Arminius and the Glory of God

English: Jacobus Arminius

Jacobus Arminius

I began reading Roger Olson’s book Arminian Theology: Myths and Realities. In the first chapter of the book Olson addresses two areas where Arminius’ theology “stayed close to Reformed theology and the standard of Calvinism of his day are its emphasis on God’s glory and its use of covenant/federal theology.”

Olson says,

First, Arminius asserted that the supreme purpose of God in creation and redemption is his own glory, and that the creature’s greatest happiness lies precisely in its enjoying God.

The supremacy of Christ is a major tenet of Calvinism and Reformed thought in general (youtube “John Piper supremacy of Christ” and listen to any sermon or sermon jam). In fact, the first question in the Westminster Shorter Catechism (a Reformed confessional statement) is , “What is the chief end [purpose] of man? – To glorify God and enjoy Him forever.” Olson notes that in Arminius’ Oration II, Arminius concurs with the WSC and says this,

In this act of the mind and the will, — in seeing a present God, in loving Him, and therefore in the enjoyment of Him, — the salvation of man and his perfect happiness consist.

Also in his Oration II, Arminius addresses the chief purpose of God’s actions and how God does all for His glory:

Let us reflect, for what cause God has brought us out of darkness into this marvelous light; has furnished us with a mind, understanding, and reason; and has adorned us with his image. Let this question be revolved [sic] in our minds, — “For what purpose or END has God restored the fallen to their pristine state of integrity, reconciled sinners to himself, and received enemies into favour?” — and we shall plainly discover all this to have been done, that we might be made partakers of eternal salvation, and might sing praises to him forever.

Arminius praises the glory of God as God’s supreme end in all things:

That End [purpose, goal] is entirely divine, — being nothing less than the glory of God and man’s eternal salvation. What can be more equitable than that all things should be referred to him from whom they have derived their origin? What can be more consonant to the wisdom, goodness, and power of God, than that he should restore, to his original integrity, man who had been created by him, but who had by his own fault destroyed himself; and that he should make him a partaker of his own Divine blessedness? … In such a consummation as this, the glory of God most abundantly shines forth and displays itself.

Olson concludes,

In sum, Arminius was at one with Reformed theology in his vision of God’s glory as the end or purpose of everything in creation and redemption.

This section was a very insightful read, as it shone some light on Arminius’ own words on the subject, which can be found:

Here in a compilation of Arminius’ works; link is to Oration II

and

Olson, Roger E. Arminian Theology: Myths and Realities, InterVarsity Press, 2006.

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