The Five Points of Calvinism
There are three main camps of theology within Christianity in America today: Roman Catholicism, Arminianism, and Calvinism.
Calvinism is a system of biblical interpretation taught by John Calvin. Calvin lived in France in the 1500s at the time of Martin
Luther, who sparked the Reformation.
Calvinism adheres to a very high view of scripture and seeks to derive its theological formulations based solely on Godís word. It
focuses on Godís sovereignty, stating that God is able and willing, by virtue of his omniscience, omnipresence, and omnipotence, to
do whatever He desires with His creation. It also maintains that within the Bible are the following teachings: That God, by His
sovereign grace, predestines people into salvation; that Jesus died only for those predestined; that God regenerates the individual
where he is then able and wants to choose God; and that it is impossible for those who are redeemed to lose their salvation.
Arminianism, on the other hand, maintains that God predestined people, but not in an absolute sense. Rather, He looked into the
future to see who would pick him, and then He chose them. Jesus died for all peoples' sins who have ever lived and ever will live,
not just the Christians. Each person is the one who decides if he wants to be saved or not. And finally, it is possible to lose your
salvation (some Arminians believe you cannot lose your salvation).
Basically, Calvinism is known by an acronym: T.U.L.I.P.
Total Depravity (also known as Total Inability and Original Sin)
Limited Atonement (also known as Particular Atonement)
Perseverance of the Saints (also known as Once Saved Always Saved)
These five categories do not comprise Calvinism in totality. They simply represent some of its main points.
Sin has affected all parts of man. The heart, emotions, will, mind, and body are all affected by sin. We are completely sinful. We
are not as sinful as we could be, but we are completely affected by sin.
The doctrine of Total Depravity is derived from scriptures that reveal human character: Manís heart is evil (Mark 7:21-23) and
sick Jer. 17:9). Man is a slave of sin (Rom. 6:20). He does not seek for God (Rom. 3:10-12). He cannot understand spiritual things (1
Cor. 2:14). He is at enmity with God (Eph. 2:15). And is by nature a child of wrath (Eph. 2:3). The Calvinist asks the question, "In
light of the scriptures that declare manís true nature as being utterly lost and incapable, how is it possible for anyone to choose
or desire God?" The answer is, "He cannot. Therefore God must predestine."
Calvinism also maintains that because of our fallen nature, we are born again not by our own will but Godís will (John 1:12-13);
God grants that we believe (Phil. 1:29); faith is the work of God (John 6:28-29); God appoints people to believe (Acts 13:48); and
God predestines (Eph. 1:1-11; Rom. 8:29; 9:9-23).
God does not base His election on anything He sees in the individual. He chooses the elect according to the kind intention of His
will (Eph. 1:4-8; Rom. 9:11) without any consideration of merit within the individual. Nor does God look into the future to see who
would pick Him. Also, as some are elected into salvation, others are not (Rom. 9:15, 21).
Jesus died only for the elect. Though Jesusí sacrifice was sufficient for all, it was not efficacious for all. Jesus only bore the
sins of the elect. Support for this position is drawn from such scriptures as Matt. 26:28, where Jesus died for Ďmany'; John 10:11,
15, which say that Jesus died for the sheep (not the goats, per Matt. 25:32-33); John 17:9, where Jesus in prayer interceded for the
ones given Him, not those of the entire world; Acts 20:28 and Eph. 5:25-27 which state that the Church was purchased by Christ, not
all people; and Isaiah 53:12 which is a prophecy of Jesusí crucifixion where he would bore the sins of many (not all).
When God calls his elect into salvation, they cannot resist. God offers to all people the gospel message. This is called the external
call. But to the elect, God extends an internal call, and it cannot be resisted. This call is by the Holy Spirit, who works in the
hearts and minds of the elect to bring them to repentance and regeneration, whereby they willingly and freely come to God. Some of
the verses used in support of this teaching are Romans 9:16 where it says that "it is not of him who wills nor of him who runs, but
of God who has mercy"; Philippians 2:12-13 where God is said to be the one working salvation in the individual; John 6:28-29 where
faith is declared to be the work of God; Acts 13:48 where God appoints people to believe; and John 1:12-13 where being born again is
not by manís will, but by Godís. "All that the Father gives Me shall come to Me, and the one who comes
to Me I will certainly not cast out," (John 6:37).
Perseverance of the Saints:
You cannot lose your salvation. Because the Father has elected, the Son has redeemed, and the Holy Spirit has applied salvation,
those thus saved are eternally secure. They are eternally secure in Christ. Some of the verses for this position are John 10:27-28
where Jesus said His sheep will never perish; John 6:47, where salvation is described as everlasting life; Romans 8:1, where it is
said we have passed out of judgment; 1 Corinthians 10:13, where God promises to never let us be tempted beyond what we can handle;
and Phil. 1:6, where God is the one being faithful to perfect us until the day of Jesusí return.