TULIP in Reformed Theology


In general, Reformed theology includes any belief system that has its roots in the 16th-century Protestant Reformation. Naturally, the reformers themselves traced their doctrine back to Scripture, as indicated by their creed of “Scripture alone”, therefore reformed theology is not a “new” belief system but one that seeks to continue apostolic doctrine.

In general, Reformed theology upholds the authority of Scripture, the sovereignty of God, salvation by grace through Christ and the need for evangelization. Sometimes it's called theology of the Covenant because of its emphasis on the covenant that God made with Adam and the new covenant that came through Jesus Christ (Luca 22:20).


Authority of Scripture

Reformed theology teaches that the Bible is the inspired and authoritative Word of God, sufficient in all matters of faith and practice.

Sovereignty of God

Reformed theology teaches that God rules with absolute control over all creation. He has preordained all events and therefore is never frustrated by circumstances. This does not limit the creature's will, nor does it make God the author of sin.

Salvation by grace

Reformed theology teaches that God in his grace and mercy chose to redeem a people unto himself, freeing him from sin and death. The Reformed doctrine of salvation is commonly represented by the acrostic TULIP (also known as the five points of Calvinism):

T – total depravity. Man is completely helpless in his sinful state, he is under the wrath of God and can in no way please God. Total depravity also means that man will not naturally seek to know God, until God gently prompts him to do so (Genesis 6:5 ; Geremia 17:9 ; Romans 3:10-18).

The – unconditional election. It gave, from eternity past, he chose to save a great multitude of sinners, that no man can count (Romans 8:29-30 ; 9:11 ; Ephesians 1:4-6 , 11-12).

L – limited atonement. Also called “particular redemption”. Christ took upon Himself the judgment for the sin of the elect and then paid for their lives with His death. In other words, He did not simply render salvation “possible”, he actually obtained it for those he had chosen (Matteo 1:21; Giovanni 10:11; 17:9; proceedings 20:28; Romans 8:32 ; Ephesians 5:25).

I – irresistible grace. In its fallen state, man resists the love of God, but the grace of God working in his heart makes him desire what he had previously resisted. That is, God's grace will not fail to carry out its work of salvation in the elect (Giovanni 6:37 , 44 ;10:16).

P – perseverance of the saints. God protects His saints from falling; then, salvation is eternal ( Giovanni 10:27-29 ; Romans 8:29-30 ; Ephesians 1:3-14 ).

The need for evangelization

Reformed theology teaches that Christians are in the world to make a difference, spiritually through evangelization and socially through holy living and humanitarianism.

Other distinctive features of Reformed theology generally include the observance of two sacraments (baptism and communion), a cessationist view of spiritual gifts (the gifts are no longer extended to the church) and a non-dispensational view of Scripture. Held in high esteem by the reformed churches are the writings of John Calvin, John Knox, Ulrich Zwingli and Martin Luther. The Westminster Confession embodies the theology of the Reformed tradition. Modern churches in the Reformed tradition include Presbyterians, Congregationalists and some Baptists.

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