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Simon Episcopius was born on January 8, 1583, in Amsterdam. At the age of seventeen, he attended the University of Leiden where his major course of study was theology under the tutelage of Jacobus Arminius whose teachings he followed, and Franciscus Gomarus. In 1606 he graduated M.A., but the Calvinist side questioned his appointment as a minister. In furtherance of his education, he went to the University of Franeker. There he heard Johannes Drusius. In 1610, the year in which the Arminians presented the Remonstrance to the states of Holland, he became pastor at Bleyswick, a village near Rotterdam. The following year he advocated the cause of the Remonstrants at The Hague conference of 1611, and again at Delft in 1613.
After succeeding Francis Gomarus in 1612 as professor of theology at Leiden; bitter enmity from some of the Calvinists was awakened by his appointment. Festus Hommius attacked him in Specimen controversiarum Belgicarum (1618).
Episcopius was chosen as the spokesman of the thirteen representatives of the Remonstrants at the Synod of Dort in 1618 but refused a hearing. In 1619 at the end of the Synods sittings. Episcopius and the other twelve Arminian representatives were deprived of their offices and expelled from the country.
After his exile, Simon retired to Antwerp, then France where he partly lived in Paris and partly in Rouen. There he notably wrote the Remonstrant Confession. He became even more controversial when Luke Wadding tried converting him to Catholicism. After the death of Maurice, Prince of Orange the cruelty of the Arminian controversy subsided and Simon was allowed to return to his home country in 1626. He was elected preacher at the Remonstrant church in Rotterdam in 1630, and fourteen years later became rector of the Remonstrant college in Amsterdam, until his death in 1643.
Simon was regarded largely as the theological founder of Arminianism. This reasoning is because the principles tentatively enunciated by Arminius were developed and systemized by him. Simon opposed all points of the Calvinism doctrine and protested its emphasis on abstract dogma. Thus arguing that Christianity was more practical than theoretical in terms of it not being a system of intellect but one of moral power. And that an orthodox faith was not necessarily the implication of knowledge of or assent to a system of doctrine including the entire range of Christian truth, but solely the knowledge and acceptance of so much of Christianity as was necessary to effect a real change on the heart and life of a believer.
- This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). “Episcopius, Simon“. Encyclopædia Britannica. Vol. 9 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 701.
- Rogget, H. C. (1909). “Episcopius (Bisschop), Simon”. The New Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge: Embracing Biblical, Historical. Vol. 4. New York: Funk and Wagnalls Company.
ALSO ON THIS DAY
636 – Death of Isidore, archbishop of Seville, a Spanish scholar famous for his Etymologies, an encyclopedia of early medieval knowledge that used liberal arts and secular learning as the foundation of Christian education.
1081 – Emperor Alexius Comnenus is crowned emperor of the Eastern Roman Empire (Byzantine). He will do much to restore its strength and his appeal to the West for military assistance will be a major factor in instituting the crusades.
1687 – King James II of England issued a Declaration of Indulgence, granting full liberty of worship in England. Because he circumvented the constitution by not consulting Parliament, even many of its beneficiaries are displeased.
1742 – Charles Wesley preached his famous sermon, “Awake, thou that sleepest,” to the University of Oxford. Printed, the sermon will became Methodism’s most popular tract
1968 – Assassination in Memphis, Tennessee, of Baptist minister the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., a vocal advocate of civil rights.