Whilst there is more to Calvinism than five points, these are the major points on which Calvinism rests. They are called the T-U-L-I-P. Point 1, Total Depravity; Point 2, Unconditional Election; Point 3, Limited Attonement; Point 4, Irresistable Grace; and Point 5, Perseverence of the Saints.
Point 1, Total Depravity. Simply put, this doctrine says that all mankind, since the fall, has been totally depraved. That man, both individually and generally, is totally debased and corrupt, that he is unable to think or do anything good outside of God's Providence.
Now what is my problem with this? It's the word, "total." Certainly the Bible teaches the depravity of man, but I don't see the total aspect of it. You see the Scripture is generalized when it speaks of the wickedness of man. For example, Genesis 6.5 says, "Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually."
That sounds kinda bad. But it is still a general statement regarding the moral condition of mankind. Obviously, it wasn't individual. Because in verse 8 we are told that Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord. Was Noah totally depraved? Nowhere does the text indicate that. Of course the Calvinist would say that God gave grace to Noah. But that is unsupported by the text as well. The idea that Noah obeyed God suggests there was some good in him. Or maybe Noah wasn't included in God's assessment in verse 5. And, if Noah wasn't included in verse 5, then that shows the generallity of the statement. No matter how you try to explain it, Noah was different.
We can look at mankind today, with all the murders, the wars, the rapes, the threats from one government to another suggesting that annhilation is right around the corner, and conclude that man is depraved, eventhough there are some righteous people on the earth, of which can be said God found grace in His eyes.
I once knew an atheist, and he was till he died. Yet, this man was the one of the most giving man I ever knew. I use to visit his used bookstore, and one day I told him I was thirsty, and asked if I could have a glass of water. Without hesitation, he brought me a glass of water. I remember, one time someone was looking at a book, and it was marked $.50. They only had a quarter. He sold them that book for a quarter. He use to donate books to various charities when they had book drives, which they in turn sold with the proceeds going to that charity. Yet, by Calvinistic definition, he was totally depraved. Of course, they would probably say that eventhough he was totally depraved, he filled some purpose in God's Providence.
The problem I have with the Calvinistic doctrine of total depravity is that it can neither be proved or disproved. Certainly, in general the scriptures do teach the depravity of man, but not individually. But then again, there is God's providence. I know there was a time I was financially in very bad shape. A man took pity on me and helped me. Later, he was charge with some kind of financial crime, whether embezzelment, or something like that. He had two businesses, and he stole money from one business to keep the other going. He didn't pay taxes, nor social security for any of his employees. He took the money off their checks, but somehow, it never got to the IRS. Later, of course, the IRS came after the employees for their money as we are responsible to pay our taxes, even though there is no law that says so.
Oh yes, I could go on and point out indications that man is depraved, but that even a depraved man can do something good.
Decide for yourself. Is man totally depraved? I personally don't think so.
Point 2, Unconditional Election. Several years ago, I did a study on the words elect, chose, chosen, as they pertain to this doctrine. What I found is that those words pertain to Christ, to the apostles, and to the church. Never to anyone individually, except Christ.
The fact is we are chosen in Christ, and we were chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world. Ephesians 1:4 states, "just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love."
This verse makes it plain, those whom are chosen are chosen in Him, in Christ. Outside of Christ, no one is chosen. Therefore, we must then understand how someone is chosen in Christ, and that is where the conditions come in. Salvation is the process by which we are chosen in Christ.
Condition #1, believing. John 3.16, a familiar passage to most. But let's go a bit further and include verses 17 and 18. "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through might be saved. He that believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name in the only begotten Son of God."
There can be no doubt that according to these verses, believing is very definitely a condition for salvation. And you cannot be elect without being saved, and being in Christ.
Condition #2, repentance. Luke 13.3 & 5 say the same thing. "I tell you no, but unless you repent you will all likewise perish."
Wel that's pretty well straight forward. No repentance, no salvation, you will perish.
Condition #3, confession. Romans 10:9 states. "that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved."
Confess with your mouth, and believe in your heart brings salvation. That's simple enough.
Some folks add water baptism as a condition of salvation. One thing for certain, salvation is not unconditional. And since salvation is of itself a condition of election, it's safe to say election is not unconditional.
Point 3, Limited Attonement. This is my favorite. Why? Because, it's the easiest to refute. Let me tell you, the five points are like dominoes. When one falls, they all do.
