Related Posts Widget for Blogs by LinkWithin

Thursday, 26 November 2009

My Understanding of the Five Points of Calvinism

This post is partly in response to someone asking for an explanation of Calvinism and partly because I have been meaning to write down what I mean when I say that I subscribe to these points so that I can reference it when having online discussions. It is a description of my beliefs/understanding and is not intended to be telling anyone else what they should or should not believe. I have not provided supporting Bible references for the points because I am just describing what I understand them to mean - not trying to argue their case.

Total Depravity
I think this term is open to a lot of misunderstanding as most people would understand "total" depravity to mean the worst and most extreme depravity. Also depravity tends to be used as a description of the worst sins of man. My understanding is that depravity is being used to describe the badness or sinfulness of man. The quantification described by the term "total" is saying that man is sinful rather than perfect (i.e. you can't be partly sinful - you either are or you aren't) rather than quantifying how sinful we are. Clearly everyone is not as sinful as is possible to be but this is not what is meant my total depravity.

The way I understand it, this phrase is making the point that because man is entirely sinful (as opposed to partially sinful), we are unable to earn our salvation. Because of our sin it is impossible for us to be good enough.

Unconditional Election
To me this means that our salvation is not conditional on our actions. We cannot earn our salvation through our works but gain it only through the work of Christ on the cross. (This does not however mean works are wrong - I would consider works to be fruits of faith.)

Limited Atonement
Christ's sacrifice did not pay for everyone's sins. It paid for the since of those who were elected by God to receive the gift of salvation. An opposing view is that Christ died for all but some people choose not to avail themselves of it. Another view is that after we die, those who did not accept Christ's sacrifice will have another opportunity to do so that all will have been atoned for in the end. "Limited atonement" disagrees with both of these ideas.

Irresistible Grace
This is the idea that if God chooses to save you by his grace then you cannot resist it. I find this particularly difficult to explain but I know that I cannot choose not to believe any more than I can choose not to believe in gravity or that the grass is green. I like the way Delirious? put it in one of their songs which says, "I believe I've chosen you believing that you've chosen me."

Perseverance of the Saints (aka "Once Saved, Always Saved")
Pretty much, this means that if someone is saved, then they cannot become "unsaved". If someone makes a profession of faith and appears to be a genuine believer but at a later point in their life becomes apostate, it is reasonable to assume that they were never truly saved in the first place. Of course, someone who is saved will still sin though so just because someone who professes to be a Christian commits a humongous sin does not automatically mean that they must not really be saved. Unfortunately, this particular point has been known to lead people to try to judge whether someone is saved or not which can then lead to people trying to "prove" their salvation through works. Personally, if someone professes to be a Christian and their life so far as I can tell does not clearly contradict that profession, then I will accept them at their word.


Post a Comment

"For there is not a word in my tongue, but, lo, O LORD, thou knowest it altogether." ~ Psalm 139:4

Comments are now moderated due to spammers. If you wish to make a private comment or you would like to leave a comment but are unable to do so, please feel free to use my contact form near the top right of my blog.

  © Blogger template ProBlogger Template by 2008

Back to TOP