I was listening to Dr. James White’s podcast the other day and heard him defending the Calvinist TULIP and criticizing other floral acrostics attempting to provide a contrasting view of salvation. I’ve always disagreed with the doctrines of Calvinism, but I’ve never attempted to organize my disagreement into a simple acrostic which could stand toe-to-toe with the TULIP. That is, I’ve never done so before now. While listening to Dr. White’s podcast, I came up with a simple acrostic that I think defeats the TULIP with ease.
Over the next several days, I will lay out arguments from Scripture which support each point of my acrostic, but for now, here it is in its entirety:
Basic Ability: Mankind retains certain basic abilities even in his lost state. One of these abilities is the ability to call out to God in repentance and receive forgiveness.
Individual Soul Liberty: God does not force anyone to become a Christian, nor does He hinder anyone from doing so. He has sovereignly granted that each person should have the freedom to choose whether to accept or reject the pardon that He has provided.
Benevolent Atonement: Salvation is offered as a gift because of the benevolence which God has towards all men. Just as He makes it to rain upon the just and the unjust alike, so has the sacrifice of Christ made atonement available for all.
Limited Mercy: God is merciful to all, but His mercy is not without limit toward those who reject Him. It is His mercy that gives men time on this earth in order to come to repentance, but those who refuse to repent will eventually exhaust His mercy and find themselves facing His wrath.
Eternal Security: Once a man has repented of his sins and accepted the salvation of God, his future in heaven is eternally secure. Jesus Himself is made the surety of this promise, and God cannot deny Himself.
As you can see, each point matches up perfectly with a corresponding point in the TULIP and offers a contrasting view. The claim that man has the Basic ability to seek God’s forgiveness directly contradicts the Calvinist claim that man is Totally depraved. Man’s Individual soul liberty is placed in contrast with the claim of Unconditional election. The Benevolence of the atonement, or course, is in opposition to the doctrine of Limited atonement. God’s Limited mercy is contrasted with the view His grace is Irresistible. And the Eternal security of the believer differs significantly from the idea of the Perseverance of the saints. The BIBLE acrostic and, as we will see over the next several days, the Bible itself meets each point of the TULIP head on and provides a sufficient answer to every one of them.
I will provide more details on each of these points, but please feel free to leave any comments or criticism to let me know your first impression of this approach.
Read more in this series:
The BIBLE and the TULIP
Basic Ability vs. Total Depravity
Individual Soul Liberty vs. Unconditional Election
Benevolent Atonement vs. Limited Atonement
Living Faith vs. Irresistible Grace (coming soon)
Eternal Security vs. Perseverance of the Saints (coming soon)
Bill Fortenberry is a Christian philosopher and historian in Birmingham, AL. Bill's work has been cited in several legal journals, and he has appeared as a guest on shows including The Dr. Gina Show, The Michael Hart Show, and Real Science Radio.
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"Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be yet wiser: teach a just man, and he will increase in learning." (Proverbs 9:9)