Why We Hold To Calvinism: Understanding TULIP

In the next few weeks I’d like to lay down the biblical foundation for, although it is only one component of “Reformed Theology”, what is commonly referred to as Calvinism. This issue is of paramount importance to address in an appropriate depth and comprehensiveness for two reasons:

1. The very word Calvinism is fraught with misconceptions and often comes as a “loaded term” relative to who your talking to.

2. Here at Proclaiming His Glory we strive to magnify God in every way possible and we are convinced that if we are to “rightly handle the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15) then we must clarify and explain why we view God the way we do.

Therefore, in the course of this post I will explain how Proclaiming His Glory views the above two statements.

Allow me to begin with a word on definitions. Often times, in both my own personal communication and review of others, I have heard a concerned expressed over the very meaning of what Calvinism is. Does it express an agreement or indicate a follower of the teachings of John Calvin? Or does it simply refer to the “predestination, free will” talk that always gets thrown around with reference to its name? In its most literal sense it would seem to imply that Calvinists are followers of the teachings of John Calvin! John Calvin

This is precisely why I either don’t call myself a Calvinist or immediately explain what I mean when I do so. It normally depends entirely on whom I’m talking to. As much as I would like to say I am a Calvinist in the literal sense of the word the problem is, I haven’t read any of his works or really extensively studied his views on every subject. Not only did the man write exhaustively on a wide breadth of doctrines, but I must be honest when I say that I haven’t taken the time to read any of his works! Oh sure, I’ve read a few quotes and excerpts here and there but I can’t possibly be honest and say, in the strictest sense possible, that I am a “Calvinist”. Starting to see some of the baggage that comes with the term?

Hold on a minute though! You may say, “Isn’t the very title of this post about why you do hold to Calvinism?” and of course this would be true. How does one resolve this dilemma? Enter TULIP.

Before I explain it allow me to give you a bit of important history first.TULIP, was a mnemonic formulated in the early 20th century which attempted to easily summarize the result of what came out of the main controversy that took place four centuries early at the Canons of Dort in 1618. Now its important to note that John Calvin himself died in 1564 and his most famous student Jacobus Arminius (surprised?) died in 1609. Therefore, it was Arminius’s followers that formulated the original five articles of the Remonstrance which demonstrated a departure from Calvin’s teachings on the will of man, election, predestination etc. At the Canons of Dort in 1618 Calvin’s followers developed and summarized their specific responses to the five articles of the Remonstrance.  These responses were then organized and first described in print in a 1932 work on the reformed doctrine of predestination.

So why is it important to know that history? What I want you to remember is that the purpose of TULIP was not to describe the totality of what John Calvin, or Reformed Theology for that matter, teaches. Historically, the purpose was to easily identify the differences with the Arminian viewpoint. Now unfortunately that is not the way it is viewed today. Therefore, for the purposes of conversation in today’s common understanding of Calvinism (which is strictly an adherence to TULIP) I will, and the other authors on this blog, readily identify myself as such.

So what is this TULIP I have keep referring to? Now that we understand the way that I will using the word “Calvinism” I would say that TULIP is the best way to remember the tenets of Calvinism. They are the following:

TULIP

 Total Depravity

Unconditional Election

Limited Atonement

Irresistible Grace

Perseverance of the Saints

 

I will be the first to admit those titles can be misleading and slightly confusing as to what they are intended to represent specifically. Nonetheless, it will be my intent to clearly elucidate what we mean by them and why we hold to them.

Let me close this post on an important note. The question may arise “why would you claim to be a Calvinist when you haven’t read much, if any, of John Calvin’s work?”. The reason I haven’t read much of Calvin is because I don’t rest my belief in Calvinism on his shoulders. They stand 100% on scripture. Although I would never deny that I have been influenced by theologians I read, I must make clear that my adherence to Calvinism was formed before I had ever read a word written by the man. Therefore, it is essential when discussing these issues to primarily rest our discussions and debate over what the word of God says in its contents.

Additionally, please don’t view these posts like they are, as my favorite rapper would say “controversy for the sake of controversy or theological nitpicking”.  A.W. Tozer once said “What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.” What the Bible says on topic like Calvinism will profoundly affect how you view God and therefore it is essential to study carefully. That’s how we “rightly handle the word of truth” and by doing so we Proclaim His Glory

-praisethekingofglory

Advertisements

Ordo Salutis: An Introduction

We are sinners. It’s not a new statement, it’s literally thousands of years old. As Christians, we believe that all are sinners (Romans 3:23), and no one is good (Romans 3:10). With this in mind, we look upon God. God is holy and righteous, which basically means He’s the opposite of sin. He cannot sin and is perfect. He is also a just God who, when he sees sin, wishes nothing more than to throw the perpetrator into Hell. He hates sin. He becomes angry at sin. He cannot stand the sight of it. What needs to be done is that someone needs to be punished for sin. The person who obviously deserve the punishment is the sinner. In that case, we all deserve Hell. But wait! There is one more thing about God that needs to be said. God is loving. The Bible goes so far to say that “God is love” (1 John 4:8). This loving God “wants all to be saved” (1 Timothy 2:4). While all are not saved (we’ll get to that), we know that God does save. He sent his perfect Son, Jesus, to live a sinless life and a die a perfect death, that atonement could be paid for the elect (again, we’ll get to that).

We call this the Gospel. That a just God would love us to the point of sacrificing his Son so that people might come to a relationship with the Father. What happens when God so moves in the life of people is they become “saved” as we have come to call it. They have experienced salvation. What becomes the questions of almost every Christian is, “What now?” What does a Christian do now that they are “saved”? I believe that every Christian first needs to learn exactly what Salvation is. What this great mysterious wonder that changes lives, saves lives, is. We need to tell them of the love the Election, the life-changing power of Regeneration, the guiltless feeling of Justification and so on. And that’s what I want to do. To explain what I believe salvation is.

The order of salvation is called Ordo Salutis in Latin. The Ordo Salutis is one of the most important doctrines of Christianity because It tells what being a Christian means. There are differing opinions on how the Ordo Salutis is in sequence. Historically this has been the subject of much debate. Here at Proclaiming His Glory, we will be following Wayne Grudem’s explanation in his Systematic Theology.

1. Election (God’s choice of people to be saved)

2. The Gospel Call (proclaiming the message of the Gospel)

3. Regeneration (being born again)

4. Conversion (faith and repentance)

5. Justification (right legal standing)

6. Adoption (membership in God’s family)

7. Sanctification (right conduct of life)

8. Perseverance (remaining a Christian)

9. Death (going to be with the Lord)

10. Glorification (receiving a resurrection body)

In the next ten weeks on every Friday I want to take time for us to study and fully understand what each of these means for us. I want to end this introduction with something to keep in mind as we study these topics: this is all about Jesus. The whole reason God became a man and lived a perfect life and then died a sinless death was for His glory. We are here to proclaim His glory, and what better way to do that than remember his most amazing and awesome act, the Gospel and the salvation it brought. Never forget that God didn’t die for us, but for his glory. We are saved only to worship his almighty name. Let the ransomed sinners rejoice. Our God is a saving God.

-The Ransomed Sinner