Jacobus Arminius, the Latinized name of the Dutch Reformed theologian Jakob Harmenszoon (also known by the Anglicized names of Jacob Arminius or James Arminius), (October 10,1560–October 19, 1609), served from 1603 as professor in theology at the University of Leiden. He wrote many books and treatises on theology and became prominent for his opposition to the five points of Calvinism, though in actuality he objected to only three: unconditional election, limited atonement; and irresistible grace, and doubted one: perseverance of the saints.
Arminius, born at Oudewater, Utrecht, became an orphan while still in infancy when his father Herman (the name Arminius/Armin represents a Latinized form of Harmenszoon, "Hermannson", Herman's son) died, leaving his wife a widow with small children. A priest, Theodorus Aemilius, adopted Jacobus and sent him to school at Utrecht. His mother was slain during the Spanish massacre of Oudewater in 1575. About that year the kindness of friends (see Rudolph Snellius) enabled Arminius to go to study theology at the University of Leiden.
Arminius remained at Leiden from 1576 to 1582. His teachers in theology included Lambertus Danaeus, Johannes Drusius, Guillaume Feuguereius, and Johann Kolmann. Kolmann believed and taught that high Calvinism made God both a tyrant and an executioner. Under the influence of these men, Arminius studied with success and had seeds planted that would begin to develop into a theology that would later compete with the dominant Reformed theology of John Calvin. Arminius began studying under Theodore Beza at Geneva in 1582. He answered a call to pastor at Amsterdam and became ordained in 1588. He gained a reputation as a good preacher and faithful pastor. In 1590 he married Lijsbet Reael.
The theology of Arminianism did not become fully developed during Arminius' lifetime, but after his death (1609) the Five articles of the Remonstrants (1610) systematized and formalized the ideas. But the Synod of Dordrecht (1618–1619) judged his theology and its adherents anathemas.
Publishers in Leiden (1629) and at Frankfort (1631 and 1635) issued the works of Arminius in Latin.
John Wesley (1703-1791), the founder of the Methodist movement, embraced Arminian theology and became its most prominent champion. Today, Methodism remains committed to Arminian theology, and Arminianism itself has become one of the dominant theological systems in the United States.