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Ask the Pastor 149

What is Calvinism?

One of the questions that I was asked at my oral ordination exam was, “Was John Calvin a Calvinists?” Technically, the answer is no because the system of Calvinism as we know it today did not exist until after his death. Although there were those who referred to Calvinism by 1552 and Calvin died in 1564, however, Calvin himself renounced the designation. The theology of Calvinism was actually the theology of the reformation, including the Lutherans and was based more upon the writings of Augustine of Hippo. Martin Luther’s commentary on Romans quotes liberally from Augustine and was while writing that commentary that Luther saw the need for what became the reformation. The main theological points of the reformation were the sovereignty of God and the authority of Scriptures. Calvinism, is based upon 5 points which is seen in the acronym TULIP. T = the total depravity of man. This doctrine can best be seen in the first 3 chapters of the book of Romans and especially Romans 3:23. Mankind, through the fall of Adam, is born in sin. People do not sin to become sinners, they sin because they are sinners, it is in Adam that all die. U = unconditional election. God has chosen us in Christ from before the foundation of the earth (Ephesians 1:4) without condition or the promise of us doing anything good (see Romans 9). L = limited atonement. There are those who argue that the atonement is limited then to only the elect while we read that God so loved the world. In fact, it is that the atonement is sufficient to save the whole world but only efficacious to those who believe (see John 1:9-13; Acts 13:48). I = irresistible grace. Salvation originates from the grace of God (Ephesians 2:8) and because God is sovereign, His grace is irresistible. P = the perseverance of the Saints. In the end the Saints will reign forever with the Lord, in the end we win (Revelation 5:10). If anyone wonders if they are among the elect, they need only to believe on the Lord Jesus and they will learn that that are.

Have questions about the Bible? Send them to Dr. Greg Koehn at and read the answer here in this article. See my blog at

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