To get a background on this series, it would be helpful to learn how these doctrines developed in church history. Below is an historical background from Christ United Reformed Church on the Canons of Dort, a summary of the Biblical doctrine of God’s sovereignty in salvation:
Synod of Dort, Netherlands, 1618-19 (click to enlarge)
Held from November 13, 1618 to May 9, 1619 in Dordrecht, Holland, the Synod of Dort was occasioned by the need to respond to the emerging error commonly called “Arminianism”, which had sprung up in the Reformed Churches of Holland. This error was being perpetuated by the followers of Jacob van Hermanns, known in English as James Arminius (1560-1609). Arminius was a very learned and pious Christian who studied under Calvin’s successor in Geneva, Theodore Beza. After his studies he became a minister in the Reformed Church in Amsterdam in 1588, and then became professor of theology at the University of Leiden in 1603. His departure from Reformed Protestantism came about as he was attempting to defend the Reformed faith against the proto-Arminian Dirik Volckaerts zoon Koornhert. Koornhert was influenced by the great Dutch Rationalist and humanist Desiderius Erasmus, who argued for and defended the Rationalistic idea of free will against the great Martin Luther, just as Pelagius did against St. Augustine. Thus this ancient and condemned heresy was revived, and once again was infecting Christ’s Church.
Upon giving up on the Reformed Christianity, Arminius and his followers developed the implications of their theology, teaching that God’s election of sinners was not grounded in His will and love alone but was conditioned by, and based upon, the foreseen faith of sinful men. They taught that Christ died “universally” for the sins of every man without limit. They taught that man was only partially depraved and sinful. They taught that man, by the act of his free will, could resist the grace of the Holy Spirit. And they taught that no man in this life could have the assurance that he was a child of God, because there was always the possibility of losing one’s salvation. The followers of Arminius then drafted a set of beliefs called the “Remonstrance” in 1610. The Reformed responded with the Counter-Remonstrance and two meetings between the sides ensued, but to no avail. Thus a National, and in fact, International, Synod was called and the results are the “Five Points of Calvinism.”