Total Control - God's Sovereignty Misdefined

Types of TULIPs

Calvinism is often taught using the acronym "TULIP". However there are at least three interpretations of each point. The medium views include the soft, and the hard views included everything in the medium up to the *.

 

Total depravity / Inability

Soft: Since the Fall, all of us are born with the curse of a sinful nature and suffer physical death. None can believe without God's essential work prior to believing. Our intellect, will, emotions, and whole being is fallen. Demons may be as bad as they can be (utterly depraved), but reprobate people are not. Even the rich man's brother in Hell was altruistic in Luke 16:27

Medium: Scripture shows two aspects: we are dead in sin (Eph 2:1,5; Col 2:13) and we are prisoners to sin (Gal 3:22-23). "Man is a free agent but he cannot originate the love of God in his heart" (Boettner p.62). Without the initiative of the Father drawing us, nobody would come to Christ (John 6:44; 15:5). * Both elect and reprobate are objects of God's wrath prior to the elect being saved. (Eph 2:3)

Salvation Scope: People have free will regarding many decisions: it is just salvation that they do not have free will.

Hard: God is intensely angry at every baby that is born. The difference between reprobate men and demons is not so much one of kind as one of degree. God not only is full of wrath at the wicked, but God delighted in creating them to be destroyed (contradicted by Psalm 145:9,13,17; 2 Peter 3:9; Ezekiel 18:23,32]

 

Unconditional election in Christ

No merit of our own: No deeds, words, or beliefs provide any fraction of the merit required for us to get saved or to stay saved. It is entirely a free gift, but it is our responsibility to accept the gift. There are heavenly rewards based on works, though.

Medium: All have the responsibility to believe and obey the Gospel of Christ. * We must distinguish between the fact that we have no ability, but we have the respond-ability. An alcoholic does not have the ability to stop drinking, but he can respond by stumbling into a treatment center and crying "help me". Saving faith does not precede regeneration, and regeneration does not precede faith. They are involved together, and faith has a role in us getting saved.

Hard: For both Hard Calvinists and many Catholics faith is a kind of work. Unlike Catholics, Hard Calvinists say that faith is the result of salvation, and has no role in someone getting saved. "Regeneration precedes faith" (Contradicted by Heb 4:2; Romans 4:2-5,16 Luke 7:50; Eph 2:8-9). W.J. Styles taught that people do not have any responsibility, and lack of faith is not a sin.

 

Limited / Definitive atonement

Soft: In the Bible God's predestination of people is never mentioned before His foreknowledge. Before the world was created, God knew each elect person who would go to Heaven. Christ's atonement is only effective for those who believe. However, nothing is to stop God from letting babies, the severely retarded, and others who had no opportunity from being saved through Christ too. However, even babies who never committed a sin still need Christ for cleansing their sinful nature.

Medium: * Salvation has both significant universal aspects and significant limited aspects as 1 Timothy 4:10 shows. God is compassionate and loving toward all He has made, yet God has a special love for the elect. God is just to all. God is not equitable in giving everyone the same opportunities (look at Saul of Tarsus). God is fair to everyone, but God does not give everyone the same grace and mercy, nor is He obligated to (See Matthew 20:1-16)

Hard: Limited atonement means there are no universal aspects. Jesus was not the atoning sacrifice for the whole world (contradicted by 1 John 2:2; 1 Timothy 2:4]. The reprobate were never supposed to obey the gospel [contradicted by 2 Thess. 1:8]. Some people in Hell believed there was no point in believing Jesus, because Jesus did not die for them, God did not love them, and there never was any way for them to go to Heaven, and they are in Hell for believing the truth. They did not snub God's love reaching out in mercy to save them, because God never reached in mercy to save them in the first place.

Double predestination: God in His secret will desires that the reprobate go to Hell. (Contradicted by Ezek 18 and 2 Pet 3:9)

 

Irresistible grace / calling

Medium: There are two aspects of God's grace; the grace of irrevocable calling and resistible grace. The reprobate can resist the Holy Spirit in Acts 7:39,51. Paul's co-workers can receive God's grace in vain in 2 Cor 6:1. Lk 7:30 says the Pharisees rejected God's purpose for themselves. Believers can do some good things on their own initiative (2 Cor 8:17). God works everything together as part of his ultimate plan (Eph 1:11; Rom 8:28)

No lost causes: God never fails in His work in leading the elect to salvation. For everyone else, God never worked in their life.

Evangelism pointless: Never fear, all the elect will be saved. We have no need to do evangelism. Prayer does not change what will happen in any way; it makes us feel better though. (A.W. Pink. Against: James 5:15-16)

Christian Fatalism (Robotics): Disagree with the medium definition. Everyone is either a robot of God or a robot of Satan. God is the decreer, governor, willer, and determiner or every sin. (A.W. Pink p.101,251-252, Loraine Boettner p.240).

 

Perseverance of the Saints

Soft: God not only initially saves us, but He preserves us and keeps us from falling. We are sealed with the Holy Spirit (Eph 1:13-14; Jn 10:28-29). We can have assurance of salvation (1 Jn 5:13), but there is counterfeit conversion (1 Jn 2:18-20).

