Ministerial Meanderings

God centered theology in a man centered world.

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Location: Springfield, Missouri, United States

I was born in Washington D.C. and raised in Laurel, Maryland. I served in the United States Air Force for 20 years then retired. Then God led me to become a pastor. I was converted to Christ in the summer of 1966. I enjoy the company of my wife, children and grandchildren. I live with my three cats Hobbs, Taz, and Chloe.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

What Are The 5 Points of Calvinism?

One of the most common errors of non-Calvinists is thinking that John Calvin wrote the so called 5 points of Calvinism. He did not. Calvin was long dead when Jacob Arminius died. It was the followers of Arminius who petitioned the Church of Holland to review 5 areas of doctrine which the Church taught and which Arminius' followers though were wrong. At the time, the doctrine of the Dutch Church was overwhelmingly Calvinistic. The Remonstrants, as they were called, presented a petition called the Remonstrance. In it, they believed these points were the biblical positions...

1. Partial depravity. That man is sick in sin, not dead in sin. There remained enough of the image of God in man that he can act to do the right and godly thing if he wanted to.

2. Conditional election. That God foresaw in history, who would choose to be saved and based on their foreseen good choices God chose them to be His elect people.

3. General atonement. Christ died for every human generally but no one in particular. Jesus' death made salvation possible but did not actually secure it for anyone. The death of Christ must be joined with man's faith to make it effectual for the individual.

4. Resistible grace. This is actually the starting point for Arminius' theology. The work of God in a person's life can be resisted by the human will. God's grace works to woo the sinner to Christ but cannot cause the sinner's will to do anything.

5. Conditional security. A believer remained as believer as long as faith remained in him or her. If the believer chose to deny the faith they had, they could choose to walk away from Christ and be ultimately lost.

The Dutch Church called a synod that met in the city of Dordtrecht, or Dort for short. They discussed the matter for some months and then issued what are called the Canons of Dort. There are 5 Canons, each one responding to one of the points of the Remonstrance. In the Canons, they affirmed the Calvinistic doctrine of the Church and declared the Arminian view to be heretical. They believed it robbed God of His rightful glory and exalted man. The Canons affirmed these teachings...

1. Total depravity. There is no part of the human being (emotions, will, body, intellect, etc.) that were untouched by the fall of Adam in the Garden. Therefore, man is totally unable to come to God through Christ without God helping and making it possible.

2. Unconditional election. God chooses whom He will save based on NO merit in the person. No works, seen or foreseen, influence God in His decision. Election is by God's merciful grace alone.

3. Limited atonement (particular redemption). Jesus died on the cross as an actual substitute to take the place of the people the Father has chosen to save. The salvation of these people are actually secured by Christ, not merely made possible.

4. Irresistible grace. The work of the Holy Spirit in the person's heart is so effective and powerful and Christ is so needed and desirable that the sinner is drawn to Christ as a moth to a flame. When the sinner is made aware of his or her true condition in God's eyes and see the desirableness of Christ as savior, they cannot resist Him but will come to Him.

5. Perseverance of the saints in God. Whom Christ died for God will keep to the end so that the one who is genuinely converted cannot ultimately be lost.

These are the 5 points of Calvinism, so called. They are remembered in English by the acrostic TULIP. They are an explanation of how God works in moving a person from being a sinner to a saint. Some have called these 5 points, the gospel. But they are not the gospel itself but an explanation of how the gospel works.

They are also called the doctrines of grace or the doctrines of sovereign grace. They also form the heart of what is called "Reformed theology", or Calvinism (the system).

This is a very short explanation of the 5 points of Calvinism. But there is so much misinformation floating around that it is good if someone explained the terms, even in a short way.


Blogger Rev. said...

I'd like to hear your thoughts on my most recent post. You can find it at:

7:04 AM  

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