to the "Five Points of Calvinism"

by Al Maxey

Central to the teachings of John Calvin, indeed at the very heart of Calvinism, is the concept of the absolute sovereignty of God. Calvin denies that we have freedom of will. God's will is absolute; His predestination and predetermination certain; His grace irresistible.

The chief tenets of Calvin's teaching are known collectively as "the five points." They are easily remembered in the acrostic --- TULIP.

The source of these five points was the Synod of Dordt which was held in 1618. They set forth the Calvinistic position in five chapters which have ever since been known as "the five points of Calvinism." "All of these five points really hang together or fall together. If one is true, then the others are true. If one is false, then the others are false, too" (Dr. Edwin H. Palmer, The Five Points of Calvinism, p. 11-12, 35).

Although many religious groups who have their roots in the Protestant Reformation owe much of their theology to John Calvin, yet the group which seems to be affected most by his teachings, especially his "five points," is the Baptists.

"It may be proper to add that Baptists generally hold to what may be termed, for the sake of distinction, 'moderate Calvinists'" (Jeremiah Jeter, Baptist Principles Reset, p. 12). "American Baptists are decidedly Calvinistic as to substance of doctrine" (E. Hiscox, The Standard Manual for Baptist Churches, p. 57).

As is true of any teaching, by any person or group, these "five points of Calvinism" must be examined in light of the Standard of God's inspired Word to determine "whether these things be so" (Acts 17:11). "Should not a people consult their God? To the Law (Teaching) and to the testimony! If they do not speak according to this word, it is because they have no light within them" (Isaiah 8:19-20).

"Whoever speaks, let him speak, as it were, the utterances of God" (I Peter 4:11). "Anyone who goes too far and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God; the one who abides in the teaching, he has both the Father and the Son" (II John 9). There are many in the religious world who do not abide in the revealed teachings of/about Christ Jesus, but who develop manmade doctrines. Thus the need to carefully examine every teaching in light of the Word of God.

"Their reverence for Me has become routine observance of the precepts (traditions, laws) of men" (Isaiah 29:13). "The lying pen of the scribes has handled the law of the Lord falsely (made it into a lie)" (Jeremiah 8:8). "Then the Lord said to me, 'The prophets are prophesying falsehood in My name. They are prophesying to you .... the deception of their own minds'" (Jeremiah 14:14). "They fill you with false hopes, speaking visions of their own imagination, not from the mouth of the Lord" (Jeremiah 23:16). "They lead my people astray with their reckless lies" (Jeremiah 23:32). "They prophesy their own thoughts (from their own inspiration)" (Ezekiel 13:17).

"'In vain do they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the precepts of men.' Neglecting the commandment of God, you hold to the tradition of men. You nicely set aside the commandment of God in order to keep your tradition .... thus invalidating the Word of God by your tradition which you have handed down" (Mark 7:7-9, 13). "See to it that no one deceives you through any empty, seductive philosophy that follows mere human traditions .... rather than Christ" (Colossians 2:8). "Learn not to exceed what is written!" (I Corinthians 4:6).

One of the greatest causes of error is a lack of knowledge and understanding of the Word of God! A spiritual hope not based on the Truth of God's Word is a false hope, and one which can be deadly. "There is a way which seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death" (Proverbs 14:12). "My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge. Because you have rejected knowledge, I also will reject you" (Hosea 4:6).

"My people go into exile for their lack of knowledge" (Isaiah 5:13). "He will die for lack of instruction" (Proverbs 5:23). "Jesus said to them, 'Is this not the reason you are mistaken: you do not understand the Scriptures, or the power of God?'" (Mark 12:24).

In this study we will adopt the attitude of the "noble-minded" Bereans of Acts 17:10f. We will carefully examine the "five points of Calvinism," a teaching which has greatly impacted the religious world, in light of God's inspired Word .... "to see whether these things be so!"

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