Medium: The elect can fall away and live like pagans, but they will come back; otherwise, they were not the elect. (1 Jn 2:19)

Cheap grace: Once a person is saved, since they have it made, they can live like they want to. [Contradicted by 1 Cor 9:6-11 and 2 Peter 2:20-22; James 2:19; Acts 8:13,20] This is a view both Calvinists and non-Calvinists can fall into.

 

Arminian, Semi-Pelagian, and Pelagian Responses to TULIP

Non-Calvinist Christians and others have varying alternatives too.

 

Total depravity / Inability

Soft: We are fallen in intellect, will, and emotions, and we are so depraved that, as David said, none seek God (Rom 3:11), at least not on their own. However, through the Holy Spirit convicting the world of guilt (John 16:8), Jesus is drawing all men unto Himself (John 12:32). (Prevenient grace)

Can seek on our own: We are commanded to seek ye first the kingdom of God (Mt 6:33; Isa 55:6), and God would not command what we cannot do, though we still need His help. While we are fallen in our desires, we can still seek God as David did (Ps 63:1) choose to come to God on our own.

Hard Arminian: People are not born evil, but a mixture of good and evil, or else morally neutral. (Against: Rom 3:9-20)

Pelagian error: People are born morally neutral. The only thing Adam's sin did was set a bad example. (Against: Rom 3:9-20)

 

Unconditional election in Christ

No merit of our own: No deeds, words, or beliefs provide any fraction of the merit required for us to get saved or to stay saved. It is entirely a free gift, but it is our responsibility to accept the gift. There are heavenly rewards based on works, though.

Faith first: Saving faith precedes regeneration.

Stay saved by works: We got saved by grace, but we stay saved by works. (Appeal to James 2:14-26. Against: Eph 1:13)

Some Catholics: Through Jesus' death and God's grace, He works in us so that we can merit salvation. (Against Eph 2:8-9)

A Church of Christ person: Don't put much stock in deathbed conversions: faith without works is dead. (thief on the cross?)

Some Mormons: As one Mormon missionary said, Jesus on the cross paid for our sins, and by our lives we pay Him back. Another said that it is like we are in a pit, and God drops down a rope halfway, and we climb up a ladder halfway.

 

Limited / Definitive atonement

Election based on foreknowledge: God predestined each elect individual only after His foreknowledge of what choices they would make. God knew each elect person who would go to Heaven. Christ's atonement is only effective for those who believe. However, nothing is to stop God from letting babies, the severely retarded, and others who had no opportunity from being saved through Christ too. However, even babies who never committed a sin still need Christ for cleansing their sinful nature.

By Faith Alone: God is in time, and He only elects us as individuals at the moment we truly believe. Severely retarded, and others with no opportunity to know go to Hell for their sins; they did not believe what they did not know. (See Eph 2:8)

Many Church of Christ: God only saves a believing individual at the moment they are immersed. A Church of Christ boy who was killed in a car accident on his way to being baptized went to Hell. (See Acts 2:38)

Equitableness: God being just means He has to be equitable and fair, and give everyone equal knowledge and opportunity.

Augustine of Hippo (388-430), Ambrose of Milan (370-390 A.D.): and many 4th century Christians taught that even a baby who is baptized in the Catholic Church and dies goes to Heaven. A baby, child, or adult who is not goes to Hell. However, unbaptized babies receive the lightest of punishments; their only crime was being born with Adam's sin.

The heterodox teacher Origen (225-254 A.D.) taught that people pre-existed in heaven, and in de Principiis book 2 ch.1.2 taught that all God's creatures (even demons) will eventually be saved. (This is contradicted by Rev 14:11 and 20:10).

 

Irresistible grace / calling

Individual: Jesus draws all men unto Himself (John 12:32). This done today through the Holy Spirit convicting the world in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment (John 16:8). All do not go to heaven though, because some forfeit the grace that could be theirs (Jonah 2:8). The Pharisees rejected God's purpose for themselves (Luke 7:30).

Corporate only: Eph 1:11, Rom 8:28, and other verses showing God's elect refer only to a class of people, not individuals.

Open Theology: Not even God knows for certain who is going to Heaven. (Against this is Isa 44:7 and Ps 139:3-4,6)

 

Perseverance of the Saints

Once-saved-always-saved: God not only initially saves us, but He preserves us and keeps us from falling. We are sealed with the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1:13-14; John 10:28-29). We can have assurance of salvation (1 John 5:13), and there is such a thing as counterfeit conversion (1 John 2:18-20).

Once-lost-always-lost: A genuine Christian can turn away from God and be bound for Hell, but it is a conscious and deliberate decision. Once they lost salvation they can never get it back (See Heb 6:4-6) Novatianists (250- A.D.) held this view.

Resaved again view Same as previous view, except a person can later repent and be saved again. Maybe they have to be baptized again, or maybe not.

Oh Lord Jesus: If a person in faith calls on the name of the Lord, such as "O Lord Jesus" three times, they will be forever saved. See Rom 10:9-10. (Some in the local church group)

Catholicism: Lose salvation, but can get it back for mortal sins "unto death" (1 Jn 5:16) (adultery, etc.), but not venial sins.

Seesaw Salvation (some Church of Christ): Every time you sin you lose your salvation. You can get saved again (and don't need baptism on subsequent salvations), but if you die before repenting, you will go to Hell.


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