A (Brief) History of Calvinism

January 15, 2007

The doctrines of Calvinists often times are confusing to those who are swept up in the modern and emerging versions of the ‘church’. Calvinism is a very staightforward presentation of the truth of Scripture, and is most often rejected because it convicts people of the sin which they do not desire to confront.

Before I begin the series of the five points of Calvinism, let me give you a brief history of Calvinism and how it came about:

In 1610, the followers of the late Dutch seminary professor James Arminius created Five Articles of Faith based of many of his teachings. They are:

  1. Free Will– Man has the freedom to chose good or evil, and is not constrained by sin. The fall did not render us completely depraved of good in our nature.
  2. Total Election– Christ died for all men, but only believers would be saved, and God’s foreseeing of selecting those who would saved was based only on man’s decisions.
  3. Universal Redemption– The death of Christ on the cross did not seal anyone into the kingdom of God, but merely made it possible to be attained.
  4. Resistable Grace- The call of grace which the Holy Spirit gives to certain men can be resisted because of his free will.
  5. Loss of Salvation– Man is able to lose the salvation grated to him because of a lack of faith.

In 1618, a meeting of the Synod of Dort was made regarding these ‘Five Points’. There were 154 sessions, the first of which was held on November 13, 1618 , and the last one was held on May 9, 1619. The Synod concluded that the ‘Five Points of Aminianism’ was completely unBiblical. Therefore, they proceeded to create five points to oppose these other five. The five points that the Synod created later became known as “The Five Points of Calvinism”, or TULIP.

The Five Points the Synod created were

  1. Total Depravity– Many has been completely corrupted by sin from the Fall, and is completely helpless in choosing to follow the Gospel.
  2. Unconditional Election– Christ died for a certain number of people that they would definitely enter the kingdom of God. Not because of their choosing, but because of God’s desire to bring glory to Himself.
  3. Limited (of Definite) Atonement– Christ’s death on the cross was made so that only the elect would come to salvation through the Holy Spirit, and their salvation was sealed.
  4. Irrisistable Grace– However the outward call of the Holy Spirit can be resisted (general revalation), the inward call of the Spirit inevitably will bring them to salvation.
  5. Perseverance of the Saints- Once salvation has been given to an individual, he cannot lose it, for the elect of God persevere in their faith.

Arminianism was rejected completely by the Synod of Dort on the basis that it was completely unBiblical, and TULIP was created to replace the five points of Arminianism. Arminians thus became heretics because of their unBiblical doctirnes and teachings.

Even though both sets of doctrines are named after two individuals, neither individuals created them, for they were merely based on their doctrines and teachings. Today, Arminianism has again raised up and become popular among the Christian world. Calvinism is now looked as almost a seperate religion in and of itself. The teachings of old, which are true, are now ignored by today’s generation.


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