Friday, August 3, 2012

What is a Calvinist?

What is a Calvinist? This is a question someone asked me the other day and I wasn't sure how to answer him.

We know that Calvinists hold to the TULIP acronym to describe their beliefs, but how many points does one need to agree with to be a true Calvinist? If one agrees with three points of TULIP, are they a Calvinist? How about four? Must one agree with all five points to be a true Calvinist?

I laughed when a student who was in a class with me at SWBTS said that all baptists are "whiskey" Calvinists. They believe in one-fifth of TULIP. :)

So what do you say? How many points of TULIP must one believe before he or she is a Calvinist?


Steve Martin said...

That is a good question.

Not sure of the answer. But I do know that I'm not one (a Calvinist) because they really have no assurance of their salvation and because of that they are constantly having to look inward for proof.

That exercise will either lead one to pride...or despair.

Calvinism. No thanks.

reformedsteve said...

For me to consider someone a Calvinist they have to hold to all five points. Saying you are a four point Calvinist is not the samething as saying you are a Calvinist.

Bill said...

"they really have no assurance of their salvation"


Steve Martin said...

Is that right>

How then are they to know for sure, if they are one of the elect?

By how they feel? By their good works? By their seriousness?

Kathy Henderson said...


Are you really this obsessed with Calvinism? You have consistently misrepresented it, found reason after reason to malign it whether yours reasons are valid or not.

I'm a Calvinist and you rarely have accurate information.

Steve Martin, I don't know you so I don't know if you came by this misinformation honestly or not. I will assume you did. But, it's just wrong. In fact, Perseverence of the Saints is a comforting doctrine that is supported by scripture. It's not the same as OSAS, but it can resemble some of the main ideas.

If you don't know what reformed theology is, try to understand it before you make criticisms of it. If it's what I think, we have to keep correcting the same errors and misconceptions over and over.

I'm with 'reformedsteve', I believe you have to hold to all five points.

Les Puryear said...


Bill and Kathy are correct.

Calvinists believe that if you are one of the elect, then you will come to saving faith in Christ. If you are not elect, you won't.

Since no one knows who are the elect, Calvinists preach the gospel to everyone, just as do non-Calvinists.

Once you are saved, then the elect are kept saved by the power of Christ. That is what the "P" in TULIP means: perseverance of the saints. They will persevere in their faith and will not fall away.

Non-Calvinist Southern Baptists also believe in eternal security. That's why I thought the remark of being a "whiskey Calvinist" was so funny.

If I have misrepresented the Calvinist position, you Calvinists correct me.



Les Puryear said...


Thanks for your comment.

As I have written many times on this blog, my interest in Calvinism is to educate our non-Calvinist brothers and sisters as to what is going on. With such education, they can ask additional questions of potential pastoral candidates to discern whether they wish to call a Calvinist or not. If they wish to call a Calvinist, then God bless them. If they do not wish to call a calvinist then they need to be informed so that will not happen. I invite you to read more of my posts about my concern.

I, too, was a Calvinist for many years. I understand what Calvinist believe because I was a Calvinist but now I reject their soteriological beliefs.

You say I haye misrepresented Calvinism. Please point out any misrepresentations and I will gladly address them.



Jeff said...

Kathy, you stated, "If you don't know what reformed theology is, try to understand it before you make criticisms of it."

I do not often critize Calvinism or Calvinists. But I have tried to study the Calvinist system of theology over the past fifteen years. I have failed to understand how to reconcile it to the whole of Scripture. Everytime I think I understand it a Calvinist just tells me I don't.
Dave Ramsey says never invest in what you don't understand. So I don't teach Calvinism nor endorse it.