The claim of Brandt is still repeated by Keith Stanglin and Thomas McCall: “One of the renowned treatises of Arminius actually, arose from the public disputation of his colleague, Gomarus, who composed his theses on predestination in opposition to Arminius on 31 October 1604.” Elsewhere, Stanglin wrote:
Disputation number 30 in the cycle, which happened to be on predestination, fell to Arminius on 7 February 1604. Gomarus did not approve of what was said in the disputation, for he responded on 31 October 1604 with his own public disputation on predestination. Gomarus’s move to publish theses on a topic that had just been covered eight months earlier in the curriculum was viewed as insulting, for he did it “out of turn, and contrary to the method that had been before agreed upon.” [Again citing G. Brandt.] The very next day, Arminius wrote a letter to Jan Uytenbogaert, his close friend and ministerial colleague, calling Gomarus offensissimus. That Arminius took Gomarus’s disputation as a polemical refutation of his own is demonstrated by the fact that Arminius responded directly to Gomarus’s disputation point by point in writing.
At first glance, all of this evidence seems very straightforward, but it begins to unravel because of Stanglin’s own thorough work on the public disputations. Stanglin shows that the claim of Brandt that Gomarus had acted contrary to the method agreed upon was not true:
The other type of public practice disputation was outside of the planned order (extra ordinem) of the repetitio. In contrast to the repetitio disputations, which moved in order through the series of connected theological topics (ex ordine), these disputations dealt with so-called quaelibet material, that is, a randomly chosen subject that held no connection with the material being handled at the time. These random disputations—which have medieval antecedents in the quodlibetal questions handled by Aquinas, Scotus, and Ockham, among others—were held at Leiden University about twice a month at an ad hoc assembly Since working through the complete repetitio would take at least one year or as many as three years, and a professor or student might not otherwise have the opportunity to handle a certain topic in this public setting, the professors, perhaps in collaboration with students, often took advantage of this ability to propose topics out of the usual repetitio order. . . . Moreover, these randomly proposed disputations gave professors an opportunity to deal with any topic that arose in their own reading or interaction with one another. Gomarus’s 1604 disputation on predestination, as a response to Arminius’s disputation on the same topic, is a clear example of this type. These disputations generally were known by titles other than disputatio. Rather, their most common designation was theses theologicae.
According to Stanglin’s own analysis, Gomarus had not done anything unusual in 1604 by proposing his own theses on predestination.
More than that, the action itself does not show that he was reacting to or criticizing Arminius. Indeed, according to Stanglin, Gomarus apparently later stated that he had not disagreed with Arminius’ theses on predestination: “In Gomarus’s Bedencken, published late in 1609 in response to Petrus Bertius’s funeral oration, Gomarus again points to the late 1603 disputation on justification, claiming that Arminius had then taught purely (suyverlick) on this doctrine. He goes on to claim that he had suspended his judgment of Arminius until his 1605 disputation on free choice (Disp. Pub. XI).” Even as disagreements became public later, Gomarus insisted that his great concern with Arminius was not on predestination (and not in 1604), but the ways in which his teaching would undermine the Protestant doctrine of justification. What are we to make, then, of Arminius’ reaction to Gomarus’ theses that Gomarus was most offensive? Apparently, at the time Arminius expressed his offense, he only knew what Uytenbogaert had told him. The fact that Arminius took offense does not prove that Gomarus meant to offend or even that he had actually done anything offensive. In all likelihood, Arminius took offense not to the action of Gomarus in presenting theses but to the content of those theses. Of course, Arminius may have mistakenly thought that Gomarus was attacking him when that was not Gomarus’ intention.
What we know with certainty is that Arminius immediately set to work on a detailed, lengthy analysis and refutation of Gomarus’ theses. Apparently, Arminius completed this work late in 1604 or early in 1605. Arminius’ preface to this work seems to imply that he intends this work to be published: “You will not take it amiss, most illustrious Gomarus, if I weigh, according to the Scriptures, those Theses which you composed not so long ago, and propounded for public disputation, and if I state candidly and modestly what I find wanting in them. Solemnly and in God’s presence I protest that I take up this task, not from a desire of contention, but from an earnest wish to inquire into and search out the truth.” The conclusions he reached on the teaching of Gomarus, however, are virulent indeed and are perhaps the reason he decided not to publish them. Of Gomarus’ teaching on predestination, Arminius wrote:
I, however, freely and openly affirm, that it seems to me to follow certainly from those Theses, that God is the author of sin; nor this alone, but also that God really sins, nay, that God alone sins: whence it necessarily follows that sin is not sin, because God cannot sin. But I, forsooth, am certain in my own conscience, from the word of God and of His Christ, that this doctrine is false and profane, in no manner contrary to the kingdom of Satan, but very well adapted for establishing and confirming it. For which reason also, since all that is false traces its prime origin from that kingdom, I should not hesitate to affirm that this doctrine has crept into the hearts of good men by the subtlety and craft of Satan; and that they, on their side (though unaware of it, and with other intentions), have accomplished for the kingdom of darkness a work not sufficiently to be repented of. Yet I trust that the good God has pardoned them this very thing, as having done it in ignorance, and as being prepared to submit to those who may teach them better things.