The young Reformed scholar Arminius returned from finishing his studies to Amsterdam in 1588 to begin pastoral ministry. His personal interests had been philosophical rather than theological, and in the Bible, the Old Testament rather than the New. To his dismay, he found the Dutch Reformed Church divided on theological issues, especially predestination. He was reluctant to get involved, though in his Bible exposition in 1593 he got into trouble for expressing unacceptable views on Romans 9. He was hoping that Franciscus Junius, the new Theological Professor at Leiden University, would intervene in the controversy and restore harmony.
The two met in December 1596 and began a correspondence. Arminius was disappointed with Junius' views. Nevertheless, he learned from Junius the centrality of Christ and his work for all that belongs to human salvation, including predestination. Arminius began to construct his own theology, setting Christ's work at the heart of it.
This study retells the story with new emphases, concentrating on Arminius' theological development up to his magnum opus, the 'Declaration of Sentiments', in 1608, and summarizing his conclusions: in particular, that Christ himself is the foundation of election, and that we are saved by a new relationship with God through Christ. Both these insights led him at last to reject the Calvinist concept of salvation and damnation through a hidden decree made in a Christ-less secret counsel of the divine wisdom. Arminius was unsuccessful in the short term, but this study contends that his views have much to teach us.