination must be a sinner. Third, he accepts and uses Molinist concept of scientia media. God wills after He foreknows. Fourth, he rejects the Calvinist and Scotist view concerning the necessity of God's decree and the freedom of the fall as logically contradiction.
V. Evaluation and Conclusion
First of all, we find that Arminius' motive of development of his system and his severe criticism on Calvin and Beza is related directly with the issue of the author of the fall. Arminius, by perceiving the Calvinist and Scotist view of the necessity of God's decree and the freedom of the fall as contradictory, deduces that the view of Beza and Calvin makes God the author of sin. The Molinist model provides him a solution to maintain the freedom of the will while at the same time provides the certainty of the knowledge. Arminius sees his model a much better one than Beza's and Calvin's. On the influence of Molina on Arminius, even Witt observes that Arminius' use of middle knowledge is basically similar to Molina. Witt admits, "For both reasons--Arminius' explicit mention of middle knowledge and his discussion of a logical order to God's knowledge--it would certainly appear that Arminius subscribes to Molina's theory of middle knowledge as a solution to the problem of God's foreknowledge of future contingencies." Arminius also quotes the same biblical passages (1 Sam. 23:11-12, Matt. 11:21). Nevertheless, Witt argues, "His use of the terminology 'middle knowledge' does not necessarily mean that he endorsed the Molinist scenario of creation." Witt argues that Arminius embraces St. Thomas' affirmation that "the knowledge of God is the cause of things," but without necessarily endorse the conclusions drawn by later Thomists. Probably based on this and Arminius' lack of the use of models of "possible worlds," Witt argues that Arminius is closer to Thomas than Molina. This is a faulty claim. When we view what Arminius actually admit and affirm, we find that he affirms the so-called interpretation of Thomas as defined by Molina. They both argue that the foreknowledge is not the cause of a free act of the will. It follows the free act. Muller is accurate to point out, "Like Molina, Arminius modified the Thomist model that lay at the center of his theology." By adapting the Molinist concept of scientia media, Arminius has an important tool to explain the knowledge of God about the future contingencies.
For the attachment to the Molinist concept Arminius has to pay serious consequence in his doctrine of God. Even Witt admits, "No doubt the critique of such an understanding of providence will be that it violates the doctrine of divine immutability and makes God dependent on creatures for his knowledge of them and for his plans concerning their future." Arminius' system sacrifices not only the immutability and the doctrine that God is the cause of all things, it also violates the doctrine of simplicity. The eternity of the decree and internal action of God is speculatively divided by Arminius. Frequently, Arminius relies on his arguments that there are several acts of God even in the Divine mode. There is some necessary order in the Divine mode too. The acts are separate and some acts and wills of God is depended on the actions of the free will of the creatures. The traditional emphasis on the eternal decree as one decree in God is neglected. The Scotist and the Reformed emphasis on the freedom and sovereignty of God's will is denied. On this point, we can observe a serious difference between Arminius's thoughts and the Reformed doctrine.
On his accusation of Beza and Calvin, Arminius ignores Junius' arguments that they are not substantially different from
the other two opinions. They all uphold that the election and reprobation is depended solely by the predestinator. Moreover, different aspects of presenting the doctrine are included in Beza's and Calvin's theory. His attack on Calvin is especially groundless. He seldom gives any concrete quotation of Calvin which is liable to his claim. Calvin also never separate Christ's incarnation from the fall. Actually the main difference between the Reformed and Arminius is the understanding about the necessity of the fall. When the Reformed talks about the necessity of the fall, it means that it will certainly fall. Prudent Reformed theologians never claim that Adam has to fall because of natural necessity. Beza and Calvin upholds that Adam before the fall has the free will to choose. When they say that Adam necessarily falls according to the divine decree, they implies mainly the certainty of the fall, rather than that the freedom of the will is taken away. They maintain that the unchangeable necessity of the divine decree does not take away the freedom of the will and contingency in the case of the fall. The Reformed view has a clear fourfold state of the freedom of man. Before the fall, "the will of man was free to choose to good and evil." When the Reformed talks about the necessity of the fall concerning the Divine decree, they do not mean to imply a natural necessity in the will of man as Arminius seems to imply in his argument. The fall is necessity in the sense of certainty and in the sense of the necessity of consequence because what God wills will happen. Other than the difference between the order of Divine knowledge and Divine will, both Arminius and Junius agrees that Adam falls freely and certainly.
Concluding the paper, we find that Arminius makes an unnecessary mistake in adopting the scientia media which has problems in the doctrine of simplicity and immutability. Moreover, Arminius fails to see the arguments of Junius. His assumption that the necessity of God's decree and the freedom of the will is contradictory is not founded. This leads his serious dislike of the Reformed predestination. We also believe that Junius' reply is sufficient in answering the main objections of Arminius. Lastly, Arminius does have some influence in Reformed theology. The supralapsarian theory of the eternal decree suffers unpopularity after Arminius' frequent emphasis of the relationship between the fall and the reprobation. The infralapsarian theory becomes the winner in the Synod of Dort.
James Arminius, The Works of James Arminius, trans. James Nichols and William Nichols, 3 vol. (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1991), 3:44; the short form Works will be used to represent this work in the following citations.
Richard Muller argues that Arminius' approach to scientia media "arguably parallels that of Molina." In God, Creation, and Providence in the Thought of Jacob Arminius (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1991), 163. On the other hand, Witt says, "Muller perceives more influence by Molina, and particularly by Suarez, in Arminius' theology, than I have." In "Creation, Redemption and Grace in the Theology of Jacob Arminius," 2 vol. (Ph.D. diss., University of Notre Dame , 1993), 1:ix.
Carl Bangs, Arminius: A Study in the Dutch Reformation (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1971).
Cf. W. A. Copinger, A Treatise on Predestination, Election, and Grace (London: James Nisbet & Co., 1889), 371-85; Donald Sinnema, "The Issue of Reprobation at the Synod of Dort (1618-19) in Light of the History of this Doctrine" (Ph.D. diss., University of St. Michael's College, 1985), 137-50.
Cf. Works, 1:128-29.
Bangs, Arminius, 200.
Cf. Works, 3:9; what we have is the final form of Arminius' amplified reply.
Cf. Ibid., 1:129.
Ibid., 3:21, 24.
This is also Arminius' most important disagreement with Perkins and Gomarus. Cf. ibid., 3:380-88, 543-53.
Witt, Arminius, 1:360-61.
Witt, Arminius, 1:370.
Ibid., 1:342; cf. Aquinas, Summa Theologica, I, Q. 14, A. 8.
Muller, Arminius, 164.
Witt, Arminius, 1:370.
Calvin, Institutes, II.12.4-7.
Calvin, Concerning the Eternal Predestination of God, X.7; Beza, Quaestiones, A. 185; cf. Heinrich Heppe, Reformed Dogmatics, trans. G. T. Thomson (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1978), 265-68.
Ursinus, The Commentary of Dr. Zancharias Ursinus on the Heidelberg Catechism, trans. G. W. Williard (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1956), Q. 8.4, p.62.
Works, 3:380-88, 543-53.