Updated: Apr 30
John Calvin was a French lawyer by trade and studied and taught theology, who lived from 1509 to 1564. He could be considered the key figure in the second generation of the Protestant Reformation.
After his death, his followers summed up his teaching into five (5) doctrines or points.
The key thought of those that follow the teachings of John Calvin…Jesus did not come to save all and did not come to give us a choice between eternal life and eternal damnation.
Those five theological points are defined below.
T. U. L. I. P. a simple acrostic to be able to remember.
Total Depravity is the doctrine that a person has no power in themselves to put their trust in God. God must first change their hearts so that they willingly (and necessarily) believe in Christ.
The concept of total depravity is that man is completely unable and unwilling to recognize the truth without God drawing us. Putting your faith in something is as much a choice as any of the other choices that you’ve made in life — yet Calvinism denies that Christians have that ability.
Unconditional Election is the second point of the doctrine of Calvinism. Calvin taught that God predestines people to salvation based purely and unconditionally on His own sovereign choice. Nothing that people do and nothing in them makes God choose them. Therefore, man has no part in God’s plan of salvation. God chooses who goes to heaven and who goes to eternal punishment.
At the center of Calvinism is the doctrine of Limited Atonement. This is the foundation of the doctrine and the most heretical. Limited Atonement embraces Christ’s death as of being limitless in value, however, and this is a big however, Christ’s atonement was only for a few…the elect. Think about that statement…Jesus only died for a specific few, only for the sins of the those He has chosen.
If Limited Atonement is correct, then how does God make that selection upon those He has chosen. According to the Calvinists, it is Irresistible Grace. Since man has no part in the plan of salvation according to Calvin, then how is a person brought to salvation? Simple, God’s invitation is irresistible, man cannot refuse being saved.
Therefore, those that God has chosen cannot resist being saved by the grace of God.
Perseverance of the Saints
The final doctrine of Calvinism concerns the Perseverance of the Saints. The Calvinist falls inline with most believers with this doctrine. Calvin taught that no one who is born of God can ever fall away from God’s grace. “Once saved, always saved” is the battle cry, it is with a humble heart that the believer walks with God.
There are five points and for many Calvinists, this is what defines them. I know Calvinists that say they are a “one pointer,” while others are “three pointers.” The person who says they are a “five point” Calvinist is simply saying that they believe and follow all five of the doctrines.