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Simon Episcopius

simon biscop) (1583-1643. Dutch Protestant theologian. Educated at Leyden under Arminius,* who taught a softened version of predestination, he and Uyntenbogaert were prominent among his former teacher's followers who issued the Remonstrance* of 1610. After taking part in an abortive conference at the Hague with Contra-Remonstrant leaders, Episcopius at twenty-nine took the place of F. Gomar(us),* a Contra-Remonstrant leader, at Leyden. Gomarus had resigned in protest against Remonstrant influence at the university. The Remonstrant controversy became entangled with political issues, and passions ran high: Episcopius at one point was mobbed in the streets and accused of plotting with Catholics.

In 1618, Oldenbarneveldt, the political protector of the Remonstrants, was arrested, by the stadhouder Maurice of Orange, and the Synod of Dort,* convening to discuss the Remonstrant controversy, was thus filled with Contra-Remonstrants. Episcopius, though one of the few Remonstrant delegates, was cited to defend the Remonstrant position; cast as a defendant, his procedural protests were to no avail, and the synod condemned the Remonstrants, adopted the Canons of Dort as a statement of the orthodox view on the disputed issues, ousted Remonstrant ministers, and arranged for the exile of Remonstrant leaders.

After stays in Antwerp, where he helped organize the Remonstrants in exile, and France (Paris and Rouen), Episcopius returned to Rotterdam in 1625 at the death of Maurice. He worked as a Remonstrant preacher, and later as professor at the Remonstrant college in Amsterdam. His own theological views went considerably beyond those of Arminius, but in the next generation became common among the Remonstrants. He denied predestination and election, interpreted the Trinity in a symbolical sense, viewed Christ as basically an ethical model for man, and stressed right conduct rather than dogma. His main works are collected in his Opera theologica (2 vols., 1650-55) and Institutiones theologica (1650).

See A.H.W. Harrison, Arminianism (1937).