The Integrated TULIP
by Bob Burridge ©2020
In the early 17th Century the followers of Jacob Arminius were promoting a view of God and humanity which was based upon ideas contrary to the teachings held by the Protestant Reformers. The Reformed position was an attempt to re-examine what was believed to be true and right by comparing each teaching with the direct statements of God’s written word.
A church Synod met in Dordrect in the Netherlands from 1618 to 1619 to answer the five challenges from the Arminians. The Scriptures were carefully studied and the Synod adopted a document referred to as “The Canons of Dort”. Under five heads of doctrine they showed the errors behind the challenges, and cited the biblical evidences supporting their answers. The five chapters were published in the following order, and have been traditionally named as follows:
1. Unconditional Election
2. Limited Atonement
3. Total Depravity
4. Irresistible Grace
5. Perseverance of the Saints
To help popularize these summaries the order was changed so the first letters of each topic would spell out the word TULIP, a flower that was well known. The order adjustment wasn’t because of any serious doctrinal difference, but some consider it best to start by stating the problem (Total Depravity), then show how it is solved by God’s plan. The original order started with God’s eternal plan (Unconditional Election) which came before the actual fall of humanity in Adam. The five petals represent very interwoven teachings. Improvements have also been made in the wording of the titles of each section to focus better on what they mean. The adjusted headings are as follows:
1. Total Inability
2. Unconditional Election
3. Limited Atonement
4. Irresistible Grace
5. Preservation of the Saints
Integrating the Petals of the TULIP:
Our moral nature is completely corrupted because of our representation in Adam when he fell into sin. This fallen nature makes us self-centered instead of God-centered, and unable to do anything truly good in the eyes of God. We are unable to come to the Savior in sincere repentance and with full trust in his work as our only hope of salvation.
There are no pre-conditions we are capable of satisfying that would qualify us for restoration to fellowship with our Creator. We are only made able to come to Christ in this way by the work of God’s saving grace. Therefore, our election to eternal life must be unconditional.
Since we are told in Scripture that God knows all things and does not change, those who come to Christ in true faith are those Jesus eternally intended to save by his work on the cross, therefore the atonement is limited in it’s intent.
Since God is all powerful he will certainly succeed in bringing to himself all those chosen eternally. There can be no power in all the universe or in the heart of any human that can resist his saving grace.
The eternally all knowing and all-powerful God will keep those he eternally intends to redeem. He will preserve them as his own children forever.
– If our election was not unconditional, everyone would be lost since no fallen person is able to meet God’s conditions on his own.
– If atonement wasn’t limited, then (since some die in unbelief) God will have failed to redeem all those for whom he died.
– If God’s grace was resistible, then we are able to overcome and frustrate what God desires and he would not be all powerful.
– If God doesn’t preserve each chosen one, their falling away would deny God’s ability to accomplish all he desires concerning their salvation.
Back to the index for more detailed studies of each of the petals of the TULIP
(Bible quotations are from the English Standard Version unless otherwise noted.)