John Calvin's theology in his TULIP for the novice theologian
John Calvin did most of his ministry in Geneva, Switzerland
John Calvin's TULIP
John Calvin is one of the Reformed Theologians, and in trying to help people understand his theology developed the mnemonic device TULIP. Each letter of TULIP teaches people one lesson of how to live and how much God loves us. This way people could better understand who God was in their life and how their salvation was already planned and fully in God's hands. The TULIP mnemonic helped people in Geneva understand and remember that God is sovereign over all of us, a doctrine that John Calvin fully believed in and taught.
John Calvin (10 July 1509 – 27 May 1564)
The tulip is a lovely flower and a great way to remember John Calvin's understanding of salvation.
T- Total Depravity.
The first letter of TULIP, Calvin was very clear that people are depraved, in other words, they do things that are sinful, wrong, or just plain dumb. Our sinful nature pulls us away from God and makes our relationship with God in need of healing and redemption. John Calvin believed when we understand that we are sinful, that we do wrong in the eyes of God, then we can better understand the love God has for us as we are redeemed and saved. Sin is everything we do that does not bring us closer in a relationship with God and Christ.
U- Unconditional Election
We are not chosen on race, gender, social standing or genealogy. We are saved because God loves us, and there is nothing we can do to earn or lose that love. We cannot work harder or earn more money to gain access to heaven. This right is give by God alone, and when we understand that we can live our lives with a different perspective. While good works is needed, God is the only one who can actually give us the salvation we need. Some people have confused this with predestination, which is another thought attributed to Calvin. This is the belief that people are going to heaven (or hell) before they are born and there is nothing they can do to change this fact. Calvin also used a term called "the elect" to explain who was going to heaven and who was not. The only challenge here lies that we do not know who is elect and who is not, thus Calvin teaches us to treat everyone as the elect, and let God figure out the rest. Our salvation is not for us to change, which I take comfort in, because I am the type of person who would mess up and I don't want my errors to determine my salvation. I would much rather have God in charge of something that important.
L- Limited Atonement
The act of Christ dying on the cross was for the
purpose of our salvation. We are all brought to that one event and
through his death we are no longer held captive to sin or death. While
the event was limited in time and place, Christ's death and saving grace reaches far beyond the
moment. John Calvin understood the need for people to recognize daily how much Christ has already done for them. In his life and ministry, Jesus Christ saves us even today. in Calvin's TULIP we can understand that with this Limited Atonement we are a blessed people yesterday, today and tomorrow.
I- Irresistible Grace
God cannot be resisted, and when someone has been
chosen to be saved, they will be. We can turn our backs on the saving grace of God, but it is always offered and we will see signs of God's grace and sovereignty in our lives. There is no way to lose the salvation
we all have when God is in charge. This goes to John Calvin's belief of the
sovereignty of God, which is just a big word for God is all powerful,
God loves us, and God is fully in charge of our salvation. The idea of God's sovereignty is also meant to help us understand we cannot change our salvation. God has already done everything needed to bring our sins to redemption, and John Calvin wanted his congregation to know they are saved no matter how sinful they feel they are. In our lives we can fail, but in the end God understands us and loves us enough to offer grace to everyone, especially those who believe in Jesus Christ.
P- Perseverance of the Saints
Those who God has chosen to be saved cannot lose their salvation. This is a common thread (as I am sure you have noticed) throughout Calvin's theology. It goes beyond that and states that if one believes they are saved they are not going to turn away from God and reject the grace they were given. It is a life changing experience to walk through TULIP, because you first admit that you are completely full of sin and without hope, and then you realize that because God loves you, you will be saved for all time. We must continue onward in serving God because God has already done much for us.
TULIP in action
John Calvin taught and desired everyone to understand the over-reaching love of God. He did things his way sometimes and that is why he was forced to leave Geneva once. However, because of his desire to show others God's love he was asked back and continued to serve the church in his ministry, with his intellect, and also with his life. Understanding TULIP will help us to understand how much God has done for us already, and how much we need to continue living our lives as people who are already saved, and also seeing others as being good people, the elect, the people God chose before they were even born.
Theology is important
I feel it is important to help all types of people understand who God is in their own life. John Calvin, in the Institutes of the Christian Religion, states the more we understand ourselves the more we understand God and the more we understand God the more we understand ourselves. In the study of God, or Theology, everyone has their own perceptions and ideas. As we come together we can learn more about ourselves and God by how we relate to others. I am currently trying to bring theology to a level where a child, specifically a 5-year old child, can understand how God loves everyone. The links below are other Hubs that relate to talking to children about God, theology, and other religious issues. I hope to continue to share my thoughts on bringing God to all, and also sharing the amazing perceptions of how a five-year- old can help adults reflect on what they know about God and Jesus Christ.
He's got the whole world in His hands, and we are better off because of this.
Theology help for kids and adults
- Why do we put our hands together in prayer?
Praying is what brings us closer to our God. How we put our hands may affect how comfortable we are praying, and this may help people be more comfortable in their prayer life.
- Remember your baptism
I don't. In my denomination we believe in one baptism and it can happen anytime in a persons life. I was baptized as a baby, with my parents proclaiming to the community they would raise me in the...
- Did Jesus tickle his disciples' feet?
This is the question that my four year-old asked me while I was giving him a bath one day. Usaully I tickle his feet while I am washing them, and we had just talked about in church when Jesus washed his...
- God Talks Us
While driving in the car, my 5-year old son told my wife and me, God talks us. I don't know about you, but I had no idea what he was talking about. After asking many questions we figured it out. He was...
More by this Author
Much of my theology comes from answering questions from my son. I value his desire to learn and hope that explaining his questions to everyone people can also help their own children learn and grow in God.
Some people do not want to pray in large groups while others find the task simple. Everyone struggles with some element of prayer. This HUB gives instruction and hope to those who find themselves not sure what to pray...
What do you do with your hands when you pray? Why do some people put them together while others leave them by their sides? This HUB explains the different reasons why people do what they do with their hands while they...