The Three Theological Systems of Christianity
An Overview of Christian Doctrine Using Calvin's T.U.L.I.P
The Apostle Paul warned the church, especially in the Book of Acts, that when he would leave the church for the last time, grievous wolves would come in. These wolves would take many sheep away from the pasture and slay them. But down through the ages, there has always been a church; many times just a remnant church. The Roman Catholic Church tortured and murdered many of the true churches in the mountain valleys of the Piedmont in the Alps Mountains and in several other places.
But when in the 1500s the Protestant churches broke away from the mother church; two main theological systems developed: Calvinism and Arminianism. There were many debates and terrible fights developed between these two main divisions of Christianity. But there has always been the third view -- the covenant view -- that churches have held to and believed. It has to do with the covenant; the covenant that was made and swore to by God the Father. Covenant Theology is the answer to the arguments that have followed since the Reformation. It is a synthesis of the Reformers, accepting elements of truth from both sides while rejecting errors of both. It is this view that we present to you, thanks to Jim Jester.
|Total Depravity or Natural Inability||Having come out of Catholicism, the Reformers held that all of humankind could be saved. The idea of God's Covenant was lost. Calvin believed all men were so intensively depraved that they could not seek God, and were spiritually dead, incapable of repentance on their own. God must regenerate them before they could exercise faith and repent. Thus they have no free will or natural ability to respond to God's grace.||Arminius taught that depravity was extensive rather than intensive. At this point the wedge of disagreement between the Reformers begins to widen. He believed enough of the image of God remained in man so that he could respond when aided by the Holy Spirit. This he called "prevenient grace." Upon repentance faith naturally arose and the man was regenerated. In this system of theology "free-will" was stressed.||Covenant theology departs from the error of Universalism. Original sin is a condition of Adamkind only, and that some races are not of Adam. This is proven by science, history, and the Bible. All of Adam have the natural, God breathed, ability to respond to God. The Bible was written to Adam only. God later made a covenant with Abraham and his descendants. The inability to respond to God was because Israel was divorced from God.|
|Unconditional Election or Particular Predestination||Calvin believed that God arbitrarily elected some to salvation apart from any repentance or faith on their part. None of the Reformers took into consideration that God had made a covenant with a particular family.||Arminius further departed from Calvin and taught that Election was conditional and based on foreknowledge. When man repents and exercises faith he becomes Elect. Predestination ix simply the pre-plan be like Christ (see Rom. 8:29).||Like Calvin, God's choice is stressed over man's. The Bible clearly teaches that God made an unconditional, everlasting, covenant, and demonstrates that God works within that covenant. The Elect is the race of Israel (Abraham, Isaac, Jacob); Isa. 45:4, "Israel my elect."|
|Limited Atonement||Christ's atonement is limited in its scope to the Elect only. Who they are is unknown. It could be anyone of all races.||Arminius believed the atonement was unlimited. It was only limited by man's individual faith. The Elect were those who became Christians.||As Calvin, the atonement of Christ is limited to the Elect only. That Elect is not select ones of the world, but the family of Israel whom God was in covenant with.|
|Irresistible Grace or Effectual Calling||Because the Elect are chosen by God, the Holy Spirit draws them to a place of repentance and faith. Because of this they became saved. The sovereignty of God was stressed.||Prevenient Grace worked to bring a man to the place of repentance and faith. Nevertheless, God's grace was obstructible and salvation could be rejected.||The Elect were "without hope" and forgot God. The New Covenant replaced the broken Old one and the 12 tribes can now choose to serve their God. Those faithful will be saved.|
|Perseverance of the Saints or Eternal Security||The Elect are presently and eternally saved in the mind of God and can never lose their salvation. To do so would make Christ's death void and unnecessary. Security is unconditional.||"Eternal life" is viewed to mean salvation's quality rather than its duration. God provides overcoming grace, but man may neglect this provision and fall from grace. Security is conditional.||Some of God's covenants are conditional, but not the one made with the Elect nation (family, race), Israel. Salvation is not just viewed personally, but nationally as well. Security is conditional.|