Friday, November 6, 2009

A. C.U.R.E.

The famous (or infamous, depending on your view) theological acronym TULIP has served the church community well in summarizing the basic tenets of Calvinistic soteriology for centuries. It arose from the disputations the Arminian school of thought offered back in the 1600's. The Calvinists walked away from the debate with TULIP and carried the day, the Arminians walked away ridiculed with nothing but the truth.

There have been some good offerings for a similar acronym for Arminian soteriology (like FACTS), but I have never found them satisfactory, because I didn't feel they were clearly descriptive. So, for the ailment of inexactitude, I'd like to offer a cure, or literally, A CURE.

A.= Absolute Inability: mankind is so stricken by sin and the fall, that none are able to turn themselves to God apart from his gracious enablements.
C.= Conditional Election: God has chosen to save all who place faith in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord.
U.= Unlimited Atonement: the blood of Christ was shed for the sins of the entire world, and anyone who will can avail themselves of its effects through faith.
R.= Resistable Grace: God's efforts at bringing his gracious enablements to the sinner can be resisted by the sinner.
E.= Extinguishable Faith: the faith that God's grace made possible can be lost or shipwrecked by the person who had believed at one time.

I think this is a little more clearly descriptive than the FACTS acronym (and it doesn't have to be shared with a toy convention). Hopefully, some of my Arminian readers will weigh in with their thoughts. It would be nice to have something as communicative as TULIP among those of us who actually got our soteriology right! ;-)


  1. I'm a member of a reformed church (my pastor is very "Calvinist"), however, I really hate it when teachers focus on that T.U.L.I.P. thing. As if that the reformed theology can be summarized with it.

    Anyway, nice anagram.

  2. Marvin,
    The debate produces stridency on both sides. There are many of the Calvinist or Arminian persuasion who don't consider these to be "fighting words", whereas others are willing to make it an issue of hellfire and brimstone. I used to think it was an entirely secondary and useless argument, however, the more I think about it, the more concerned I am about what Calvinism ultimately says about God that he does not say himself.

  3. SLW,
    Can a non-Arminian play? Here goes....


  4. Cindy,
    Not bad for someone I suspected was a 4 point Arminian. ;-) Of course if that was true, now I'd have to make you a political 4 point Arminian, since you made 4 points stretch into eight! But then again, I respect you way too much to even suggest you're a politician!

  5. Thanks - I'm sure I wouldn't last a week as a pastor or a politician. I don't mean to put them in the same category, however I know that there can be political issues for pastors as well.

  6. Hello SLW

    You need to back up for me a bit. Could you explain these terms for me, please?
    1. What is TULIP? Is it like UNCLE?
    2. What's a 4-point Arminian? I know snnowflakes have 6 points ...
    3. What is soteriology?
    4. Was Cindy writing another Arminian acronym? It's not that she was not clear in her writing, just that I did not know if she was agreeing with you or not.

    I know, I could look in your archives, but I would not know where to start.

    Thank you. BTW, the hubby and kids are out at a Guy Fawkes display. We don't carve up turkeys in November, we Brits set light to stuff instead!


  7. Cindy,
    Congregational polity makes your last statement unfortunately true, but I don't know that the alternatives don't present their own problems. Oh, to simply be a shepherd.

  8. Anthea,
    Thanks for the smile, hopefully I can return the favor informationally.

    TULIP is the acronym for Calvinistic soteriology (the doctrine or study of salvation), which is a subset of theology.

    T=Total Depravity, which refers generally to what I affiliated with A.
    U=Unconditional Election which posits that God chose who would be saved without regard to any merit or response in the saved, i.e. the saved are born again before they have faith.
    L=Limited Atonement, meaning that Christ died only for those unconditionally elected.
    I=Irresistable Grace, which sees God's ministrations of Spirit which result in salvation as not being resistable by those elected.
    P=Perseverance of the Elect which refers to the inability of those genuinely saved (the elect) to lose their condition of regeneration (salvation).

    Basically, Calvinism says the saved are saved because God decided that they would be saved, the unsaved are unsaved for the same reason. Famous Calvinists: Jonathan Edwards, Spurgeon, John MacAuthur.

