Unconditional Election

A belief in Calvinism that God elected those who would be based unconditionally, not based on any merit of their own.  In eternity past God determined those he would save and he predestined them for salvation.

Numerous letters in the New Testament are addressed to or speak of the elect.  The Calvinistic approach is that these are saved individuals God predestined beforehand and because of man’s total depravity only those who were elected will be saved.  Arminians claim that election is not unconditional but rather based upon foreknowledge.


TULIP is an acronym for the five points of Calvinism.  It stands for:

Total Depravity

Unconditional Election

Limited Atonement

Irresistible Grace

Perseverance of the Saints

The five points were written in response to the points of Arminianism which has five points but no well known acronym such as TULIP.

Total Depravity

A belief held by Calvinism that man is totally unable to save himself.  Man is sinful through and through and the only way that he can be saved is by an act of God.  Man must be elected by God in order to be saved because his depraved nature does not allow him to choose God.

Some argue that the word total is unnecessary as depravity by definition implies totality.

Arminians also believe that man will not seek God on his own as is taught by scripture although it is not a basic tenet of their beliefs.  To address this fact, they believe that God must extend prevenient grace which allows humanity to choose God.

See also: unconditional election, limited atonement, irresistible grace

Three Point Calvinism

Three point Calvinists are a cross between Calvinists and Arminians.  They hold to three points of Calvinism although not always the same three points.

Some contend that Calvinism is an all or nothing concept and that it is impossible and theologically incorrect to hold to only certain tenants of Calvinism.

Those who hold to some form of both Calvinism and Arminianism believe that they are being open minded and not dogmatic in their approach to theology.  They see this as balancing between the sovereignty of God and the free will of man and believe that the Bible clearly teaches both aspects.

The area of Calvinism that is often most in contention is the subject of limited atonement.  At the other end of spectrum the most Calvinistic viewpoint, so to say, is the idea of eternal security.  Some even consider this to be the only crucial part of Calvinism.


This is the idea that God has determined beforehand who would be saved.  Although no one is worthy of salvation, God chose in eternity past who would be saved.

Some reach the natural conclusion that if God predestines some for heaven, God predestinates the rest to hell.  This is referred to as double predestination.

Others simply say that all are destined for hell but God in His grace chose some for salvation and that by not choosing others, He does not condemn them to hell because they were already destined for it.

The question must be asked why God would choose to save some but not others if He desires all to be saved and is capable of saving all.  Supporters claim that God is glorified even in sending people to hell, much as a diamond looks more dazzling when set against a dark background.

See also: Unconditional election