Wednesday, July 6, 2011

The Five Points of Calvinism

As an Arminian turned Calvinist I have perhaps a different view of the TULIP than my fellow Calvinists.  The way I see it, the whole thing revolves around the concept of regeneration, understand John 3 and the rest of the TULIP falls into line quite readily.
Anyhow, here is how I approach the acrostic.

Totally unwilling - more popularly known as total depravity, this is the condition where men are unwilling (they lack the moral ability, not physical ability) to repent until awakened by God. See 2 Tim 2:25, Acts 16:14, Phil 1:29. This is because men have hearts inclined to evil, or as God would say, have hearts of stone.  This does not mean that men are incapable of repenting or believing, just that they are totally unwilling.

Unconditional regeneration unto election -The purpose behind regeneration is to get men to freely believe in Him, this is clear. But the follow on question is tougher: why condemn all men to stony hearts in the first place? So that no man may boast before Him. Rom 4:1, 1 Cor 4:7. God will not share His glory with another.  He saves us not because of future forseen works Ez 36:22, but because He is Good. Were He to look at totally deprived and unwilling creatures who have no faith in Him (and therefore everything they do is sinful) He would never see good works in the first place, it must be the case that He acts because He wants to, not because our badness compels Him. As it is written "I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy" and again "The wind blows where it wills."

imited Atonement - This is perhaps the most controversial of the 5 points because it gets into the secret will of God, into the intent of the crucifixion, but it need not be so divisive.  Limited Atonement is simply the belief that God does not regenerate all men.  God chose some people to receive new eyes John 3:3, new hearts Ezekiel 11:19, 36:26, new understanding John 6:65, Matt 16:17, Mark 4:7.  He does not give this to all men equally, some hearts He does not tinker with, as evident when He says "Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated."  One He desired to put right, the other He desired to leave alone. Regeneration is a grace given to the elect only.

Irresistible Grace - perhaps most confusing for Arminians without a proper understanding of regeneration. This does not mean that men are incapable of resisting any or all grace, quite the opposite, Festus (Acts 26:24) resisted God, as did Herod from John (Mark 6:20), Felix (Acts 24:22) Agrippa (Acts 26:27-28) the leading philosophers of Athens, to name a few.  In light of the T it's obvious that the default position of mankind is in fact to resist God at every turn, to close their eyes to His grace, and to cast away His gifts.  But if mankind is totally unwilling to love God and has a miraculous about face, there is only one explanation - God has acted monergistically to save that person. Regeneration is irresistible.

Perserverance of the Saints - the doctrine that the regenerated will always have faith, or that the elect will be regenerated and come to faith before they die. If regeneration is a one time permanent change that causes men to freely love God then it stands to reason that they will continue to love Him always. After all, "the gifts and calling of God are irrevocable."

1 comment:

THEOparadox said...

Well done. Your explanation of Total Depravity is great. We're unable because we're unwilling - and apart from Irresistible Grace we're unable (or should I say unwilling) to be willing. What a mess we're in! But thank God for His grace!

I like the term "Pervasive Depravity" also, because it reminds us that sin has affected every part of our being. We are utterly corrupt - though not as corrupt as we could be. Thank God for His grace!