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In brief, James Arminius was a 17th Century Dutch Protestant reformer. His theological understanding of St. Paul’s Letter to the Romans (especially Chapters 7 & 9) differed to the interpretations of French Reformer John Calvin.

Whilst Calvin taught that Redemption is limited to the “predestined” who have no choice in their redemption. Arminius taught that Redemption is universal and available to “whosoever believes”, and that all such who believe are therefore predestined. Calvin also taught that those “predestined” cannot fall away, whereas Arminius taught that only those who abide in Christ can be sure of salvation.

During the 18th Century religious revival in Britain under George Whitfield and John Wesley, Whitfield took a Calvinist position (which was the theological position of the Church of England at the time) and opposed the Arminian position held by John Wesley.