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Sovereignty of God & Free Will

       John Calvin (1509 – 1564) was a French theologian, pastor, and reformer during the Protestant Reformation. He was a principal figure in developing the system of Christian theology, later called Calvinism.


The five points of Calvinism spell out the word TULIP.


1. T - Total Depravity, also called "total inability," asserts that as a consequence of the fall of man into sin, every person is enslaved to sin.
U - Unconditional Election asserts that God has chosen from eternity those whom he will bring to himself not based on foreseen virtue, merit, or faith in those people; rather, his choice is unconditionally grounded in his mercy alone.
L - Limited Atonement, also called "particular redemption" or "definite atonement," asserts that Jesus's substitutionary atonement was definite and certain in its purpose and in what it accomplished.
I - Irresistible Grace, also called "efficacious grace," asserts that the saving grace of God is effectually applied to those whom he has determined to save (that is, the elect) and overcomes their resistance to obeying the call of the gospel, bringing them to saving faith.
P - Preservation of the Saints asserts that since God is sovereign and his will cannot be frustrated by humans or anything else, those whom God has called into communion with himself will continue in faith until the end.


       Some contend that Calvinism is an all-or-nothing concept and that it is impossible and theologically incorrect to hold to only certain tenants of Calvinism. For example, some do not believe in two points, usually Limited Atonement and Irresistible Grace. "Three-point Calvinists" are a cross between Calvinists and Arminians.  They hold to three points of Calvinism, although not always the same three points.  



       Arminianism is based on the theological ideas of Jacobus Arminius (1560—1609), who was a reformed Dutch theologian and was a student of Calvin's successor.


1. Salvation (and condemnation on the day of judgment) was conditioned by man's graciously-enabled faith (or unbelief).
2. The Atonement is qualitatively adequate for all men, "yet that no one actually enjoys [experiences] this forgiveness of sins, except the believer ..." and thus is limited to only those who trust in Christ.
3. "That man has not 
saving grace of himself, nor of the energy of his free will," and unaided by the Holy Spirit, no person can respond to God's will.
4. The (Christian) grace "of God is the beginning, continuance, and accomplishment of any good," yet a 
man may resist the Holy Spirit; and
5. Believers can resist sin through grace, and Christ will keep them from falling; but whether they are beyond the possibility of ultimately forsaking God or "becoming devoid of grace ... must be more particularly determined from the Scriptures."


       Those who hold to some form of both Calvinism and Arminianism believe that they are being open-minded and not dogmatic in their approach to theology.  They see this as balancing between the sovereignty of God and the free will of man and believe that the Bible clearly teaches both aspects.

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