In 1610, Reformed Churches gathered together to defend John Calvin’s views of soteriology against the criticism of the Protestant Reformer James Arminius. In response to his five points of disagreement, the synod produced five points of their own which are (in) famously known by the acrostic TULIP. Recently, I was reflecting on how the only post at this blog which gets any traffic is the one titled “What’s Wrong with Calvinism?” I revisited my thoughts on the subject and as part of that; I have come up with a TULIP of my own. It is not exactly a response to criticism, but rather it is an articulation of my thoughts with regard to Christian soteriology. I’m sure that there are flaws in the articulation, but I think the exercise has been worthwhile and beneficial.
Total corruption: no aspect of Creation has remained untainted by sin. In humanity, sin has marred the image of God and rendered human beings incapable of fulfilling their divinely appointed task of bearing God’s image to His creation and exercising His dominion over it.
Unacceptable condition: God finds the corrupted state of his Creation, particularly his image-bearers, to be unacceptable. His response is a “new creation” with humans bearing His image and exercising His dominion as originally intended.
Living Word: As God created in the beginning by the power of his Word, so God brings the new creation into existence through the Living Word, Jesus. For humanity, this means that those who receive the Living Word are saved from death and decay, given new life, made into new creations capable of fulfilling the task of bearing God’s image as was His purpose for them in the beginning.
Indwelling Spirit: When individual humans become new creations, God restores his image in them through the power and presence of the Holy Spirit in them. The Holy Spirit fuels and guides renewed humans both individually and corporately so that they are transformed into the likeness of Jesus, who fulfilled the divinely appointed role of Image-bearer and exercised God’s dominion over Creation throughout His life.
Perseverance of God: God has not abandon his “old creation” to the corruption of sin, nor will he abandon his new creation as it comes into being. For humans, this means that He will keep all of His promises, both individually and corporately, whether to bless, forgive or condemn. God perseveres and ultimately prevails, which is another way of stating that God saves.