Recently I read an article titled “The Points of Calvinism: Retrospect and Prospect.”1 It was written by Kenneth J. Stewart, PhD. Professor of Theological Studies @ Covenant College in Lookout Mountain Georgia. This piece was originally published in the Scottish Bulletin of Evangelical Theology. It appeared in the Autumn 2008 issue. In it, he makes a good argument for why an over-identification with the pop-Calvinism version of TULIP is in many ways unhelpful.
Dr. Stewart has graciously given me permission to provide you with the entirety of that article – YOU CAN READ THE FULL ARTICLE HERE Or, you can click on “The Points of Calvinism: Retrospect and Prospect” in the “Do you know the Gospel?” column to the right.
Even the venerable Lorraine Boettner – who as near as I can tell first used the acronym TULIP in American theological writing anyway – in the 1932 printing of his wonderful work – The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination – warns: Let it be borne in mind that in this book we do not purpose to discuss in detail those other doctrines of the Scriptures which are accepted by evangelical Christendom, but to set forth and defend those which are peculiar to the Calvinistic system. Unless this be kept in mind much of the real strength and beauty of generic Calvinism will be lost and the so-called “Five Points of Calvinism,” – which historically and in reality are the obverse of what might be called the “Five Points of Arminianism,” – will assume undue prominence in the system. Let the reader, then, guard against a too close identification of the Five Points and the Calvinistic system. While these are essential elements, the system really includes much more.” (Pages 59-60 of the 1972 7th printing edition by The Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Company – Emphases mine” )
Indeed, I would argue that very many who self-consciously identify themselves as Calvinistic and/or Reformed, do so almost exclusively due to their identification with the 5-Points.
As others have suggested (see Dr. Stewart’s article), perhaps now would be a good time to try for a slightly better “shorthand” approach. One a bit more descriptive and hopefully not as liable to easy caricaturization. I make my modest proposal then for a new “T.U.L.I.P.” – the P.E.O.N.Y.
I advance it – and await your comments. Maybe you’ve got a much better entry. Don’t hesitate to give it a shot. This is mine:
Pervasive, uncaused and humanly irreversible SINFULNESS.
Eternal sovereign ELECTION, unconditioned in the creature.
Objective, penal, substitutionary ATONEMENT, universally applicable to all men on condition of faith.
Never failing, ultimately conquering, sovereign GRACE.
Yoked to Christ in an unbreakable bond of ENDURING love.
1 – My thanks to David Ponter by way of Ed Trefzger for pointing me to Dr. Stewart’s article.