Monday, December 11, 2006


The oh so handsome, John Calvin.

Last night's gathering at ABC was by far our most lively. It was great to see everyone and to welcome two new members, Henrik (all the way from northern Germany) and John (who just happens to speak fluent German - how cool is that!?).

Most of our conversation grew out of two questions posed by members of the group. One had to do with the meaning of TULIP (the thorn in the side of most modern day Presbyterians). One of Ashley's patients, when they began discussing their faith, accused her of being a "TULIP." The statement was made with a mocking tone that Ashley found rather insulting. (Not only was that an improper use of the word TULIP but if I were having my teeth cleaned, I'd refrain from making fun of my Dental Hygienist.....not wise! Lucky for said rude patient, Ashley is less petty then myself!) Of course, not knowing what the terms meant (because we don't teach this in our new member classes) she was unable to respond.

So, as your friendly neighborhood Presbyterian pastor, I am here to offer the definition of TULIP (who knew I'd need to actually remember this stuff!?!)

T - Total Depravity
U - Unconditional Election
L - Limited Atonement
I - Irresistible Grace
P - Perseverance of the Saints

In greater detail:
Total Depravity is the view that sinfulness pervades all areas of life or the totality of human existence. Basically you as a human being are utterly sinful.

Unconditional Election is the view that God elects to save some solely on the basis of God's freedom and love and not on the basis of any merit or efforts on the part of humans.

Limited Atonement is a concept with maintains that Christ died only for the elect, who are the only recipients of salvation. (You are either in or out.)

Irresistible Grace is a view that God's grace as it works for the salvation of an individual will accomplish its purpose and will not be thwarted (isn't that a great word!). (Basically, you cannot resist God's grace if you are among the elect.)

Perseverance of the Saints is the belief that God's elect who believe in Jesus Christ are held secure by God's power, despite temptation and sin. Their salvation will not be lost.

Thanks to Westminster Dictionary of Theological Terms for those wonderful definitions!

Remember, I said last night that John Calvin stressed the sovereignty of God. If you look at all 5 parts of TULIP you will notice that God is in control and all powerful. It was important to Calvin that we understood that we humans are saved only by the grace of God. Nothing we do can earn our salvation.

So what do you all think? Got any questions? Does TULIP work for you or would you like to argue with this strand of Calvinist theology? It might be an interesting topic for our next Theology on Tap gathering. Let me know. Leave a comment below or e-mail me....


Blogger Shawna Renee said...

Welcome to RevGals. I'm a Wesleyan-Arminian, so I can't help you out with TULIP. :)

12/11/2006 5:25 PM  
Blogger Stacey said...

TULIP works for me in the sense that I understand it contextually, as a response to the Remonstrance, and not as an absolute or perfect framework. The basic sense of it is, as you mentioned, the sovereignty of God. It's one attempt to work out the details of how that sovereignty is played out in human life, so I find it helpful even while it makes me squirm a bit.

Welcome to the RevGals, by the way!

12/11/2006 5:40 PM  
Blogger Kievas said...

I'm not sure what I am most days, but I *can* welcome you :)

12/11/2006 6:04 PM  
Blogger Mrs. M said...

I'm just popping in as a "fellow" RevGal-- who happens to be Elizabethtown, PA!! Thrilled to see another Central PA RevGal!

12/11/2006 8:42 PM  
Blogger TheoOnTapintheBurg said...

Thanks for all the welcomes! It is fun to see comments pop up. Luckily, I won't have to blog about TULIP tomorrow unless I'm talking about real tulips. :)

12/11/2006 8:49 PM  
Blogger PPB said...

Calvin and calvinism is not exactly bedtime story material! I must say, though, the term "irristable grace" is one of the best ever.

12/11/2006 10:06 PM  
Blogger jledmiston said...

Welcome to RevGalBlogPals. I have good news (but also maybe not-so-good-news.)

The good: we are so happy to have you join RGBPs.

The maybe not-so-good: I was going to include it here but was thinking maybe not. (It's about "Theology on Tap"). If curious, email me at

Looking forward to reading more in the days to come.

12/11/2006 10:07 PM  
Blogger Deb said...

Interesting... I truly appreciate your explanation. It's one of the things that makes my brain hurt though.

Welcome to RGBPs anyway!

12/11/2006 10:58 PM  
Blogger Rainbow Pastor said...

Welcome to RGBP!

And TULIP made my head hurt, too, back in History of Christianity class at seminary...being a Wesleyan, I didn't encounter it much after that, so I can't help out with any further discussion. :-)

12/12/2006 8:37 AM  
Blogger LutheranChik said...

Greetings, new RevGalBlogPal!

As my Presbie friends like to point out, the Council of Dort (is that what it was?) out-Calvined Calvin, so the hyper-Calvinist understanding of TULIP is not necessarily Calvin's.

Being Lutheran, I would part company with the idea of double-predistination...and we're also uncomfortable being so certain about what God is up to in the world. One of our favorite terms is Deus absconditus...God at work in ways we can't grasp. (And we also have a thing about Latin verbiage.;-))

12/12/2006 8:48 AM  
Blogger TheoOnTapintheBurg said...

I'm with you all. It made my head hurt typing it out. I too love "irresistable grace" ppb, but beyond that...not to crazy about the over-Calvinized version (lutheranchik you are correct on that one).

I'm liking "Deus absconditus"....nice my Lutheran friends!

12/12/2006 10:25 AM  
Blogger Leah said...

Welcome to RGBPs from another newbie! Lately we've been saying we have the Canons of Dork here in the San Diego Presbytery...

Anyway, RGBP is a wonderful community!!!

12/12/2006 10:50 AM  

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