I find that all many people know of Calvinist doctrine is a very fuzzy reference to TULIP. For those who don’t know, TULIP stands for:
Perseverance of the Saints
Contrary to what appears to be popular misconception, this is not a summary of Calvinist doctrine, nor is it even the core. So how then did this acronym come to be so associated with Reformed Theology in general and Calvinism in particular?
TULIP is actually a defense against an attack upon these five doctrinal points held by the Reformed Church of Holland. This took place more than a hundred years after the death of John Calvin.
Just for the record, here’s were I stand on these doctrinal points:
- Total Depravity – 100% certain
- Unconditional Election – 100% certain
- Limited Atonement – 55% I’m still wrestling with this one. I’m inclined to believe but far from certain.
- Irresistible Grace – 90% Pretty darn sure
- Perseverance of the Saints – 100% God’s the one who called me and saved me. He will keep me.
I mentioned that TULIP is neither a summary nor the core of Reformed theology. What is then? I think (yes this is my opinion) that core of Reformed theology is this:
By grace lone, through faith alone, in Christ alone.
If I had to sum it all up in one word – Grace.
For an excellent treatment on these five points, check out Bethlehem Baptist Church’s document, “What We Believe About the Five Points of Calvinism” at the Desiring God website.
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