Keep in mind, these five points of Calvinism are all connected to their doctrine of particular election, and their doctrine of particular redemption. Without these five points, those two doctrines are gone. It's like, you tell a big lie. Then you have to create a bunch of little lies to support the big lie. And in this point of limited atomement, the lie is exposed.
Limited atonement is just that. Before the foundation of the world God the Father predetermined to send Christ in to the world at just the right time to become a sacrifice for the sins of a select few, called the elect.
Now the truth. In John 12.32, Jesus said, "And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw ALL to Myself."
Notice the word "ALL." This is my own translation. In the KJV, they add the word men in italics. If you have read the preface of the KJV, you know that words in italics are added words to clarify the text. Take the word out, and you have what the original states. You have the same in the NKJV. Without the added words, you might ask all what. But with the added words, you don't need to. In answer to the question, "All what?" Without the extra word we simply have to look at the text. What was Jesus talking about? So let's look at the text. John 12. 30-32. "Jesus answered and said, 'This voice did not come because of Me, but for your sake. Now is the judgment of this world; now the ruler of this world will be cast out. And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all world to Myself
.'" You can see, I added the word world in italics. In the the text, Jesus is talking about the judgement of the world (kosmos). Then he refers to the manner in which He would die. If you're going to add a word, it should be a word in keeping with the text. So the message of Jesus here is, "If I be crucified, I will draw all the world to Myself." That sure doesn't sound like limited atonement to me. I realize there are some Calvinistic Greek scholars that would disagree with this definition. But the Greek word, pantos
does not support the idea of any kind of limitation. According to the Greek books that I have, the word means, wholly, entirety, every.
Then there is I John 2.2, "And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world."
Again, the Greek word, holos
, translated "whole" shows absolutlely no limitation. I Timothy 4.3-6 teaches that God "desires all men to be saved," and that Jesus "gave Himself a ransom for all." That doesn't sound like only a select few. I believe it is safe to say that in no way does Scripture teach limited atonement.
Point 4, Irresistable Grace. Since Jesus died for the sins of the whole world, with irresistable grace, everyone should be saved, since it is impossible to resist the grace of God. But, Galatians 5.4 states, "You have become eastranged from Christ, you who attempt to be justified by the law; you have fallen from grace."
Fallen from irresistable grace! How can that be? Those trying to be justified by the law are also estranged from Christ. Doesn't sound like irresistable grace to me. And, that leads to the next point.
Point 5, Perseverance of the Saints. This suggests that all saints, through God's unconditional love and irresistable grace, that all saints will be equipped to always persevere. If so, then why does Scripture warn about an apostasy? You can't fall from something unless you are in it. In II Thessalonians 2, Paul wrote about the coming of the Lord, and wrote, "that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first..."
Then there is the pronouncment by Paul that those who try to be justified by the Law, "you have fallen from grace." Saints falling from grace. This shows two things. God's grace is not irresistable even among the saints, and therefore, having fallen from grace, they are not able to pesevere.
There you have it. A discussion on the five points which are a part of a system of theology known as Calvinism.
Certainly Scripture teaches predestination. Where Calvinism and Scripture part ways is what God's predestination is based on. Calvinism teaches that God loved his elect before the foundation of the world, and saved only those few. But that is not what Scripture teaches.
For the truth we go to Romans 8.29 & 30, which states, "For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom He predestined. these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified."
Romans 8.29 plainly teaches that God's predestination is based on His foreknowledge. What does this word, "foreknew," mean? It is translated from the Greek, proginosko, which means, according to Vine, "to know before." It does not mean, "to love before," as Calvinists teach. If it did, the word would have to be, proagape, but as you can see, it's not.
Vine explains, "God's foreknowledge involves His electing grace, but does not preclude human will. He foreknows the exercise of faith which brings salvation."
Ephesians 1.5 & 11 further teaches that He "predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will." "And it is in Christ, "in whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will."
So the doctrine of predestination properly is; according to the foreknowledge of God we are predestined to be conformed to the image of God's Son, Jesus. Through predestination in Christ, we are called, we are justified, we are glorified, we are adopted as sons by Jesus Christ, through whom we obtain an inheritance, according to the pupose, good pleasure, and counsel of God's will.
A part of God's omniscience is His foreknowledge. God foreknows all things. Calvinism teaches that God foreknows all things because He has preplanned all things. However, I see no support for this in Scripture.