A lot of us know about Calvinism and its acronym, TULIP. However, few of us understand the scenario in which this nifty 5-point theology-in-a-flower was created.
John Calvin lived from 1509 to 1564 and during that time, he, alongside Martin Luther and other Reformers, did some amazing things for the Kingdom of God. Calvin was devoted to theology and his devotion led to a view of heavy divine sovereignty and limited human free will called "Calvinism."
Jacobus Arminius lived from 1560 to 1610 and was taught a Calvinistic view of predestination. He was eventually convinced otherwise, however, and formed his own theology on the matter, putting more emphasis on human free will, and this has come to be known as "Arminianism."
In the same year that Arminius died, some Dutch Protestants who followed his teachings decided to condense these thoughts and take them to the States of Holland and Friesland in opposition to Calvinism. These five articles have come to be known as the Remonstrants of 1610. In response, around 1618 at the Synod of Dort, a group of men met many times (around 140 times, I believe) in order to establish their own solid five points of Calvinism. This eventually became TULIP, which is the English way of understanding this Dutch decision (although the points are in a different order than the original).
What I would like to do for my next five blog posts is examine these original five articles that reflect Arminius' teaching and explain why I choose to hold to them instead of the extreme Arminianism of today or the extreme Calvinism that is so prominent.
That God, by an eternal, unchangeable purpose in Jesus Christ, his Son, before the foundation of the world, hath determined, out of the fallen, sinful race of men, to save in Christ, for Christ's sake, and through Christ, those who, through the grace of the Holy Ghost, shall believe on this his Son Jesus, and shall persevere in this faith and obedience of faith, through this grace, even to the end; and, on the other hand, to leave the incorrigible and unbelieving in sin and under wrath, and to condemn them as alienate from Christ, according to the word of the Gospel in John 3:36: "He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life; and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him," and according to other passages of Scripture also.
It is so great to look at this original article of doctrine which answers some common misconceptions about Arminianism. True Arminianism includes the election of specific persons to Christ before the foundation of the world (Eph 1). The difference between this and Calvinism is that this view states that those who were elected were elected in accordance with God's foreknowledge of their "belie[f] on this his Son Jesus."
It is important to note that election is not based on foreknowledge and foreknowledge is not based on election. God is an indivisible, simple Being. None of His attributes can be separated, divided, raised or lowered. The Lord is perfect and equal in everything. This means that in eternity past, God did not foreknow something, then predestine, and just the same, He did not predestine, then know. The two attributes of God work perfectly together simultaneously. 1 Peter 1:2 expresses this in saying that the recipients of that letter were "elect according to the foreknowledge."
Secondly, this first article shows that classic Arminianism is in no way liberal in core doctrines. The men who compiled this come out swinging from the start, mentioning the wrath of God from the get-go. It may just be me, but it seems like Arminianism is often associated with more liberal denominations and beliefs. And in case anyone else has this same feeling, you would do well to note that these people in church history were just as serious about the fallen state of Man and the reality of hell as the strictest Calvinist is today.
I'll keep it brief for this first article since I had an introduction as well. I do welcome conversation about these things as long as the talk is kept gracious and lovingly. It is possible. Whether you agree with this or not, I want you to know that the most important thing is knowing gospel of Christ. Know that Jesus died on the Cross to take the penalty for our sin, that we do not have to perish, living in eternal, conscious torment apart from God, but we can spend forever with Him if we believe. Read Romans 10:9-10.
Jesus loves you, my friend. God bless you!