Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Beyond the Five Points of Calvinism

Desiring God Blog had this post recently.

Don’t limit your understanding of God’s absolute sovereignty to five points in a mnemonic device (TULIP). Do start there, or at least cover that terrain in due course, but know that there is so much more to the full biblical worldview sometimes called Calvinism.

In the introductory essay that I referred to yesterday, J. I. Packer says, “it would not be correct to simply equate Calvinism with the ‘five points.’” He continues, (paragraphing added)

Calvinism is something much broader than the “five points” indicate.

Calvinism is a whole world-view, stemming from a clear vision of God as the whole world’s Maker and King.

Calvinism is the consistent endeavour to acknowledge the Creator as the Lord, working all things after the counsel of His will.

Calvinism is a theocentric way of thinking about all life under the direction and control of God’s own Word.

Calvinism, in other words, is the theology of the Bible viewed from the perspective of the Bible—the God-centred outlook which sees the Creator as the source, and means, and end, of everything that is, both in nature and in grace.

Calvinism is thus theism (belief in God as the ground of all things), religion (dependence on God as the giver of all things), and evangelicalism (trust in God through Christ for all things), all in their purest and most highly developed form.

And Calvinism is a unified philosophy of history which sees the whole diversity of processes and events that take place in God’s world as no more, and no less, than the outworking of His great preordained plan for His creatures and His church.

The five points assert no more than that God is sovereign in saving the individual, but Calvinism, as such, is concerned with the much broader assertion that He is sovereign everywhere.

For those of you more enthusiastic and with more time, you can read J.I. Packer's full article below.


Kwame E. said...

Well, that’s one way of looking at it. I prefer to summarize Calvinism as follows: thorough, uncowardly and brutally honest.

Thorough--None of the likes of erudite people such as Augustine, Calvin or Beza were ignorant of Scriptures which would later become Arminian proof texts. Rather, they formed their “monergist” ideas precisely because of an awareness of and attention to various biblical passages which today many people commonly gloss over or ignore.

Uncowardly and brutally honest--There is no shortage of “ugly” (from a sentimentalist, man-centered, sin-excusing, modern Western perspective) truths in the Bible concerning the details of God’s manner of interacting with the universe He has made and all that the universe contains. Arminians cower away from many of these truths, inaptly using half-baked “Freewill!” responses with atheist conversants and more or less eisegeting various Scriptures before the flock in pulpits across America in particular. OTOH, Calvinism is perfectly content to paint a bleak picture of the state of fallen humanity, the details of which should be obvious.

D.B. said...

I have actually been enjoying this process. It has been a long one for me, listening to Koukl and nt realizing he was Reformed or what that even meant, just that what he was saying was lined up with solid Scriptural understanding.

It is tough to come up with the idea, mostly here in the US, that I couldn't somehow have something to do with it. Even if it were a matter of my choosing.