TULIP

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

Predestinination

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

Election

This is the notion that some people are saved and others are not; all according to God’s choice.  God elected, or chose, those who would spend eternity with Him.  The nature of election is widely debated however.

Calvinists claim that man is unconditionally elected not based on any merit.  Arminians claim that God foreknew those who would follow Him and then chose according to that knowledge.

There are others who believe that references to election in the Bible are not concerning individuals at all.  Letters of the New Testament addressed to “the elect” are not addressed to individuals but rather the church as a whole.  God elected the church for salvation in eternity past and did not determine each and every individual who would be saved.  When they are saved, they become part of the elect.

Calvinism

Calvinism is a series of beliefs based on those of John Calvin and his followers.  Calvinism has five points to it which spells out the acronym TULIP.  Those who believe in all five points may be considered five point Calvinists.  Others may consider themselves three point Calvinists while others who only believe in the preservation of the saints may consider themselves a one point Calvinist.

The Arminian view is considered the alternative to the Calvinistic view.  While there are many who consider themselves strictly Arminian or Calvinist, there are others who claim to be somewhere in between.

The five points of Calvinism were not created by Calvin but rather originated at the Synod of Dort in 1619.  It was a response to the five points of the Arminian Remonstrance in 1610 (which was a response to Calvin’s ideas.)

Five points of Calvinism:

Total Depravity

Unconditional Election

Limited Atonement

Irresistible Grace

Perseverance of the Saints

For more information, see the articles Calvinism Basics and Arminianism vs. Calvinism