TULIP: What Would you Say?

“What shall we say then? There is no injustice with God, is there? May it never be! For He says to Moses, ‘I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.’So then it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy. For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, ‘For this very purpose I raised you up, to demonstrate My power in you, and that My name might be proclaimed throughout the whole earth.’So then He has mercy on whom He desires, and He hardens whom He desires.” Romans 9:14-18

This post is the third in a series that encourages all Christians to think about how they would answer questions pertinent to the Christian faith if asked.  In this series, I will post questions from an actual pastoral candidate questionnaire that I received from a Southern Baptist Church and give my answers.  I hope that you’ll join in the discussion by posting answers of your own in the comment section.  Here’s the third question and answer of the series:

What is your stance on TULIP? (For those readers unfamiliar with TULUP, or the 5 Points of Calvinism, please see this link).

While I would not describe myself as a 5-point Calvinist, I believe the concepts expressed by the TULIP acronym are excellent devices for use in explaining the nature of God, man, and salvation.

Total Depravity speaks to the nature of man after the fall[1].  We cannot justify ourselves[2] because we are inherently sinful[3] and in need of a savior[4].

Unconditional Election speaks to the necessity of faith for salvation.  We are not saved by anything we do, but by what Jesus did on the cross.  Salvation is not earned by works; it is a free gift of God[5].

Limited Atonement speaks to the heavy price[6] that had to be paid[7] for our sin.

Irresistible grace speaks to the nature of salvation and the sovereignty of God over creation[8].  It is not by works we have been saved, but by grace.[9]  This grace comes from God[10].

Perseverance of the saints speaks to the believer’s eternal security[11] as a son adopted[12] by the Father and to His unchanging[13], loving[14] nature. It is a strong contrast to the tenuous nature of salvation in false religions and to the capricious or callous way in which those false religions describe God.  A believer’s security in Christ is a bulwark against the attacks of the accuser of the brethren, our enemy, Satan.[15]

Unfortunately, the TULIP concepts are sometimes cited as reasons for division in the body of Christ.  It is important to understand that these concepts are not biblical doctrines but rather ideas derived from the Bible that attempt to explain the nature of reality.  They should not be reasons for dissension and discord in the body of Christ. It is important for any contemporary pastor to be able to explain them because they are dangerous to church unity when not properly understood.  Both 5-point Calvinists and non-5-point Calvinists must agree that God’s character is unassailable and that his word is the authoritative resource we have for direction in faith and practice.  Scripture clearly tells us to go and make disciples of all nations.[16]  Lost people will not be saved from an eternity in hell[17] outside of hearing and responding to the gospel.[18]  The ideas of Calvinism should never be used as an excuse to not participate in evangelism.  (There is no excuse to not participate in evangelism.) Nor should the ideas of Calvinism be used by non-Calvinists to besmirch the reputation and motives of brothers in Christ who hold to different philosophical understandings.  The humble response to any claim or misunderstanding with regards to the ideas of TULIP should be, “Show me in scripture.”

What would you say?

Also See:

Essential Biblical Doctrines: What Would You Say?
The Person of Jesus: What Would You Say?

[1] Romans 5:12-14

[2] Isaiah 64:6

[3] Jeremiah 17:9

[4] Genesis 3:15

[5] Ephesians 2:8-9

[6] 1 Corinthians 6:20

[7] Hebrews 9:22

[8] Romans 9:19

[9] Ephesians 2:8-9

[10] 2 Peter 3:9

[11] John 10:28

[12] Ephesians 1:5

[13] Malachi 3:6

[14] 1 John 4:8

[15] 1 Peter 5:8

[16] Matthew 28:19

[17] Revelation 14:11

[18] Romans 10:14-17

*Please note that the preceding is my personal opinion.  It is not necessarily the opinion of any entity by which I am employed, any church at which I am a member, any church which I attend, or the educational institution at which I am enrolled.  Any copyrighted material displayed or referenced is done under the doctrine of fair use.

2 thoughts on “TULIP: What Would you Say?

  1. wildswanderer

    I would say that if you follow Paul’s OT references here and read them all in context, you would discover that Paul is talking about God choosing people for certain tasks, and mainly he’s talking about the nation of Israel, not who will be saved and who won’t.

  2. Pingback: Calvinist Bogeymen – The Ongoing Dreyfus Affair of Evangelicalism | Pulpit & Pen

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