Here are Jacobus Arminius’ own words on how he conceived of a doctrine of predestination; this is following a lengthy argument, made by him before his ecclesial examiners against double predestination (and against both
supra and infra lapsarianism):
I. The first specific and absolute divine decree regarding the salvation of sinful humanity: God decreed to appoint his Son, Jesus Christ, as Mediator, Redeemer, Savior, Priest and King in order that he might destroy sin by his own death, so that by his own obedience he might obtain the salvation lost through disobedience, and by his power communicate this salvation.
II. In the second precise and absolute decree, God decided graciously to accept those who repent and believe in Christ, and for Christ’s sake and through him to effect the final salvation of penitents and believers who persevere to the end in their faith. Simultaneously, God decreed to leave in sin under divine wrath all impenitent persons and unbelievers, damning them as alienated from Christ.
III. The third divine decree: God decided to administer in a sufficient and efficacious manner the means necessary for repentance and faith—this being accomplished according to divine wisdom, by which God knows what is proper and becoming both to his mercy and his severity. And this all proceeds according to divine justice, by which God is prepared to adopt whatever his wisdom may prescribe and carry out.
IV. From these decrees the fourth proceeds, by which God decreed to save and to damn certain particular persons. This decree has its foundation in divine foreknowledge, through which God has known from all eternity those individuals who through the established means of his prevenient grace would come to faith and believe, and through his subsequent sustaining grace would persevere in the faith. Likewise, in divine foreknowledge, God knew those who would not believe and persevere. [Jacobus Arminius, Declaration of Sentiments, trans. by W. Stephen Gunter, 135.]
Arminius immediately follows these points up with twenty implications of these theses; which I will have to share at a later time. Suffice it to say, it becomes quickly clear that Arminius was just as much a son of his time as any of us are. He is using the same kind of formal and material methodological and conceptual matter that his antagonists have available to them, in other words he is a classical theist who is also a conceptually formed scholastic. In other words, Arminius and his detractors are really not all that far a part.
It should be noticed, that Arminius offers these points after he has just offered direct argument against both supralapsarian and infralapsarian positions; declaring that in both situations, God is still seen as the decreer and antecedent cause of evil (even the infralapsarian position). Thus, Arminius, argued, creation was not ultimately created as ‘good’, but as evil, since it was the theater intended for God to cause evil that his justice might be displayed (he also makes an argument from God’s love of justice juxtaposed with God’s love of humanity).
So for Arminius, he believes that the supra/infralapsarian positions (the now Westminster Calvinist positions) both stumble over themselves because he thinks that God has caused salvation (antecedent or previous to) the ‘fall’ and sin. And thus repentance, justification, the incarnation, etc. become arbitrary middle terms that aren’t really necessary for salvation for the elect to be accomplished. In other words, Arminius’ point of attack focuses on the Calvinist position offering a ‘metaphysical’ salvation far away that does not really need the ‘physical’ (like the historical fall, etc.) in order to become reality. So Arminius is trying to offer a conception, in contrast to this, that offers a view of salvation that is (dare I say) actualistic and concretely particularized and realized in the ontology of the world, and within the parameters of salvation or redemptive history (i.e. not all predetermined back up in the absolute decrees of God somewhere in eternity).
Out of time, more to say, but this should do for now.