What is Calvinism? “I’m a three-point Calvinist”. In my early days of becoming a Christian, I would hear people make statements like this, and have no idea what they meant. Was this some weird code that I needed to understand? How many “points” do I need to become a good Calvinist? And what exactly is Calvinism anyway?
What Is Calvinism?
Calvinism is a theological position. In other words, a way of interpreting the Bible. It’s not a denomination like Lutheranism, Methodists or Baptists. There are many Christian churches that hold to Calvinistic teachings, but there are very few Calvinist Churches.
A Calvinists is someone that follows the teachings of John Calvin. He was part of The Protestant Reformation movement in the 1500’s with the likes of Martin Luther and Ulrich Zwingli. But there are distinctions in Calvin’s teachings from that of the other reformers. The “Five Points” of Calvinism lay out the main points of his beliefs. So let’s take a look at what those 5 points actually are.
The 5 Points Of Calvinism
An easy way to remember the 5 points of Calvinism is to use the acronym T.U.L.I.P. Here are the main points of Calvinism with a brief description:
Total Depravity- Also understood as original sin. Everyone is sinful, and requires forgiveness for their sins. There are no exceptions.
Unconditional Election– God chooses, or “Elects” people to receive salvation. There is no choice that is made to follow God. God does not make this decision on who will be saved using knowledge of who will or will not receive Him. It is done for reasons only God knows.
Limited Atonement- Jesus’ sacrifice only covers the elect, not all of humanity. Only the sins of the chosen were covered by Jesus on the cross.
Irresistible Grace- If you are chosen by God, you cannot resist or chose not to follow Him. You do not have a say in the matter.
Perseverance of the Saints- Once saved, always saved. If someone de-converts, they were never really saved in the first place.
Again, these are very brief descriptions of the points and are not meant to be all encompassing. We’re just trying to give you a basic understanding of what the 5 points are.
Tally The Points
So after looking at the 5 points, you may see some you agree with, some you are not sure about, and some you disagree with. This why people say they are a 2 or 3-point Calvinist. It just means they agree with some, but not all of Calvin’s teaching. So what do you think? How many points do you agree with, and how many do you take issue with? We’d love to hear your thoughts!
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