TULIP revisited

Over the next few posts I want to revisit and expand the principles described by the TULIP acronym. I guess one may describe it as a convenient way to remember the principles of the reformation. But as with all things theological, it runs deeper than just a shortcut to remembering something, it has profound implications. In fact, it has such important implications that people were and are willing to live or die by it.

As a reminder, and by way of introduction, here is what it stands for:

T – Total Depravity

U – Unconditional Election

L – Limited Atonement

I – Irresistible Grace

P – Perseverance of the Saints

The History of TULIP 

Before getting into each of the elements of TULIP, let’s have a quick review of the history of where it came from.

In the late 1500’s and early 1600’s, Jacob Arminius, a theological professor at the university of Leiden in the Netherlands, formulated some objections to the teachings of Calvin and his followers. After his death, in 1610, his own followers summarized, documented and presented these views in the Remonstrance. In this presentation, the Arminians taught that God’s election of His people was based on a foreseen faith, that Jesus’ atonement was universal (i.e. for everyone), that man was partially depraved but retains some goodness, that man can resist God’s grace and finally that man may lapse from God’s grace.

In 1618-19, at a synod meeting of the Reformed churches in the Netherlands, in the city of Dordrecht, the attendees, not only from the Netherlands but also from 8 other countries, responded to the Remonstration of 1610 with “The Decision of the Synod of Dort of the Five Main Points of Doctrine in Dispute in the Netherlands”.

This response is popularly known as the Canons of Dort, and was originally intended to be a judicial decision on the doctrinal points in dispute. The original preface read :”..a judgment, in which both the true view, agreeing with God’s Word, concerning the aforesaid 5 points of doctrine is explained, and the false view, disagreeing with God’s Word, is rejected.”

So we see that the debate over the character of man and nature of salvation has been raging for 400 years. In the contemporary church, that dispute is as much alive now as it was back then.

In the next few posts we will look at how the Canons of Dort’s responded to the teachings of Arminius, and if it still holds true after another 400 years of Bible study and theological musings.

Stay tuned for depravity…


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