    A four point Arminian is what a lot of Southern Baptists are in the US. They agree with the Calvinists about the inability of the saved to lose their regeneration. Sometimes their theory is derivisely called "Once saved, always saved." Cindy seems to me to fall into that general pattern, although she is more than capable of speaking for herself (she and I have had many blog discussions in which I have discovered that she is able and articulate). She added a couple of theological considerations to the mix with the acronym she suggested.

  9. Arminius didn't necessarily embrace the idea that a believer could lose their salvation, and Spurgeon considered himself Calvinist, but rejected limited atonement for starters. It gets complicated...

    For what it's worth, I probably agree a lot with Arminius and Spurgeon. I believe the Bible clearly teaches that man has the ability to choose God (so I reject the Calvinist definition of "T"). I believe that the Spirit of God is calling all to repentance and Jesus' atonement is enough for everyone, but only applies to those who receive it by faith as an act of their own free will. In short, I reject all of Calvinism's tulip(I like tulips a lot, however) - including perserverance of the saints (as they describe it).

    I believe that we are new creatures, and in covenant with God when we are born again, and that neither of these are conditional or reversable. So yes, once a child of God, always a child of God. Those He justified, He also glorified.(Rom 8:30)

    So I'm a little contrary, and neither Calvinist or Arminian.

  10. Hello SLW

    What a quick, clear and comprehensive reply. I thought that you would not be able to get to this today (Sun)because this is your busiest day. Do you not have an evening service? We don't. But we do socialise together a lot outside of services.

    I'm guessing that I might be yer Arminian type. Otherwise, why is Jesus warning the churches in Revelation about their conduct(implying a possible loss of salvation/believers' rewards)? Why is Jesus running around Galilee in Mark calling people to repent? Why does He ask the disciples to follow Him, especially when I am told that the custom in those days was for the disciple to approach the rabbi and ask to be taken on as a spiritual apprentice? And, you mentioned what God says about Himself -- is the book of Hosea an example of that?

    Anyway, thanks very much for the information.


  11. Anthea,
    I just realized I didn't respond to your last question: yes, Hosea in principle as well as Jonah, and also Ezekiel directly (18 and 33 for instance). 2 Peter 3:9 and 1 Timothy 2:4 are very direct as well, and undoubtedly pointed at the broad population (rather than the elect/Israel).

    What God says about himself is that he wants or wills everyone to be saved and that he gets no pleasure (or glory for that matter) in the damnation of the lost. That leads me to believe that if all that was required for a person to be saved was the election of God, God would elect everyone. That is not what occurs, and so wills other than Gods must play in the issue. Calvinism says God determines on the basis of his secretive will who he wants saved and who he wants lost and then pulls strings to make it so. That is not what God says of himself, so in effect, Calvinism is both idolatrous and blasphemous.

  12. Excellent! Much better than FACTS.

    And there is a recursive quality about it that I find attractive. "A CURE" is taken by the sick patient only when the patient acknowledges their sickness and inability to cure themselves. The doctor prescribing "A CURE" does not force it down the patient's throat, but merely makes it available to the patient, informs them of the benefits of it, its side effects, and what the patient must do while taking it to enable the cure to work. And it is an extremely rare patient, after taking a cure and being healed, boasts that they cured themselves or recovered by themselves. They will certainly boast of being cured, but will also boast of the efficiacy of the doctor who figured out their disease and provided A CURE. Note the fervor of those healed of a persistent, painful, and debilitating disease when it comes to informing those of like affliction about their own disease, their doctor and the totality of the effectiveness of the prescribed cure. Sorta like Andrew, the cured tell the still-afflicted "just go to this doctor and let him look at you. I am SURE he can help you!"

    Quite providential: I was led to Luke 8:36, which is part of the passage of the casting out of the Legion of demons. The man wants to go with Jesus, but all Jesus tells him to do is to tell others of his deliverance. My deliverance was from sexual lust and porn, and the circumstances are quite unbelievable. From that cure, I deduced a way of living that has revolutionized my relationwhip with God, and which has equally helped those I told it to (here). I have been racking my brains on how to transmit what I believe to be THE way the Christian life was intended to be lived, but perhaps I should just be straightforward, like the man out of whom the legion of demons was cast, and just talk about what God did for me.

  13. Thank you, Gerald, and welcome to the Sound. I thought it worked on many levels too, and it is directly correlated to TULIP.


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