Calvin’s “T.U.L.I.P.”

by James L. Melton

A Calvinist is a person who subscribes to the theological beliefs of John Calvin, the Swiss Protestant reformer of the sixteenth century. There are five main points in Calvinism, four of which are false teachings. The five points of Calvinism are usually represented by the letters T.U.L.I.P.

The “T” is for TOTAL DEPRAVITY. This is the false doctrine that man is so depraved that he cannot even see his sinful condition and call upon God for salvation. It is true that all men are natural-born sinners (Rom. 3:23; 5:12; Psa. 51:5), but it is also true that God COMMANDS all men to repent and receive Christ (Acts 17:30-31; I John 3:23; Luke 13:3). Man is indeed depraved, but he isn’t so depraved that he has no free will of his own (II Pet. 3:9; Jn. 1:12; 3:16; Jos. 24:15; Exo. 35:5, 21, 22, 29). Total Depravity is heresy.

“U” stands for UNCONDITIONAL ELECTION, which is a heresy derived from perverting verses like Ephesians 1:4-5 and Romans 8:29. The Calvinists believe that God predestinated everyone way back before Genesis 1:1, totally ignoring their free will to choose for themselves. That is, He supposedly decided who would go to Heaven and who would go to Hell long before anyone was even born. If you’ll read Romans 8:29 and I Peter 1:1-2 you’ll see that God’s election is based on FOREKNOWLEDGE. He didn’t elect to save or damn anyone against their free will. God knew all along who would choose Christ and who would not, and He made His “elections” based on that information.

Then we have the “L” for LIMITED ATONEMENT. This is the belief that only a limited number of people can be washed from their sins in the precious blood of Christ, because only “the elect” will be saved anyway. The idea is that Christ loved the church and gave Himself for it (Eph. 5:25); so the blood of Christ was only shed for the church. This is foolishness. I Timothy 2:6 says that Christ gave Himself a ransom for ALL, not just the elect. ALL have sinned (Rom. 3:23); so He died for ALL, and He saves “as many as” receive Him (John 1:12).

The “I” stands for IRRESISTIBLE GRACE, which is also false doctrine. This teaching says that God the Holy Spirit overpowers the sinner and grants him the new birth without his submission or positive response. As we’ve already seen, man DOES have a free will and no one is saved without CHOOSING to believe on Christ as Lord and Saviour. There is no such thing as irresistible grace. God has given us all the ability to resist anyone or anything we choose (Acts 7:51; II Tim. 3:8; Jas. 4:7). There are times when the convicting power of the Holy Spirit is so strong and real that a sinner sees no choice but to give in to God and receive Christ as Saviour, but the sinner always has a choice. No one is saved against their will, and no one is saved without first choosing to receive Christ.

The last letter is “P,” which represents the PERSEVERANCE OF THE SAINTS. This is the only point in “T.U.L.I.P” which is anywhere near correct, but not near enough. Once a sinner receives Christ, he is predestinated to be conformed to Christ’s image (Rom. 8:29). That is, as Christians, we are eternally secure and cannot lose the salvation which God has freely given us, but this is due to GOD’S PRESERVATION, not our perseverance.