Many people identify Calvinism by five distinctive characteristics easily remembered in the acronym TULIP. In honor of the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation, we are going to look at these beliefs which we hold at Otley Church.
A Very Brief (and limited) History of The Reformation and Calvinism in the 1500s-1600s
500 years ago, a little known monk by the name of Martin Luther stamped a paper, a set of 95 theses on the doors of Wittenberg Chapel which drastically changed the landscape of the church. Martin Luther, the father of the Lutheran church (and largely Protestantism) revolutionized the way we could approach God. Out of the reformation we came through with new perspectives on faith, bible, and salvation. Our faith is founded upon the scriptures alone and is because of grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone for the glory of God alone.
A few years after Martin Luther, French law student John Calvin converted to Protestantism. Due to religious persecution Luther leaves France for Switzerland. In 1536, Calvin first publishes his institutes of the Christian religion (which is considered a classic of theology and the basis for Calvinism today) and begins a ministry in Geneva Switzerland.
Calvinism begins to come to the Netherlands in the 1540s. Over time the Dutch Calvinists then rebelled against the Catholic Spaniards and as the counties came under Calvinist rule the people converted to Calvinism (or were forced to accept Calvinism).
Calvinism takes shape- The Synod of Dordrecht
The Canons of Dort, ratified in 1619 by the synod of Dordrecht form the basis for what we know as the distinctive of Calvinism. In some ways you could say the canons of Dort are more “Calvinist” than Calvin. Formed in Holand/The Netherlands, many identify the theological points of Calvinism through the acronym T-U-L-I-P.
T- Total Depravity
Total Depravity means that all of human life is tainted and corrupted by sin. This builds on the idea of original sin (that every person born into the world is enslaved to sin). Because of total depravity, and our fallen nature, we cannot choose to follow God on our own.
Unconditional Election is a term related to predestination/the actions and motives of God of eternity in the past. God chooses some to receive salvation. This is not because of our own doing, but based solely on the mercy and grace of God.
Limited atonement builds on the idea of unconditional election. If God “elects” some to heaven, then by the same token he “elects” some to hell. While the atoning death of Christ is payment enough for all, not all will be saved.
I-Irresistible Grace or Irrevocable Grace
This principle means that whomever God has called will not reject salvation. God’s grace will lead those to faith in Christ and in turn, eternal life.
P-Perseverance of the Saints
Perseverance of the Saints is a theological principle which holds that those people who truly have accepted the grace of God and taken Jesus as Lord will never fall away, meaning they cannot be taken away or their status in heaven is revoked.
A New Paradigm?
Recently a new The Bacon model was developed by “the Closet Calvinist.” His original work can be found here. The same theological principles are expressed here.
B- Bad People
N-Never falling away
What team is Pastor Mike on?
Calvinism surely is tied with the Dutch Reformed Church despite the fact that there are many Calvinists who are not “Dutch” The Presbyterian church is based off of Calvinism as are many non-denominational congregations. Calvin himself was not Dutch, and he ministered largely in Switzerland! The identity of Calvinism should not be locked into “TULIP.”
I argue we should adopt the acronym BACON. Because quite frankly, everyone loves bacon, and tulips are temperamental and only last a few weeks a year. Bacon can and is enjoyed all year round! The theology doesn’t change and I would argue it is simpler to understand.
Which acronym do you like better? Are you on the TULIP team or the BACON Team? Cast your vote by commenting, liking and sharing this page!